Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Simple Question For Internet Atheists

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What kind of a tool does furious battle under the banner "Nothing ultimately matters!"?

13 comments:

Brian Westley said...

I don't know what planet you're blogging from, but here on earth, religion can cause a lot of problems, and some atheists naturally fight against people creating these problems.

I suspect if religious fools didn't:
1) injure or kill their own children, or deny them medical care due to their superstitions,
2) try to get everyone to obey the laws of their religion,
3) try to get their myths taught as fact, and prevent science from being taught, and
3) generally demonize everyone who doesn't believe in their particular invisible friend,

...that more atheists would leave religious people alone. But I doubt this will ever happen.

But if you're a former scientific materialist, why didn't you already know this? What do you think of the Vatican's exorcism school? You really think going back to treating illnesses as demonic possession is a step forward?

Matteo said...

I don't know what planet you're commenting from, but here on earth, atheism can cause a lot of problems, and some theists naturally fight against people creating these problems.

I suspect if atheistic fools didn't:
1) Commit mass murder while trying to create utopia on earth,
2) Impose brutal laws to create the New Soviet Man or a Cultural Revolution,
3) try to get their myths taught as fact, and prevent science from being taught,
3) generally demonize everyone who doesn't believe in total state power,
4) and generally agitate for people to chuck their chances for eternal salvation all in the service of Nothing,

...that more theists would leave atheists to their delusions. But I doubt this will ever happen.

But if you're a scientific materialist, why didn't you already know this? What did you think of the Soviet Gulag? Did you really think going back to throwing people in a dungeon to create heaven on Earth was a step forward?

If you feel that this is a set of thoroughly asinine questions, well welcome to the club, pal.

Meanwhile continue the battle! After all, nothing ultimately matters!

Brian Westley said...

As I thought, you aren't interested in debate. You're just a tool.

Matteo said...

Okay, Brian Westley, let's de-escalate the flamewar and start conversing intelligently, rather than in asinine "have you stopped beating your wife"-style caricatures.

To kick things off, I'd like to ask the following question.

Is there such a thing as free will?

Please answer this question and no other. I'm not interested in tangents.

Brian Westley said...

I have never seen a definition of free will that was both testable and coherent, so my answer is that "free will," unless it's defined in some way, is not a meaningful term.

You can offer a definition of free will if you like, but if it isn't testable, I'll simply answer that there's no way to tell if someone has free will since there's no way to test for it.

Matteo said...

Thanks for your answer.

So, as far as you know, I do not myself, have free will?

That being the case, does it make any sense for you to regard me or any other theist with a sense of moral disapproval? You gave a whole litany of what I'd have to conclude you consider to be moral outrages in your first comment.

On my part, I do believe in free will. I can therefore, without contradiction, hold others morally responsible for their actions, attitudes, or what have you.

But can you?

I just had a recent dialog on this very topic. If you are of a mind to, please have a look at:
link, in order to understand my position. I would be interested in anything you might be able to explain to me should you feel that I have made some sort of obvious philosophical error. But please note: the denial of atheist materialism is not in and of itself a philosophical error, so I'd be looking for something more cogent than just a bare assertion of atheist materialism.

Brian Westley said...

So, as far as you know, I do not myself, have free will?

Incorrect. I don't consider "free will" to be a coherent concept, so it's like asking me if you have "kjhasdfh." If I say "kjhasdfh" is incoherent, I am NOT saying that you do not have "kjhasdfh" as far as I know; I'm saying the question is meaningless until "kjhasdfh" is defined coherently.

That being the case,

As that is NOT the case, none of what you say follows.

And at your link, you didn't seem to answer whether chimps had free will. That's one example why a good definition of free will is needed -- if there was a good definition, chimps could be tested to see if they have free will, couldn't they? And I honestly don't know if you think chimps have free will or not; as I've said, I don't consider the term to be meaningful, so I don't know how you would decide if chimps have free will or not. But short of that, stating whether you think chimps have free will or not would be a start.

Matteo said...

I take it then, that I am off the hook, since the very idea of moral blame toward theists is wholly incoherent to you. I do or do not have something that may or may not exist (except maybe for chimps, apparently).

Let me rephrase the question:

Was it possible in any way, shape, or form for me to avoid rousing your evident anger in your first comment? Or were my actions wholly determined by the causal physical history of the universe?

In short, do you blame me for being a dick, or do you chalk it up to the initial conditions at the Big Bang combined perhaps with quantum indeterminacy?

Tell it to me straight.

I find this entire topic to be very simple and straightforward, but somehow I always find my atheist interlocutors trying to run and hide in a sophistic hall of mirrors.

All to avoid spirit, all to avoid God. Tell me, is your probable willful attitude concerning one or more of the following: pornography, fornication, abortion, or masturbation really worth plunging yourself into philosophical darkness?

No doubt you are now furious. But again, I ask you. Am I to blame, or merely the causal history of the universe?

Let's forget the free will question. Do you believe there is such a thing as moral blame? If you ask me to define blame, then I will take that as a 'no'.

And I will be satisfied that I have not really offended you in any way.

If you tell me 'yes', then I will ask you: doesn't moral blame presuppose free will?

Brian Westley said...

I take it then, that I am off the hook, since the very idea of moral blame toward theists is wholly incoherent to you.

Wrong. You still don't get it.

First, you've talked about "free will" without offering any sort of definition, and I tell you the term is incoherent. Then, for some illogical reason, you think I've stated that you don't have free will, which is entirely different.

Now you seem to be conflating "free will" with "moral blame," again using all sorts of your own assumptions as if you can assume I agree with them. Sorry, you can't assume that.

