Part One of book review: “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick live program link Monday 2.20.2017 @ 12:30
There are several ways to dismantle the fallacy of “no free will”, or “the illusion of free will”. Frankly, it’s exasperating that this ridiculous idea gets any traction at all, given how obviously irrational and impossible it is. As soon as you assert the notion, you make a claim to truth; but of course if there is no free will, then by the exact same deterministic logic (man’s thoughts are just molecules and particles conforming to the categorical governance of physical law) man cannot actually know anything, which means he cannot know truth, which means he cannot believe anything to be true, which means he cannot make any assertion at all about anything. And even if we accept that man thinks and man makes assertions (which is impossible if there is no such thing as free will…for free will is merely the volitional exercise of one’s knowledge, which is the very definition of “to assert”) there is no way to claim that one assertion, like “there is no such thing as free will” is true while another is false.
There. It took me, a stay-at-home-dad sitting on the couch wearing a hoodie and Carolina Panthers pajama bottoms, one paragraph to dismantle an idea held by physicists from Stephen Hawking to Sam Harris. This ought to tell you something.
These people are being willfully stupid. They are choosing to believe their deterministic bullshit rather than admit that physics is an abstract description, not a recipe for ontological causality. Why? Because they, like so many, prefer power to truth. If they can claim to be the few mathematical geniuses who understand the Language of the Universe, which is just their version of the Word of God, then they can claim their own Priesthood Class. They can exist as the Chosen/Called Ones who are God Incarnate to the rest of us. They can stand in the stead of God and dictate to everyone else, both governments and denizens, their moral obligations, both intellectually and behaviorally; which, pragmatically speaking, means they can tell everyone else what to do with their money.
And I hope you are picking up on the passive-aggression, because I’m laying it on pretty thick.
But let’s, just for fun, because my coffee is not yet cold, elucidate my paragraph above.
The denial of free will is rooted in the argument of determinism. That is, since we are all just a bunch of atoms and molecules interacting and combining according to very arcane and abstruse mathematical rules, our very thoughts, being a function of our brains, are merely the pre-determined side effects of these rules. (And since mathematical rules/laws of physics are absolute and absolutely infinite, everything is these rules; there are no distinctions between the rules and the objects which are said to act and interact according to these rules because everything is a direct and utter function of the laws of physics…in which case, how is it possible to claim the laws of physics actually govern anything? To say they govern themselves is pointless redundancy. )
And this completely destroys the deterministic argument against free will. Because what this means is that there is no such thing as truth. All ideas are equally valid, since according to deterministic protocol all ideas, being a function of brains governed by the inexorable laws of physics, are a function of the same mathematical rules. This being the case, it is impossible to make the claim “there is no such thing as free will, is true” or “there is such a thing as free will, is false” since both ideas are a function of brains governed by the exact same rules. And this is why they must and do appeal to a “superior enlightenment” based upon their elevated mathematical prowess. There is no rational explanation for why we must believe them, any more than there is a rational explanation for why the laity must submit to pastoral authority since both the pastors and the laity are, according to doctrine, fallen creatures and utterly prone to sin and delusion by their very nature.
But the magic wand of Divine Authority is waved, and as John Immel, a philosopher I admire says, “Alakazaam, POOF!”, we all must just accept that “God” has chosen them and thus it is our moral obligation to agree with them…to bend over and say, “thank you, sir, may I have another”.
To make the claim, “there is no such thing as free will” is to presuppose a person can actually know truth. But, again, according to the very argument against free will, itself, there is no such thing as a true thing versus a false thing since every idea is the product of the same deterministic rules. When people are not actually free to learn, because their minds are entirely governed by the laws of physics, then by definition they cannot actually know anything. To learn is to presuppose a difference between knowing and not knowing, and to presuppose a difference between a good idea (rational, or true) and a bad one (irrational, or false). If there is no such thing as free will (the individual application of perceived knowledge…between a true thing/good thing and a false thing/bad thing, either based upon contextual circumstance or upon foundational philosophical assumptions), and all beliefs and actions are merely a function of brains which are all equally and absolutely governed by mathematical rules, then there can be no difference. There can be no real ideas, which means there can be no real thought. Which means there can be no thought at all. Which means there can be no consciousness. Which means that people like Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris cannot claim that free will is an illusion, as though this is some truth that they can actually know, and know as true, and of which they should seek to convince others, as though making the point is anything but a colossal waste of time. Because you can’t convince people out of an idea that they don’t actually believe, and this because they don’t believe anything, because their contrary thoughts are merely the effects of the same deterministic forces which produced yours.
As soon as one makes the assertion, “there is no such thing as free will”, they have destroyed the argument. And because of this fallacy, and the sheer stupidity and rank rational inconsistency and destructiveness of the underlying apologetics, I strongly urge you to reject it.
If God gives man His righteousness (as a gift, so it’s said), then there must be something in man which brings value to God; for who gives gifts to those they hate?
This means that man cannot be utterly evil. In which case, there must be something good, inherently, in man.
