Responding To Free Will Critics

By Evan Minton

My article “5 Arguments For The Existence Of Free Will” became very popular. Tim Stratton liked it so much that he featured it as a guest post on his blog FreeThinkingMinistires.com, Martin Glynn specifically asked me to post it to The Society Of Evangelical Arminians’ website, and Jairo Izquierdo published it as a guest post on CrossExamined.org. In the case of the latter, several comments came flooding in as pushback to the things I said in the article. This isn’t surprising given how popular CrossExamined.org is as an apologetics ministry. Instead of responding to the comments specifically and getting into long back-and-forth conversations with people, I thought it would be more edifying if I actually made a response article addressing a few of those rebuttals.

Free Will Critics
To the readers of this site, I will assume you have already read “5 Arguments For The Existence Of Free Will“, and the following content will assume that background knowledge. If you haven’t read it, go read that first. Moreover, I’ll address these rebuttals according to each specific argument that the rebuttal is aimed towards.

 

The Argument From True Love 

Rebuttal: You Can’t Choose Who You Fall In Love With.

Andy Ryan wrote “You can talk about ‘love freely given’ but does anyone believe they have a choice over who they love? It’s pretty much something that just happens. Many people wish they could stop loving someone they love or regain a love they’ve lost. But in vain. So I don’t get how you connect love to free will.” 

The problem with this response is that it’s equivocating “love” with “infatuation”. I’ve pointed out in other blog posts that love is not an emotion. It’s not a feeling. Love is an action or series of actions aimed at the wellbeing of the one being loved. You can choose who you love if love is an action or series of actions rather than a feeling. Obviously, you can’t control how you feel. If that were the case, I’d never feel worried, angry, or sad a single day in my entire life. When someone I love dies, I’d choose to just be giddy rather than heartbroken. While you can’t control how you feel, you can control how you act.

The idea that love is action and not an emotion is grounded in scripture. Let’s turn to one of the most famous passages on love; 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This passage is a description of not just love, but perfect love. Go up and read the passage again very carefully. I want you to notice something. There isn’t much talk of warm, fuzzy feelings in this passage.

Kindness is not a feeling. Kindness is an action. If I buy you a house, it doesn’t matter how I feel about you. My action was a kindness towards you. My choice to buy you a house was just that: a choice. You can have very bitter feelings towards someone and will yourself to do something nice for them. Kindness does not have to be associated with feelings.

What about patience? Well, that might seem like an emotion, but in reality, patience itself is an action. I might be irritated that someone is taking a long time in doing something they said they were going to do for me, but I can choose to not to express my agitation. I can conceal it, and say “Take your time. There’s no hurry.”. An impatient person would say “What is taking you so long? Get on with it already!” I may be experiencing a feeling of impatience, but I can still express the action of patience. A friend and I may both be waiting on another friend to pick us up to take us to dinner, and I may say “What is taking him so long? He should have been here 20 minutes ago! This is going to screw up my whole schedule.” while my friend next to me may be experiencing the same emotion but keeps his impatient emotion to himself. So, although we’re both feeling the same emotion, I choose to express impatience while he chooses to express patience. When my future wife takes a long time in the bathroom getting ready, I may be irritated at that, but what will I express? Patience or impatience? The choice is up to me.

“It keeps no record of wrongs”. This is also a choice. You may incidentally remember wrongs done to you, but the one who loves will try to forget them. The one who loves will not purposefully keep a list so that he can keep throwing the misdeeds up in the misdeed doer’s face. I have been wronged by some of the people in my life, and while I can remember that I was wrong, I can’t remember very many of the specific wrongs (except when something triggers a memory). I’m trying not to keep a record.

“It does not dishonor others”. Is dishonoring others a feeling? Surely not.

“It does not boast” — regardless of what your emotional state is, you can choose not to brag about things.

“It is not self-seeking” — another action that’s not a feeling. You can choose to seek the good of others instead of your own good.

The only things resembling emotions in this passage would be the parts that say “It is not easily angered” and “rejoices in the truth”. Now, these are emotions. Does this contradict everything I’ve just said? I don’t think so. I don’t think love itself is an emotion, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely isolated from emotions. Love can invoke emotions. I’ve heard testimonies of Christians who have done kind things for their enemies. While initially gritting their teeth in distaste, over time, their continued choice to express love softened their hearts towards their enemies and they actually had emotional feelings towards them. One of my Bible teachers spoke of a man he worked for years ago who made his life Hell. The employer developed cancer and my Bible teacher reluctantly prayed for him over a long period of time. The more he prayed for his boss, the less hard feelings he had towards him. When he learned of his employer’s passing, he said that it actually broke his heart and he burst into tears. I have had similar experiences. Doing love can actually transform your feelings towards someone. This is why I think it’s entirely possible to learn to “love the one you’re with”. This would also explain why so many arranged marriages actually worked out in times past.[1]

In light of this, Jesus’ command in Matthew 5 to love our enemies makes a lot more sense. Jesus isn’t commanding us to have warm and fuzzy feelings towards the people who treat us horribly. Rather, he’s telling us to show them kindness, patience, to avoid dishonoring them, to not boast if you one up them, to seek their well-being. Most of Jesus’ examples of loving your enemies are *drum roll* actions: “ If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”(verses 39-42).

In conclusion: I can’t control who I become infatuated with, but I can control which woman I show love to. I don’t have to have warm and fuzzy feelings towards someone to love them.

 

The Argument From Moral Accountability 

Rebuttal: Your Argument doesn’t follow because you haven’t demonstrated that The Bible is true.

In one of KR’s comments, he said: “Your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises since you haven’t established that what the Bible teaches is actually true. Your 2nd argument suffers from the same problem.” 

My article was primarily aimed at Calvinists, who believe The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant, and ergo true. So, I admit that I presupposed that The Bible was true in most of the arguments I used in my blog post. I wasn’t concerned with refuting atheistic determinists, but determinists who were Christians. The only argument in the blog post that would apply to both Christian and non-Christian determinists was The FreeThinking Argument. I’ve argued with KR in the comment sections of other blog posts on Cross Examined’s website, so I know that he isn’t a Christian. It isn’t surprising that he wouldn’t find the argument from moral accountability compelling since it does presuppose that The Bible is true.

 

The Appearance Of Free Will Problem

Rebuttal: I Feel Determined?

