Musings on Belief and Free Will

Christians often say that God does not reveal himself because he wanted people to have free will.

It may sound cynical, but given how many believe in spite of evidence, I somehow don’t think God revealing himself will turn everybody into the mindless automatons who have no choice.  Plenty of people reject evolution despite all the evidence.  Plenty of people believe in all sorts of conspiracies despite the evidence against.  People tend to believe in their religion and reject the other one.  People reject their creator all the time.  How many children get pissed off at their parents and never speak to them again?  Don’t underestimate mankind’s ability to ignore something that’s right in front of their eyes.

There are many also who would be still skeptical.  “Why don’t you have a beard?”  “I thought you were supposed to be a dude?”  “You’re not as white as I thought you would be” “This is some sort of a trick.”  Hey, maybe that skeptic would be me.  I mean if God did reveal himself, I’d have to have a good talk with him before I’d start fawning over him. I mean the dude would seriously have some explaining to do.  Is he just supposed to be so amazingly delicious that I have no choice but adore him?  It sounds like I am losing more than just my free will, but my rationality, my curiosity and the essence of who I am.

So God, if you are out there…let’s have a look at ya! 😉

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29 thoughts on “Musings on Belief and Free Will

  1. LOL, I like your perspective and Shout OUT. Brought a giggle out, a much needed giggle. Yes “god” show yourself.
    It seems for some, it is easier to believe in a non seen “higher being or self” than proven science. Is this the classic avoidance of self responsibility? Blame the unknown as many fear the unknown. Praying to an unknown; if it turns out good – it is God’s doing. Well who is to blame when the outcome results in death, war, injury or the simple “it sucks” times?
    While none of us have all the answers in the expanding universe that many can not fully comprehend, why is god the entail all too often.
    Living in santa fe with the “higher power and god” or other words used becomes more than annoying. If I do something to help your life or if someone else does, thank that person!! It is their goodness that requires appreciation for their actions.
    OOOOOOO – major button for me! LOLOLOL thanks for the giggles and sharing your wonderful family with all of us

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  2. Ignostic Atheist

    Lucifer told God to piss off to his hypothetical face, so I think personal, convincing experience of a god does not curdle free will.

    So, where is he?

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    1. Yeah a lot of people in the Bible who were supposed to have seen him, spoke with him, etc seemed to retain their humanity fairly well without just falling to their knees and worshipping him all day. lol

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    1. Agreed! And there is still even a Flat Earth Society that are ignoring even the most insurmountable amount of evidence. I am not sure free will is so much even a human quality compared to ignorance. lol

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    1. Haha thanks. I also just thought that in the Bible Adam and Even, literally know God exists. They’ve seen him and everything and somehow they still have had the free will to disobey eat the forbidden fruit. It seems fairly obvious these reasons why God doesn’t reveal himself are pretty made up. lol

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      1. I always found it really convenient that God used to speak directly to people all the time and then, somewhere along the line, stopped. After all, didn’t He tell Abraham to kill his son? And Noah to build an ark? However, I’d be willing to bet that if someone claimed they were speaking with God today, most Christians would either call them insane or a blasphemer.

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  3. Nice one, Swarn Singh. You are not an atheist, rather a seeker. And the truth is not out there but inside, inside every human being. If you were God, you would hide in plain sight. But his search must be undertaken out of free will without influence or a miracle. Just as an explorer or a scientist undertakes a search out of his free will before he achieves success. I think that’s what the Christian belief refers to. “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the Living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in (spiritual) poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.” – Gospel of Thomas. And “Dhyan” certainly helps in this search. LoL..

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    1. Ignostic Atheist

      Funny how step one isn’t search within yourself for the Truth, it’s be born into a family which believes the right belief. Then, after you’ve been told the Truth, ask yourself if it is true.

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      1. I agree with you. Although there are people who change religions, but of course where you are born does shape one’s world view quite a bit at the hands of the predominant religion. In reading this response, it reminded of the question, can God be arrived at through inductive reasoning or only deductive reasoning? It appears that only the latter is possible. It seems for the most part that one has to either at the very least accept that there is a God or be aware of the concept of God before one can search within oneself or the world at large to attribute observations to God’s existence. Can one look at the world without any knowledge of a supernatural creator and come up with the concept of God? It might be in theory possible since at least one person did it once. But given how little understanding we would have of the world as our consciousness as a species first emerged, it is not surprising that we would prostrate ourselves before the forces in the world that were more powerful than ourselves. If you look at the history of religions, the nature of God or Gods evolves over time and with civilizations as they change.

