Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Worded Confusion of Those Who Deny Free Will

Sometimes advertising totally confuses an individual, especially if the ad commentary is contradictory.

Take a look:

"Public Meeting: "The Illusion of Free Will & its Impact on Moral Responsibility"*
May 18, 1:00 PM
Ramsey County Library, Roseville, Minnesota

August Berkshire speaking on 'The Illusion of Free Will and its Impact on Moral Responsibility'

If free will is an illusion, what does this say about praise, blame, responsibility, ethics, justice, revenge, punishment, rehabilitation, cooperation, and altruism? Is life worth living? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the future?"


If "free will" is an "illusion," then we won't be able to decide whether "life is worth living." If we have no choice, can't make alternative decisions, then we are passive objects/beings and can't choose to be either "optimistic or pessimistic" about our future.

There can be no "moral responsibility" if we are incapable of choosing between right and wrong.

Each of us will instead be done to--

Our body will do whatever has been cosmically determined by the universe or fate or whatever.

In philosophical determinism, there can be no "should" which, contradictorily, the presentation blurb seems to advocate.

But the strange ad continues:
"Our speaker, August Berkshire, will discuss the ramifications of a natural universe without gods or free will, in which evolution shapes our thoughts and actions."

Oops! So evolution has "shaped" some humans to think there is free will but shaped Berkshire to think there is no free will?

Also, how can evolution "shape" anything? Evolution, according to most scientists, is "purposeless and meaningless." Natural selection is an action that doesn't shape, it only moves forward in time and space.

Do I detect a little personification here?

Then the blurb says: "He will conclude that it's a good thing that we don't have free will!"

Huh, again?

How can not having any choice be "good"? That's a judgment, a choice. How can anyone make a judgment if they don't have free will? Calling something good, can only happen if one has the ability to choose to do so.

"August Berkshire is past president of Minnesota Atheists and a past vice president of Atheist Alliance International. He has been a atheist activist since 1984 and is the author of numerous pamphlets. He is the owner of the ATHEIST car license plate for Minnesota and is proud to be listed in the reference book "Who's Who in Hell."

Wait a minute! If Berkshire has no choice, how can he choose to be proud of his accomplishments?

Besides, he isn't capable of accomplishments, if he has no free will. Merriam-Webster: "something done, achieved..."

If Berkshire thinks no one, himself included, has free will, then he hasn't been capable of "achieving" any accomplishments.

How can he even choose to believe he can't choose?

How can he choose to be an "atheist activist"?

If there is no freewill, he didn't have any say in whether or not to be an atheist, and theists didn't have any say how they are either.

Also, how can one choose to be an "activist" if there is no free will?

In determinism, humans are DONE TO-- We never get to make our own choices. In fact the famous determinist Sam Harris even claims our sense of "i" our identity is an illusion.

But the advertisement continues about Berkshire:
"His following the trail of reason and evidence has led him to the conclusion that neither gods nor free will exist, and that we can live happy, fulfilled lives without either one."

Reasoning, NOT!

If everything is determined, then we, illusions, live whatever has been determined, whether happy or despairing.

There can be no "fulfilled" because we have no choice. If it's destined that we be impoverished,destitute, and unfulfilled,then that's the breaks, whatever the cards of the cosmos will.

What a mangled weave such an advertisement makes of the English language. I hate it when speakers twerk the normal meaning of words, the dictionary definitions.

It drives this former English teacher to drink--where's my Mountain Dew Live Wire?:-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


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