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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the Absurdity of Compatibilism, and the Problem of Evil


 

In this blog post I will prove that THE BIBLE MAKES NO SENSE, OR COMPATIBILISM IS TRUE AND THE BIBLE MAKES SENSE AND THE CHRISTIAN GOD IS RESPONSBILE FOR THE MOLESTATION OF CHILDREN (murder, rape, and so on) AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL, AND IS A MORAL MONSTER! This blog post is a continuation of one of my earlier posts called "The Christian Apologist Blogger JW Wartick Offers Fodder for the Case that the Bible Makes No Sense." Wartick stated that:

"Helm here turns to compatiblism. He freely admits that timeless creation entails determinism (170). Thus, he denies that humans have free will in the libertarian sense. But this, he argues, does not undermine human responsibility....the idea of responsibility simply does not make sense on determinism, particularly when it is theistic determinism."

If there are parts of the bible that espouse the idea of responsibility and determinism then the Bible makes no sense. In my aforementioned blog post I proved that is exactly what the Bible espouses--the Bible espouses the idea of responsibility and determinism. THEREFORE, THE BIBLE MAKES NO SENSE!! Please read that post for the complete argument and details. This is the first disjunct.

Now, let us turn our attention to my second disjunct and the absurdity of holding compatiblism for a Christian. Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent.To do this, I will use a comment that was made by Stan in the aforementioned post. My reply will follow. In my reply, I will present my argument and conclusion from my second disjunct and my final conclusion from both disjuncts. I look forward to any opposing positions. Here is Stan's comment:


Hi Cathy,

You said, "On the other hand, the bible also claims that humans chose to sin in the first place, and are FREE to make their own choices"

Not exactly. We do make choices, genuine choices, but the compatibilistic notion of "choicemaking" is a deterministic process, not libertarian mysticism. We're not "perfectly free" because libertarian free will is false. Under compatibilism, "free will" refers to the *degree* to which one's will is not redirected by proximal oppressors (Kant hated this definition, but Kant's own odd form of compatibilism is dysfunctional and unpopular).

Furthermore, "in the first place" isn't a reflection of what the Bible says. Romans 8:20-21: "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God." According to the Bible, all choices we make are predetermined. We do not have libertarian free will. Every joy, every triumph, every sin, every horror, every atrocity is God's responsibility (and an individual, as an automaton in God's machine, can *share* particular responsibility).

Many compatibilistic philosophers (secular and not) have made valuable efforts toward explaining how responsibility "works" under determinism (especially over the last few centuries), and it is, frankly, a bit odd that you're unfamiliar with this, given that you're a philosophy professor of 14+ years. Maybe I'm being presumptuous. Are you familiar with the writings on this subject from Spinoza? Hobbes? Hume? It's jarringly baffling that someone with your credentials would post something that seems so empty of familiarity with compatibilism, which is absolutely essential to usefully talk about determinism, free will, and responsibility.

My reply to Stan:

Stan,

I agree with Wartick on this point:

"Why? Because the idea of responsibility simply does not make sense on determinism, particularly when it is theistic determinism."

But for a different reason than Wartick, not that I disagree with his reason, which was stated above as because (in reference to compatibilism):

"For consider the idea proposed here. God has created all of time and space as one bloc. Thus, everything I do or have ever done was created by God once he brought the universe into being. Literally, everything I did, I do because God created the universe such that I would do x. So how could it be that I am responsible for doing x, if I never chose to do x. I simply do x because I have to, I have “already” done it, on the static theory."

The key part being "if I never chose to do x" because the compatibalist claims that while God determines everything that you still chose to do x.

As a philosopher and a pragmatist I am quite familiar with compatibilism. The great American Pragmatist William James, calls compatibilism a “quagmire of evasion”. Kant says it’s a “wretched subterfuge.” I call it as just another attempt of Humpty Dumpty semantics.

Let us look at compatibilism and their view of free will based on Frankfurtian:

"A person S has compatibilist free will for a choice or action if:
(i) S wills X,
(ii) S wants to will X,
(iii) S wills X because she wants to will X, and
(iv) S would still have willed X even if she (herself) had known the
provenance of her wanting to will X."

So S wills x, and therefore chooses to do x. This handles Wartick's objection because S chose to do x.

In Faith and Philosophy, the campatiblist, Lynne Rudder Baker argues that:

“...the desire to do God’s will and the desire to will what is good are effects, not causes, of God’s grace. Turning to God is indeed a matter of will, but the will is caused by God to make the turn” (465). Undoubtedly this account of predestination will only work with compatibilistic freedom, thus making libertarian freedom untenable."