        But observing the world (or even making observations about your own nature) and attributing it to the supernatural, while probable, doesn’t make it necessarily correct. Just as observations once led us to believe that the sun revolved around us and not the other way around. The explanations we give for what we see are not always correct. Sometimes we need to observe more carefully. Sometimes we simply lack the knowledge or ability to observe things correctly.

        Voltaire said “If God did not exist, he would have to be invented”. Thus, if God does not exist, it seems likely that he would be invented to me as well. I find nothing wrong with God if we see the concept only as taking the place of those things in the universe that we don’t understand and cannot explain. These things may always be there and those like Einstein, who did not believe in a personal God, often referred to God as the unknown of which he was desperately trying to learn more of. My cousin’s use of the word “seeker” is very a propos for a scientist. 🙂

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    2. Gorki,

      I wish all theists was of your brand! You definitely represent a view that is more consistent with Sufi mystics, or Sikhism at the beginning of the religion before mankind got his hands on it! For you it seems God is more inspirational and your relationship with God is a personal one that it not really mired by a sea of dogma, but rather provides you with sense of humbleness before creation. Unfortunately in the U.S. we face a lot of Biblical literalism and instead of letting the lessons of the bible be more inspirational, people believe in the literal meaning of stories that have been translated from language to language over many centuries. The early biblical scholars did not mean for the bible to be taken so literally, so the strand of Christianity we face right now in the U.S. is confusing indeed. That being said, I assure you I am an atheist. lol Although that doesn’t mean I am also not a seeker. What is a scientist if not a seeker? I’m just not seeking God. The purpose of my post was more in regards to the nature of man who despite evidence will still believe what he wants to believe. It is common in Christian dogma to respond to the argument of why God doesn’t reveal himself that “Evidence of his existence would take away our free will”. I simply posit the idea that people maintain their beliefs despite evidence, especially when the subject is complex and difficult to understand. What could be more complex and difficult to understand than a being who can create a universe such as ours? I question whether the physical presence of a deity in our world would instantly transform the hearts of men so easily. Because as long as death, evil, and disaster continue there will always be question both about the nature and intent of a creator even if we recognize his power. The Gospel of Thomas quote you provided is an inspirational one, but it denies the fact that I also know myself, and I also have spiritual moments that I cannot explain and fill me with wonder, but that does not mean I believe that there is a God. One can be humbled by a universe that is derived through natural processes, and one can accept that there are some answers you will not get to know in your lifetime and not attribute that unknown to the supernatural. 🙂

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      1. I think humans are scared most of the time to go against set values and beliefs for history tells us that those who did were crucified. So, for most humans, it is better to live a long life than a curious life. At the base of every spiritual thought (more commonly known as religion) is curiosity but as the original teacher, saint or guide or what ever you call him leaves, the thought gets corrupted. Then the thought simply becomes a matter of discussions, arguments and quibbles. But for “seekers”, lack of physical evidence should not rule out the existence of something. Columbus undertook a personal journey based on faith and some fishermen stories and rest is history. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp….Or what’s a heaven for?” Earning a loaf of bread requires effort but God comes free….He is right in your Dhyan (Focus).

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        1. I agree, that physical evidence doesn’t rule out the possibility. But there are also many things that might be possible that aren’t.

          Columbus didn’t actually sail without any evidence at all. In fact he had maps, they were just wrong. lol But there were actually quite a number of scholars and calculations that he based his beliefs on. So he might have acted on a little bit of faith, but not blind faith. The fact that many scientists might use some “faith” in testing hypotheses is certainly true, but again they do have at least some evidence for basing what they believe to be true. However most times they end up being wrong, sometimes they are right. History remembers the scientists who got it right. So we can admit that faith sometimes gets us the right answer, but faith can also, and more often give us the wrong answer. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have faith. Far from it. It is a very valuable tool and can drive us beyond the limits of what the available evidence leads us to believe is possible. That being said, in a case where a scientist uses faith initially, when the hypothesis turns out to be correct, the conclusions are derivable from evidence. In other words we can, through inductive reasoning conclude what is true from the data available. This is different from deductive reasoning where we have to assume something is true and then simply find the evidence that agrees with our belief. In other words, if someone didn’t tell you there was a God, or you were unaware of the existence of the supernatural, would you conclude naturally that there was a supernatural supreme being? Can you truly discover God without the a priori knowledge of the concept of God?

