Libertarian Free Will Defeats the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Libertarian Free Will Defeats the Kalam Cosmological Argument May 23, 2013

I was posting on Randal Rauser’s blog recently and made a throwaway comment about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) and libertarian free will (Rauser posted about it here and here). It is an argument which I have meant to spell out for some time and so I guess this is as good a time as any.

So let me remind you of the KCA.

Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence

The universe began to exist

Therefore the universe had a cause (for its existence)

Essentially, this argument implies by assertion that you cannot have ex nihilo creation – that an event cannot be created out of nothing. Only God, it supposes, can do this. And thus the universe, created out of nothing (arguably) was created ex nihilo by God. The causal chain goes back to the Big Bang and stops. How can this be explained? Well, since causality must continue regressing backwards, if there is a beginning to causality, it can ONLY be explained by God.

However, the theist is usually, if not a Calvinist, an adherent to the notion of libertarian free will (LFW). By this, I mean that they believe an agent could make free choices – could have done otherwise. This implies that the agent is the originator of a freely willed decision, or the causal chain in a decision. The determinist, on the other hand, believes that every effect has a cause and that that cause is itself an effect or a prior cause and this goes back to the Big Bang or similar starting point where physics breaks down, or some other such situation (Loop Quantum Cosmological loop or suchlike).

The point is that the denier of LFW claims that the agent is themselves part of a larger causal chain which explains why the agent did what they did; that the reasons were derived from what is known as the causal circumstance – the snapshot of the universe at that prior moment to the event.

Back to the theist. So they generally believe that the causal chain starts with the agent; that they originate the causal chain. This allows them ownership over the decision so that the reason for the decision cannot be further deferred to other causes. But this means that the agent is creating something out of nothing. There is ex nihilo creation, since no prior reason can be given to explain the agent’s decision, otherwise we return to determinism.

But allowing for ex nihilo creation defies the opening premise of the KCA. William Lane Craig is always espousing the intuitive ‘truth’ of the metaphysical claim that ex nihilo nihil fit – out of nothing, nothing is made. But the theist is pretty much always an adherent of the KCA AND LFW!

Potential Objections

The theist seems to use one of two defences here:

1) That prior causes merely influence but do not define the decision

2) That the agent is itself a cause – and that is fine. For example, there is the theory of agent causation supposing that agents are different to events and event causation. People can somehow ground causal chains and decisions in a way which is different to, say, a boulder rolling down a hill, hitting a tree and a pine-cone falling out. That kind of causality has no agency.

1) can easily be answered as I have done here.

2) is a non-starter, as far as I am concerned. Agent causation is a theory developed by people like Roderick Chisholm half a century ago. I am not that sure that many people adhere to it these days. It seems there is no good reason for asserting that agents are causally different to standard events. One can appeal to some kind of dualism, but causality is metaphysical as a concept, and dualistic substances need adhere to it in the same way matter does, too. To merely suppose an agent can be sufficient explanation for the cause of a decision is particularly question-begging. Without causal reasons, a decision grounded in no reason other than ‘the agent’ is synonymous with random. Brain events, genetics and biology, we know, cause agents to make the decisions they do. Mixed with the environment, and you have a causal circumstance and determinism.

We know, for example, that in the Benjamin Libet style experiments (where we can observe that the brain kicks into gear before the conscious brain ‘decides’ to press a button) we can actually ask the subject to press a left or right button and send trans-cortical stimulation (magnetic stimulation) in to the brain and make the agent either choose left or right, depending on where we send it. The agent then assigns their own agency to that afterwards claiming that they freely chose left or right.

No, the agent cannot be asserted as an entity able to start a causal chain, because this assumes that a causal reason is given for a causal chain, but in a causal vacuum.

Which means that the adherent to the KCA cannot consistently and coherently be an adherent of libertarian free will. Theists, then, are not logically consistent.

As Paul Russell states (Freedom and Moral Sentiment, 1995, p.14):

…the well-known dilemma of determinism. One horn of this dilemma is the argument that if an action was caused or necessitated, then it could not have been done freely, and hence the agent is not responsible for it. The other horn is the argument that if the action was not caused, then it is inexplicable and random, and thus it cannot be attributed to the agent, and hence, again, the agent cannot be responsible for it. In other words, if our actions are caused, then we cannot be responsible for them; if they are not caused, we cannot be responsible for them. Whether we affirm or deny necessity and determinism, it is impossible to make any coherent sense of moral freedom and responsibility.

This problem is known as the Dilemma of Determinism and requires something a little special if the theist wants to bypass issues raised by the KCA in order to solve it.

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  • ArtemisBel

    My only comment is that opposing libertarian free will directly with determinism you are conflating 2 points and therefore missing half of the argument. Libertarian free will denies determinism, and then goes on to say that therefore free will exists. It is one form of incompatiblism. They would say that free will is not compatible with determinism, but that since determinism is false, there is free will.

    In contrast, I would oppose determinism with its opposite – the falsehood of determinism (for whatever reason, and there could be a number)

    Free will is then brought into the picture by deciding whether or not it is compatible with determinism.

    Those incompatlblists who believe that free will is incompatible with determinism may say that either determinism is true – and therefore we have no free will, or that it is false – and they are called libertarians with respect to free will. Almost no self-respecting philosopher would take this position – though I imagine some theologians might!

    Philosophers who say that we have free will tend to be compatiblists, and say that the universe is deterministic (and where it is not it is random, which does not rescue free will), but that determinism and free will are compatible. Daniel Dennett explains this position really nicely.

    Unfortunately, as I’m sure you have found, the whole debate gets very muddied when religion is brought into it, as anyone with a religious belief will try to use the tools of philosophy to justify their position, rather than in a pursuit of truth, where-ever it may lead

    • Thanks for that comment, Clio.

      I don’t think one needs to bring compatibilism in to play, or even any ism other than libertarianism. The LFWer believes that a decision can be rooted solely in the agent with no recourse to causal factors, and yet it can still be ‘reasoned’.

      The Dilemma of Determinism is an issue which is wider than the determinism debate (I like the wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilemma_of_determinism#Free_will_is_generally_impossiblewhich states that “free will is generally impossible”).

      What is important here is what the LFWer claims about free will, and whether it is coherent with their claim about the KCA.

      LFW = originator of causal chain.

      As Chisholm and Robert Kane stated:

      “Each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing — or no one — causes us to cause these events to happen.” (Chisholm 1964, p. 32)

      “Free will…is the power of agents to be the ultimate creators or originators and sustainers of their own ends or purposes…when we trace the causal or explanatory chains of action back to their sources in the purposes of free agents, these causal chains must come to an end or terminate in the willings (choices, decisions, or efforts) of the agents, which cause or bring about their purposes.” (Kane 1996, p. 4)

      Which is precisely what the KCA states cannot happen. Only God can create anything from nothing. The universe is itself a big causal chain which is originated in, say, the Big Bang.

      So the theist states agents can create causal chains ex nihilo, and yet they state the universal causal chain cannot be created ex nihilo by anything but God…

  • John Grove

    [[Which means that the adherent to the KCA cannot consistently and coherently be an adherent of libertarian free will]]

    Interesting and I had similar thoughts on this after reading your book.

  • Normally I’m right with you, but I’m not sure I agree with this line of argument.

    My understanding of Kalam and other cosmological arguments is that the idea of “ex nihilo nihil fit” is meant to imply that something has to always exist to cause other things.

    The issue is that neither side really believes there could be a state of “absolutely nothing” in the philosophical sense. Theists always think god exists, and generally, atheists think some form of material reality always exists (quantum vacuum/energy, etc).

    On the theist side, they DO engage in some form of “creation ex nihilo” in terms that god supposedly creates the material universe without a material cause. That in itself is it’s own ball of absurdity that I think is a fantastic point that isn’t brought up enough in a debate context, but I don’t think it applies here.

    I think the theist who espouses the KCA can take refuge, consistently, in the idea that LFW doesn’t engage in a form of “creation ex nihilo” that they don’t already think is possible. The idea being that the decision is being done by some homunculus in the mind which is made of spirit-stuff, which somehow interacts with the brain. From their point of view, the homunculus of the mind isn’t “nothing”.

    Now I largely agree with all your points about the experiments with the brain that we have done disproving the idea that we have libertarian free will, I just don’t see how this ties back to the KCA.

    • John Grove

      [[The issue is that neither side really believes there could be a state of “absolutely nothing” in the philosophical sense]]

      That is true, for even if a Christian will pay lip service to creation ex nihilo, it is really not far to say that since, after all, they believe God existed. God surely is not “nothing”. So, based on that, both sides seems to imply there is no such thing as “nothing” in the philosophical sense.

      Also, as aside note, saying that God is a spirit or non material or mind just ain’t helpful. Ever notice how the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike?

      • Basically, you have to either admit that “absolute nothing” or “philosophical nothing” is impossible, or you’re going to give up the metaphysical principle of “out of nothing, nothing comes”. And if you give that up, all cosmological arguments come off the table as valid proofs of a god.

        Generally, I think a very strong case can be made out of a cosmological argument that some form of material reality has always existed. This is definitely favorable to the atheist, since it makes a god unnecessary to create the universe, and it’s particularly nice because it contradicts Christian theology of “creation ex nihilo”.

        • It is, at the end of the day, the creation of causality out of nothing.

          The agent is the prime mover in the same way God is for the universe.

          • JohnM

            An agent is not nothing. So if an agent created it, it didn’t come out of nothing.

          • John Grove

            To use your very same logic:

            An agent is not nothing. If God created the universe, it didn’t come out of nothing..

          • JohnM

            Both the universe and the agents in it ( you and me ) didn’t come out of nothing. That’s the whole point of KCA. “Everything which begins to exist has a cause”.