In the same comment, KR wrote “As for the appearance of free will, it may be the case that we have different experiences. While I certainly feel that I have a self and that this self-performs various actions and has various thoughts, it feels to me that these actions and thoughts are always a reaction to something that happened before. I don’t feel that I decide to perform an action or have a thought ‘ex nihilo'”.

I don’t like responding to arguments when I’m not 100% sure I understand. But I studied this response carefully and I think I know what he’s saying here. I suspect that KR may be misrepresenting what libertarian free will is when he says “I don’t feel that I decide to perform an action or have a thought ex nihilo.” It is a common misconception that libertarian free will asserts that our choices are “random” or “spontaneous”, like the appearance of a particle in the quantum vacuum. No one knows when and where one is going to pop up. I don’t think my choices originate “ex nihilo” either, at least if KR is using that term the way I think he’s using it. Certainly, there are previously existing factors inside and outside of myself that have an influence on my choices, but does this mean that they determine my choices? I would say no. My feeling of hunger may influence me to get up and grab something to eat, but the hunger doesn’t determine me to eat. My urge for sex may influence my decision to have intercourse with someone, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have refrained from having sex with that person. Libertarian Free Will (LFW) neither asserts that our choices have no good reasons or motivations behind them. I may choose to eat because I’m hungry or I may choose to refrain from eating because I’m too busy working on a blog post, or maybe I’m in the middle of a fast, or maybe I’m dieting to lose weight. LFW doesn’t assert that our choices are without purpose, just that it laid within our power to choose the opposite of what we actually chose.

Does KR have an accurate understanding of LFW? If not, that might explain why he feels he doesn’t have it. If he thinks of free will as spontaneous actions devoid of any influences or motivations, then it’s no wonder why he doesn’t think he has it. I don’t believe I have that kind of free will either!

 

The Free Thinking Argument

Rebuttal 1: Computers Do Calculations And They Don’t Have Free Will.

Andy Ryan wrote “You’ve not shown or demonstrated this. Why does the latter follow from the former?” Premise 3 of The Free Thinking Argument states that if libertarian free will does not exist, the rationality and knowledge does not exist. He says I haven’t demonstrated that this premise is true. Why does he think that?

The argument I put forth was a quote from Tim Stratton. Stratton said “Premise (3) is equivalent with ‘if all things are causally determined, then that includes all thoughts and beliefs.’ If our thoughts and beliefs are forced upon us, and we could not have chosen better beliefs, then we are simply left assuming that our determined beliefs are good (let alone true). Therefore, we could never rationally affirm that our beliefs are the inference to the best explanation – we can only assume it. Here is the big problem for the atheistic naturalist: it logically follows that if naturalism is true, then atheists — or anyone else for that matter — cannot possess knowledge. Knowledge is defined as ‘justified true belief.’ One can happen to have true beliefs; however, if they do not possess warrant or justification for a specific belief, their belief does not qualify as a knowledge claim. If one cannot freely infer the best explanation, then one has no justification that their belief really is the best explanation. Without justification, knowledge goes down the drain. All we are left with is question-begging assumptions.”[2]

Andy responded “Why does one have to ‘freely’ infer it? Do computers require free will to make accurate calculations? Evidently not – they seem to get by just fine! Imagine giving two computers sentience. They argue between them over a particular course of action and which option is the best. What’s wrong with describing what they have as ‘knowledge’?”

To hark back to Stratton’s explanation: knowledge is “justified true belief”. In order to have a belief that is both true and justified, one must be able to think freely. In order to think freely, one must have free will. You can’t be a free thinker without free will. In the case of computers, yes, they do mathematical calculations and they always come up with the right answer to the equation, but that’s because there were people who causally determined the computer to have an infallible calculator inside of it. The programmer just as well could have programmed the computer to come up with wrong answers, and the computer wouldn’t know the difference. Or perhaps someone hacked into the computer and infected it with a virus that causally determines it to come up with calculations. If human beings are causally determined, then how do you know that the beliefs you hold to aren’t irrational? How could you keep yourself from committing fallacies? How could you know whether or not the beliefs you were determined to hold are true? They could be true, they could have good reasons for them, but you wouldn’t be able to rationally weigh alternatives. If person 1 is causally determined to believe truth A, if person 1 was causally determined to believe lie B, he was determined to believe B.

Just as a computer will come up with the truth or a lie depending on how it’s wired, so we will come to true or false beliefs depending on how we’re wired. Can it really be said that someone possesses knowledge (i.e justified true belief) when the conclusions they came to were a mere matter of the molecules and chemistry in their brain + their environment? If the atoms in their brains bumped around differently, or if they had lived different lives in different circumstances and environments, their beliefs very well could have been different. What someone believes, on naturalism, depends on happenstance. If what someone believes depends on happenstance, how can that belief be said to be justified? It could, by happenstance, be a true belief, but it would not be a justified true belief. You would just happen to hold to the correct viewpoint.

The same problem affects theological determinism. If God causally determines everything we think, say, and do, then if we believe the correct theological doctrines or not just depends on whatever God decreed we would believe.

William Lane Craig said it well: “There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe. When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.”[3]

Rebuttal 2: What Is A Soul And How Does It Allow For Free Will but Physicalism Doesn’t? 

In that same comment, Andy Ryan said “What exactly is a soul and by what exact mechanism does it make libertarian free will possible where it is otherwise impossible? If one person has a soul and another person doesn’t, how does the soul lead to better or more informed decisions in the first person? If their brains are otherwise working exactly the same, I don’t see the difference.”

Andy is responding to the second premise of The Free Thinking Argument which states that if the soul does not exist, then no one has libertarian free will. First, souls are immaterial entities that animate the physical bodies of humans and higher animals. It controls the brain and the brain controls the body. When a person dies, the soul leaves the body, leaving it lifeless. A soul isn’t something you have, it’s something you are. A body is what you have.

If people are merely physical organisms, then that means all of our thoughts, feelings, and actions are causally determined by brain chemistry, firing neurons, external environmental conditions and so on. How can free will exist if man is nothing more than a collection of physical parts? Does a computer have free will? Does an amoeba have free will? Do thunderclouds have free will? No. All of the above react to physical cause and effect because they are purely physical things. I just took a swig of diet coke after typing that last sentence. If humans are purely physical creatures, then I don’t see how we can control what we do any more than my diet coke can control whether or not it fizzes.

