Atheism-Theism-Free Will

Here are my doubts over the Free will argument for God.

Automatic Behaviours

First, we ignore that a lot of our behaviour is not through choice but automatic and habitual.

Cherry-picking the behaviour seems free will, and ignoring the rest is confirmation bias.

When we feel cold, which is uncomfortable, we seek another layer of clothing or turn the heating up. We are unaware this happens to our minds and may be occupied elsewhere.

It’s another point we can perform automatic behaviour as we do another. So we can walk and talk at the same time. We don’t need to think about how to walk (or talk); such activity is effortless.

If I were to ask: ‘Don’t think about pink elephants, ‘ what would you think?

We don’t pick our thoughts or feelings; they arise. Since what goes on in your mind affects your behaviour, you are not in control either. Most of our behaviours are based on habit, custom through repetition; it’s what David Hume pointed out.

We have a language for it, ‘force of habit’, second nature.

We’re so habitual that we don’t need to think or choose. Biology kicks will powers ass: you can’t overcome your biology; you must live with it.

Addictions show this; try resisting a cigarette if you are a compulsive smoker. Food if you like to eat when you are stressed.

We tend to act upon feeling and, after the fact, come up with rationalising explanations to explain our behaviour, like free will or choice.

We mistakenly believe that rationality and will were the cause of the act when it was merely an after-the-fact fiction.

Ego and Insecurity

The above leads to the next point: we like to feel in control, so we create these fictions to make ourselves feel good.

We cling to will and agency because we believe we’re in charge. However, we take credit for doing good. But reject free will when we misbehave or fail because there is a fragile ego to protect.

The need to keep the ego spotless trumps a consistent worldview which includes free will.

Responsibility, morals, and justice

We act in ways defined by biology, but how are we responsible for our actions if we misbehave? How is jurisprudence to be dispensed?

The answer is you’re not powerless; you can change habits, attitudes, and behaviours.

You are responsible for being aware of what goes on with your thoughts and emotions and then acting more carefully.

Also, the judicial system can account for a crime that didn’t involve intent.

The French judicial system accepts ‘crimes of passion; some countries also offer 2nd-degree murder and manslaughter.

The crime was committed with ‘diminished responsibility.’

The individual is still held to account, but it’s for a lesser offence because there is no proof of intent.

The failure was a lack of responsibility, neglect and awareness, not a deliberate act of malice. It’s what we’re not doing; being aware is why the punishment is an act of will.

Free won’t

I’m more taken with the idea of Free Won’t. Arising from neuroscience is the theory our conscious minds veto’s the unconscious impulses that cause us to act.

Emotions bubble up from our subconscious, the limbic system in the brain, and our neocortex pushes back.

It’s the power of veto where we may think we have intentions, and a self, the part that seems to choose actions.

It’s a paradox too. If we only had just free will, then; Free will limits our existence. Because we can’t act without free will.

Fetish of Conciouiness

What’s happening with the idea of free will is people over-identifying with part of themselves that seemingly acts with choices and forgets when we work on instinct or intuition.

It’s what I call the Fetish for Consciousness.

We forget the subconscious; the limbic system plays a far more significant role than we typically perceive.

We don’t need to analyse every action before we take it. So much of what we do is effortless, and thought is unnecessary.

The image of God is there based upon a myopic view of ourselves.

Questionable Will, Causality and Dualism

From a Buddhist perspective, it is odd that to explain the cosmos, theists talk about causality, but to postulate their God, they have to give up on it.

If God causes the cosmos, God cannot be separate from the cosmos but part of the web of causes and conditions.

To say God causes the cosmos, and yet it separates from it is a contradiction to the point of absurdity.

A God that causes, and make choices, is not timeless, eternal because choices are made concerning time, just as we are.

Making a choice is a change, and change is regard to time.

The Potter and the Pot are both changing.

The Self

The argument for free will depends on the idea of the separate self.

Yet, in Buddhism, they do see a separate self-existing but is merely the illusion we get caught in.

It’s because for free will to take place, the as to be a ‘free willer‘. Since a fixed soul or self can’t be proven, there is reason to think that Free will is also an illusion, just as the self is.

Closing thoughts

The case for free will is tenuous at best.

Squeezed between the subconscious impulses and external pressures, there’s little left of our behaviour we can point to without some influence or cause.

The vast majority of our behaviour is habitual, automatic, and subconscious. No choice there and no free will.

We’re not blank slates but have instincts and a subconscious that does much of our work; those instincts are not choices.

Free will is a story we tell ourselves, giving us the feeling we’re in control. It fits our sense of right and wrong, fair play and justice.

It is reassuring to believe in even if it is an illusion.