Free will. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing!

I’m fast coming around to the view that the concept of free will is what Ayn Rand called an anti-concept.

An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The use of anti-concepts gives the listeners a sense of approximate understanding. But in the realm of cognition, nothing is as bad as the approximate …

Free will is designed to obliterate human decision-making.

It’s simple. We make decisions.

Other people (including God) hold us accountable (i.e., deserving of moral praise or blame) for our decisions. That’s all there is to it, and all you need to know.

The Singularity – the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence – is coming, as early as 2030 according to some estimates. The first smarter-than-human AI will make decisions, like we do, only better. Will it have free will? That depends on whether other people (including God) hold it accountable for its decisions.

“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. (NIV)


24 thoughts on “Free will. What is it good for?”

  1. What fantasy!
    That’s just like the folly which imagined that by now technology was going to do all the work and that mankind would have to think of leisurely pursuits!
    2030 will come and go, and man will have made computers vastly superior to the ones we have now yet they will never become self aware moral agents!
    They will rely on sophisticated software written by humans, who will program in certain ‘scenarios’ and certain ‘answers’ and these answers may command actions which appear moral, yet they will be fully automations! The apparent morality will be a ‘simulation’ of the ethics of the programmer and in this sense it is the programmer whom is the freewill moral agent, whom decided what was the moral thing to do in such and such a circumstance, not the machine which acts in absolute obedience to the software it was given.
    You are say Richard, that this imaginary machine will be a self responsible conscious moral agent … and therefore ought to be bound by civil Laws, and have rights, and even be accountable for itself unto God, and that to unplug it would be a new type of ‘murder’.
    It could Love, and hate…etc etc…. ie to your way of thinking it would be a soulless- monist being of the same order as atheists assume we humans are.
    ASSUME Richard ASSUME away!

    This materialist fantasy is harder to believe than simply admitting the whole universe is not explicable in naturalistic terms.
    Once you contemplate that God is Real, and is a moral freewill spirit being not bound by the Naturalistic laws… that mind can exist without matter… then this fanatical need to reduce the Human soul/ and experience down to mere attunements of mater disappears.

    Thus this whole fantasy is based upon a cosmology of Atheist Materialism in which freewill is forbidden and impossible.
    You’re an Atheist.

  2. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (NIV)

  3. I believe that humans make decisions and that they may justly be held accountable for those decisions. Do I believe in free will? What else is there to believe?

  4. What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
        and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

    It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

    What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— … ? (NIV)

  5. Freewill is implicit in the story of the fall.
    Adam was thrown out of the garden because he exercised his freewill to disobey God.
    The righteousness of God’s jusdgement upon Him was in that Adam had the power to trust God, and obey, yet decided to follow his wife instead.

    And You may well not be an atheist Richard yet you are decieved by their cosmology and rationale which denies the existance of God… the spirit being, and disembodied consciousness and free willed moral agent.

    And free will is also implicit in the offer of gospel. It means people can freely choose to accept Christ or reject him. Without it you could never righteously hold sinners to account for rejecting Christ.

  6. Thus Free will is essential to Christianity Reed and those like Richard who dont believe in it have been blinded by Atheist Naturalism just as those whom believe in the theory of evolution.
    Thus saith I.

  7. If the atheist materialist cosmology was a reality the very word *Freedom* would never even exist!
    It would be inconcievable!
    Galloping horses would be seen as Galloping horses… not as being ‘free’.
    There would be no courts of Law… no belief that people had the freewill to obey or disobey…etc
    That the concept of freedom does exist is proof positive that there is a God, and free will is real… *inspite of the laws of physics*

  8. Richard G. You are damned by the Objectivists and equally damned by your own clan.

    I do not see why free will and Christianity are incompatible but I will not get into the issue as I’m not a Christian.

    Your problem, and also your genius, Richard, is that you think too much. You do not do what most people do and accept blindly the prevailing views of whatever group you belong to.

    How did you ever get blindsided by the Christian meme? I’ve met many smart people who believe. Never understood how that happens.