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      2. The need for prior knowledge of the concept of God as you mentioned in your last post leads us to the same age old question, is it the chicken first or the egg? And whether revelation of God will lead to end of man’s free will can only be truly answered if the man finds Him. Many other worldly things and emotions make humans lose free will, addiction being one and so does love. So, it is a possibility that God or supreme energy will make us lose free will as well. But I do think that free will is overrated. Birth and death are the two most important events in any life and I don’t recall agreeing to be born and certainly won’t be very agreeable or willing in my death. Everything that happens in between these two is immaterial as far as my free will is concerned. We do have limited will. Revelation on the other hand is a very tricky concept. Humans are amazed and in awe of the concept of energy and many Judaic and Christian scholars have compared God to be the supreme energy or spirit that runs the world. And energy as we know in our daily life is formless, without shape and doesn’t take up space. Seekers agree that He can’t be revealed in matter meaning our physical senses of seeing and hearing can never see or hear Him. Humans do have hidden faculties through which that supreme energy does reveal itself. As Peter hung upside down on the cross in Nero’s circus he delivered a very long message to his followers, here’s a bit of it, “But with this, O Jesus Christ (his teacher), do I give you thanks: With the silence of a Voice, whereby the spirit that is in me loves you, speaks to you, sees you and beseeches you. To him therefore do you also, brethren, flee, and if you learn that in him alone you exist, you shall obtain those things whereof he said to you: “Which neither eye has seen nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man.”

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        1. I agree with your view on free will. I am actually not convinced that we have free will, at least in an absolute sense. So much of our view in the world is shaped by our experiences and thus impacts future decisions; closing off the probabilities of making certain decisions while make other decisions more probable.

          I am not sure God is quite a chicken and egg scenario however. Such a scenario suggests that either way, there is a God. That remains to be proven. The fact is that you were told there was a God or were at least aware of that concept from as far back as you can remember. How did this shape your thinking. Did this impact your decision to seek God? Had you never heard of the concept is it something you would have conceived of yourself as you observed and learned about the natural world? Much like any other discovery has made about the way the world works. The concept is one that man has asserted exists in the world, but has not yet been proven. I can assert anything I want exists. I can define it. Come up with some rules as to why no one has seen it. No one can disprove my claim, yet that should be nobody’s job to disprove my claim, it is my job to prove my assertion. If accept the assertion of God without proof there is logically no assertion by anybody that we should reject. I can assert that my wife and I didn’t have sex to produce our child. He is a miracle. No one saw the act of copulation. A DNA test might show that I am the father, but then I could simply claim that it was God’s will that the evidence look that way. Who is to disprove such a claim?

          Man has always been fascinated by energy and while energy is formless. Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same through his theory of relativity and thus the connection between space and time.

          The seekers you speak of assert that God exists. They define his nature to be such that we cannot see or hear. And that faculties that sense God are hidden and thus these senses are apparently also beyond the realm of measurement. They involve no observable organ or correspond to no discernible neural pathway into the brain. This seems like a convenient definition to maintain an assertion of the existence of a supernatural being, without any necessity of proving it.

          Please don’t get me wrong Gorki because not only am I intensely enjoying having this conversation with you, I can tell you are a deeply spiritual and peaceful person and I don’t doubt your beliefs bring you strength and joy in your life. These feelings of peace and joy however are possible without seeking such supernatural explanations to creation. I actually can accept there being God, a creator, but not one who desires my worship and who answers my prayers. I can seek morality, peace; I can have humility and compassion; I can continue to grow and improve myself without being sure about whether there is a God or not. I am much more interesting in learning the things that can be learned, musing about the bigger questions that have no answer, and immersing myself in the physical reality of this world. Let other planes of existence worry about themselves…I have this life to live. 🙂

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      3. You give me your apple, I give you mine but we both still have one apple. You give me your thought, I give you mine and now we both have two thoughts. 🙂 One problem, out of many, with religion is that it refuses to entertain thoughts that don’t align with it.