This goodness, in himself, of himself, is his own righteousness.
God does not give man righteousness, he teaches man that man is righteous ALREADY.
Let’s break down the rational atrocity of the claim, “Man has no righteousness.” Which just means that man can do no good thing. NOTHING. At all. Ever. Because he cannot transfer ANY righteousness to his actions. Because he has none. Zero. There is no righteousness to waking up, nor to going to bed, nor anything in between.
Think about that.
Can’t you just feel the madness of it in your bones?
If man had NO righteousness…that is, his righteousness was nill, this would mean that man’s very existence is unrighteousness. In other words, the very fact that you were born at all is why you are evil.
A few problems:
If you’re very existence is evil–let’s just call it evil, because that’s what (fake) Christians really mean–then your very essence is evil. This means that everything you do–you think, you believe, you say, you are–is evil. Whether you save a drowning puppy or burn down an elementary school, both acts, proceeding from your utterly wicked existence as You–are equally evil. This means that you cannot actually choose evil. Evil action and evil thought ceases to become a moral choice (which means they cease to become choices at all). Which means that you are no longer in possession of moral agency. Which means that you’re not a moral agent.
And guess what this means for man.
He’s not actually unrighteous, nor is he righteous. The very concepts are irrelevancy to him.
He has neither righteousness nor unrighteousness.
And this means…
He is an animal, possessing only instinct; without thought. He cannot choose good or evil, and thus has no knowledge of good or evil. Which means he has no knowledge, period. Because if man possesses not the ability to choose good or evil, then knowledge is utterly pointless, and lacks any efficacy. And absolutely irrelevant, useless knowledge is not knowledge at all by definition.
Which means that God cannot give man His righteousness as a gift, because:
A. Man couldn’t recognize it in the first place.
B. Man couldn’t know what to do with it
C. Man wouldn’t have any use for it.
D. Man, unable to understand good from evil, couldn’t understand truth from falsehood, and thus wouldn’t know anything at all; wouldn’t see God AS God, and thus wouldn’t take anything GOD had to offer. He might take a scrap of food or a treat from God, like a dog from his master, but he would comprehend no spiritual or moral meaning or purpose; no alteration of his identity in the eyes of his master. He would and could have no concept of “righteousness”, because morality, like truth, has nothing to do with that which is pure instinct.
E. God would know all of this, and so wouldn’t give man His Righteousness in the first place!
Stop listening to people who lie to you! Stop believing those emissaries of death and the devil who tell you that you need God because you are so categorically baaaaaad.
Understand that when they say you have no righteousness of your own what they mean is that you are Unrighteousness itself! You have no value or worth or goodness…as a function of BEING YOU!
This does not promote a relationship between you and God, it utterly wrecks it, and eradicates its possibility! Because what is entirely Good (God) MUST as a function of its existence be completely exclusive of what is entirely Evil (You) as a function of IT’S existence.
The lie that human beings are inherently unrighteous has only one purpose and one outcome:
Tyranny, and Death.
Here is the abortion debate’s fundamental dilemma:
So, on the one hand, the argument is that embryos and fetuses are a direct and absolute function of the parents, who are solely responsible for their existence. Therefore, if this is the case, parents must have the moral right to do with them as they choose. They are a categorical product of the parents’ labor.
On the other hand, it is argued that embryos and fetuses are utterly independent human beings, of completely distinct individuality/agency, and therefore may NOT be treated or considered as being a direct function of their parents, as a product of another’s labor, to do with as they choose, to govern and control, but instead have inherent rights as full fledged individuals.
The whole of the abortion debate is, to me, the fruitless attempt to reconcile this contradiction. Until you resolve this contradiction–which is impossible, by definition–any judgement you make about abortion is entirely subjective. Period.
Either the child is a distinct individual or he is not. He cannot be both. If he is, then it cannot be argued that he has the categorical right to take resources from his parents. He may have that right, but not always. It would depend upon the context, and whether or not a legitimate contact between child and parents can be said to have been established. If he is not, then he cannot claim any inherent right-of-Self and therefore the parents may reasonably and morally do with him as they please, including abortion.
Force is both the ideological and practical root of government, which is why all governments are fundamentally tyrannical, with “free” vs “oppressive” states measured merely in terms of degrees of force. That is, the amount of violence applied to compel individual compliance to the necessarily subjective, and therefore capricious, dictates of the State is the rubric for whether or not a State is considered a tyranny, not the absence of violent coercion, which is the only actual measure, I submit.
Now, the lower the degree of force would seem to indicate the reciprocal: a greater amount of freedom. However, this is not really the case. “Freedom” in a state which uses less overt violence to compel obedience suggests not more freedom, but merely less overt forms of control. This can be anything from subliminal or implied violence which never manifests because of fear, or more effective thought control–that is, a greater prevailing assumption amongst the populace that they are somehow free, in spite of the object and obvious fact that government, by nature and by design, depends upon the exact opposite. (On a side note, having a “Constitution” which “guarantees” specific individual freedoms, which the ruling class and its witting and unwitting advocates can reference when the state is accused of mendacious largess, and which ostensibly integrates individual freedom with the force of government even though these are clearly mutually exclusive concepts, is very helpful in spreading the specious notion of a free society under the absolute auspices of violent coercion.) In addition, I suppose it’s possible that less overt force might simply be due to the fact that the state hasn’t yet fully evolved into the inevitable (and therefore ipso facto) tyranny of which the philosophy undergirding it demands.