  9. Ha Damien, An Atheist who accepts freewill is as absurd as a Christian who rejects it… for precisely the same reasons!
    There is no place for Freewill in a purely materialistic (Naturalistic) Amoral reality!
    And conversely there is no place to deny it in a theistic (Super-natural) Moral reality.
    We are not Robots! (Where have I herd that before?) Ha ha .
    Rand was completely Bonkers when she accused The Biblical Adam of being a Robot!
    You are correct in that you say you cant see why freewill is incompatible with Christianity.
    I take it by saying ‘Richard is too smart… thinks too much’ that you also reject free will ….because you hold Materialistic/ naturalistic beliefs about reality.
    You are therefore endorsing my argument that the denial of freewill is an article of faith for Atheists, and follows directly from the Materialist world view.
    Don’t Feel too sorry for Richard, he is one of a growing number of ‘Christians’ whom have been smoked into thinking the Atheist materialist world view is more consistent and rational than the Theistic one, which is why Many ‘Christians also say they believe in Evolution… not the book of Genesis.
    Now I am off to work!

  10. I encourage you to repost this to

    Free will does exist in the subjective sense. The mechanism that chooses, however is predictable, and, more importantly, can be effected by outside forces — which is precisely why reward and punishment (in the Bible and outside of it) are effective and important.

  11. Hang on Mark.
    I think you are being very simplistic, and er when you include the Bible as vindicating the manipulation of indivduals by external forces.
    Reward for what?
    Punished for what?
    Judas was rewarded with 40 pieces of silver for betraying Christ to the wicked religious powers.
    St Paul was punished for refusing to be silenced by the threat of punishments.

    Here we see that the immoral coveted rewards, while the virtuous refused to fear punishments.

    The lesson to learn is that the truly virtuous are not moved like pawns via political coesions….carrot and stick… Only the wicked are… to some degree.

    A more virtuous Judas would never have solicited the bribe.
    A less virtuous St Paul would have shut up…and saved his own skin.
    Thus the virtuous do not fuction at all the way you suggest.
    They act, they do not react.
    They are self guided by an inner moral compass, not ordered about or enticed.

    There is a difference between having a real moral sense of justice, and mere self interest which seeks to receive gains and avoid pains.

    The God of the Bible dispenses Real justice… he is not merely controlling people by terrorism and bribery!
    God made man to be virtuous moral freewill beings, yet he fell into sin… and many now act in the immoral modes of Greed and fear.
    They will be open to manipulation.
    When a person realizes that he is a sinner, and that God will judge sin, it is true that Fear can grip the soul, Yet it’s not the fear of being at the mercy of a Bully, but a knowledge of Guilt and deserved punishment.
    And when a person hears that there is salvation in Christ, and Rewards in heaven for service to the gospel, He does not receive and preach Christ out of Greed for heavenly booty, but out of gratitude for his loving redemption and a desire to save his fellow man.
    This is realization of *real morality* comes from finding God… not as you have put it… a mere program of manipulation via ‘reward and punishment.’ This moral awakening is as great a salvation from Dark amorality, as it is from the lake of fire!
    Its about justice… not shallow self interest
    Its about faith in the Righteous and loving character of God and the realization that we ought to function via morality rather than simple prodding’s and ‘external pressures’ as you suggest.
    Faith in God has resulted in a restoration of Faith that our actions have moral weight, and that there are higher things at stake rather than simply choosing Pleasure over Pain.

    And ‘Good’ people no matter what their habitat/ culture/ faith, have an immovible ‘sence of justice’ as more important than Life itself. They cannot be bought. They cannot be intimidated. They are the heroes living among us.

  12. You are right in that the issue is complex.

    Evil is not always directly punished.

    Good is not always directly rewarded.

    If they were, people would always do good and never do evil.

    You have to recognize that judicial law and ethical codes of behavior are, and should be, two separate things. One operated according to the principle of force to establish reward and punishment, and the other operates according indirect reward and punishment.