Many atheists, like Francis Crick who I quoted in the article, are determinists precisely because they are physicalists. It’s their physicalism that drives them to the conclusion that we are merely organisms reacting to stimuli.  The assertion of premise 2 is that if the soul doesn’t exist, then free will doesn’t exist. I think I’ve done a pretty good job explaining that we have good reason to believe this is true. Now, how does the soul solve the problem? I’m not entirely sure what it is about a soul that gives it the ability to choose between alternatives, but I do know that it makes human beings more than mere physical objects. If I am a soul with a body, then there’s an aspect of me that transcends the natural realm, and that therefore entails that I am not necessarily subject to do whatever my environment and internal brain activity make me do. I have a mind, not just a brain. And while the brain can affect/influence the mind (e.g mental illnesses like schizophrenia), and the reverse is also true (e.g studies have shown that positive thoughts and negative thoughts can shape your brain), it is not the case that my brain makes me do anything.

 

Conclusion 
I don’t think any of the people in the comment section successfully refuted any of the arguments I put forth in libertarian free will.

By the way, there was a comment left by a person named John B Moore, but I didn’t address it because he didn’t get any rebuttals. All he did was essentially say “Your arguments are no good. You’re wrong”. Not a quote, but that’s the essence of his comment. He didn’t say which of the premises of which of the arguments were not true, nor did he tackle my arguments for the truth of the premises.

 

Notes

[1] I ‘m not advocating for arranged marriages. I’m just saying that maybe a reason so many of them actually turned out well was that the people realized “This is who I’m going to be stuck with for the rest of my life. I should make every effort to show love to him or her”.

[2] Tim Stratton, “The FreeThinking Argument In A Nutshell”, November 30th 2015, http://freethinkingministries.com/the-freethinking-argument-in-a-nutshell/

[3] William Lane Craig, from the article “Q&A: Molinism VS. Calvinism: Troubled By Calvinists”, – http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-vs-calvinism 

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2ku9IhP

 


 

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22 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “By the way, there was a comment left by a person named John B Moore, but I didn’t address it because he didn’t get any rebuttals. All he did was essentially say “Your arguments are no good. You’re wrong”. Not a quote, but that’s the essence of his comment.”
    .
    He actually said this: “All five of your points are just reasons why we would like to have free will, not reasons why we actually do have free will. We have this whole worldview including moral accountability, Biblical authority, idealistic love, pervasive feelings about free will, and a self-congratulatory claim that we must indeed be rational. But what if we’re wrong? All five of your points merely talk about our assumption that we have free will, but they don’t give us any reason to think we really do have free will.”
    .
    He seems to be saying you made an argument from consequences. You can disagree with him and think he didn’t rebut you, but I think it’s unfair to say the ‘essence of his comment’ was ‘your arguments are no good, you’re wrong’.

    Reply
    • Evan Minton says:

      It is still the case that nothing he said made a dent in the arguments. If that was truly his response, then it’s quite pitiful. None of the arguments were arguments from consequences. At least not in the sense that I said that if there was no free will, unsavory consequences would resort. Most of them took the logical form modus tollens.

      1: If P, then Q.
      2: Not Q.
      3: Therefore, not P.

      The argument from moral accountability, the argument from true love, and even “The Appearance Of Free Will Problem” argument all employed this form of logic. Now, if one is to say that any of the arguments aren’t good, one have to show either “If P, then Q” is false, or deny that “Not Q” is false. So, I guess how I was arguing is “If free will does not exist, then a consequence would result. The consequence doesn’t exist, therefore free will does.”

      Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    “Now, how does the soul solve the problem? I’m not entirely sure what it is about a soul that gives it the ability to choose between alternatives, but I do know that it makes human beings more than mere physical objects. If I am a soul with a body, then there’s an aspect of me that transcends the natural realm, and that therefore entails that I am not necessarily subject to do whatever my environment and internal brain activity make me do.”
    .
    Sorry Evan, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Your reply is basically that we’re thinking with a kind of ‘magic brain’ alongside our physical brain, and because the magic brain doesn’t have physical parts, therefore we have free will. What difference would it make whether the brain is made of physical parts or ‘magic parts’? You say you’re “not entirely sure what it is about a soul that gives it the ability to choose between alternatives”, but you give no reason at all to suggest that ‘transcending the physical realm’ makes any difference at all. As KR points out, the choices are a) random decisions and b) decisions based on something else.
    .
    You try to address this here: “My feeling of hunger may influence me to get up and grab something to eat, but the hunger doesn’t determine me to eat”
    .
    Sure, but no-one ever suggested that human thinking is on the level of ‘Hungry: therefore I eat’ or ‘Want to procreate: will have sex now’. Pointing out that our decisions are made on the basis of many competing choices doesn’t escape that choices are either random or based on something.
    .
    “In the case of computers, yes, they do mathematical calculations and they always come up with the right answer to the equation, but that’s because there were people who causally determined the computer to have an infallible calculator inside of it.”
    .
    That’s not relevant to the point – the fact that the computer is made of physical objects doesn’t mean its calculations cannot be trusted. This would apply whether the computer was made by determined humans, humans with free will, or even whether the computer somehow evolved the ability to compute, or gained the ability to make calculations it wasn’t programmed for due to a malfunction.
    .
    “Can it really be said that someone possesses knowledge (i.e justified true belief) when the conclusions they came to were a mere matter of the molecules and chemistry in their brain + their environment?”
    Sure, what not? If they test their beliefs against the environment then they can be justified in believing they are true, or as justified as you are in yours. Could I still be wrong about a particular belief? Sure – but so can you about yours. That humans often get things wrong is a simple fact whether or not free will exists.
    .
    William Lane Craig: “One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con”
    Why not? As I’ve pointed out, computers can weigh arguments without having free will. Neither you nor Craig have shown why having a soul improves your ability to weigh arguments, or indeed why a soul would be required to allow the weighing or arguments or even HOW a soul allows the weighing of arguments. If two humans were trying to work out a problem, and one had free will while the other didn’t, how would you be able to tell from the way they acted, and why would one of their conclusions be more trustworthy than the other’s?
    .
    “If humans are purely physical creatures…”
    Can you show me a non-physical creature? How do you even know such a concept is coherent?
    .
    Craig: “Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed”
    Craig’s inability to rationally affirm it isn’t an argument against determinism. I might as well say we cannot rationally affirm that we have free will.
    .
    “How could you keep yourself from committing fallacies? How could you know whether or not the beliefs you were determined to hold are true? ”
    For a start, humans DO commit fallacies. We have many biases – even our ability to see objects is subject to them. For example, pareidolia makes us see faces in patterns where they don’t actually exist. So how do we determine truth? We can test our beliefs against reality. The scientific method works by removing human bias from the equation as much as possible. You can say that the conclusions we come to are pre-determined, but so what? I might as well say that your inability to make a choice not foreseen by an all-knowing being means it wasn’t a free choice. That doesn’t mean the choice is any less trustworthy or likely to be true.

