If you have free will then you can decide to be an atheist or a believer and you can also decide to be good or bad.

 

If you decide to be an atheist or to be bad, god will certainly punish you in the afterlife and, in all likelihood, in this life as well.

 

The prospect of certain or highly likely punishment is restraining to most humans and restraint is the opposite of freedom.

 

Therefore, god's gift of free will does not give freedom to most humans.

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Yep pretty much. Assuming we can even make a case that free will exists.
Would it be reasonable to argue that there might be levels of freedom or a freedom gradient?  One might say that if I pointed a gun at you and demanded that you tell me that you love me, you would still technically be free to not do so whatever the consequence.  There is still an ability to make a choice, and does this not constitute freedom of some degree? Though if you did indeed make the "choice" to utter the demanded words the sincerity would obviously be dubious.
Of course you have a point.  My concern, however, is with the connotation of the word "free" implying no constraints at all.  Facing an eternity in hell for the wrong choice is a major constraint.
Oh, I absolutely agree. I have often argued the same point with many Christians only to receive something similar to the reply I made to you, and I was merely curious as to how you would respond to this particular line of reasoning.

From that perspective it would seem that the Christian definition of a freedom of choice was basically a "Sophie's Choice", and while it seems unlikely that an omnibenevolent creator would resort to such tactics to feed his cosmic ego, most Christians have no difficulty with this concept.

Thought I'd inject with my own thoughts here.

 

I actually agree with Christians that "free will" doesn't necessarily mean freedom from consequences. Even without God in the equation, obviously I can't go and shoot someone without consequences, but I still have the choice. I am capable of making decisions, so under most practical definitions of free will, that qualifies. While it could be argued that God has some... let's say "eccentric" ideas about proper consequences, I would argue that isn't relevant to a discussion about free will.

 

The problem is with our loose use of language, where God giving us "free will" is perceived as granting us "freedom" which are two completely different things. Free will is simply the ability to do something, while freedom is the right to do something without consequences. The United States constitution gave me the freedom to call God eccentric. God gave me no such freedom, regardless of whether he did or did not give me free will to begin with.

Yes, I think that you have a good point re loose language.  If by consequences one means that things could go one of several possible ways, both negative and positive, that would be consistent with the above notion of free will.  On the other hand if the consequences are certain eternal punishment handed out by an omnipotent, omnipresent power then, for me, this is not significantly different than constraint and lack of freedom.  In fact in societies that we consider not to be free, the constraints are usually severe punishments or threats of death.
Free will from the Judeo-Christian god is equivalent to the free will your typical North Korean citizens has. They can choose to go along with living under an oppressive regime, or they can choose to defy their dictator and spend the rest of their life in a prison or die.
I put a gun to your back and say"your money or youe life but the choice is yours".The antithesis of free will is coercion.

Somebody PLEASE tell me ... WHAT is the point of free will if exercising it without harm to others but outside of the putative will of the deity who granted it results in ETERNAL DAMNATION?!?

 

I mean, WHO came up with THAT bullshit?

That's where are mixed terminology come in. Free will isn't really good for anything. It's like "yay, I can make bad choices that lead to bad stuff, thanks God!" It's hard to understand exactly how that is better than just being perfect without free will. Isn't that basically what we try for anyway? I'd really like all of my decisions to be perfect. I've never screwed up and thought "it's a good thing I was able to make that horrible decision."

 

The thing is, free will sounds good because it has the word free as part of it, and we like freedom. But free will isn't freedom. It's just playing on words and nobody really thinks about it beyond "Free. God. Puppies. Yay!"

 

Mark my words, within a half century, the new Christian thing will be to work the word "natural" into something God did or gave to us. Probably something that doesn't even make sense, but it will sound really nice and make everyone feel good. Just like "free" will, just like having a "relationship" with Christ (apparently a sucky relationship where I do whatever he wants without so much as an explanation), just like having "faith."

 

None of this means anything, it's just throwing happy words into religion.

'Freedom' is one of the most abused words in our language, it comes second only to 'Love.'

Whatever free will might be, we humans are only free to act within limits. There are many limits on what any individual can do, and so, out of their own free will, they cannot opt to make those choices which lie outside those limits. The thelogical justfiication for evil, is that to do good, we must be able to do bad or evil. Without that dichotomy, it is held, we would not have free will.

 

Yet if "God" exists, then "he" arbitrarily limits our will in numerous other ways, which belies the freewill justification for anything, (theologically speaking). An atheistic contention could be that if an all-good god existed, and created the world, and had the ability, "he" would have made a world without evil. Being all-good, such a god would have made an all-good world. This might limit human freewill, but this is only a modification of limits.

 

As Ashleigh said: "Assuming we can even make a case that free will exists".

 

An all-good god that creates an other-than-all-good world is the inventor of the bad or evil. Theology claims that the sequence was . . .

 

god (all-good) => universe (god + not-all-good)

 

This god makes so called evil possible, defines it, supposedly tells us what it is, (very poorly I might add), and then prohibits it on pain of eternal punishment.

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