But here is why tyranny, regardless of how it may be perceived by the great unwashed masses, is always categorical at an given moment:
Force, as a metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and political basis–that is, the rank philosophical foundation of government–is absolute, and thus the underlying real degree of tyranny is always complete. For without absolute tyranny, which I define as the fundamental “right” to compel behavior by force (violence), there can be no such thing as government. Remove force, and people are not organized by command, but by cooperation. And cooperating is NOT the same thing as being governed.
Under government, all human actions can occur only when the government allows it. This is total tyranny. Period. And because the auspices of violence are absolute by virtue of the underwriting philosophy, all actions of people existing within a society organized according to governing principles, which are rooted in the power of the state to force, are necessarily absolutely violently compelled.
Unfortunately, as long as people confuse comfort, or even “relative freedom”, with freedom, there will be no freedom.
As long as freedom is plotted on a bell curve, there can be no such thing.
You do not sway public opinion by threats, lies, manipulation, or appeals to abstract standards of morality like “common good” or “the unprivileged”, you merely acclimate people to the reality of their imminent sacrifice to State power.
Absolute truth, or Truth qua Truth, is a tautology (and this is true of all abstract concepts when they are said to be a function of themselves), which makes it a contradiction, which means that there is no such thing as absolute truth, which means that all truth then is subject to a reference; and this fact makes truth subjective.
Which means that truth then, and obviously, cannot be objective. On the other hand, the thing which IS objective is truth’s reference.
So…what is the reference?
Well, truth’s reference is he who is asking the question–what, how, why, which, where, etc.. Put another way, it is the Oberver; or, he who is perceiving and then conceptualizing the distinction between himself and NOT himself–or I vs. Environment. This frame of reference then, the frame of reference of I, the Observer, of Self who Percieves from the absolute ontological place of Me, is going to be the epistemological primary; the irreducible reference for defining the Truth of what he observes.
Without this primary, you simply cannot have truth. But it’s more than simply having it, the epistemological primary must be defined reasonably. That is, he who claims to apprehend, to have or know truth, must be defined without contradiction; without indecision; without subjective or rationally unverifiable claims. Without this epistemological primary, defined according to unyielding rational consistency, there can be nothing which is True.
And, naturally, nothing which is false.
In other words, when you have properly, reasonably, answered the question “What is man and how does he know what he knows?”, then, and only then, will you have Truth.
Belief without question, slavish following, and blind obedience to an ideal without regard to rational and moral consistency is NOT a virtue.
And it never will be.
Enter the sermon on “Jesus and the Little Children” I heard yesterday at the ignominious Easter service I suffered through wherein Jesus admonishes those who would seek to prevent the children from coming to Him and seeking His comfort and countenance to let them come, and declares it theirs, these precious little ones, the Kingdom of Heaven.
And enter the obligatory explication wherein it is explained that the reason why Jesus holds children in such high esteem is the cheapness of their faith.
We are told, you see, that what makes children so righteous and so venerated by the Divine is the fact that they lack even basic rational discernment. That it is their arrant innocence OF REASON AND OF DISCERNMENT which makes them such spiritual gems.
And enter then the glaring implication that the problem with adults is that they have the temerity to ask for proof, and to expect sensible rationales; and require time and space to ponder and vet the hundreds of ideas which come their way, seemingly on a daily basis. That it is this grown up, and so very SELFISH and ARROGANT sense of entitlement to ideological integrity and rational consistency which prevents them from having the pureness of faith God so cherishes, and the unflinching loyalty to His heavenly Command He so appreciates.
You see, the deft ability of adults to doubt is why they are on the wrong side of the bell curve when it comes to moral purity and divine favor.
So we are told.
And of course we are.
Because, you see, to a people who have become so comfortable in their doctrinal contradictions that they literally cannot expend one breath when preaching or teaching without uttering one, the adult expectation of reason and responsibility to logical consistency and evidentiary substance is a moral and epistemological violation of mortal consequence.
And this is why the church is dead. And why it is a cult of death; where denial is practiced and self-loathing is the prime moral obligation. And why it has exchanged reason for madness, and the truth for a a lie, and God for the Devil. And it has not only been banished from the Garden but has turned, and out of pure spite burned the bridge over the moat and built a wall across the path.
Children and their faith aren’t special to Jesus because they’ll believe without blush any load of crap some adult feeds them. They and their faith are special to Him because they do not doubt their individuality; and they understand inherently that they are unique, autonomous, and priceless, as a function of their very existence. They are BORN knowing the Truth of the Self. They have not yet been spiritually wrecked by the demonic lie of collectivism.