For the sake of argument, let us assume that this view of compatibilism is true. If compatibilism is true, to paraphrase Baker, then molesting children is indeed a matter of will, but the will is CAUSED BY GOD to MOLEST CHILDREN (murder, rape, and so on.) IF molesting children is indeed a matter of will, but the will is CAUSED BY GOD to MOLEST CHILDREN, then the Christian God causes child molestation. But wait, Baker claims that the desire to will what is, in this case bad, are effects, not causes, of God's grace. Ahhh..., but what is the benefit of this little example of Humpty Dumpty semantics for Christianity and Christians? Lets see, let us paraphrase Baker again--the desire to molest a child and the desire to will to molest a child is the effect, not the cause, of God's grace. Molesting a child is indeed a matter of will, but the will is caused by God to make the molestation to occur. Therefore, the molestation, is caused by the Christian God because one's will is caused by and determined by the Christian God. Therefore, the cause and the effect are the result of the Christian God's provenance!

Now we can better understand Stan's notion of "genuine choices." Recall, that according to Stan: "We do make choices, "genuine choices," but the compatibilistic notion of "choice making" is a deterministic process, not libertarian mysticism...According to the Bible, all choices we make are predetermined." Right, we make "genuine choices" that are all predetermined by the Christian God! Therefore, according to Stan, the child molester (murder, rapist, and so on.) makes "genuine choices" that are all predetermined by the Christian God! To paraphrase Baker and Stan, a "genuine choice" to molest children is indeed a matter of will, but the will is CAUSED BY GOD to MOLEST CHILDREN. Wow, see what happens when one uses Humpty Dumpty Semantics, and a Humpty Dumpty definition, and the absurdity that it leads to.  No wonder there is a problem with priests, pastors and bishops molesting children--as according to compatibilism, they just have the desire to do God’s will and the desire to will what is good or bad are effects, not causes, of God’s grace. Turning to God is indeed a matter of will, but the will is caused by God to make the turn, in this case, the turn to molest children.

If there are parts of the bible that espouse the idea of responsibility and determinism then the Bible makes no sense. As I have shown, that is exactly what the Bible espouses--the Bible espouses the idea of responsibility and determinism. THEREFORE, THE BIBLE MAKES NO SENSE, OR COMPATIBILISM IS TRUE AND THE BIBLE MAKES SENSE AND THE CHRISTIAN GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MOLESTATION OF CHILDREN (murder, rape, and so on.) AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND IS A MORAL MONSTER!

7 comments:

Stan Patton said...

(Made some typos. Would you mind deleting my first comment?)

"Wow, see what happens when one uses Humpty Dumpty Semantics, and a Humpty Dumpty definition, and the absurdity that it leads to."

I already bit the bullet on what you here call an absurdity in my initial reply to you: "Every joy, every triumph, every sin, every horror, every atrocity is God's responsibility (and an individual, as an automaton in God's machine, can *share* particular responsibility)."

"No wonder there is a problem with priests, pastors and bishops molesting children--as according to compatibilism, they just have the desire to do God’s will and the desire to will what is good or bad are effects, not causes, of God’s grace."

I doubt subscription to this view catalyzes the molestation of children, since this view is not very popular in mainstream Christian theology (even Calvinists muddy up their theology with libertarian artifacts). Furthermore, determinism does not imply fatalism (taken a step further, Optimism does not imply that any action I take is in my rational self-interest).

I will also say that you're using Grace a bit incorrectly. "Grace" doesn't just mean "everything God does." It means "everything God does that is helpful." The local evils (Hebrew "raah") for which God is responsible are not called "Grace."

It goes without saying that theodicy takes a completely different direction than the "free will dun it" hand-waving of metaphysical libertarian Christian theologians like Alvin Plantinga and the like. Essentially, you start with Leibnizian Optimism, add determinism to bite some necessary bullets (Russel rightly criticized Leibniz for failing to do this), add consequentialism to solidify the meta-ethics (so we're not lodged in a quagmire of moral mysticism), add value incommensurability, and then assume that God has two or more incommensurable values that can each, on their own, be plausible called "loving" (that is, charitable). Given those ingredients, the plan of a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God can be rife with all sorts of local value troughs (in appropriately bitter terms, atrocities and molestations and disasters and holocausts; "monstrous" allowances, as you say).

A is for Atheist said...

@ Stan, Part 1

You say that your view that God is responsible for:

"Every joy, every triumph, every sin, every horror, every atrocity is God's responsibility (and an individual, as an automaton in God's machine, can *share* particular responsibility)"

may not be the popular view, but it is the correct view, except for the claim that we share responsibility. Popularity has nothing to do with it. The fact of the matter is, that if God is responsible for every sin, and every horror, and every atrocity, then the Christian god must face up to the problem of evil.

The fact that Christians claim that their god is all good and all loving, makes no sense at all when he is responsible for every sin, every horror and every atrocity--and this would include anything that Adam and Eve may have done in the first place! Now, if any god is responsible for such a situation, and then punishes humans for his own atrocities, then this is absurd, and such a god is a moral monster. Therefore, the Christian god Yahweh is a moral monster!--if he existed at all.


I am not using grace "a bit incorrectly," I am assuming that it is true, and then illustrating what exactly the implications of grace are. Consider Baker's claim again:

“...the desire to do God’s will and the desire to will what is good are effects, not causes, of God’s grace. Turning to God is indeed a matter of will, but the will is caused by God to make the turn” (465)."

A is for Atheist said...