    Reply
    • Evan Minton says:

      \\”Sorry Evan, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Your reply is basically that we’re thinking with a kind of ‘magic brain’ alongside our physical brain, and because the magic brain doesn’t have physical parts, therefore we have free will.”\\ — That is a gross straw man of the argument. I never argued that because the soul exists, therefore free will exists. Rather, if the soul exists, then free will COULD exists whereas it CANNOT exist if physicalism is true. We could have souls and still not have free will. This is precisely what Calvinists believe. My point was simply that the soul makes free will possible wheras being solely a physical organism logically entails that we are biological organisms “dancing to our DNA” to put it in Dawkins’ words, “molecules in motion” to put in Frank Turek’s.

      \\”That’s not relevant to the point – the fact that the computer is made of physical objects doesn’t mean its calculations cannot be trusted.”\\ — Another straw man. I never said that because “the computer is made of physical objects doesn’t mean its calculations cannot be trusted”. That would be an idiotic thing to say. Rather, the only reason a computer makes reliable calculations is because we humans programmed it that way. We humans could have programmed the computer to come up with wrong conclusions. Allow me to go all sci-fi on you for a moment. Suppose the computer were a sentient being. It would have beliefs about reality, such as “2 + 2 = 4”, but the only reason it holds this belief is because its human programmers programmed it to come up with the belief that 2 and 2 make for. Suppose another sentient computer holds the belief “2 + 2 = 700,990,000”. The computers might get into a heated disgreement about it. Indeed. It may have been foreordained by the programmers that these cybernetic men verbally duel their disagreement. One is right and the other is wrong, but neither actually were actually able to freely think about their decisions. If computer-man no. 2 doesn’t find computer man number 1’s arguments convincing, that too is the result of the hardwiring.

      FREE thinking isn’t possible without FREE will. If you hold true beliefs, it’s just because you happened to be in the right circumstances, your brain happened to be wired the right way, you just happened to talk to the right people, etc.

      You said “Can you show me a non-physical creature? How do you even know such a concept is coherent?” — If all 4 premises in Tim Stratton’s FreeThinking Argument are true, then the conclusions follows. Therefore, not only is a soul a coherent concept, it’s an actualized one. The question is, which premise are you going to reject?

      1: If naturalism is true, the soul does not exist.
      2: If the soul does not exist, there is no libertarian free will.
      3: If libertarian free will does not exist, then rationality and knowledge do not exist.
      4: Rationality and knowledge exist.

      At least one of these 4 is going to have to be denied in order to avoid concluding

      5: Therefore, libertarian free will exist.
      6: Therefore, the soul exists.
      7: Therefore, naturalism is false.

      You asked “Craig’s inability to rationally affirm it isn’t an argument against determinism.” — Correct. But I am appealing to Craig’s argument to support premise 3 of The Free Thinking Argument. So, while it isn’t a strike against determinism on it’s own, it does support a premise in an argument against determinism (i.e The Free Thinking Argument).

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Rather, if the soul exists, then free will COULD exists ”
        .
        How do you know? As I said before, as an argument this basically amounts to positing a magic brain and saying because it has no physical parts then free will MIGHT be possible. I don’t see why this would make a difference to the ‘random or caused’ dilemma, for reasons KR and I have both explained. You admit yourself you don’t really know how.
        .
        “FREE thinking isn’t possible without FREE will”
        .
        But you seem to be arguing that it precludes thinking at all. You’ve not shown that free thinking is superior to simply thinking, or that it produces better results or more reliable conclusions.
        .
        “If you hold true beliefs, it’s just because you happened to be in the right circumstances, your brain happened to be wired the right way, you just happened to talk to the right people, etc.”
        .
        Quite possibly true – but so what? Lots of people have disagree with other people about matters of fact so it’s obviously true that, free will or not, many DO have false beliefs. As explained, the best we can do is test our beliefs. Could we still come up with incorrect conclusions? Sure, but free will doesn’t prevent this happening or even make it less likely.
        .
        “The question is, which premise are you going to reject?”
        .
        In short, 3, 4, and 6. Or at least I’d say that evidence to support premise 4 would almost certainly destroy premise 3, as I explain two paragraphs below this one.

        I’ve shown that premise 3 is not supported: “If libertarian free will does not exist, then rationality and knowledge do not exist”. This argument amounts to ‘if your brain is made out of physical stuff then you can’t know anything [or at least can’t trust anything]’. You’ve not demonstrated that to be true.
        .
        Let’s say we grant that it IS true – to support premise 4 you then need to provide evidence that “Rationality and knowledge exist”. Let’s imagine two determined men in a Godless universe – GodlessAndy and GodlessEvan. Your premise is that rationality and knowledge are impossible for these two fellows. Therefore GodlessEvan cannot provide GodlessAndy with evidence for rationality and knowledge, because such evidence won’t exist. OK, so what evidence can YOU give me for premise 4 that GodlessEvan could not provide to GodlessAndy? Think carefully. If the evidence you give me is also evidence GodlessEvan could offer GodlessAndy in THEIR universe then either a) It’s not real evidence or b) you’ve just proved that rationally and knowledge DO exist in their Godless universe and therefore refuted premise 3.
        .
        “6: Therefore, the soul exists”
        Nope, you’ve not shown that a soul is even a coherent concept and you’ve not shown that it would solve the problem of free will. GodlessEvan could easily convince or fool himself that he actually had free will, and could then conclude that must mean he has a soul, but that doesn’t mean souls exist.
        .
        “But I am appealing to Craig’s argument to support premise 3 of The Free Thinking Argument.”
        It doesn’t support it – it just shows that Craig personally can’t see a way to rationally affirm it.

        Reply
        • Evan Minton says:

          I already told you how I know in the original article. If I have a soul, then there is an aspect of my being that transcends the natural realm. If I am not a soul in a body, but merely a body, then I am just a physical organism responding to neurological and environmental stimuli. If there’s an aspect of me that transcends the physical realm, as substance dualism asserts, then it is theoretically possible for me to not just be an organic robot. If I am not a soul in a body, then NO part of me transcends the natural universe, and therefore I am 100% subject to it. I am a meat machine.