            But that’s not the same as saying that therefore everything in the universe, came out of God. You and I too have the ability to create. We have for example just created this conversation, out of ourselves. We weren’t caused to do that. We as free will agents, decided to engage in that conversation.

          • John Grove

            You are missing the point. You don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Your decision to engage in a conversation was caused by something else, which was caused by something else. Scroll down just a little to where Johnny says to Clare, “You are defined, in your decision making, by your past, present, genetics, biology, environment and so on.”. See his link:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2012/10/03/free-will-we-are-influenced-but-not-determined-the-80-20-approach-as-nonsense/

            You didn’t know that you were going to engage in this discussion until the intention itself arose. What caused that? Unconscious neural events determine our thoughts and actions. What caused those?

          • JohnM

            John Grove said : You are missing the point. You don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Your decision to engage in a conversation was caused by something else, which was caused by something else.

            You’re making a category mistake. The opportunity to engage, was cause by Jonathan writing the OP. But we were not caused to engage in it. We did that of our own free will. And we could easily have decided not to respond.

            To say otherwise, is to claim that it was going to happen anyway, no matter what we willed, as it was caused by outside causes. And that is the belief in a future set in stone. “Fate” so to speak. And that’s basically the belief that one can do nothing to change the future, as what will happen ( determined by outside causes ) will happen. Which is basically an attempt to remove from oneself the responsibility of ones own actions…

          • I think you broadly misunderstand the point.

            1) Only God can create out of nothing (KCA)
            2) freely willed decisions are, by definitions, causal chains created out of nothing by the agent (LFW)

            2) contradicts 1). Against apparently can create causality out of nothing. To say that something defines that causality, you return to determinism. At most, only one of these ideas can be true.

          • JohnM

            No you have misunderstood KCA.

            “Out of nothing, nothing comes.”

            Which is why premise 2 is : “Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence”.

            If nothing comes out of nothing, then everything that has come, has a cause.

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said : freely willed decisions are, by definitions, causal chains created out of nothing by the agent

            Free willed decisions doesn’t come out of nothing. They come out of an agent.

          • John Grove

            [[Free willed decisions doesn’t come out of nothing. They come out of an agent]]

            Either they are random or they have reasons. Both are deterministic.

    • Cheers Counter

      Craig claims this:

      “I think that the principle ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing nothing comes)is as certain as anything in philosophy and that no rational person sincerely doubts it. But this principle does not in any way contradict the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), as the medieval thinkers who espoused both realized. For only in the case of creation is there a cause which brings the relevant object into being.”

      It is the PRINCIPLE which dictates, I think, that nothing can come from nothing. Or that a cause cannot come from a causeless state.

      IF you see my comment in reply to Clio, it is precisely this which libertarians claim. In fact, the language used the same:

      “”Each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing — or no one — causes us to cause these events to happen.” (Chisholm 1964, p. 32)

      Such that the term ‘prime mover’ is used which is precisely what cosmological arguments are: arguments about prime movers, but in the context of THE causal chain of the universe, as opposed to originated causal chains WITHIN the universe.

      • JohnM

        As far as I understand, when WLC talks about “creatio ex nihilo”, it’s not in a casual sense ( after all he holds God to be the cause of the Universe ) but rather in the sense of the immaterial, giving rise to the material.

        I myself is a material being, made of flesh and bones. Yet I can give rise to the immaterial, such as sound, thoughts, concepts and ideas. Things which can be communicated by a material medium, but are themselves immaterial.

        So since that is possible, why would the opposite be impossible?

        • Andy_Schueler

          I myself is a material being

          If you mean “material”=”consisting of matter and ONLY of matter” – this is a false claim.

          Yet I can give rise to the immaterial, such as sound, thoughts, concepts and ideas.

          If you mean “immaterial”=”non-physical”, this claim is 25% false (sound) and 75% argument by assertion (thoughts, concepts, ideas).

          • JohnM

            What do you hold sound, thoughts, concepts and ideas to be?

            And am I not a material being, made of flesh and bones?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I won´t explain to you what sound is unless you pay me for teaching you high school physics.
            Re thoughts, concepts, ideas, they demonstrably correlate with neural activity patterns. If you believe that these entities have non-physical components as well, prove it.

          • JohnM

            If you hold determinism to be false.. Then what causes our neural activity?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Hyper-condensed and ultra-simplified version:
            Depolarization in the plasma membranes of neurons causing conformational changes in voltage-gates ion channels, leading to an influx of ions, leading to an electrical current that is transmitted over dendrites and axons.

            For more details – sign up for Biology classes or buy textbooks or pay me for tuition.

          • JohnM

            So let me get this right.. Our neural activity is the product of depolarization ( positive / negative changes ) in neurons, leading to an influx of ions, leading to an electrical current in our brain. And all of this is determined by the laws of nature, correct? So essentially, what we think, is determined by outside causes (which causes the depolarization), and the laws of nature, correct?

            Well that’s determinism.

            Unless you think, that we somehow control what causes the depolarization, which would give us free will.

            Unless you think, that complete randomness causes the depolarization, which would make our thoughts the product of blind chance.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Our neural activity is the product of depolarization ( positive / negative changes )

            Nope. Depolarization always increases (i.e., a positive change) the membrane potential, a decrease would be polarization.

            So essentially, what we think, is determined by outside causes (which causes the depolarization), and the laws of nature, correct?

            Depends on what you mean by “outside causes”. And note that this does not imply determinism in any way, it only does if you subscribe to deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics or believe that systems like voltage-gated ion channels are not affected by quantum indeterminancy due to decoherence.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : Depends on what you mean by “outside causes”.

            It’s irrelevant what I mean by outside causes. What do you think causes depolarization?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I already explained to you what the most frequent cause of depolarization is – electrical currents transmitted over dendrites and axons. If you are interested in how the whole system starts to show activity in neural development, this is due to “leak” channels – non-selective channels (that don´t require a conformational change to allow ions to pass through) ions passing through these channels cause the first depolarizations in the earliest steps of neural development.

  • Clare45

    I am not a philosopher but going by basic logic, would it not solve the determinist dilemma by stating that a person has limited free will? A person’s actions may be biologically or environmentally predisposed, but within the broad categories there is still room for some choices. For example, I can still decide whether to have eggs or cereal for breakfast, but if I am allergic to eggs, that will make me choose the cereal. If my parents forced me to eat eggs as a child, I might also prefer cereal, but if neither type of event happened, I might choose eggs one day and cereal the next.

  • JohnM

    Jonathan said : Essentially, this argument implies by assertion that you cannot have ex nihilo creation – that an event cannot be created out of nothing. Only God, it supposes, can do this.

    Not even the universe was created out of nothing. God is the cause of the universe.

    Jonathan said : The causal chain goes back to the Big Bang and stops.

    No. The causal chain goes back to God.

    Did God have a first cause? No, because God was not created. God have exist eternally, and therefore cannot have a cause. If God had a cause, he would have a beginning.

    Jonathan said : Back to the theist. So they generally believe that the causal chain starts with the agent; that they originate the causal chain.

    We are created in God’s image. We don’t merely react to outside causes. We ourselves create/cause the world our round us. Out of nothing? No. We create out of ourselves. I take what I have, and add something new to the world, merely using the tools that I have. Be it art, literature, music.. what have you. I’m not caused to do that. I’m partly inspired and partly making it up myself.

    You writing this post, was not caused by your parents, in a distant past. You decided to do that yourself. And me writing this post, was not caused by you. I decided to do that myself. It didn’t have to be so. You could easily have decided not to write it. And I could easily have decided not to comment on it.

    Jonathan said : out of nothing, nothing is made.

    “Out of nothing, nothing comes”. Or.. “Nothing comes from nothing”.

    We all know that. And that’s the whole point of KCA. The universe didn’t come out of nothing. “Everything which begins to exist has a cause”.

    • “And me writing this post, was not caused by you. I decided to do that
      myself. It didn’t have to be so. You could easily have decided not to
      write it.”

      but that decision either way can only be taken by the occurrence of previous events, i.e. postings. Without those no decision either way could have been possible.

      • JohnM

        You’re right that the opportunity to respond, was cause by Jonathan writing the OP. But having the opportunity, and taking the opportunity to respond, is two different things.

        In a sense, every post in this discussion is an opportunity for you and me to respond to it. Yet we didn’t respond to everything that has been written, because we only willed to respond to certain things.

        • Andy_Schueler

          Argument by assertion fallacy.

          • JohnM

            Determinism is the biggest assertion of them all. And is easily demonstrated to be false. Can you for example think of something, which outside causes determines me not to do?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I don´t assert that determinism is true.

          • JohnM

            Of course you do. It’s your worldview.

          • Andy_Schueler

            No. You are lying, as usual.
            I´m strongly leaning towards the notion that determinism is false, for a variety of reasons.

          • JohnM

            I’m sorry, that’s completely new to me. I don’t know why I had gotten that impression. So since you’re strongly leaning towards the notion that determinism is false, what are you left with? Free will?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m sorry, that’s completely new to me.

            I told you at least three times already that I´m not a determinist.

            So since you’re strongly leaning towards the notion that determinism is false, what are you left with? Free will?

            No. And if you don´t understand why “Free will or determinism” is a false dichotomy, you demonstrate yet again that you know nothing about this subject.

          • JohnM

            Stop being such a sissy and come out of the closet..

            If you hold determinism to be false, then what are you left with?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Indeterminism.

          • JohnM

            As in randomness / blind chance?

          • Andy_Schueler

            In systems where quantum indeterminancy is relevant, yes – unless you subscribe to deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics.

          • JohnM

            So what you just wrote there, is a product of blind chance?

            Pretty strange that I’m able to read and comprehend it, don’t you think?

            I mean, what are the chances, that you just happened to combine the letters in some way that I was able to understand?

          • Andy_Schueler

            So what you just wrote there, is a product of blind chance?