    To me, for example, the worst kind of punishment is waking up in the morning and thinking of myself as a person not worthy of respect. I will do everything in my power to avoid this. This causes me to be a moral person, and ethical teachings exist to establish this — even in the face of adversity. If a person does not act according to this principle, then the law exists to directly punish them for committing heinous acts.

  13. Richard,
    Your Naturalism contaminates your theology.
    One of the most harmful aspects is that it makes you treat the Bible the same way you would treat other acient texts, ie You assume the scriptures have ‘morphed’… degenerated with the process of Time. You accept the Textual criticisms of Bible doubters…whom reject the supernatural preservation of the scriptures. eg You tell me you believe thier case against the portions which have Christ say “Let he who is without sin caste the first stone”. Have they proven their Case? No! they simply claim that the ‘earliest’ manuscript does not contain those verses. And that is a piss weak Idea… esp for the Theist who ought to trust in Divine preservation.
    If you would for a moment apply your critical thinking *To the critics own arguements* you would know that we cant be sure their ‘evidence’ realy is from the earliest source, and that even if it is the earliest, it still could be from one of the Many Early Corrupt texts which St Paul said were comon place. That Corrupt texts abound does not prove that God have not preserved *one or more collections of scriptures perfect and incorrupted… exactly as he promised to do.
    A modern paralell is the King James version being swamped by Modern english perversions.
    God is not the author of confusion, and many infidels attempt to justfiy their rejection of Christianity by saying that the bible is full of contradictions, and that there are thousands of different Bibles saying different things… yet all this rationalism is bunk! Ie It does not ‘prove’ a thing!
    It decieves them!
    The truth is the KJV is still the trustworthy truth.

    The reliablity of the scrptures is essential for the whole Christian ethic as God cannot judge unbelief if the scriptures are not trustworthy.
    *The scriptures are Christianity*
    It is The Deist whom rejects miricles, and scripture, and prefers their own rationale.
    (Deism is silly)

    The ‘Scholars’ have robbed you of your sure foundation.
    Robbed you of assurance.
    Robbed you of the Authority of the scriptures.
    Yet I suspect this suits your pedelections perfectly *as a trained worldy thinker… whom wants to find an excuss from accepting things in the Bible which dont sit well with your consception of what God ought to be like.
    By Rejecting the Idea of super-natural preservation you have removed yourself from submission to God’s word and function as a ‘free agent’ with nothing higher than your own rationalisations… that’s not Real Christianity.

    I find this to be the most common vanity among the Educated/ interlectuals.
    Puffed up by their own wisdom they have become Fools
    “for the natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. St Paul 1Cor2vs13.
    St Paul is absolutely right!
    The Naturalist mind cannot see the spiritual truths.
    Thus Naturalists call anything which points the mind towards super-natualism as ‘an illusion’.
    Just as you have done with Free will, Dawkins does it with respect to the obvious design in Biology, etc etc.
    Yet The Bible stands sure

  14. eg You tell me you believe thier case against the portions which have Christ say “Let he who is without sin caste the first stone”.

    No, Tim, I never said that. Please do not misrepresent me. Leave that to Lindsay Perigo.

  15. I am glad to hear you reject my accusation Richard!
    I assume you must today accept this portion of scripture is authentic.
    Yet I did not pull it out of the thin air.
    I remember you making that arguement in a comment on one of our blog posts in which I used that saying of Christ.
    You specifically said that it was ‘an adition’/ a corruption/ and that textual critics had ‘proof’.

  16. Nope that’s not it go back further.
    You commented on my use of the verse (as a comment I think too)
    you mentioned the Earliest textual evidence.
    I think my comment here was in memory of the very same comment you made in regards to this verse.
    Yet now I cant be sure.
    If I am wrong. I apollogise.

  17. I can’t find your use of that expression anywhere, Tim. But I do remember you using it. I think it must have been on Facebook.

    Anyway, you are quite right that the disputed verses reek of Jesus. Notwithstanding that

    [The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]

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