          You wrote \\’FREE thinking isn’t possible without FREE will’ But you seem to be arguing that it precludes thinking at all.” — No, I haven’t. You’ve just attacked another straw man. I never said you cannot think without free will. Just that you cannot think freely. On naturalism/physicalism, everything you think is just molecules in motion.

          \\“If you hold true beliefs, it’s just because you happened to be in the right circumstances, your brain happened to be wired the right way, you just happened to talk to the right people, etc.’ ‘Quite possibly true – but so what?”\\ — So, your belief cannot be said to be a knowledge claim. Knowledge is defined as “Justified true belief”. If your belief is merely the result of environmental conditions and the way your brain molecules happened to bump together, then whether you hold a true belief or a false belief is merely left up to chance. The fact that I disagree with you is beyond my control. It’s my molecules. They’re making me do it. Without the *justified* aspect, all you have a true belief that you happen to hold by chance. But given the absence of you being justified in holding it, you are not warranted in saying it is a knowledge claim.

          \\”As explained, the best we can do is test our beliefs. Could we still come up with incorrect conclusions? Sure, but free will doesn’t prevent this happening or even make it less likely.”\\ — Whether you decide to test your beliefs or not is likewise determined. If someone chooses to believe their views on blind faith, you cannot blame them, for their molecules made them do it.

          Additionally, your argument may be taken as a validation of premise 4, not a demolishment of premise 3. For I agree that knowledge and rationality exists, and that we can discover truth and be justified in believing it. And one of these ways of finding out whether or not X is true is by doing that is exactly what you said: Test them. I just don’t think this would be the case if determinism were true. I think you’ll have to better than say “But we CAN know things. We can test them. We can see if they correspond to reality.” That just affirms an entirely different premise in the argument, namely 4.

          I also couldn’t help but laugh out loud when you said you denied premise 4. Premise 4 states “rationality and knowledge do exist”. Are you honestly telling me that you think you’re an irrational person who doesn’t know anything? In that case, why should I listen to anything you have to say? Why should I listen to a person who openly admits that he is irrational? Moreover, denial of premise 4 is self-refuting. By telling me that premise 4 is false, you’re implicitly claiming to be giving me KNOWLEDGE that KNOWLEDGE does not exist. And how did you come to the conclusion that premise 4 is false? Did you use your reason? In that case, you reasoned to the conclusion that reason does not exist.

          Moreover, 6 is not even a premise in the argument, but one of the deductive conclusions.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Just that you cannot think freely”
            .
            So people can think in a determinist universe. I don’t see the problem then. You claim that you are ‘free thinking’ but I see no advantage in that, or indeed any real difference at all.
            .
            “Whether you decide to test your beliefs or not is likewise determined”
            Indeed, but so what? That doesn’t invalidate my test in any way.
            .
            “If someone chooses to believe their views on blind faith, you cannot blame them”
            Sure I can. To use your own vernacular, your molecules make you believe on blind faith, my molecules make me blame you for it.
            .
            “I also couldn’t help but laugh out loud when you said you denied premise 4”
            You ignore that I immediately clarified: “Or at least I’d say that evidence to support premise 4 would almost certainly destroy premise 3”
            .
            “Are you honestly telling me that you think you’re an irrational person who doesn’t know anything?”
            You’re the one arguing that having a brain made out of molecules would mean that, absent a soul, I would be an irrational person who doesn’t know anything. That’s your argument, not mine.
            .
            At any rate, you were apparently so busy laughing at my post that you didn’t read what I went on to say, and you certainly didn’t address or answer my question. Here it is again:
            .
            My question: “Let’s say we grant that it IS true – to support premise 4 you then need to provide evidence that “Rationality and knowledge exist”. Let’s imagine two determined men in a Godless universe – GodlessAndy and GodlessEvan. Your premise is that rationality and knowledge are impossible for these two fellows. Therefore GodlessEvan cannot provide GodlessAndy with evidence for rationality and knowledge, because such evidence won’t exist. OK, so what evidence can YOU give me for premise 4 that GodlessEvan could not provide to GodlessAndy? Think carefully. If the evidence you give me is also evidence GodlessEvan could offer GodlessAndy in THEIR universe then either a) It’s not real evidence or b) you’ve just proved that rationally and knowledge DO exist in their Godless universe and therefore refuted premise 3.”
            .
            That was my question. Reading your post it seems your penultimate paragraph constitutes your evidence for knowledge and rationality. So let’s apply that to my above question.
            .
            In our hypothetical Godless, determined universe, Evan offers his argument for why he and Andy are in a free-thinking universe that isn’t determined. He offers the following argument for why: “We know this isn’t a determined universe because knowledge exists”. Andy asks him how he knows and Evan falls on the floor laughing. Eventually Andy gets him to actually answer the question with this reply: “Are you honestly telling me that you think you’re an irrational person who doesn’t know anything? In that case, why should I listen to anything you have to say? “.
            .
            So Evan in this hypothetical determined universe, according to you, is wrong. He doesn’t actually have rationality or knowledge, right? Because he is in a determined universe. And yet… he’s offering exactly the same argument against it that you are offering me.
            .
            So how come this hypothetical Evan is wrong in that determined universe, but you think it’s a good argument to offer me in this universe? If a person could offer exactly the same argument in a determined universe then why should anyone find it convincing? It doesn’t get us any closer to identifying whether or not we’re in a determined universe or the ‘free-thinking’ universe you believe us to be in.
            .
            As such, it’s not much use as a proof of God.

          • Evan Minton says:

            \\”So people can think in a determinist universe. I don’t see the problem then.”\\ — You don’t see a problem with your thoughts and conclusions being a result of neurological and environmental happenstance?

            \\”‘If someone chooses to believe their views on blind faith, you cannot blame them’ Sure I can. To use your own vernacular, your molecules make you believe on blind faith, my molecules make me blame you for it.”\\ — Let me phrase it another way. Sure you *can* blame someone for not believing something on the basis of good reasons, but on determinism, you’d be unjustified in doing so. The molecules are to blame, not the person. You wouldn’t hold a robot accountable for doing what it’s hard wired to do. You would blame whoever or whatever programmed it.

            \\”You ignore that I immediately clarified: ‘Or at least I’d say that evidence to support premise 4 would almost certainly destroy premise 3′”\\ — How exactly would evidence that rationality and knowledge exist invalidate the premise that says they cannot exist if determinism were true?