            No.

          • JohnM

            Oki so let me get this right.. randomness / blind chance causes depolarization, which determines our neural activity. And yet, our thoughts are not the product of blind chance?

          • Andy_Schueler

            randomness / blind chance causes depolarization, which determines our neural activity.

            1. If you mean “randomness” in the sense of a uniform probability distribution – that´s not what I mean.
            2. I never claimed that all processes are random (“stochastic” would be a much more appropriate choice of words here since “random” is ambigious). You can only think in black-and-white categories and you project this naive view on me. Indeterminism does not mean that all processes are stochastic, it means that some types of processes are stochastic.
            3. “randomness / blind chance causes depolarization” is an idiotic statement that I never made. If you would rephrase it to “stochastic events affect neuronal processes” I would agree that this seems to be very likely to me for a variety of reasons.

          • JohnM

            It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain. The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness. Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.

          • Andy_Schueler

            It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain.

            1. It does matter.
            2. Again, if you are talking about “random” in the colloquial sense, that´s not what I´m talking about in any case.

            The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness.

            That is idiotic.

            Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.

            That is an idiotic conclusion based on an idiotic assumption.

          • JohnM

            You’re using the word “idiotic” quite a few times there. Sounds like someone is trapped, in his own little hole of explanation, and doesn’t like it very much there.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Yes, “idiotic” is indeed the only accurate description of your claims. But lets follow your claims to some logical conclusions:

            1. The entire discipline of soft computing, and all approaches and products that derive from it, are utterly and completely useless because they always involve at least one stochastic component and thus produce “just random nonsense”. This includes classifiers like speech- and facial-recognition and friend-foe recognition and commercial solutions for optimization problems, like software for designing curricula in large universities and software for designing telecommunication routing patterns – to name just a few of the thousands of real-world applications that actually cannot possibly work, because random internet fucktard sez so.

            2. Probabilistic encryption is useless because it generates “just random nonsense”, this must be true because random internet fucktard sez so.

            3. Bacterial chemo- and luminotaxis is just a completely “random walk” and cannot possibly be adaptive, because random internet fucktard sez so.

            This list could be extended to at least a few dozen additional items. Congratulations, in the list of your most idiotic statements on this blog, this one:
            “It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain. The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness. Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.”
            – is top 20 material.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : The entire discipline of soft computing, and all approaches and products that derive from it, are utterly and completely useless because…

            Probabilistic encryption is useless because….

            I’ve said no such thing. It’s just your own flawed logic, nothing more.

            Once again, you’re making irrelevant stuff up to try and escape an embarrassing mess that you’ve gotten yourself into.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’ve said no such thing.

            Of course you didn´t!
            “It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain. The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness. Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.”
            — JohnM

          • JohnM

            Of course it’s a product of randomness, if randomness is involved in determining the outcome. But that doesn’t make it useless, as you said. So no, you don’t have a point. At least try to cook up something that isn’t so easily refuted.

          • Andy_Schueler

            But that doesn’t make it useless, as you said.

            I didn´t say it is useless (and it would be idiotic to say that it is), but it logically follows from your idiotic statement. You might not have used the word “useless”, but you said “Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye” – and no “rationality” in a solution for classification / optimization problems means that the solution is useless.

            “Rationality” means a) making good decisions based on b) all available information in c) a consistent way. Approaches derived from soft computing do exactly that, that´s why we use them, and they don´t only do it much faster than a trained human being could, in a lot of cases they also do it much better.
            This demonstrably true observation (and countless others – I could extend the list above by at least a few dozen items) directly contradicts your idiotic statement:
            It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain. The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness. Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.”
            — JohnM

          • JohnM

            Andy said : I didn´t say it is useless, but it logically follows from your statement

            No it does not, silly.

            Andy said : You might not have used the word “useless”, but you said “Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye”

            And of course, you haven’t got the slightest clue what I actually mean by that. Which is where the problem comes from.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Person 1: [makes idiotic statement]
            Person 2: [points out how that statement was completely idiotic]
            Person 1: “No, I actually meant something completely different than what I said, you just don´t understand what I mean, if you would understand what I actually mean – which I cannot express using intelligible sentences – you would see that it was totally not idiotic!”

            :-D :-D :-D

          • JohnM

            It’s pretty simple actually. As you yourself said, rationality is a matter of consistency. But if it’s a product of randomness, as randomness is involved in determining the outcome, then the consistency evaporates.

            It’s a bit like attempting to find meaning or a pattern the result of pulling a lever on a slot machine.

          • Andy_Schueler

            All approaches derived from soft computing include at least one step that is influenced by stochastic processes. And their performance is MUCH more consistent than the performance of a trained human being doing the same job – because approaches derived from soft computing are not influenced by moods, emotions, prejudices etc.pp.

            Congratulations, you took a completely idiotic claim, and made it even more idiotic.

          • JohnM

            No, that’s just you posting random gibberish again.

          • Andy_Schueler

            :-D :-D :-D
            Your complete inability to understand what the word “gibberish” means makes your idiotic ramblings even more hilarious :-D

          • JohnM

            You sit there talking about “soft computing” as if you knew what you were talking about. In reality, you haven’t got the slightest clue. There is no such thing as randomness when it comes to computers. You really should know that..

            Computers only do exactly what you tell them to do. They cannot think creatively or make up random numbers. Rather, when you ask for a random number, all that the computer is doing, is to take the current time stamp, running it though an algorithm, and reduce it down to a single number.

          • Andy_Schueler

            You sit there talking about “soft computing” as if you knew what you were talking about.

            Yes, because unlike you, I actually work with approaches derived from soft computing regularly and even wrote some myself.

            There is no such thing as randomness when it comes to computers.

            Yeah, lets let random internet fucktard explain Computer Science 101!
            In practice, we use pseudo-random numbers based on fixed numerical seeds, quasi-random numbers based on system time and genuinely random numbers based on radioactice decay, thermal noise and other stochastic processes.

            Congratulations for adding yet another layer of idiocy to already completely idiotic claims :-D

          • Andy_Schueler

            Just saw that you added this:
            “It’s a bit like attempting to find meaning or a pattern the result of pulling a lever on a slot machine.”
            => OMG :-D, it´s as if one could watch you getting dumber by the second.

          • JohnM

            Has anyone noticed the consistently between Andy’s insecurity and his Ad hominem attacks?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Congratulations! You are even too dumb to understand what “ad hominem” means (hint: calling you an idiot is not “ad hominem”, saying that your arguments are wrong because you are an idiot would be “ad hominem”, demonstrating that your arguments are idiotic and calling you an idiot based on that is not ad hom – it´s a simple statement of fact).

          • JohnM

            You’re describing the ad hominem fallacy. I didn’t say that it was the fallacy. I said Ad hominem attacks.

          • Andy_Schueler

            And you still don´t understand what “ad hominem” means – an ad hominem attack is an attack on the person instead of the arguments made by this person.
            I call you “idiot” after demonstrating how ridiculously and utterly wrong your arguments are, because you are an idiot. Not because you are consistently wrong about pretty much everything you post on this blog, but rather because you speak with utmost certainty about subjects that you are completely ignorant about.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : And you still don´t understand what “ad hominem” means

            Sure I do. It is Latin for “to the man”. Which is why I used it as a synonym for personal attacks. It’s you who merely associate I with the fallacy. So don’t even go there.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Which is why I used it as a synonym for personal attacks

            So you took established terminology and redefined it. Noted.

            It’s you who merely associate I with the fallacy

            No. It´s me who, unlike you, understands what ad hominem means.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : So you took established terminology and redefined it.

            No at all, Ad hominem attacks is a very widely used synonym for Personal attacks. But in order for it to be a fallacy, you have to use personal attacks as an argument.. Which is why the fallacy is actually called Argumentum ad hominem.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Ad hominem attacks is a very widely used synonym for Personal attacks

            Maybe, if a substantial number of people are as clueless about what “ad hominem” means as you are. It´s not defined as a synonym for personal attacks, it means that you do not engage the arguments that have been presented and rather focus on the person that presented the arguments.

            “ad hominem”:
            1. appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
            2. marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ad%20hominem

          • JohnM

            Ad hominem is just Latin for “to the man”. Which is how I used it.

          • Andy_Schueler

            And, as I said, I don´t care if you redefine established terminology, I use it as it is defined.

            Btw, notice the hilarious evolution of your positions:

            1. “It doesn’t really matter where or how many random points of interest you have in the casual chain. The point is, that you have them. And therefore the result is a product of randomness. Which means that you can kiss rationality goodbye, as thoughts becomes a product of randomness.”

            After I demonstrated how this is completely idiotic on every conceivable level, you moved to:
            2. “And of course, you haven’t got the slightest clue what I actually mean by that.”

            After I mocked you for this ridiculous non-reply, you moved to:
            3. “It’s pretty simple actually. As you yourself said, rationality is a matter of consistency. But if it’s a product of randomness, as randomness is involved in determining the outcome, then the consistency evaporates.”

            After I demonstrated that this is even more idiotic than your original claim, you finally moved to:
            4. “Andy is being mean to me!!”

            I long ago stopped expecting anything resembling a reasonable comment from you, and you still continuously manage to impress me with your inanity ;-).

          • John – You might want to check this out:

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/

            I am not 100% sure of Andy’s position, or the reasons for it, but I assume it is an indeterministic view of reality which still does not allow for free will based on the principle of alternate possibilities, where an agent could choose otherwise. I may well be wrong, and invire Andy to correct me if so.