Also note that you can't assume I don't agree.

Was it possible in any way, shape, or form for me to avoid rousing your evident anger in your first comment? Or were my actions wholly determined by the causal physical history of the universe?

Since I can't determine "the causal physical history of the universe," my answer has to be "I don't know." You've also stated a false dichotomy.

In short, do you blame me for being a dick, or do you chalk it up to the initial conditions at the Big Bang combined perhaps with quantum indeterminacy?

Oh, you're a dick, but you still can't assume I somehow agree with you on your still-undefined "free will."

Now, I've answered many of your questions, yet you still haven't answered my question on whether you think chimps have free will. If you don't state whether you think chimps have free will in your next reply, I'll ignore it. I've answered a number of your questions, but you fail to answer mine.

Let's forget the free will question. Do you believe there is such a thing as moral blame? If you ask me to define blame, then I will take that as a 'no'.

Sorry, you can't make assumptions like that. You may as well tell me that you're going to use logical fallacies in your arguments. It's pointless to argue with someone who says they will purposely use false arguments.

Ilíon said...

It's logically impossible (and thus utterly impossible) to reason with fools.

Matteo said...

I'll make this simple, hopefully simple enough to reach through layers of atheist sophistry. In order for there to be moral culpability, there must be free will. One can only have moral indignation toward a being that was free to choose another course of action.

By this definition, monkeys do not have free will, because no matter what a monkey does, there is no reason to place moral blame upon him. The monkey simply doesn't know any better and just does what monkeys do.

Now: your first comment here was filled with high moral dudgeon, expressing anger with my original post, and providing a (rather childish, I might add) litany of moral outrages perpetrated by theists. Your comment was a testimony to an implicit belief in moral culpability.

But please give me a straight and explicit answer. Is it true that you were making a moral judgment upon me and/or upon theists? Yes or no. No hemming and hawing, no accusing me of not having provided some sort of laboratory-testable definition of moral judgment. And no sidetracking about monkeys.

Are you making moral judgments here, or are you not?

If you cannot answer with a 'yes' or a 'no' then it is not possible to continue this dialog.

If you say "I don't know", then I'll take your word for it, and also chalk it up as a 'win'.

Note: I am not trying to use your answer to complain about some sort of insult. I don't care one way or another. But I do care about the philosophical point.

If your anger is increasing, and you're starting to think of me as more and more of a jerk, then good! That is precisely my intention. I am attempting to get it through your thick atheist skull, that what you are doing is making moral judgments. If your nostrils are starting to flare, then I ask you to examine your feelings. Your anger arises from a sense of injustice, does it not? That I am being intellectually or conversationally unfair in some way, yes? That my foolishness here is part of some sort of character defect. In short, that there is something bad about me, yes? And if none of those things, then you are incensed about the effrontery with which I would try to assume what is going on in your thinking in order to lead the discussion in my preferred direction, all the better to deal with your position unfairly, right?

If your anger is not rooted in moral judgment, then where does it come from? Are you a madman just cursing the wind?

So please, give me an honest answer to the question I have asked.

If I can get a simple 'yes' or 'no' then I can get out of 'jerk' mode and we can move on.

Brian Westley said...

I'll make this simple, hopefully simple enough to reach through layers of atheist sophistry.

Poisoning the well.

In order for there to be moral culpability, there must be free will. One can only have moral indignation toward a being that was free to choose another course of action.

And once again, you fail to define what free will is, or how to test for it.

By this definition, monkeys do not have free will, because no matter what a monkey does, there is no reason to place moral blame upon him.

You haven't defined free will yet. And you statement "no matter what a monkey does, there is no reason to place moral blame upon him" appears to be something you're asserting, not showing.

But since you did answer, I'll continue, even though you still haven't define what free will is.

But please give me a straight and explicit answer. Is it true that you were making a moral judgment upon me and/or upon theists? Yes or no.

On you, yes.

I am attempting to get it through your thick atheist skull, that what you are doing is making moral judgments.

Sorry, I knew that long ago. You had nothing to do with it.

What I refused to do is answer questions where you use undefined terms, or other word games.

If I can get a simple 'yes' or 'no' then I can get out of 'jerk' mode and we can move on.

Well, you've got your 'yes' answer, but since you attempt to debate by opening with insults (and hypocritically complaining about my insults that were only in retaliation) and using invalid logic, I'm really not interested. I'll leave you in your 'jerk' mode and move on myself.

Matteo said...

Thanks for your 'yes' answer, Brian, that was lots of fun. Sorry to see you go.

Okay, now that Brian is out of here, and has given a 'yes' answer to the existence of moral culpability, then the existence of free will follows. For there can be no moral culpability without it.

It is astonishing to me that getting an atheist to admit the existence of free will can be something like extracting a tooth.

But I think there is a straightforward reason for this: the existence of free will is flatly incompatible with the doctrine of atheist materialism.

Atheist materialism requires that all events in the universe have ultimately physical causes. In the vast interlocking structure of physical causation, there is no room for some non-physical thing called free will to affect any outcomes.

Presented with the rational option of abandoning the doctrine of atheist materialism due to the existence of free will, the atheist instead chooses to abandon free will (strong atheists will deny free will outright, wavering or disingenuous ones will pretend they have no idea what you are talking about).

But the atheist still reserves the right to heatedly cast moral judgments.

The atheist worldview is fatally inconsistent.

Why does the atheist cling to a self-refuting philosophy? Why does he abandon sanity to deny non-material agency?

It seems that he is willfully trying to avoid Someone.

For no lasting benefit.

The original point of my post stands.