@ Stan part 2

Note, that if a person receives grace, it is not of their own doing, as Ephesians 2:8 tells us:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Grace is not the result of a person's free will to choose to believe or not to believe in God.)

and they are doing God's will, then, according to this notion, that person will be perfect, and sin no more. i.e. They will not molest children, (murder, rape, and so on). Furthermore, Hebrews 10:25-26 confirms this view, as it states that when a believer is saved, and has the laws written on their heart, there is NO MORE sacrifice for sins. If a believer sins willfully after being saved--they go to the pit of fire--no repentance. (Note the contradiction again, one does not do anything willfully, as the Christian god determines ones' desires, and thus, their "will.")--how bizarre.

If the Christian god is responsible for who receives grace, and thus will not molest children, (murder, rape, and so on) as a result, then he is also responsible for those who do not receive grace, and as a result of not receiving grace, continue to sin as you have pointed out by biting the bullet, he is responsible for every sin, every horror, every atrocity--and that includes child molestation (murder, rape, and so on).

Now, see how far down the rabbit hole you have to go once you start using Humpty Dumpty semantics to try to make sense out of the bible, when in fact, the bible makes no sense, or it leads to absurdity. Note, you say:

"Grace" doesn't just mean "everything God does." It means "everything God does that is helpful."

The implication is that grace includes everything. Furthermore, we would have no standard for judging the Christian God to be good, since he is in fact responsible for everything, including what you bit the bullet on, that is, "every joy, every triumph, every sin, every horror, every atrocity is God's responsibility."--this includes "the local evils (Hebrew "raah") and, the molestation of children (murder, rape, and so on), on this view they must be considered to be helpful. In other words, you are now committed to the claim that anything God does is good!--including the molestation of children (murder, rape, and so on).

Ahhhh...but now there would be no sinners, as everything a sinner does, is helpful and good! In essence, a bad sin would be good! Again--how bizarre. What an absurdity!! I must stop now, I cannot continue with this nonsense.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude said...

Tell me something. All atheists believe in death - death is a part of life, is it not? Therefore, you know what the term 'indelible' means, do you not? Therefore, we croak, yet, our soul's indelible... that's if you believe we have a soul. You'll find-out soon enough in the Warning which will come from God. Don't worry. It's only a Warning. Thus, you'll see a picture of Heaven, a horrific picture of Hell, and a picture of Purgatory. Don't worry. It's only a Warning. God bless you.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude

Actually I am an atheists and a Taoist and I do not believe in death. I believe that we are energy, and as such we never die, we just change forms. This is supported by the conservation of energy. The conservation of energy is a:

"...nineteenth century law of conservation of energy is a law of physics. It states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. The total energy is said to be conserved over time. For an isolated system, this law means that energy can change its location within the system, and that it can change form within the system, for instance chemical energy can become kinetic energy, but that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. In the nineteenth century, mass and energy were considered as being of quite different natures."(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy)

The 1st law of Thermodynamics states, energy can't be created nor destroyed.

Thus, when we are born energy is not created and when you die energy is not destroyed. By die here I mean that your particular conscience state ceases to exist, as far as we know. The laws of physics only supports the experience of death. Your energy doesn't die. We exist in a potential reality that's formed from a quantum fluctuation. I believe that we are energy in a state of decoherence and our energy doesn't magically disappear. Therefore, we never really die, we just change forms, as a Taoist would say, it is like the changing of seasons.

The energy that we are simply transitions into different energy forms, it disperses into the universe. Insects and animals eat it, plants take it and grow, and a lot of it is lost into the earth. It doesn't die. Therefore, I do not believe in death in the common sense, only in the sense that I defined above, that is our conscience state may cease to exist. No such thing as a soul is required. I would argue that via Occam's razor, there is no such thing as souls. Occam's razor is:

"...a principle that generally recommends that, from among competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one, and that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false.(http://aisforatheist5760.blogspot.com/2011/12/on-absurdity-of-compatibilism-and.html?showComment=1328922521368#c2477542588498681331)

I have presented you with the best explanation of life and death. On these grounds, as an atheist and a Taoist I do not believe in death. Therefore, your premise that all atheists believe in death is false--that is, of course, if by death you mean in the common sense that all that we are ceases to exist. As a result, the threat of death and Hell carries no weight for me!

Lyn Brody said...

Empirical Science is yet another religion as well as Atheism is yet another religion. Even Einstein in the end of his career new that science could not take him any further and he turned to the divine. There is so much we do not know and are in no hurry to find out. Why war against Christians when science has far from proved it's case. Darwin's theories are still just that. Atheism is looking for? Empirical Science is so closed minded that it will not accept evidence that tangibly exists. And there is a lot of evidence out there.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Lyn

Science and the Hypothetico-Deductive method provides us with better explanations than religion--in particular Christianity. For example, the germ theory does a far better explanation as to why people get sick as opposed to the "demon theory."

In my other blog posts I explain the best explanation argument, and how it works. and why in fact science and the Hypthetico-Deductive methods provide the best explanations for phenomena

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