Monday, November 16, 2020

Many religions do reject free will

Evolutionist Jerry Coyne posts commonly against theism and free will, and complains
about a video on the physics of free will:
O’Dowd seems hung up on predictability as an important part of free will. But all of us, including hard determinists like me, realize that we will never be able to predict human behavior with 100% certainty. Not only do too many factors impact our brains and behavior, but, as O’Dowd points out, the uncertainty principle bars us from even knowing certain fundamental properties of quantum-behaving particles (although those may have a negligible effect on behavior). But whether or not we can predict behavior seems to me irrelevant about whether or not we have free will.
Coyne denies free will because he believes in determinism, but he oddly says predictability is irrelevant.

I was more surprised by this statement:

And, of course, libertarian free will is an underpinning of all Abrahamic religions.
No, it is not.

See the Wikipedia article on Free will in theology. Islam is always talking about the will of Allah determining everything. Humans have no free will. Free will plays no role in Judaism.

Catholics and Mormon believe in free will. Protestant Christians have varying views, but many of them partially or wholly reject free will.

The video says free will is “the most directly verifiably real thing you will ever observe”. [at 12:30] I agree with this. You can just close your eyes and make a choice. You can sense your free will more directly and you can sense the Sun rising in the East.

Coyne acts as if he has to disprove all the religions, and then convince everyone that they do not have free will, in order to teach them some superior atheist world view. The truth is more nearly the opposite. Religion is encouraging a denial of free will, and then bad morals.

1 comment:

  1. Roger,

    1. Thanks for the link to the Wiki page. Somehow, I hadn't come come across it before.

    Let me talk about what I know intimately well, i.e., Hinduism---its theory as well as its actual practice:

    The Hinduism-espousing intellectuals based in the Western countries often paint an inaccurate picture of Hinduism, when it comes to issues like free will.

    From my personal experience growing up in the rural India of '60s and '70s, then in urban India and also 7 years in the USA, and then through my life in Pune until now, I can definitely say this much:

    Practically speaking, and as a rule of thumb, one should expect the *intellectuals* of Hinduism in India (esp. the casteist among all the Brahmin castes) to *deny* free-will as a matter of unquestionable kind of a routine. As to the rest, you should expect them to tow the same line.

    In contrast, I would expect that anglicized Indians as also Hinduists from, or settled in, the Western countries would be far more likely to find any and all evidence of free-will in the ancient Indian thought streams, and highlight it. (Ditto for the rich Indians in from the IT industry, whether from US or India.)

    Indeed, I'd expect them to be very willing to even deliberately distort the overall picture, if the need be, just to be able to say that Hinduism had *always* had free will as a *dominant* thought-stream.

    (As rule (i.e. leaving aside minuscule exceptions), it's all a matter of exigencies for them.)

    As a matter of historical (and present-day) fact: No, it didn't. (I mean: Hinduism didn't *always* have free-will as a *dominant* thought-stream. Not at all.)

    If any one doubts me, he should go to Indian villages and try to figure out the status even as of today, on his own, looking at the situation completely afresh and *comprehensively* (i.e. not selectively). Yes, even today (with more than half the population being connected to the 'net).


    2. I was surprised to find you noting that many Protestants partially or wholly reject free will. But then, I am not too familiar with the details pertaining to Christianity (different sub-streams within it, specifics of historical evolution (say under St. Augustine as in contrast to under St. Acquinas), etc.).


    3. Personally, I guess I could write a philosophically informed commentary on Chandrashekhara Bharati III's quote given in the above-mentioned Wiki article. (Quote: ``Fate is past karma, free-will is present karma. ... you have to exercise your free-will in the present.) If there is sufficient interest, I could do that, but only later (say way later in 2021 or so). I am not likely to do so, however. The quote is of most direct interest only to Indians, and as a rule, casteist Brahmins don't like to learn from a non-Bramhin-born. So, there. (Plus, I am into QM and DS.)

    Best,
    --Ajit

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