            This would be your challenge, John:

            Imagine this. There is, say, 60% influence from extrinsic factors which includes internal factors of the agent like genes etc). You seem to then posit the will as providing causal filler for the remaining 40%. But just positing the will is not an explanation. It is like asking someone why they did something and them answering “because I willed to”. That is synonymous with random unless reasons can be given. As soon as reasons are given, though, these can be reduced to other causal factors. Why did you choose a vegetarian pizza? Because I wanted to. Why? Because when I was younger, my older sister was a vegetarian and introduced me to the ethics of vegetarianism. When I was 17 I visited an abattoir. All my friends are vegetarian and I have a high empathy rating etc. All of this creates my will. It determines it. What would ever make me choose otherwise if we rewound to the exact same moment, ceteris paribus? This is the test of free will. If you cannot provide reasons for choosing otherwise given the exact same universe down to the molecule and past, then the agent has no ‘reason’ for choosing otherwise. Any such alternate choice is synonymous with random.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I am not 100% sure of Andy’s position, or the reasons for it, but I assume it is an indeterministic view of reality which still does not allow for free will based on the principle of alternate possibilities, where an agent could choose otherwise.

            Absolutely. I lean towards the notion that a deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics is less likely to be true than a non-deterministic one and I also lean towards the notion that quantum indeterminancy does play a role in neuronal processes.
            So I´m not a determinist, but my position cannot be reconciled with libertarian free will – just as you said.

          • JohnM

            It’s true that people have preferences, when ordering food, based on previous experiences. But that is not something which determines what food you order, for you.

            Imagine that you had a been a vegetarian all your life, because once you during your childhood, you saw your brother eat a worm that was still alive, to make a buck, which made him very sick.. And therefore you decided to be a vegetarian.

            Now you’re sitting at this restaurant, about to order food, and someone walks in the door, telling you: 10 people outside on the street will die, if you don’t order that big juicy beef burger.

            Would your vegetarian habits and your childhood memories determine, that you couldn’t order that big juicy beef burger? Or would you be able to say: “You know what.. today I’m gonna try something different, just to save those peoples life”?

          • You simply miss whole ideas and notions, John.

            What would make you say, “You know what.. today I’m gonna try something different, just to save those peoples life” – what reasons would you have? And where would those reasons come from? And given a rewind in time, what would give you reason to choose otherwise?

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said : given a rewind in time, what would give you reason to choose otherwise?

            What you’re aiming at there, is no different on the free will scenario. If you have arrived at a conclusion about something being the right thing to do in a given situation, and you come across the same situation again, why would you pick any different? Unless of course your experience gives you reason to reconsider…

            I mean, if you think things though, and arrive at a certain conclusion, you’re naturally going develop a preference. And the next time you come to such a decision, you’re not going to go: “I wonder what I should do this time.” Because you have already thought things though, and arrived at what you consider to be the best choice, in the given situation. So unless there’s something new to the situation or something which causes you to reconsider, you’re just going to go with your preferences.

            Free will doesn’t mean that one changes ones mind about things all the time. It simply means that one has the ability to change ones mind, should one arrive at another conclusion.

            Jonathan said : what reasons would you have? And where would those reasons come from?

            We all make your own reasons, when we think it though, and decide for ourselves, what we think is the best thing to do in a given situation. I may pick something because I like the color. Another person may pick something because he likes the price.

            Or I may first pick one because of the color.. Then I remember that I really want to buy a gift for a girl next week, so I put it back and pick something cheaper. Now, I wouldn’t have been able to do that in a deterministic scenario, as the causes for me buying something, would not have changed.

            What could also happen on the free will scenario, is that I first pick it because of the color, then remember that I wanted to buy a gift for a girl next week, then consider what to do, and arrive that the conclusion, that I can’t really be bothered to go back and swap it out, just to save a bit of cash, and therefore I end up buying the one with the color I like anyway. So there it could have gone either way, merely because I remembered something.

            While on the deterministic scenario, thinking about such things, is a complete waste of time What is going to happen is going to happen, it has all been predetermined by causes outside of your control. There is only one future, it’s set in stone, and everything just causes the next inevitable thing that is going to happen. So why would anyone ever bother to reconsider anything?

            But anyway, going back to my scenario..

            If we lived on a deterministic world, and someone walked in and told a vegetarian that she had to eat a big juicy beef burger to save 10 random people, she wouldn’t even have the ability to do so, because the things that are causing her to be a vegetarian are still in effect. She’s determined to be a vegetarian, by outside causes, which she as no control over. And therefore she cannot rebel against that.

            But is that really the world that we live in? I think not. I think it’s perfectly possible for a vegetarian to eat a big juicy beef burger, just because she wills to save those people.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I may pick something because I like the color. Another person may pick something because he likes the price.
            Or I may first pick one because of the color.. Then I remember that I really want to buy a gift for a girl next week, so I put it back and pick something cheaper.

            So how do you “choose” what you like and what you don´t like? Can you choose to start hating something that you actually like very much?
            How do you “choose” to remember something? How do you “choose” to want something? Can you “choose” to NOT want something that you actually want very much?

            Now, I wouldn’t have been able to do that in a deterministic scenario, as the causes for me buying something, would not have changed.

            What you described is completely indistinguishable from determinism unless you can prove that you can choose what you “like”, “want”, “remember” and “believe” and what you do NOT “like”, “want”, “remember” and “believe”.

            If we lived in a deterministic world, and someone walked in and told a vegetarian that she had to eat a big juicy beef burger to save 10 random people, she wouldn’t even have the ability to do so, because the things that are causing her to be a vegetarian are still in effect. She’s determined to be a vegetarian, by outside causes, which she as no control over.

            “Outside causes that she has no control over”… like a dude going in a restaurant and telling her that she has to eat a burger or he´ll kill 10 people.
            Btw, there are plenty of “inside causes” as well (none of which you have conscious control over though).

          • JohnM

            Andy said : So how do you “choose” what you like and what you don´t like?

            People change preferences for clothing all the time. How? Well they somehow get the idea that their current style isn’t cool enough for them. What you like and don’t like, is just a product of what you want and don’t want. And what you want, is what you decide to focus upon doing. Such as getting a new job or whatever.

            Andy said : Can you choose to start hating something that you actually like very much?

            Sure. Many people have been madly in love with someone. And then when he/she rejects them, they make themselves hate that person instead. Happens all the time.

            Andy said : How do you “choose” to remember something?

            I don’t think you do. But you can choose to try and forget something.

            Andy said : How do you “choose” to want something?

            Well in the case of food, it’s not really something that you control. There are things like that. But it’s still you who decide when to eat.

            And it’s quite possible to decide to starve oneself to death. People have done that. And no, that’s not something that people are pre-determined to do.

            Andy said : Can you “choose” to NOT want something that you actually want very much?

            Sure. People quit smoking on a daily basis.

            Yet, if we lived in a deterministic world, that would be pointless to even attempt.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Well they somehow get the idea

            How do you choose to “somehow get the idea”?

            What you like and don’t like, is just a product of what you want and don’t want. And what you want, is what you decide to focus upon doing

            So how do you start wanting something you don´t want at all and how do you stop wanting something you want very much?

            Sure. Many people have been madly in love with someone. And then when he/she rejects them, they make themselves hate that person instead.

            Since they didn´t choose to be “rejected”, this is irrelevant. What would be relevant: can you choose to start loving a woman that you actually don´t care about at all? Can you choose to stop loving a woman you actually love very much? And if you believe that you can, HOW exactly do you believe are you able to do that?

            And it’s quite possible to decide to starve oneself to death. People have done that. And no, that’s not something that people are pre-determined to do.

            So, for a person that has starved himself to death, or burned himself, or whatever – over which specific cause in the chain of events that led to them wanting to die did they have any conscious control?

            Sure. People quit smoking on a daily basis.

            Irrelevant. What would be relevant: how do you choose to WANT to quit smoking, or how do you choose to WANT to start smoking, or how do you choose to LIKE cigarettes, or how do you choose to NOT LIKE cigarettes?

          • JohnM

            Andy said : Since they didn´t choose to be “rejected”, this is irrelevant.

            Well yes, but they did choose to pursue it. And they did choose how to respond to the rejection. So no, it’s not irrelevant. It’s actually very relevant to what we’re talking about.

            Andy said : can you choose to start loving a woman you actually don´t care about at all?

            I don’t think you choose who you fall in love with. But you do choose who you take an interest in.

            Andy said : So, for a person that has starved himself to death, or burned himself, or whatever – which specific cause in the chain of events that led to them wanting to die did they have any conscious control over?

            Feeling horrible and wanting to die, is one thing. Making a conscious decision to kill oneself, is another.

            Andy said : I asked how you choose to WANT to quit smoking

            Most people don’t want to quit smoking. While at the same time, they do, because they want to be rid of all the bad effects of smoking.

            Some people have the willpower to do it. Some people are too weak to beat it, and fall back.

            Andy said : how do you choose to WANT to start smoking

            Nobody want to start smoking. You want to be cool, and so you take a conscious choice, to start smoking, because you in your ignorance think that it will make you a cool person.

            Andy said : So how do you start wanting something you don´t want at all

            Why would anyone do that?

            Andy said : how do you stop wanting something you want very much?

            I could ask you the same thing.. How does people stop themselves from eating chocolate and ice-cream all day? Well I guess it’s because they don’t want to be overweight?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Well yes, but they did choose to pursue it.

            And if I now ask you why they chose that, you will answer something along the line – “because they liked him / her”. So how did they choose to like him / her?

            And they did choose how to respond to the rejection.

            Oh really? So assuming someone starts hating a girl because she rejected him. You ask him why he hates her and he tells you that she hurt his feelings. How do you choose to feel hurt or to NOT feel hurt?

            Feeling horrible and wanting to die, is one thing. Making a conscious decision to kill oneself, is another.

            If the reason was NOT wanting to die, WHAT was the reason then and how exactly was it chosen?

            Most people don’t want to quit smoking. While at the same time, they do, because they want to be rid of all the bad effects of smoking.

            How do they choose to want that? Could they choose the opposite? If not, why not?

