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January 26, 2018


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When the totality of consciousness / unified field split into fractals with the power to think & act separately , some fractals developed brutish intentions immediately. These fractals were placed in animal kingdom to settle their brutish intentions. This phenomenon is called Adi Karma / Primal actions / First actions. Actions performed by intentions to harm others.
[ Myron H Phelps Notes on discourses of Radhaswami faith delivered by Babuji Mahraj , Soami Bagh Agra. 1913-1914 ]

Dan Barker is one of your heros. And he talks bullshit. I hope you give me your troll detector insignia again, like you did before, Brian.

Dan Barker is like someone from Radhasoami that never had any of the experiences of going within seeing moons, and suns, and starts, and gurus, and then turns around and says God doesn't exist. It is ridiculousness.

I love that quote Vinny, thanks! I resonate with it :)

It appears to be impossible to perform a voluntary (self-willed) action. or for that matter, not to.

An action either :
already exists.. now,
already happened.. memory,
will happen.. imagination.

“Free will” is really quite limited, despite belief that we control ourselves and our lives. We think we have endless choices...until we try to make them. Each decision must not only be based on what we “want to do,” but also on our own capabilities and what is expected of us. Nature and society imprison us, whether we like it or not.

Hi Brian

Free will implies a personal responsibility to do the right thing.

Nothing wrong with that. It's an important part of raising children to be responsible and helpful adults.

Personal responsibility is a good thing. And it's good that any system of justice have within it the expectation that we are responsible to abide by the laws, and to help each other.

Are you suggesting otherwise?

Spencer, what I'm suggesting is that an urge to raise children to be responsible and helpful adults is determined by various causes: one's own life experiences, genetics, one's upbringing, one's philosophy of life, and so on. And each of those causes have their own reasons, their own causes. Causes and effects are an endless complex chain going back to the first life on Earth. Or the Big Bang, if you like.

Having a feeling of free will also is determined. Numerous authors I've read have discussed this from an evolutionary standpoint. Groups of humans, early or otherwise, function better when there is a sense of "I am doing this freely" and "You are doing that freely." As you said, we then hold other people responsible, which typically causes them to act better. Or at least differently.

I don't believe that people freely will their actions. But society determines that people are still responsible for their actions, because obviously they did them, not somebody else. What I and many others object to is an archaic notion of retribution when someone does something wrong that flows from a mistaken belief that they could have done differently from their free will.

Protecting society from wrongdoers and rehabilitating them is fine. Punishing them just to punish them is wrong.

Hi Brian
Thanks for your reply.

You wrote

"What I and many others object to is an archaic notion of retribution when someone does something wrong that flows from a mistaken belief that they could have done differently from their free will."

Is it possible to believe someone could have made a different choice, and with proper rehabilitation / re-conditioning, support, therapy and possibly restricted from engaging in self - destructive behavior, they can be helped to make different choices reliably?

Perhaps determinism is in fact the basis of all rehabilitation?

As I see it, morality is a culturally conditioned response and as such is entirely determined by the experiences and conditioning the brain absorbs from that culture. Within these narrow perimeters a variable number of choices can be arrived at. Our choices are therefore predetermined, arising from the information derived from the culture. This is what I understand as 'natural free will'. Only from within this framework can we be said to be held morally responsible for our thoughts and actions (perhaps this is what Mr. barker is saying).

A more basic 'natural free will' also applies to many creatures that live in social communities where genetic propensities determine the groups rules and behaviours.

Mostly from some philosophical sources and widespread today from religious sources the concept of 'absolute free will' prevails. Religious scriptures often state that God gave man free will along with the idea that the mind (or soul) is separate from the brain/body and is therefore capable of making decisions independent of the persons' conditioning. To accept many spiritual teachings 'free will' needs to be sacrosanct.

It would seem that each advance science makes in understanding who and what we are will always be challenged as we are naturally programmed to believe we are more special than anything else. Perhaps this is why we fill the universe with our concepts to avoid facing up to our inevitable demise.

Hi Turan:

You wrote:

"To accept many spiritual teachings 'free will' needs to be sacrosanct."

It depends. In Hinduism, it's all pre-determined.
In Christianity you have the free will to choose Christ, but outside of that you don't. Jesus gives examples of this when He speaks about seeds that fall on fertile soil, and grow very large; and seeds that fall upon stone and where the sprouts die out.

In the Old Testament, it's all God's Will.

In Buddhism, I think it's also pre-destined. Buddha accepted reincarnation.

So, I'm not sure that free will is a sacrosanct. However, when you look at Capitalism and its effect on religion, you do see that people blame poor people for being poor. However, that is also reflected in the eastern Caste systems. Acknowledging no free will, folks then attempt to say that some free will at some point caused a person's suffering. And this is often used to excuse doing nothing to help.

The idea of free will is fine. It's just using it to avoid personal responsibility to help others that is problematic, or as Brian cites, using it to blame someone and therefore excuse acts of hatred and torture.

Yes Spencer, that's why I said 'many religions' and not all.

I made a study of world religions many years ago and from that 'decided' out of them all, if I had to choose one it would be Taoism or Zen. And my 'choice', well that would be based on my upbringing and my close association with nature. Had I been brought up in a Christian, Moslem, Hindu or Jewish culture no doubt my mind (my cultural conditioning) would of course favour one of those. Of course, being brought up in Christianity one would choose Christ, the same conditioning process goes for the other religions and their particular god or saviour.

Personal responsibility regarding others is hardly a choice as apart from our social and cultural conditioning we are genetically programmed to survive by being part of the community.

Having no 'absolute free will' would not alter our actions as our limited 'natural free will' (the fixed choices made from our particular conditioning) would continue. We would not know we were operating without 'absolute free will' as the illusion is so ingrained in us.

Oh, I meant to mention that the earliest Buddhist texts talk of 'rebirth' and nor 'reincarnation' - which is a Hindu viewpoint (and deserves looking into).

Rebirth is not reincarnation - see Vivekananda's writings for proof of this. A Hindu debunking Buddhism.

Free will is common sense and it is obvious, blatant and within reason, despite attempts to debunk it.

People, probably attempting to rescue their beliefs (and positions) often debunk new discoveries. One only has to look at history to see how certain beliefs are denied for centuries - e.g. 'the Earth is flat'; 'the sun goes around the Earth'; 'the Earth is 6000 years old', 'global warming a myth'; 'cigarettes don't cause disease' - and so on. Good science is not in the business of debunking, it simply presents the facts as they are discovered and tested.

Usually the reason facts and evidence is debunked is quite often because they interfere with our beliefs and we want some certainties, some guarantees that we are special and demand to continue to exist - it is a extension of our survival instinct. To emphasise the point, once we are committed to the wheel of our beliefs our lack of an absolute free will keeps us turning on them - although there are ways to get off.

Prisoner: Why am I here?

Jailer: Because you're a scumbag who's done
a foul deed.

Prisoner: Me karma made me do it.

Jailer: Yup, all you scumbags say that.

Prisoner: Any chance of early parole?

Jailer: I'll ask the warden. I'm looking
to transfer the hell out too. One way or
another... causative chain's gotta do its

Prisoner: You into rap, bro?

Brian, can you talk about (or perhaps link to) the specifics of what you have in mind when you advocate for our penal/justice system to focus on prevention of crime and rehabilitation of criminals (as opposed to going for something like "punishment")? What would such a system actually look like?

Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish writer of children's stories and beyond, Nobel Prize winner, philosopher, and beyond, when asked if we humans have "free will" answered, "We must believe in free will. We have no choice".

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