            I suspect you’re begging the question here. It seems to me like you’re saying “Well, rationality and knowledge must be able to exist on determinism because determinism is true and rationality and knowledge exist”. Correct me here if I’m wrong.

            “\\You’re the one arguing that having a brain made out of molecules would mean that, absent a soul, I would be an irrational person who doesn’t know anything. That’s your argument, not mine.”\\ — When I asked you “Are you honestly telling me that you think you’re an irrational person who doesn’t know anything?” it was in response to you seemingly denying premise 4 of The FreeThinking Argument (i.e “Rationality and Knowledge exist”). For one thing, to deny this premise is to affirm it. For another thing, to deny that rationality a and knowledge exists is to say that one is irrational and doesn’t know anything, which would undercut any reason to listen to anything else the person has to say. I was pointing out the absurdity of denying premise 4.

            By denying premise 4, you’re affirming it. If you say that rationality and knowledge do not exist, you are claiming to have knowledge that knowledge does not exist. Any attempt to refute premise 4 will be a self-refuting argument. Therefore, premise 4 should be affirmed.

            If rationality and knowledge cannot exist if determinism were true, and yet it does exist, then the conclusion would follow that determinism is not true (i.e people have libertarian free will).

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “You don’t see a problem with your thoughts and conclusions being a result of neurological and environmental happenstance?”
            No. Sorry if you do. You admitted that free will is not required to think and you haven’t explained how free thinking is any better, or indeed how it escapes your thinking from neurological or environmental restrictions. It seems pretty clear that such restrictions DO exist anyway, whether any of us like it or not.
            .
            You go on to returns to denying that we have any way of testing our beliefs. Both KR and I have pointed out that we do.
            .
            You’re still ignoring the question that I have now posted twice so it’s hard to escape the conclusion that you simply can’t answer it – the evidence you present for the existence of rationality and knowledge could equally be presented by a determined person to another determined person. Therefore either a) it’s bad evidence or b) it proves that rationality and knowledge exist in a determined universe. And no, I wasn’t begging the question when I said evidence for 4 may well refute 3. And you proved my point by offering ‘evidence’ that could equally be offered in a determined world.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Sure you *can* blame someone for not believing something on the basis of good reasons, but on determinism, you’d be unjustified in doing so. The molecules are to blame, not the person. ”
            .
            The person IS the molecules. They are the totality of the molecules that make them. That’s them. And if we accept your argument that it’s just a person’s molecules robbing a shop, not the person, then logically it’s just my molecules blaming them for robbing the shop, not me. Either both of us are responsible are neither of us are. If his molecules are ‘justification’ for robbing then my molecules are ‘justification’ for blaming him.
            .
            Imagine a robber standing in court. He explains carefully to the judge that his molecules made him do it, therefore he had no choice but to rob a shop and so can’t be punished for it. The judge replies this: “If you can’t blamed for robbing the shop then I can’t be blamed for punishing you for it. Alternatively, if I’m supposed to be persuaded by your determinism argument, such that I change my mind about punishing you, then equally YOU should be able to understand arguments against robbing the store and therefore change your mind on doing that.”
            .
            In short, the robber can’t have it both ways here and neither can you. His freedom to weigh up whether or not to commit a crime is precisely the same as as the judge’s freedom to weigh up whether to blame him for it.

        • Evan Minton says:

          The reason to believe that premise 4 is true is that it’s impossible to deny it without affirming it. To say “rationality and knowledge don’t exist” is to affirm that rationality and knowledge DO exist. To make the claim, you’re admitting you at least know ONE thing, namely that knowledge doesn’t exist. Moreover, if you reached the conclusion that rationality and knowledge do not exist VIA your rationality, then you’ve reasoned to the conclusion that you cannot reason. One is free to deny premise 4 if they’d like. I can’t stop a person from making and believing self-refuting claims.

          I ignored your GodlessEvan and GodlessAndy illustration because to respond to it would be like responding to a loaded question. Except in this case, it’s a loaded illustration. It presupposes that we’re arguing in a deterministic/naturalistic universe, which is the very thing we’re trying to figure out in this debate.

          And you still haven’t shown me how the truth of 4 would negate the truth of 3. If it’s true that “3: If libertarian free will does not exist, rationality and knowledge do not exist”, and it’s also true that “4: Rationality and knowledge exist”, it doesn’t follow that rationality and knowledge can exist in deterministic creatures. It follows that we have libertarian free will. That’s simple modus tollens logic.

          I’m not saying you can’t deny premise 3 or give some argument for it, I’m just saying that I see no way how premises 3 and 4 negate each other. Unless you’re begging the question in favor of determinism unless you’re essentially saying “Well, rationality and knowledge MUST be able to exist on determinism. This is a deterministic universe and it exists”.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            I said evidence you offered for 4 may well either invalidate 3 or fail as evidence for 4. You’ve still not addressed that. Calling it a loaded question is a cop out. It presupposes nothing – it’s a hypothetical.
            .
            If the evidence you offer for rationality could equally be offered in a deterministic universe then, logically, it is either proof that rationality exists in a determined universe or it fails as evidence for rationality in either universe.
            .
            You’re effectively positing two universes, X and Y, and you’re saying we’re in universe Y because Z can only exist in Y, and Z does exist. But you need to show that the argument you make for Z could not be made in universe X, and you’ve not done that. So either it’s possible Z exists in X, destroying premise 3, or you’ve just got a poor argument for Z existing, destroying premise 4.

          • Evan Minton says:

            \\”If the evidence you offer for rationality could equally be offered in a deterministic universe then, logically, it is either proof that rationality exists in a determined universe or it fails as evidence for rationality in either universe.”\\ — See, that’s the problem. It IS a loaded illustration because it presupposes a deterministic universe. I would say the whole argument would be no good in that universe because, in your hypothetical scenario, it’s a deterministic universe. I would say one of the premises, any of the 4, would be false *if* we truly lived in a deterministic universe. I would argue that if determinism were true, then 4 would be false. However, it would still be the case that you couldn’t rationally affirm that premise 4 is false without making a self-refuting argument. as soon as you deny 4, you affirm it.