            Nobody want to start smoking. You want to be cool, and so you take a conscious choice, to start smoking

            So you start smoking because you WANT to be cool – how did you choose to want to be cool? Could you choose to not want to be cool? If not, why not?

            because you in your ignorance think that it will make you a cool person.

            Can you choose to be ignorant or not be ignorant?

          • JohnM

            Andy said : Can you choose to be ignorant or not be ignorant?

            You’re not born ignorant. You become ignorant, if you choose not to pay attention in school.

            Andy said : If the reason was NOT wanting to die, WHAT was the reason then and how exactly was it chosen?

            Why would a person, who are not wanting to die, kill himself?

            Andy said : So you start smoking because you WANT to be cool – how did you choose to want to be cool?

            Everyone wants to fit in. It’s not something you choose, as such. It’s something instinctive to every child. But children choose to deal with this issue in many different ways.

            Andy said : Could you choose to not want to be cool?

            It’s quite possible to choose, to not bother about such things.

            Andy said : So assuming someone starts hating a girl because she rejected him. You ask him why he hates her and he tells you that she hurt his feelings. How do you choose to feel hurt or to NOT feel hurt?

            Having feelings is one thing. How you choose to respond to the person that you have feelings for, is another. Your feelings may effect you, in the sense that you feel hurt, but they don’t control you.

            If someone insults you, you’re not caused to start a fight with them. It’s quite possible to stay cool and just ignore that person. Unless you’re a person who has no self-control, and therefore is at the mercy of your feelings.

            You may not control your feelings. But the same is true of your feelings.. they don’t control you either. So it doesn’t really matter what you feel.. Be it smoking or love. What matters, is if and how you choose to react.

          • Andy_Schueler

            All examples you come up with have the general pattern:
            “Person x chose to do y”. And if I then ask why they chose that, you reply “because z”.

            And everything you came up with as “because z”, is something that was not chosen – “because they remembered…”, “because they want…”, “because they like…”, “because they are ignorant…”, “because they were interested…”, “because they believed…”, “because they are weak…” etc. pp.

            And this is indeed a subset of the variety of reasons that people give if you ask them “why did you do x?” – and neither the reason itself that they give, nor anything else in the chain of events that led to this reason, was consciously chosen.

          • JohnM

            It’s a fact of life, that one can choose to respond to feelings in many ways. From ignoring them, to acting upon them, to dealing with them, to being at the mercy of them.

            Fear for example. You can ignore it. You can act upon it and be cautious. You can deal with it, and be brave. And you can be at the mercy of it, and run away like a scared little kid.

            But if feelings actually caused you to do something, there would only be one way of responding to them. The way that you were determined by the feeling to respond.

          • Andy_Schueler

            And if I ask you why you made any of these choices, you only come up with reasons that could not have been consciously chosen. And if the underlying reasons are not chosen, the resulting “choice” cannot be “free”.

          • JohnM

            It’s not the possible reasons on the table, that determine our choices. It’s the reasoning that we do, when considering the different options on the table. If you deny that, then you deny intelligence, rationality and everything associated with that.

          • Andy_Schueler

            It’s the reasoning that we do, when considering the different options on the table.

            And if I ask you why your reasoning led you to a specific conclusion, you´ll again provide nothing but reasons that you could not have chosen any other way.

          • JohnM

            Would you be able to tell me specifically why you wrote what you just wrote? Was it perhaps because of a childhood memory? Was it perhaps because of something you learned in school? Or is it just rather childish to attempt to explain something as complex as the reasoning of human beings, in such simplified manner?

          • Sweet cosmos. You REALLY don’t understand arguments of causality, free will and determinism.

            You don’t need to know what the exact determinants actually are to know determinism is true for fuck’s sake. IT’s a metaphysical concept! I don;t need to know what the forces that hit a billiards ball to know that there ARE forces hitting the billiard ball.

            The point is that free will is logically and metaphysically impossible, so what the determinants are is utterly irrelevant. That you do not understand this not only beggars belief, but frustrates the shit out of us! Please read a book on free will. Preferably mine…

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said : You don’t need to know what the exact determinants actually are to know determinism is true for fuck’s sake.

            Then why do you keep asking me for the exact reasoning behind free will choices? You’re being a bit of a hypocrite here.

            Jonathan said : IT’s a metaphysical concept!

            So is free will?

            Jonathan said : I don;t need to know what the forces that hit a billiards ball to know that there ARE forces hitting the billiard ball.

            You’re not merely saying that there’s forces behind the moving billiard ball. You’re saying that it’s outside forces / causes , and not internal forces / causes.

            Jonathan said : The point is that free will is logically and metaphysically impossible

            That’s a pretty strange thing to say, considering that only a tiny minority of philosophers subscribe to your idea of determinism. According to your own numbers in your talk, there were more free-will’ers, than determinists and a great majority of combatibalists inbetween. So don’t even go there, because it’s simply not true.

          • Sheesh.

            “Then why do you keep asking me for the exact reasoning behind free will choices? You’re being a bit of a hypocrite here.”

            I am asking what grounds your decision if it is not:

            your genetics

            your biology

            your psychology

            your environment

            your prior learning

            What is there left?

            And what would make you choose otherwise in an identical causal circumstance. You still do not even understand the question, it appears.

            Given a causal circumstance (CC1), an agent chooses A.

            Rewinding time back to CC1, the agent is able to choose not A.

            In effect, in CC1, the agent is able to choose A and not A.

            Or, in CC1, A and not A is true.

            Surely this breaks the law of non-contradiction.

            How, assigning truth values to counterfactuals is famously problematic. But this is a big issue nonetheless. Without the truth value problem, the LFWer has to provide reason why the agent would choose not A ceteris paribus. The situation is identical – what could possibly make the agent choose differently apart from random or something synonymous with it’?

            Until you answer this dilemma, you are wasting your time.

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said :

            I am asking what grounds your decision if it is not:
            your genetics
            your biology
            your psychology
            your environment
            your prior learning
            What is there left?

            Ones ability to reason?

            I mean, it doesn’t matter if people are skinny or fat, black or white, tiny or tall… If you ask them a question like “Would one die, if one jumped out of the empire state building without a parachute”, they all seem to me, to come to the same logical conclusion.

            Not because of their genes. Not because of their biology.. But because of their ability to think and reason. And therefore, were they placed in such a situation, it would be reasonable to assume, that they would all act the same, by trying to avoid it.

            Now, it’s true that some people can suffer from a slight handicap in decision making. Like if their environment have thought them, that stealing is perfectly fine. Or if they haven’t learned to think critically about problems. But that doesn’t mean, that they don’t make decisions for themselves. It just means, that they make bad decisions.

            Jonathan said : And what would make you choose otherwise in an identical causal circumstance.

            You are not made to choose anything. You choose yourself. And if you want, you can even refrain from making a choice in the given situation.

            Furthermore, it’s perfectly possible for a free will agent, to choose the same thing over and over. You see, people choosing the same thing, given that the situation is the same, doesn’t prove that determinism is true. That would be flawed logic.

            People choosing the same thing over and over, just shows that people are rational, consistent and therefore predictable on average. After all, they have already thought things though, and arrived at a conclusion once before. Why would they choose different this time around?

            I mean, if a person has welcomed you into his home before, and you’ve had a great conversation with him, maybe even made friends, why would he not talk to you again? Only insane people are unpredictable like that, in the sense that you don’t know if they are going to hug you, ignore you or attempt to kill you the next time around.

            If a person is sane, you can be pretty certain that he’s going to act much the same way, as when you visited him last time, unless the situation has changed a great deal since then.. like for example if you happened to burn his house down, the last time you visited.

            So both on the free will scenario, and on the deterministic scenario, we would expect people to behave the same, given the same situation. Because free will doesn’t mean that people constantly change their mind. Free will is about the ability to first make up and later change ones mind.

            On the deterministic scenario, people don’t even make up their own mind. They are told what to think by outside causes. They are brainless zombies, predetermined to act as they do. And if a new cause comes up yelling at them, they just go in that direction instead.

            While on the free will scenario, people themselves arrive at a certain conclusion, though reasoning. And if the situation changes, they have several options available to them. They can choose to ignore the changes, and continue as if nothing has happened. They can reconsider, and arrive at a new conclusion, thereby changing their mind. And they can reconsider, and arrive at the same conclusion, which means that there will be no change in their reaction to the situation.

            Jonathan said : The situation is identical – what could possibly make the agent choose differently apart from random or something synonymous with it?

            Why would we expect the agent to choose any different, given that the the situation is identical? He has already thought things though, and arrived at a conclusion once before. Why would he not act consistently with that?

            Free will doesn’t mean that people constantly change their mind, when facing identical decisions. Only insane people do that. Sane people act rational and consistently with the conclusion that they have already arrived at, though the process of reasoning.

          • AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Don’t you understand this? Again….

            So given an entirely identical situation (CC1), the libertarian can choose A or B. In that same situation, the libertarian who adheres to the PAP will say the agent can choose A in CC1.

            But since they could choose otherwise, if they rewound back to CC1 they could also choose not A.

            What would define them choosing A in CC1 and not A given an identical scenario, CC1?

            What would change their reasoning? Why would they reason to A in CC1 and not A in CC1 on rewind? Unless their reasoning is random, there can be no explanation for this.

            I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS!!!!!

            This is THE PROBLEM which has been plaguing free will philosophers for millennia. And apparently you do not understand this.

            In order for reasoning to be consistent, and not random, it must be grounded and, well, consistent. Right now, at this very moment, I find it reasonable to make myself a cup of tea. How can I also find it reasonable in an alternate but identical reality to find it not reasonable to do so? What grounds your reasoning?

            (Incidentally, and on a side note, we KNOW reasoning supervenes on brain events, and we can actually CHANGE people’s moral reasoning by sending TMS into certain areas of the brain. So aside from the philosophy, you are also empirically wrong.)

