This advert was placed in the Free Inquiry by a friend of mine. What do you think? I would love for Christians to properly engage with this argument.
WELL MEDITATED HATE
IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT FREE WILL
AND SOME ATHEISTS ARE COMPLICIT
What makes possible, and actually legitimates, the malignant hatred that poisons our relations — women hating men; blacks hating whites and vice versa; everyone hating the politicians and advocates of views to their distaste; and now, haters in entertainment and sports holding nothing back?
Hate is especially virulent and mindless in our universities where the inmates and their teachers have no tolerance for views they do not like. New tender sensibilities arise daily and are promptly indulged. Some hate our history and are promptly indulged.
All as if there could be no sufficient causes.
What is the reason?
Is it not our certainty that those we most detest are some combination of selfish, depraved, immoral, racist, elitist, chauvinistic, unprincipled and incorrigibly wicked? Even worse, they choose to be that when, if only they were decent they could and would do otherwise.
Unfortunately, I see this attitude reflected in the pages of Free Inquiry and in the snide remarks of our heroes like Dawkins, Harris, Coyne, Krauss and many others. I am sure they do not intend it. No doubt their hatred of the sins, as they see them, has blinded them to the fact they are expressing hatred of the sinner — and mightily contributing to the problem.
How ironic that they should be facilitating the devastating fiction that Jesus and his churches introduced, nourished and cultivated over centuries, free will.
“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Jesus speaking in Matthew.
The Prince of Peace, the very realization on earth of love, justice, mercy and forgiveness, provides divine justification for this malignancy. He legitimated hatred so sovereign that his wrath cannot be abated with even an eternity of human suffering.
How is it possible? The damned deserve this fate because God endowed them and all men everywhere and equally with the most awful gift imaginable — his only equal gift — free will — their passport to hell.
The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that everyone (except children and mental incompetents) make deliberated moral choices entirely free of the decisive influence of their biological inheritance and all experiences. It allows no cause other than uninfluenced contumacity when the goats get their desserts.
Unfortunately, this is easy to believe because we all know we choose freely every day. We consider, decide and do. Free will is further confirmed by its being universally accepted as the basis for our relations with others, customs and laws.
Surely it must be aided too, by our lifelong love affair with ourselves; we cannot care to see our particular intellect, abilities, talents and goodness as mere luck.
But what if free will is wrong? What if, as determinists insist, our choices are based on all antecedents back to the Big Bang and before, if there was a before?
Does not a decent respect for the many geniuses of the past and present who after a lifetime of study see free will is an illusion, compel all thoughtful people to at least pause and consider what led them there?
Among these from all fields are Baruch Spinoza; Voltaire; (Baron) Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach; Pierre Simon De Laplace; Arthur Schopenhauer; Charles Darwin; Albert Einstein; Max Planck; Karl Raimund Popper; Marvin Minsky; Bertrand Russell; Robert Ingersoll; Clarence Darrow; John Galsworthy; Herman Melville; Mark Twain and, according to Dr. Michael Gazziniga, the great majority of his fellow neuroscientists.
There are mountains of evidence that show that, far from being free of our biology and environment, those are the forces which determine who we are.
This evidence comes from social science showing the life-shaping effects of experience; the exact sciences based on causes for effects as revealed by careful testing and retesting; and on the findings in psychology and neuroscience which are almost daily revealing amazing insights made possible by entirely new scientific tools and techniques.
A moment’s honest introspection makes determinism obvious to our common sense. What control did you have over?
Becoming? Your parents? Your life in the womb, shaping your genetic self? Your time and place of birth? The mutations in your brain and body throughout life? Your nurture and experiences in infancy and childhood? Your relatives and race; your physical stature, looks, smile and voice; your intelligence, sexual drive and proclivities; your wit, personality; your natural ability in sports, music and dance? Your early life; your religious indoctrination; economic circumstances; cultural influences; political and civil rights; the prevailing customs of your times? The torrent of experiences throughout life not chosen by you but which happened to you – and changed you?
But if your will is free, not influenced by all that has made you who you are, in what sense are your decisions yours? On what basis does “free will” decide? Are decisions not willy-nilly if not based on all you are able to bring up for your conscious and unconscious consideration?
You can be free from external compulsion but you cannot be free of what made you, you.
If we truly understood this, what would our world be like?
Would anything be permissible? No. It is ridiculous to think it. Everything would stand as is except regarding anyone as responsiblyreprobate.
If we truly understood this, it would be impossible to sustain the hatred plaguing our lives today beyond the instant surge it is in our human nature to feel in certain situations, for the duration of that reaction. Our intellect would in due time compel us to see the truth, “there but for luck go I”.
As Sam Harris said in a talk on free will, “Aren’t you lucky you didn’t get the brain of a psychopathic killer?”
This would force us to give more attention to finding ways to subject miscreants and those with whom we disagree to experiences — argument, praise, education, admonishment, embarrassment, rebuke, punishment, whatever seems most likely to work — which might cause them to see the light.
Finding the right dose of experience is the hard part. There surely is no foolproof way. But in any case, society must protect itself from bad behavior. The reality of determinism is no license for unacceptably harmful anti-social acts.
The only chance we have to end the hatred that has characterized man’s history, legitimized by Jesus/God, is to embrace the science of cause and effect and realize that we are all caused to do as we do by antecedents. [Presidents of the United States are not exempted.]
If we truly understood this, it would force an honest and perhaps agonizing reassessment of our high regard for ourselves, our motives, our intelligence and accomplishments. Who would not benefit?
There is reason to be hopeful that science will, maybe soon, produce the incontrovertible evidence that will open the way to a real change in the hearts of men.
Then an era of understanding might someday persuade some of us, and more of the young, to tame our hate for the simple reason it is the way human beings actually work.
Is there not an obligation on those who believe this to try to act accordingly?
And for those who don’t, to at least rethink the matter.
Is there another moral question of greater import?
This ad was paid for by a fellow feather on the sea of fate.
As usual, I invite comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
If history holds, I will get few.