            But of course, whether or not we live in a deterministic universe is exactly what we’re trying to figure out. If all 4 premises of the argument are true, then it follows we do not live in a deterministic universe. If one wants to maintain that any of the 3 deductive conclusions are false, then one has to deny at least 1 of 4 premises. So let’s do that instead of focusing on loaded illustrations that are irrelevant to the debate at hand. Now, from what I’ve gathered in this debate so far, 3 is the problem you take an issue with.

            And for some odd reason, you think if premise 4 is true, premise 3 is false, and you’ve still yet to show me how this is the case.

  3. KR says:

    ¨Love is an action or series of actions aimed at the wellbeing of the one being loved.¨
    .
    Wouldn’t that mean that people who care for the sick and elderly by definition love all their patients? I’m pretty sure this is not the case. That aside, re-defining love as an action rather than an emotion doesn’t save it from the fact that actions are either determined or random – neither of which is subject to our will.
    .
    ¨I don’t have to have warm and fuzzy feelings towards someone to love them.¨
    .
    Then it would appear that we’re operating with different definitions of love. To my mind, if you don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings towards someone, you don’t love them. You may obviously still treat them well but if the reason is a sense of obligation or simply to get paid, this doesn’t qualify as love in my book.
    .
    ¨It is a common misconception that libertarian free will asserts that our choices are “random” or “spontaneous”, like the appearance of a particle in the quantum vacuum.¨
    .
    Well, that certainly isn’t my misconception. On the contrary, I’ve argued here and elsewhere that randomness cannot give us free will, since random occurrences are not under our control. The same obviously goes for determined events, which doesn’t seem to leave much room for free will. If an action is neither random nor determined, what is it? If the agent isn’t the originator of a causal chain then he’s just a link in it and is clearly not excercising any free will.
    .
    ¨Certainly, there are previously existing factors inside and outside of myself that have an influence on my choices, but does this mean that they determine my choices? I would say no.¨
    .
    Either you chose to be influenced or the influence was determined. If it was determined, you obviously didn’t make a free will choice. If you chose to be influenced, then this choice either had a reason or it didn’t. If it had no reason, it was not an expression of your will. To put it another way: if you don’t know why you performed an action, it was not deliberate (i.e. not an actual choice). On the other hand – if there was a reason, this reason would have to be under your control or it would be determined (or random). The only way the reason could be under your control is if it was a choice – which would need a reason, which would have to be a choice, which would need a reason, etc, etc. Rinse and repeat.
    .
    ¨LFW doesn’t assert that our choices are without purpose, just that it laid within our power to choose the opposite of what we actually chose.¨
    .
    Every apologist I’ve encountered has clearly meant something more than this by LFW. Specifically, they’ve all argued that LFW makes us morally responsible for our actions. This leads right back to my argument above: to be morally responsible for our actions, these actions must be deliberate – i.e. they must have a reason – and this reason must be under our control (i.e. the reason must be a choice). This inevitably leads to an infinite regress of choices based on previous choices that can only be broken by a logical impossibility: an action that is not by choice but still under your control.
    .
    ¨Does KR have an accurate understanding of LFW? If not, that might explain why he feels he doesn’t have it. If he thinks of free will as spontaneous actions devoid of any influences or motivations, then it’s no wonder why he doesn’t think he has it. I don’t believe I have that kind of free will either!¨
    .
    I suppose my understanding of LFW may be inaccurate but it seems to be the only version of it that would make us morally responsible for our actions. It also seems to be logically incoherent.
    .
    ¨In order to have a belief that is both true and justified, one must be able to think freely. In order to think freely, one must have free will.¨
    .
    If our beliefs are the result of our genetic and environmental programming (and I see no reason to think they’re not), they wouldn’t require free will. The way we verify our beliefs is by comparing them with reality, i.e. by empirical observation. Unless you’re going to suggest that we are free to choose what reality is, I don’t see how free will is relevant to the process.
    .
    ¨If human beings are causally determined, then how do you know that the beliefs you hold to aren’t irrational? How could you keep yourself from committing fallacies? How could you know whether or not the beliefs you were determined to hold are true? They could be true, they could have good reasons for them, but you wouldn’t be able to rationally weigh alternatives.¨
    .
    Sure I would – by testing them empirically. No free will required – just the capacity to make observations of reality.
    .
    ¨Can it really be said that someone possesses knowledge (i.e justified true belief) when the conclusions they came to were a mere matter of the molecules and chemistry in their brain + their environment?¨
    .
    Either we can choose whether something is true or not or we can’t. If we can choose something to be true, then everyone can have their own truth and the very concept of truth becomes meaningless, indistinguishable from opinion. What’s true is true whether we choose it or not, i.e. it’s as determined as it gets. I don’t see why molecules and chemistry couldn’t produce knowledge of this truth. I also don’t see what free will has to do with it.
    .
    ¨There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis.¨
    .
    It seems William Lane Craig misses the same point: whether a belief is true or false is a fact for us to discover, not something we are free to choose.
    .
    ¨How can free will exist if man is nothing more than a collection of physical parts?¨
    .
    If free will (the kind which makes us morally responsible) leads to logical contradictions, then it makes no difference whether or not we have a non-physical component. If it’s logically incoherent, then it’s inconsistent with reality and cannot exist.
    .
    ¨I don’t think any of the people in the comment section successfully refuted any of the arguments I put forth in libertarian free will.¨
    .
    I respectfully disagree (a shocker, I know).

    Reply
  4. Evan Minton says:

    I would agree that love is MORE than an action. Clearly, if someone treats someone with kindness out of ulterior motives, that isn’t love. Love is an action, not a feeling, but isn’t MERE action. I’ve never believed that. If I did, I would have to retract The Argument From True Love. Motives matter. If you’re caring for someone because you expect to get something out of it, that’s not love, that’s selfishness. And we agree on that. Also, if someone is patient, kind, non-boastful, etc. because we causally determined to do so, that’s not love. Determined love is artificial love, and loving actions done with sinister or ulterior motives is counterfeit love.

    Also, appealing to empirical testing to refute premise 3 of The FreeThinking Argument isn’t very convincing. What if the molecules that is your brain causally determine you to live in denial of reality? What if you’re determined not to test your conclusion.