          • JohnM

            If an agent has chosen A, there’s no reason to think, that he would not choose A again. That would only be him acting consistently, with his previous conclusion, in a free will scenario. And he has already made use his free will, when he himself picked A over B the first time around.

            Having free will, doesn’t mean that one must use the ability to make new decisions, when facing similar situations.. After all, you have already thought things though, and arrived at a conclusion once before. Why is that conclusion not good enough, the second time around? It’s a similar situation…

            Could the agent have chosen B the first time around? Sure. What’s the difference between picking A and B the first time around? It’s just a conclusion with another outcome. I’m sure that there’s plenty of agents going though that excursive, who pick B, B.

          • Er, you are well on your way to accepting determinism there. The Libertarian claims that the agent has the ability to choose otherwise. What you say is broadly correct above. But that is because it is a more rational position of denying libertarian free will.

            But then you contradict yourself:

            “Could the agent have chosen B the first time around? Sure. What’s the difference between picking A and B the first time around?”

            No. If an agent chooses A first time round it is because she is who she is in the situation she is in at that given time. As you rightfully say, they would do so if time was rewound and played out again. But then you say they could choose otherwise in the first place. That is a flat out contradiction since rewinding time is utterly synonymous with the first time.

            You really need to think your argument through.

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said : Er, you are well on your way to accepting determinism there. The Libertarian claims that the agent has the ability to choose otherwise. What you say is broadly correct above. But that is because it is a more rational position of denying libertarian free will.

            Well thank you, Jonathan. But I’m not quite there, I’m afraid. Hehe. My position is, that the agent has the ability to pick A and then B, as I don’t see anything preventing the agent from acting irrational.

            What I’m saying, is that there’s just no reason to think, that the agent would pick A and then B, given the same situation. That would be a sign of insanity. While sane people tend to act consistently with their previous decision, given the same situation.

            Picking between A and B, the first time around, is where free will is really seen. The second time around, is just a matter of acting consistently with the reasoning behind the first choice.

            Jonathan said : If an agent chooses A first time round it is because she is who she is in the situation she is in at that given time

            So if a professional thief, comes across a box of gold-bars while out shopping, he has no choice but to steal them, because that’s what he is? In some way I follow.. Because since he’s a professional thief, he certainly has no problems with stealing stuff, which is a sign of his character. On the other hand, I think that a professional thief makes a choice to steal, every time he does. And so I wouldn’t exclude the possibility, that he may choose not to steal in certain situations.. Or that he at some point could turn his life completely around. But it would require something to make him reconsider his ways, otherwise he’ll just keep going down that road, that he as already picked for himself.

            Jonathan said : As you rightfully say, they would do so if time was rewound and played out again. But then you say they could choose otherwise in the first place.

            Yeah. If I often order food from a restaurant, and like to order number 22 and 33, I could easily order number 22 the first time around and number 33 the second time around. Or I could have ordered 33 the first time around, and 22 the second time around. What’s the difference? I like both. What determined what I actually ordered the first time around? I did. And I see no reason why I couldn’t have reversed the order. So what “made” me actually decide upon one? Well that could have been a lot of things. But the point is that I could have picked anything on the menu. No I couldn’t? Why not?

            Furthermore, I don’t think that people are born as criminals or are determined to be so by genes. I think it’s a wrong choice that they make, and from there it makes sense to keep doing it. But what if they had been a little more thoughtful about what consequences it would have had for their life, before signing up for that bank job?

            I mean… do all people who live in a broken home, grow up in a ghetto and drop out of school, grow up to be criminals? No. Only those who decide to go down that road. While others stubbornly refuses to break the law, and try to make the best of what they have.

            Therefore, my main objection against determinism, the reason why I stubbornly refuses to go down that road, comes from observing the world around me. I don’t understand how you came make sense of anything in this world, with such a worldview. And on some level, I really doubt that this is more than some intellectual construction that you keep around, merely serving a specific purpose, while you happy live your life, often thinking that you do have free will. And do have the ability to think and reason as you like. And reject that your life is predetermined. And do think that your choices in life do have meaning. So you’re right, I really don’t understand where you’re coming from. But I am trying to understand what you’re saying. I’m just from Mars, and you’re from Jupiter apparently. :P

            Jonathan said : Right now, at this very moment, I find it reasonable to make myself a cup of tea. How can I also find it reasonable in an alternate but identical reality to find it not reasonable to do so?

            What you find reasonable, you find reasonable. That’s not going to change, unless you change.

            But if your wife had asked you to wait 30 min, you would be faced with a real choice. Do you do as she have asked of you? Or do you do, as you find reasonable?

            Some people pick A. Some people pick B. If a person picks A, he’s probably a god husband, and therefore will do it again, if his wife asked. And if a person picked B, he’s probably would do it again, regardless of what his wife said.

            But would you exclude the possibility, that they picked otherwise, just in this case? Is it possible to go against ones character or behavioural pattern? Is it possible to pick A and then B ?

          • You still don’t understand. Rewinding is not a case of doing something ‘again’. Ceteris paribus means ALL things remaining equal.

            And you STILL don’t explain how an agent could reason to do A in CC1 and also reason to do not A. What could possibly be different that would change the outcome of such reasoning?

          • JohnM

            Oki. Ill post something there.

          • “What you find reasonable, you find reasonable. That’s not going to change, unless you change.

            But if your wife had asked you to wait 30 min, you would be faced with a real choice. Do you do as she have asked of you? Or do you do, as you find reasonable?”

            Fuck me, THAT is determinism. You are changing the variables in order to change the outcome. Come on man, stop wasting our time!

          • JohnM

            Jonathan said : You really need to think your argument through.

            Oh, and thank you for adding that in the end. I do love cheeky comments like that, and I know that I’m guilty of that myself, hehe.

            But I think in this case, its a bit of a boomerang. Why? Because what you’re saying makes no sense on the deterministic scenario, where I’m predetermined to respond as I do, by outside causes. And no amount of thinking about the situation that I’m in, will change the situation that I’m in. So it’s a complete waste of time to think about things, on the deterministic scenario. Everything is predetermined and set in stone.

            On the hand, if I actually could change how I was going respond, by merely thinking about the situation that I’m in, then that is a method that allowed me to respond as a like, by merely thinking about it long enough. Which is a form of free will.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : if the underlying reasons are not chosen, the resulting “choice” cannot be “free”.

            Allow me to expose your flawed logic.

            Imagine that today I had to buy a new car. There’s only one car-dealer in my area. My wife wants a big car with plenty of room. And my son wants a blue car. I go down to the car-dealer, and it turns out that he’s only got 2 cars. A big red car, and a tiny blue car. Now my reason for buying the big red car, would be to make my wife happy. And my reason for buying the tiny blue car, would be to make my son happy. And neither of these reasons for picking a car, are actually chosen by me.

            Does that mean, that I cannot a conscious choice between the two cars?

            And if I’m predetermined by these underlying causes to buy a certain car, then which car has it been determined for me to buy?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Now my reason for buying the big red car, would be to make my wife happy. And my reason for buying the tiny blue car, would be to make my
            son happy. And neither of these reasons for picking a car, are actually
            chosen by me.

            Does that mean, that I cannot make a conscious choice between the two cars?

            WHY do you choose one or the other? If you decide to pick the one that your wife would like, instead of the one that your son would like, there have to be reasons for making this decisions. And you consistenly fail to come up with an example where these reasons could have been consciously chosen.

          • JohnM

            Andy said : WHY do you choose one or the other?

            Well that depends on, what conclusion I arrive at. And that’s the whole point. It’s not determined by the underlying reasons available to me. Maybe I pick none of the two cars, but go home to search another day. Who knows. The future is not set it stone. It could end up in many ways.

          • You totally do not understand this conversation at the most fundamental level. Andy is right to pull you up on this. Free will / determinism is not the range of potential choices, it is about the reasons why you chose a particular choice, and given the exact same situation, whether you would have the ability to actually choose otherwise.

            Given a causal circumstance (CC1), an agent chooses A.

            Rewinding time back to CC1, the agent is able to choose not A.

            In effect, in CC1, the agent is able to choose A and not A.

            Or, in CC1, A and not A is true.

          • JohnM

            The reason why we chose a particular choice, is that we have the ability to reason. To think for ourselves. To consider the different options on the table, and pick the one that we think is best suited to our will.

            You’re saying the opposite as far as I can see.. You’re basically saying that we are dumb unintelligent fools, blindly following what the surroundings dictate to us to do. And not only that, but also that we are slaves to these things, and cannot rebel against them.

          • You STILL don’t understand the subject whatsoever!

          • JohnM

            The reason why we chose a particular choice, is that we have the ability to reason. To think for ourselves. To consider the different options on the table, and pick the one that we think is best suited to our will.

            You’re saying the opposite as far as I can see.. You’re basically saying that we are dumb unintelligent fools, blindly following what the surroundings dictate to us to do. And not only that, but also that we are slaves to these things, and cannot rebel against them.

  • Daydreamer1

    This has me wondering about conservation of energy both inside the universe and its application in the context of deities.

    When we make a decision we receive inputs from the universe, which is chaotic and contains randomness. Complete determinism in a chain of causality does not occur because the universe generates new information on which we must act. The extremely sad example of the recent tornado is an example of this chaos, but quantum randomness is the most obvious (especially if you accept that patterns of galaxy formation result from quantum randomness in the big bang). Evolution is another, and cancer resulting from radioactivity or high energy ionisation from particles from the sun are another.

    When we make a decision we must use energy, converting it as per normal. We are not allowed to break laws of conservation when we choose between A and B.

    The idea of a first choice, the choice to create our universe, coming from nothing might encounter similar issues that we can use to create problems for this posts argument.

    We already know that energy conservation is not an argument about information conservation – this is often misused by creationists. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but information definitely can be.

