The stuff of misery

Christopher Morbey (
Tue, 07 Apr 1998 12:31:05 -0700

Massimo Pigliucci wrote:
> Moorad,
> in your latest to Scott you say:
> > 1) It is logically inconceivable for me not to believe that there is a
> > Creator. Belief in a Creator is an example of what is self-evident to me.
> >
> Wow! You must have a weird definition of "self-evident". The existence
> of the ocean is self-evident. That humanity's history is plagued with
> wars is self-evident. God? If anything, it would be self-evident to me
> that s/he is no more than wishful thinking. But that *is* my opinion.
> And yours is just that, an opinion, no at all self-evident.
> > 3) a) Spend some time musing on the notion that you have no free will. The
> > mere fact that you can follow my advice or not proves that you have free
> > will.
> >
> I'm sorry, but you're being a little philosophically naive here. No, the
> ability of changing your mind is by no stretch of the imagination a
> proof of free will. Consider this: a computer program can change its
> output depending on the input provided (and for sophisticated programs,
> this is for all effective purposes "unpredictable", see Big Blue
> defeating Kasparov). Would you grant free will to that program?
> Similarly, I (or even you) can change my mind as a result of this
> discussion, but this would simply be because my particular program
> elaborates these inputs in such a way to produce that output. No more.
> Where would "free will" reside in the human brain? Is it governed by the
> laws of physics? All of this has been eloquently said by Will Provine,
> and I refer you to his excellent on-line lecture at the Darwin Day site:
> cheers,
> Massimo

Christians sometimes get their arguments a little twisted and
inconsistent. It is rather common but the fact is actually consistent
with our general view of the world and how it works.

But read the response from Massimo again. Surely this takes the prize
for inconsistency.

Here is someone admitting explicitly that there is such a thing as
"wishful thinking" and "having an opinion". The very same person then
decries free-will. No doubt Massimo would go along with the message
offered on the webpage mentioned that, "We will all live in a better
society when the myth of free will is dispelled."

Hmmm. After thousands of years of various forms of totalitarianism, here
we go again.
That statement, in case you haven't recognized it, ladies and gentlemen,
is the very most basic tenet of all totalitarianism. It is the very
stuff of war in anybody's language. Talk about being "self-evident"!

If there is no free-will, and thoughts and emotions, wishful thinking,
or opinions, for example, merely come about by some sort of programmed
(or otherwise) determined chemical and/or electrical (or whatever)
causes then why try to convince me of it?

What is the rationale of persuasion for somebody that says that
free-will must be dispelled? Can't they see the blatant inconsistency?
Can't they realise that persuasion or opinion or wishful thinking cannot
fit into their scheme? What is it that drives that kind of totally
inconsistent logic? What is it that encourages others to be duped by
this kind of nonsense?

A consistent argument for the non-existence of free-will would have any
number of premises but there could be no conclusion or summary! Why?
Simply because the conclusion or summary of an argument can exist only
if there is meaning in what can be equated to what. A = B. A = C. Ergo,
B = C. But what does equal mean? How do you know that? From whom? Where
did they get the information? The point is, "why bother with the
conclusion if the chemistry has already done it?" And if my chemistry is
different than yours then why bother with trying to change it!

We are led to one and only one conclusion without the existence and
utility of free-will. It is that opinion, sooner or later, must be
forced. We see it in our governments and we see it in our schools. Again
I say it: we are, once more, seeing the efforts of yet another push for
totalitarianism. We are witnessing the very stuff that war and the
propagation of misery is made from.

Without free-will there is no hope and there is no cure for delusion
simply because causes are causes, chemistry is chemistry, selection is
selection. There is opinion and there is not opinion. Alas.

It really shouldn't take much of a "baloney detector" to dispel the kind
of nonsense we find blowing around these days. But the simple fact is,
there really are (educated) people who believe this stuff, and their
numbers are increasing. Alas, again.

Christopher Morbey