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        1. Agreed! 🙂 I’ve never been comfortable with the notion, that there are certain ideas that can’t be challenged. That something is sacred and cannot be disrupted. Religion has generally never responded well to those who would challenge their authority and that seems to me to be fairly dangerous.

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  4. I’ve met many Christians from many different countries and I have never heard any of them say anything resembling your premise, that God doesn’t reveal himself because he wants people to have free will. That would be, as you rightly point out, a pretty dumb thing to say.

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    1. Interesting…I see it written many times, and this is what I remember mom telling me when I asked her why doesn’t God reveal himself. On my facebook wall a friend even confirmed that the presence of God would take away your right to choose and you would instantly love him. I don’t think it’s that uncommon. Nevertheless it is good to hear that perhaps it is not the norm.

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      1. Perhaps within certain circles it’s a common belief, but it doesn’t seem very Biblical to me. Jesus said “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” But after spending two years together Judas still betrayed him and Peter denied him. During the transfiguration when Jesus was talking with Elijah and Moses and the presence of God was, well, present, Peter still couldn’t keep himself from yammering on about building shelters. And, as you pointed out earlier, Adam was well acquainted with God and still managed to make some poor decisions.

        It would also seem strange to me that after paying such a great cost to have free will, that when we are reconciled to God and go to be in his presence, that he would take it away. If that were true he could have just saved us all a lot of trouble and stayed closer to Adam and Eve when they were in the garden.

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        1. I completely agree. In many ways I really don’t have a problem with a philosophy that there is a creator, only that the logical contradiction to which people live in accordance with them. lol

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      2. There used to be an online logical philosophy quiz which I think was called “Bite the Bullet” where you were asked a series of questions about what you believed about life, religion, and science and it would ultimately tell you when your beliefs became incompatible. If I remember correctly, the creator of the quiz was motivated to show that no matter what you believe, most people believe things that are inconsistent. I believe that I got as far as saying that an omnipotent altruistic god could allow suffering at which point the quiz said that was not possible, which I thought was a somewhat narrow view, but I didn’t write the program.

        Despite being a fairly trivial thing, that experience had a somewhat profound effect on me and I started paying more attention to what people around me thought and it seemed fairly evident to me that people really do typically hold incompatible beliefs, myself included, although I try very hard not to. I once had a conversation with someone that went something like this:

        “They should make logic part of the high school curriculum.”
        “That would be a waste of time.”
        “But how can you make decisions without an understanding of logic?”
        “You don’t need logic to make decisions.”

        And there you have it.

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        1. Haha…we have a philosophy professor who teaches logic and argumentation and he is definitely a big proponent of having that be a required course…although I think he would prefer to be at a lower level. Of course I am sure I have inconsistencies as well. I think we all do, but there is also a difference between an inconsistency and something that is contradictory also and sometimes it helps to know the difference. For instance we talk about this example in this psychology class I sat in on where a child is told cheating is wrong, but is also rewarded by his parents when he gets good grades and is punished for getting bad grades. A test comes a long that perhaps he isn’t ready for, but can see the test of the person next him. So the kid must make a decision about whether to cheat or to get punished. I think that there are things that we struggle with and that we prioritize wrongs in our mind based on a given situation. As an adult we can see of course how to perhaps avoid this conflict, but there are plenty of situations where conflict arises in our mind and we have to make a decision. Logic may simply lead us down the lesser of two evils, yet we will think we have made a very sound decision. But I prefer when people tell me when I am being inconsistent, or rather initially I am quite annoyed, but it gets me thinking and I do think we should be working towards a more consistent morality in addition to one that has actually positive benefits those those in our life and humanity in general. So I think logic classes would help, because recognizing fallacious arguments from good ones leads to better decision making. Of course anybody can just make decisions without logic. LOL I like that argument though. lol

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  5. Pingback: How Our Will Is Not So Free – Part I | Cloak Unfurled

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