    I cannot quite see it in my minds eye, but in the context of this argument, playing devils advocate, I would explore the consequences of a timeless God as an environment for the generation of new information, i.e. a decision and attempt to parallel it alongside the physics of new information within the context of energy conservation inside our universe.

    One thing I would have to ponder is the affect on us of randomness of chaos inside our universe in the generation of new causal chains that we react to using information stored (breaking no laws of physics). At the least God would have to be specifically defined to contain features that allowed new causal chains.

    I could just be rambling since this is not clear in my mind at all. New causal chains would dispose of infinite determinism (note there can still be a best and worse choice – and we are inclined to what we see as the best). The other horn depends on the definition of responsibility. That is a concept, not a physical law. I would assign responsibility if an entity made a choice in which the freedom to change an outcome existed.

    In that sense if two new causal chains are generated and an entity picks one then I would assign a level of responsibility. I might not assign an infinite level, but nothing in physics forces me to. I’m not saying that that works with deities though, if they have infinite properties then it would require further argument and thought.

    More thought needed….

    • DD – are you thinking (erroneously) that chaos (theory) is indeterministic? This is interesting:

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/#DetCha

      As is the wiki entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory) which states:

      Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.[1] This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved.[2]

      Although chaos can be seen in conjunction with QM, I think.

      • Daydreamer1

        Yep, that is fair enough. I agree that it must be treated carefully and that QM provides a better argument than chaos for truly independent causal chains.

        Attractors in chaos are evident and obvious.A pencil finely balances on its tip will fall – the gravitational attractor is evident – but predicting which way is affected by chaos. The heat death of the universe is an attractor from which we will not escape, but the noise along the way is quite stunning and beautiful. Yet the quantum fluctuations that gave rise to the hot and cold variations of the big bang and hence the galaxies was also random. If galaxies are new causal chains and are not 100% deterministic, despite having chaotic many attractors within them, then I cannot think of better and larger scale examples.

        However, take radioactivity as another. If a radioactive atom decays and ionises one of your cells resulting in genetic damage and cancer then a very potent new causal chain is created that according to QM was entirely random and non-deterministic.

    • The core notion of this post need not involve God at all. It is all about human agents.

      1) The theist claims that in the universe, nothing is created without a cause. That there can be no prime mover but God – ie humans (or anything mundane) can’t be prime causal movers.

      2) The theist then claims that they have free will. But this entails the origination of a causal chain with no recourse to prior causal determinants.

      But 2) appears to be in contradiction to 1). In 2) humans are creating a causal chain out of nothing – there is no recourse to prior causal influences. The individual becomes the prime mover of a causal chain.

      • Daydreamer1

        Ah, in which case being an atheist is why I can see ways out of this.

        1) Am I being dumb or is number one quite easily shown to be false at least where new causal chains are concerned by quantum mechanics and chaos?

        Ah hell, this seems nothing more of an argument than just not being up to date with modern science…. Granted philosophers and theologians had reason to deal with this in the past, but it seems to me alot like people living in a land without any mountains arguing about why there are no mountains and then finding thousands. The scientists then move on, but the theologians keep on arguing about why there are no mountains. Go read Laurence Krauss people…

        • DD – I think there are fundamental problems with 1 and 2. That is granted. I am not looking for critiques of 1 and 2 – in actual fact, I am assuming they are true.

          What I want to know is if they are both true, can this be possible, or are they mutually exclusive?

          • Daydreamer1

            I’m going to keep mulling this over, my initial reaction is that they should be mutually exclusive, but my deeper gut says there is a get out based around randomness and responsibility.

            I am also still mulling over the creationist post you asked for. I have given it a little thought and haven’t forgotten about it. If it is OK I’ll send you some thoughts when I have a little more time to do it justice.

            Anyway, I saw this and thought it was interesting:

            http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23583-mindscapes-first-interview-with-a-dead-man.html

            Not relevant here obviously, but this was our last discussion so I’m just tagging it on here.

  • pboyfloyd

    JohnM, you don’t seem to understand that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is an argument for God.
    If you say stuff like, “God is the cause.”, then you are presupposing God, and the KCA is no argument at all.

    All the Kalam, as it is written, is trying to argue, is that an uncaused cause must be the cause of the Universe.

    The notion that the uncaused cause is God, and in particular the God you worship, has yet to be argued.
    You seem to imagine that we’re all ‘really’ Christians deep down, perhaps just ‘turning away from God’, not really not believing that such an entity exists at all.

    From that silly perspective, you can just go ahead and presuppose that we all presuppose the existence of God and make that interchangable with, ‘the cause which did not begin to be caused’.

    But premise 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause, is implying a chain of cause and effect which had to start somewhere, right? If we all presuppose that that starting cause was ‘GOD’, as you do, then we’d all be presuppositionalists, just like you.

    Surely you don’t imagine that Jonathan MS Pearce’s argument here can be defeated by you simply declaring yourself, if not everyone else, to be a presuppositionalist?

    What am I saying, of course you can, and you do, and you cannot see how silly that is, therefore it can’t be silly, because you can’t see it, right?

    • “What am I saying, of course you can, and you do, and you cannot see how silly that is, therefore it can’t be silly, because you can’t see it, right?”

      How right you are, Ian! Spot on!

  • Pingback: Yet another experiment showing that conscious “decisions” are made unconsciously, and in advance | A Tippling Philosopher()

  • Joseph O Polanco

    It appears you misapprehend the nature of God’s creative acts. It’s not creatio ex nihilo for the “the raw material” that served for the genesis of all matter and energy emanated from him:

    ““Raise YOUR eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one [of them] is missing.” – Isaiah 40:26

    http://bit.ly/1axFxYE

    • John Grove

      If you ever have anything besides proclamations of faith and proof by assertion, get back to us.

      • Joseph O Polanco

        Apologies. Here is what justifies using the Bible as an authoritative reference in this matter: http://bit.ly/14Ckccl

        • Andy_Schueler

          You presuppose that the Bible is an authoritative reference on this matter.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Apologies. Here is what justifies using the Bible as an authoritative reference in this matter: http://bit.ly/14Ckccl

          • Andy_Schueler

            You presuppose that the Bible is an authoritative reference on this matter.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? lol

        • John Grove

          Seriously Joe? You play Pyrrhonian skeptic with regards to established facts of science but have no problem in accepting the Bible which has so many problems as to boggle the mind. Conformation bias, selective memory, invincible ignorance and an unfalsifiable faith pretty much sums you up.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            You mean like how Alchemy, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, Spontaneous Generation, Lamarckism, Emication, the existence of the planet Vulcan, Lysenkoism, Gradualism, Trepanation, Miasma theory of disease, Telegony, the expanding earth, the existence of Phlogiston, martian canals, Luminiferous Aether, the Steady State Theory, Cold Fusion, Hollow Earth Theory, Gradualism and Phrenology were once also “established facts of science”?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Cuntpasting this lie ad nauseam doesn´t make it true.

          • John Grove

            Yea, the cut and paste maneuver is most tiresome.

          • John Grove

            The big difference is that science is in search of truth, constantly while religion is religion because it considers all the answers already given in holy writ.

            “Religion now comes to us in this smiley-faced ingratiating way, because it’s had to give so much ground, because we know so much more. But you’ve no right to forget the way it behaved when it was strong and when it really did believe that it had God on its side.”

            Christopher Hitchens

            Your cut and paste remarks are getting rather tiresome. There will be no more feeding the troll.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Strawman. Try again.

  • Joseph O Polanco

    If I also may, it also appears you misapprehend the nature of God’s free will: http://bit.ly/15mmyNx

    • John Grove

      It also appears you misapprehend the facts of determinism. Spend a little time reading Johnny’s blogs and a little philosophy rather than spending it scanning this bogus site looking for a keyword of things you clearly do not even understand. LFW is incoherent.

      • Joseph O Polanco

        Don’t you mean the supposition of Determinism? After all, if Determinism is true then nothing is objectively “evil” or “good” and, as such, it is a gross injustice to hold you personally responsible for your actions.

        Our reality, however, is that acts like pedophilia, the gunning down of innocent children, racial bigotry, sadism, genocide, gang rape and serial murder is more than merely socially unacceptable behavior, like, say, picking your nose at the dinner table. Rather, these cause shock and horror and are treated as a moral abominations – acts of evil.

        On the flip side, love, equality and self-sacrifice are not just treated as socially advantageous acts, like, say, bringing a girl flowers on a first date, but, instead are treated as things that are truly good.

        Now, irrational beasts don’t have **objective** morals. When a lion savagely kills another it doesn’t think it’s committing murder. When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn’t feel it’s stealing. When primates violently force themselves onto females and their young they’re not tried and convicted of rape or ped0philia. Obviously, then, we certainly didn’t “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from them.

        **Objective** morals do not come from science either because science, by it’s very nature, is morally nihilistic. Where, then, do we get our **universal objective morals** from?

        Consider the following:

        (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
        (2) Evil exists.
        (3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.
        (4) Therefore, God exists.
        (5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.

        In other words, as Dostoevsky once mused, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”

        Palpably, then, Philosophical Determinism has no basis in reality.

        • Racial bigotry? What, like slavery?

          • Joseph O Polanco

            More like this –

            “I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
            ― Charles Darwin

            “I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.” – Abraham Lincoln – From 4th Lincoln/Douglas Debate, 1858

            “White Man, let us stand together to secure the survival of your people and my people, for they are one and the same – they are our beloved, miraculous, wonderful, blessed and masterful white race!”

            “A leopard doesn’t change his spots just because you bring him in from the jungle and try to housebreak him and turn him into a pet. He may learn to sheathe his claws in order to beg a few scraps off the dinner table, and you may teach him to be a beast of burden, but it doesn’t pay to forget that he’ll always be what he was born: a wild animal.”

