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Predestination, causality, culpability

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Predestination, causality, culpability

#1 Post by Compassionist » April 11th, 2020, 7:52 pm ... revision/7

If God has predestined our births, our lives, our choices and our deaths, isn't all praise and all blame attributable to God alone?

Living things don't have free will. We are prisoners of causality doomed to be conceived without our consent, doomed to be born without our agreement, doomed to suffer without our permission and doomed die against our wishes. Our choices are made according to our genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. If you had my genes, environments, nutrients and experiences you would have been typing these words where and when I am typing these words. If I had your genes, environments, nutrients and experiences I would have been reading these words where and when you are reading these words. We are not free from causality.

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Re: Predestination, causality, culpability

#2 Post by animist » May 11th, 2020, 3:14 pm

Compo, much as I like you and wish you the best, it is posts like this which have deterred (well, more like demotivated) me from response for some time. But hey, my password seems to have allowed me to enter the forum again (I am tempted to quip that passwords have free will, but no, of course not).

What is wrong with your analysis is that - yes, we do not have any choice over whether or not to be born - how could we? And yes, our genes predetermine much of our behaviour, and of course our upbringing and current circumstances (ie environment) are also hugely important in how we behave. But they are mediated by our intelligence, which gives us a modicum of free will. IMVHO, other animals have a modicum of free will but are of course unable to discuss it. The issue of punishment is related but different.

When you say, as you have done so many times on this forum, that we are prisoners of causality, do you have a clear idea of what causality is? Is it not simply itself a concept which reflects the need of most human beings to create meaning in their lives? Religion is certainly one reflection of this, but I think that causality is another. We see one effect followed by another, and we think - did the first cause the second? The answer tends to be yes. Of course, this is a gross simplification, since everyone knows that two such events could have a common cause, or that they had different causes which happened to coincide at a particular moment in time, and so on. Certainty is one subjective benefit of being alive which is never available to us, objectively, as an absolute, although we are all too ready to be "certain" of many many things which history and science have shown not to be true.

I recommend you to read a few bits of philosophy, like David Hume (just look at his Wiki entry if nothing more) and, slightly more recently, the mercifully brief article by Bertrand Russell entitled "On the Notion of Cause". More recent still is the excellent book on medicine and causality by Ben Goldacre entitled "Bad Science".

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