    Thirdly, you said “Either we can choose whether something is true or not or we can’t. If we can choose something to be true, then everyone can have their own truth and the very concept of truth becomes meaningless, indistinguishable from opinion.” — I never argued that people can choose their own truth. This is a straw man argument. I’m not a relativist. What I argued is that we need free will to freely weigh alternative viewpoints and sift through the data to come to a rational conclusion. If free will doesn’t exist, then whatever conclusion you come to just depends on how the atoms in your brain bump around. Your molecules moved you to embrace determinism and mine moved me to reject it. I can no more control whether I follow the evidence where it leads, suppress it, ignore it, or what have you than a can of coke can stop itself from fizzing.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “What if the molecules that is your brain causally determine you to live in denial of reality?”
      .
      Evan, you are effectively asking “What if you’re mentally ill?”. Last night I tried to fix my TV. I figured I succeed but you’re asking how I know that I’m not denying reality, and therefore imagined the entire plot of the film I went on to watch. I then discussed the film with my wife, so either she suffered the same delusion or I imagined the conversation I had with her about it. Is this your argument?
      .
      If yes, then you’ve stopped making an argument about free will and moved on to ‘how do you know you’re not completely mad and imagining large portions or all of what you consider reality’. It’s the old argument for solipsism – how do we know we’re not just brains in vats? The problem for you here is that positing a God doesn’t solve it. What if the all-powerful God whose motives you can’t fathom is befuddling your brain in ways you’re not aware of? You believe God doesn’t befuddle, but that belief could be part of his befuddling.
      .
      “If free will doesn’t exist, then whatever conclusion you come to just depends on how the atoms in your brain bump around”
      .
      Your conclusion depends on how successfully your brain processes data and interprets reality. You’ve not shown that free will improves your ability to do this.

      Reply
    • KR says:

      “Love is an action, not a feeling, but isn’t MERE action.”
      .
      This seems a bit vague. What does it mean to state that love isn’t MERE action? What more is it?
      .
      “Also, appealing to empirical testing to refute premise 3 of The FreeThinking Argument isn’t very convincing. What if the molecules that is your brain causally determine you to live in denial of reality? What if you’re determined not to test your conclusion.”
      .
      I don’t see how this addresses my point. The claim is, in essence, that on materialism, we would have no way of justifying our beliefs. I pointed out that there is such a way which comes without any free will requirement: empirical verification. Our ability or inclination to use this method will of course depend on our programming but this is irrelevant to my point. The method clearly exists, ergo the claim is refuted.
      .
      “I never argued that people can choose their own truth. This is a straw man argument.”
      .
      Really? What you’re suggesting is that we can freely choose the rational conclusion, which amounts to the same thing. The rational conclusion is the one that aligns with reality. Reality is a fact for us to discover – not something we can freely choose. Reaching the rational conclusion relies on empirical verification, not free will.
      .
      “If free will doesn’t exist, then whatever conclusion you come to just depends on how the atoms in your brain bump around. Your molecules moved you to embrace determinism and mine moved me to reject it. I can no more control whether I follow the evidence where it leads, suppress it, ignore it, or what have you than a can of coke can stop itself from fizzing.”
      .
      This seems like a roundabout way of saying that if we have no free will, our conclusions are determined. If you add in the possibility of randomness in the system then yes, I agree. You seem not to like this proposition but your preferences obviously have no bearing on reality. We either have free will or we don’t and I still see no reason to think that we do. I’ve argued that if free will is supposed to make us the true authors of our actions (thus making us morally responsible for them), this will inevitably lead to logical contradictions. You didn’t address this argument.

      Reply
  5. Andy Ryan says:

    Evan: “The reason to believe that premise 4 is true is that it’s impossible to deny it without affirming it”
    .
    It would be equally impossible for a DETERMINED person to deny premise 4 without affirming it, no? It’s an argument one could make regardless of whether one actually had free will. And yet you maintain that premise 4 is not true in a determined universe. So either:
    a) That is not actually a reason to believe that premise 4 is true, or
    b) You’re wrong that Premise 4 is not true in a determined universe
    .
    Either way, one of your two premises has failed, meaning you cannot go on to conclude any of points 5-7.

    Reply
  6. Andy Ryan says:

    Evan: “And for some odd reason, you think if premise 4 is true, premise 3 is false, and you’ve still yet to show me how this is the case.”
    .
    Evan, what’s odd is that you would say that more than once when I have several times pointed out that that is NOT what I think. Rather, I said that the EVIDENCE you have attempted to provide for premise 4 either a) fails as evidence or b) invalidates premise 3.
    .
    Evan: “See, that’s the problem. It IS a loaded illustration because it presupposes a deterministic universe”
    .
    No it doesn’t, Evan. I even set up that we could consider two different universes, with one being deterministic and the other not. Presupposing a deterministic universe is the opposite of what I was doing. I wasn’t making an argument that assumed we are in a deterministic universe, I said that even if both universes were POSSIBLE you’d have no way of knowing which one you were in.
    .
    Evan: “I would argue that if determinism were true, then 4 would be false. However, it would still be the case that you couldn’t rationally affirm that premise 4 is false without making a self-refuting argument. as soon as you deny 4, you affirm it.”
    .
    Right, so IF you were in a deterministic universe (Scenario 1) and I asked you to demonstrate to me that knowledge existed, you would confidently say to me: “I know it does because you can’t rationally deny it exists without making a self-refuting argument”.
    .
    You maintain that you’re in Scenario 2, a non-deterministic universe, and you’re saying exactly the same thing to me. So how am I supposed to know whether I’m Andy in Scenario 1 or Andy in Scenario 2?
    .
    To put it another way, your argument gets us no closer to working out whether or not we’re in a determinist universe or a non-determinist one. There’s no piece of evidence you can point to that you couldn’t equally point to in a determinist one.
    .
    And I’ve explained this to you so many times now without you addressing this point that I’m wondering if you’re actually reading my posts.

    Reply
  7. Barry says:

    I’ve never seen any Christian scholar, theologian or apologist reconcile their belief in human freewill, with God’s using a hook in people’s jaws to force them to sin, Ezekiel 38:4. God will draw pagan armies against a future Israel (v. 16), then he will punish those armies for doing what he forced them to do with his hook (39:1-6).

    Yes, it’s metaphor, but metaphors are designed to put mental images into the mind for teaching purposes, and I’m sorry, but “Put a hook in your jaw and turn you about” doesn’t exactly square with “God respects human freewill”.

    Furthermore, the freewill article violates the NT. The divinely inspired answer to the problem of God’s Sovereignty and man’s freewill is “shut up”, see Romans 9:20. Today’s Christians who wish to say more, clearly do not have a serious faith that the terse biblical answer is “sufficient” for faith and practice.

    Barry, http://turchisrong.blogspot.com

    Reply

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