            “Communism is as Jewish as the Mafia is Italian. It’s a fact that almost all of the convicted spies for communism have been atheist Jews like the Rosenbergs. And international communism was invented by the Jew Karl Marx and has since been led mostly by Jews — like Trotsky.”

            “Evolution shows that in the long run, if the superior mixes with the inferior, the product is halfway between, and inferior to what you started with in the original superior group – in other words, mongrelized.”

            “Hitler produced a local “lab experiment”; he provided me with an ideology in the same way that Marx provided one for Lenin. My task is to turn this ideology into a world movement.”

            “We must have a foreign policy which is based only on the long-term interests of our race, not on the interest of other races or on economic considerations or anything else.”

            “We must have a government which is not only a guarantor of public order and safety and which preserves the right of White citizens to keep and to bear arms, which is the ancient hallmark of a truly free people, but we must have government which maintains an eternal vigilance against the enemies, both internal and external, of a White America.” – George Lincoln Rockwell

          • Andy_Schueler

            “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”

            “How many of my basic principles were upset by this change in my attitude toward the Christian Social movement!
            My views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all.”

            “I had so often sung ‘Deutschland über Alles’ and shouted ‘Heil’ at the top of my lungs, that it seemed to me almost a belated act of grace to be allowed to stand as a witness in the divine court of the eternal judge and proclaim the sincerity of this conviction.”

            — Adolf Hitler

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Contrast that with:

            “YOU heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to YOU: Continue to love YOUR enemies and to pray for those persecuting YOU; that YOU may prove yourselves sons of YOUR Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if YOU love those loving YOU, what reward do YOU have? (Matthew 5:43-46)

            “But now really put them all away from YOU, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of YOUR mouth. Do not be lying to one another. Accordingly, [] clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave YOU, so do YOU also. But, besides all these things, [clothe yourselves with] love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” – Colossians 3:8,9, 12-14.

            Which is the more accurate representation of Christ’s teachings?

          • Andy_Schueler

            “You [Jews that did not believe in the divinity of Jesus] belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
            John 8:44 (boy, you can´t believe how much the Nazis loved the Gospel of John)

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Strawman. Try again.

          • Andy_Schueler

            False charge of fallacy. Try again.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Negatory. Christ was not addressing nor referring to all Jews who denied the reality of his commission from God. Try again.

          • Andy_Schueler

            That´s your interpretation which is just as arbitrary as the interpretation of Martin Luther and the Nazis (although their interpretation takes John at face value, you don´t).

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Nope. Read the context.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I did, you should try reading the context.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Alright then, who was Jesus specifically speaking to?

          • Andy_Schueler

            “31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

            33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

            34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.[b]”

            39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

            “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[c] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

            “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

            42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

            And now you´ll say that these words only applied to those Jews that were actually listening to him when he allegedly uttered these words, and not to the overwhelming majority of Jews that don´t believe in him and were not present when he allegedly uttered these words – and by the same logic I could argue that nothing that Jesus allegedly ever said applies to me because I was not present when he allegedly uttered it.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Keep going. Early on in the chapter it specifically states where Christ was and who were present for his address.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Thanks for confirming my prediction:

            “And now you´ll say that these words only applied to those Jews that were actually listening to him when he allegedly uttered these words, and not to the overwhelming majority of Jews that don´t believe in him and were not present when he allegedly uttered these words – and by the same logic I could argue that nothing that Jesus allegedly ever said applies to me because I was not present when he allegedly uttered it.”

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Mendacious Strawman. Try again.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Mendacious false charge of fallacy. Try again.

        • Andy_Schueler

          You presuppose libertarian free will and objective moral values.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Not at all. After all, if Determinism is true then nothing is objectively “evil” or “good” and, as such, it is a gross injustice to hold you personally responsible for your actions.
            Our reality, however, is that acts like pedophilia, the gunning down of innocent children, racial bigotry, sadism, genocide, gang rape and serial murder is more than merely socially unacceptable behavior, like, say, picking your nose at the dinner table. Rather, these cause shock and horror and are treated as a moral abominations – acts of evil.
            On the flip side, love, equality and self-sacrifice are not just treated as socially advantageous acts, like, say, bringing a girl flowers on a first date, but, instead are treated as things that are truly good.
            Now, irrational beasts don’t have **objective** morals. When a lion savagely kills another it doesn’t think it’s committing murder. When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn’t feel it’s stealing. When primates violently force themselves onto females and their young they’re not tried and convicted of rape or ped0philia. Obviously, then, we certainly didn’t “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from them.
            **Objective** morals do not come from science either because science, by it’s very nature, is morally nihilistic. Where, then, do we get our **universal objective morals** from?
            Consider the following:
            (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
            (2) Evil exists.
            (3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.
            (4) Therefore, God exists.
            (5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.
            In other words, as Dostoevsky once mused, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”
            Palpably, then, Philosophical Determinism has no basis in reality.

          • Andy_Schueler

            You presuppose libertarian free will and objective moral values.

          • Clare45

            Exactly. And “evil” is not an object or a thing.

        • John Grove

          [[Don’t you mean the supposition of Determinism?]]

          No, I mean the facts of determinism. And your argument from morality is most tiring. I pointed you to book of science that you still haven’t read. You need to get out of the bronze age and read more.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Argumentum ad lapidem. You’ve done nothing to dispel the arguments presented nor the brute facts that support them. Try again.

      • Joseph O Polanco

        Don’t you mean the supposition of Determinism? After all, if Determinism is true then nothing is objectively “evil” or “good” and, as such, it is a gross injustice to hold you personally responsible for your actions.

        Our reality, however, is that acts like pedophilia, the gunning down of innocent children, racial bigotry, sadism, genocide, gang rape and serial murder is more than merely socially unacceptable behavior, like, say, picking your nose at the dinner table. Rather, these cause shock and horror and are treated as a moral abominations – acts of evil.

        On the flip side, love, equality and self-sacrifice are not just treated as socially advantageous acts, like, say, bringing a girl flowers on a first date, but, instead are treated as things that are truly good.

        Now, irrational beasts don’t have **objective** morals. When a lion savagely kills another it doesn’t think it’s committing murder. When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn’t feel it’s stealing. When primates violently force themselves onto females and their young they’re not tried and convicted of rape or ped0philia. Obviously, then, we certainly didn’t “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from them.

        **Objective** morals do not come from science either because science, by it’s very nature, is morally nihilistic. Where, then, do we get our **universal objective morals** from?

        Consider the following:

        (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
        (2) Evil exists.
        (3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.
        (4) Therefore, God exists.
        (5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.

        In other words, as Dostoevsky once mused, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”

        Palpably, then, Philosophical Determinism has no basis in reality.

        • John Grove

          [[Don’t you mean the supposition of Determinism?]]

          No, I mean the facts of determinism.

  • IceKnight366 .

    Couple reasons why these line of arguments fail (believe it or not there seems to me to be two arguments taking place here).

    First argument objections (The proponent of the KCA can’t reasonably hold Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit AND God creating the Universe):

    1) You equivocate the definition of ex nihilo used in the KCA. Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit just means that whatever exists must have a cause – something cannot come into being uncaused. Whether that is a material or efficient cause, there must be a cause. On the KCA, the theist says that the universe came from an efficient cause (God). Whereas on atheism the universe neither has an efficient cause OR a material cause – It just pops into existence from nothing. You are equating Ex Nihilo with Material Cause. That is, if the universe doesn’t have a material cause (like God and His decree) it comes from nothing! But of course it didn’t really come from nothing, it came from God! So the theist is amply justified affirming both Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit AND the de facto of God creating the universe.

    Second argument objections (Agent Causation is incoherent):

    1) You have an improper definition of LFW. Now this point I don’t necessarily think undercuts your argument but is important to get right for other issues. However, I could be wrong – maybe your improper definition does undercut the argument (you or someone else can point that out if true). The proper definition of LFW is not the ability to choose A or -A. The proper definition is being able to do either A or -A without any determining factors. So you might want to change that.

    2) It seems the argument epistemically defeats itself. You assert that LFW defeats the argument yet you deny that agent causation is possible. You cannot deny agent causation and affirm LFW. So if you deny agent causation you also deny LFW. However, if you deny LFW then you have no good reason to believe this argument is good. That is, if you don’t hold to LFW then that means that you were forced to give this argument – you had no choice but to say what you said. But if that is the case then you have no grounds for saying it’s a good and certainly not, a convincing argument.

    3) All that is needed to defeat the argument is if agent causation is even POSSIBLE. So long as it is even possible the argument fails. Thus, in order for this argument to go through you must show that agent causation is necessarily impossible. If and until you do that there is no reason to reject the KCA based on this argument. Even if agent causation does not obtain for finite physical beings like us (even though that itself is false as I think there are plenty of arguments in favor of dualism) there is no reason to believe that it couldn’t obtain for an immaterial cause like the KCA deductively concludes. You must show that the entire concept of agent causation is impossible. Quite a large burden to carry… Cheers.

    • Thanks so much for this comment – lots of substance to get stuck into. I will reply over the next day or so when time permits.

    • Hi there, thanks again for the comments. I have posted the reply as a blog post due out tomorrow morning UK time.

      • IceKnight366 .

        No problem, I look forward to reading your reply. Do you have a link to it? I can’t seem to find it.

        • It’s scheduled for 6 or 7 hours time. fyi I think you missed my point on a few issues.

          • IceKnight366 .

            Sorry, do you mean that it takes 6-7 hours to post? Or are you just not finished yet?

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  • John Grove

    I always thought it was interesting that Christians who advocate the Kalam cosmological argument adamantly demand causality for the universe but still believe in free will. Aren’t mental states an effect caused from prior states? This ad hoc defense of the KCA is as David Mills said, “lipstick on a pig”. You can’t have your cake and eat it to.