Monday, August 12, 2013

Freewill, who really has it?

I propose the only people who truly have freewill are non-believers. And when I say having freewill, I'm not referring to what neuroscientists such as Sam Harris and physicists such as Michio Kaku argue, that evidence seems to imply we don't have freewill. According to neuroscience, thoughts arise in our brain several seconds before we're conscious of them, so we don't have absolute control over them. That's just being controversial for controversy's sake, since the brain is still making the decision, regardless if the conscious has to follow the path seconds later.

And I'm not touching on something so trite as picking between diet soda and water with lemon at the restaurant. I'm talking morally, and only non-believers have freewill. It's not a terribly difficult idea to follow, but 95 percent of our population fails to see the logic and how belief in a god who will hand down eternal punishment for finite acts removes the ability to exercise freewill.

A simple analogy:

You're sitting at home and the doorbell rings. When you answer it, a robber busts through the door and drags you back into the house. He pulls out a gun, holds it to your head and says, "If you scream, I will kill you. If you stay quiet, I'll let you live." 

Do you scream? Of course not. But it's obvious this guy isn't really giving you a choice. Now, substitute this maniac with the Christian god; the gun (and threat of death) represents hell, and the act of screaming would be any sin Christianity dubs hellbound-worthy.

If you're a Christian, you worship Jesus/Yahweh/HS and follow the dogma, which means you believe there are sins that will send your "soul" to eternal hellfire once it's liberated from your fleshy carcass. Now, how is it that you, a believer, have freewill? What kind of choice do you really have? You don't.

True freewill comes when you can make a choice without fear. As the brilliant late antitheist Christopher Hitchens once said when asked if he believed he had freewill: "I have no choice but to assume that I do." 

Now, granted something so severe as murder should have secular consequences, which is why we have a penal system. After all, I'm not advocating having a free-for-all society. And since we don't have one of these types of societies, it only proves morality exists without religion, for if it didn't, wouldn't there be more crime? And wouldn't the prisons be full of non-believers, instead of the way it is now, where less than one percent of atheists/agnostics make up the imprisoned population?

So perhaps using an example such as murder is too extreme. Let's use the Catholic dogma and use its holy spirit as the example. In Catholicism, if you reject the holy spirit, this is considered an unforgivable sin. You can't even repent. And the penalty? Burn in a fiery hell for all of eternity.

So, the Catholic can be sentenced to hell for all time because of his thoughts and beliefs. ... not even physical actions. And he's not hurting anyone, he just chooses not to believe in a holy spirit, and he has to burn forever.

A non-believer is the only person who truly has freewill. He can reject or accept this holy spirit without fear or a predetermined eternal sentence. Because he doesn't believe in the supernatural he can make his decision freely, hence freewill.

The other rather disturbing fact that arises from these discussions is the lack of fair justice. No matter what the crime is in the physical world, no crime is worth an eternity of punishment. Our time on earth is finite, so an infinite punishment is unjust.

My favorite band is a group called Rush out of Toronto, Canada. As a quick aside, it turns out the drummer/lyricist Neil Peart is agnostic and the bass player/singer Geddy Lee is an atheist. I've discovered a lot of things like this on my journey to de-conversion, that things I liked or followed my whole life were somehow rooted in unbelief. Anyway, one of Rush's most popular songs is called Freewill. The lyrics, as with most Rush songs, are extremely poignant, but for the purposes of wrapping up this post I'll leave you with the chorus. 

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that's clear; I will choose freewill.

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