I am sure that most of you, weather you be Atheists of Theists have heard a whole lot about God's Will. This is thrown out like verbal diarrhea every time that someone dies or a natural disaster occurs. I have often questioned why people are so quick to say that a kid that gets caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting received a "gift" and that it was God's Will that she get shot and killed in a park. How is that a gift? What proof is there that she is in a better place? Who are you to make such claims? It may sound nice and comforting at the time, but it is not all that it is cracked up to be. As the title of this post implies, I am going to be talking about God's will and our own freedom. Does God's Will take away our freedom?
To start let us look at the Frankfurt Cases. This is a thought experiment that involves two cases that are identical, except for one part.

Case 1
There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that COULD control the outcome. In this case Jones decides not to shoot Jones, however the evil demon forces Smith to pull the trigger and kill Jones.

Case 2
There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that COULD control the outcome. In this case Smith decides to shoot Jones with his own free will, and the evil demon does nothing.

Take a good look at these cases. What do you notice? First off, they are identical except for one part, which is where the evil demon comes in. The other thing is that the outcome was the same, but the method of getting to that outcome was different. If it was Smith's choice to shoot Jones or if the evil demon commanded him to, the result was the exact same. So, my question is, if "God's Will be done" then the end result will always be the same. So are we really free to make our own decision? If we are, what is the point of making them if it is just going to achieve God's Will in the end?

Another thing that I question is how a person would know what God's Will is. I really don't have a concrete answer for how one would definitively know what God's Will is, but I can speculate as to why it would be appealing to chalk up the bad things in life it "it was God's Will".
The same sort of thing happens (in someone's mind) when there is a conspiracy about something like 9/11. Sometimes when something horrible happens it scares people, which is normal. However, being humans it is in our nature to want an explanation of why something happened. In the case of conspiracy theories Jodi Dean says,

People hate thinking about, in the flash on an eye terrorist bomber...

I think that the same thing happens in the minds of Theists when a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, occurs. It is much more comforting to think that there is a plan in place. People don't like to think that bad things can just happen, they would rather be optimistic about some plan that would take them to a better place (heaven supposedly, but I'll save that for another post). Michael Martin said it best in his book Atheism: A Philosophical Justification -

If pessimism is justified by the evidence, then we must be pessimistic. If we are optimistic when pessimism is justified, we are irrational.

If you are a Theist or an Atheist, please leave your comments and opinions, I would love to know more about the topic from all perspectives. Bear in mind, however, I will research what you say if I think that you haven't done your research.

Views: 1310

Tags: Atheism, Conspiracy, Demon, Disaster, Evil, Freedom, God, Humans, Natural, Philosophy, More…Religion, Skepticism, Theism

Comment by Unseen on March 23, 2013 at 12:43pm

@archie  I didn't think he said anything to me. I just look at some of his posts and my eyes glaze over. I have more fun things to do than plow through a half page or page of dense prose. It shouldn't take that much verbiage to make a point. In fact, a well-distilled comment is far more damaging to one's opponent than a landslide of argumentation.

Comment by onyango makagutu on March 23, 2013 at 12:48pm

that response is quite long. someone please tell me what it says

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 23, 2013 at 1:05pm

He just wants to make sure he's covered all his bases, I can understand that.

Some famous author, whose name escapes me at the moment, wrote an overly long letter to a friend, and in it, apologized for its length, saying he didn't have time to make it shorter. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it takes a lot of time and effort to find that one word or phrase that can save a dozen words by its use, so I do understand your point. However it wouldn't be so obvious if you'd part your hair differently.

Comment by Strega on March 23, 2013 at 1:22pm

Pascal, apparently Arch - here's the link

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 23, 2013 at 1:59pm

I wager you're right, as usual --

Comment by Jimmy on March 23, 2013 at 3:25pm

@Unseen Terence McKenna would often say "lack of brevity is proof of psychosis" as a kind of way to make fun of himself, because if you've ever heard any of his talks, they were anything but brief. In fact, they're some of the longest on-going talks on YouTube, just take a look at "Plants, Consciousness, and Transformation" to give an example. But you're definitely right, succinctness is key. I do try my best to keep it short as I can, but if I hadn't stopped myself, I would've definitely typed out a few more paragraphs on some of the points I wanted to make. The "if I could have written shorter, I would" apology is never more true here. If you could thoroughly assimilate some of the concepts I've laid out there and summarize 'em in a more concise form, I'd praise you. I think the reason I have so much to say is because a lot of the words surrounding these topics are fraught with the specious and morbidly tainted, so I feel a kind of obligation to take the time to define all these things in order to avoid ambiguity as much as possible. By the way, if you ever encountered me in the chatroom here, you'd realize I am sort of a semi-OCD nut.

@archaeopteryx Well, to be clear, I said the "and what's with this," then continued to quote something you posted earlier in the thread. It's the 6th post from the bottom of page 10 on this thread, you said that you agreed with Dawkins regarding these "altered states."

Your point about pink elephants may be true relative to delirium tremens, but definitely not towards the experience involving tryptamine-based psychedelics. I only quoted Sam Harris to give a kind of neuroscientific explanation of why some of these occurrences may be so. I think if I hadn't quoted Sam and left some of my interpretations, I would be left sounding like a madman! So, as exotic or as absurd as some of these ideas may sound, I at least want you guys to know that I haven't escaped the bounds of rationality completely. ;)

So, if I had to summarize what I laid out there is that, basically, there exist a phenomenon in consciousness that most people don't know about. There are many routes to it, only psychedelics seem to be the least risky and most effective route to having this experience. And that religion may have been a kind of by-product of it, because it's my speculation that those men that lived so long ago who had this experience had to tell everybody about it, and alas, they each became a founder of a religion. A friend of mine on another atheist forum put it this way, "Okay, I think I can agree. There are things going on in the brain that have been hijacked and associated with religion even though they are simply natural processes." Sure, that's one way to put it, but...

I think the real point here is... You see, you mentioned "secret knowledge." The psychedelic experience is a kind of "esoteric" thing that exists in the peripherals of our society, it sort of lurks in the background and behind the scenes. Of course, if you live in the U.S. or the U.K., you have to jump the fence of legality to even begin to experiment. Despite the fact that DMT is present in the brain, it's highly illegal in both the U.S. and the U.K., even for scientific study! The point is that this is something that is grossly overlooked. As I mentioned, it's never been discussed in "The Atheist Experience" or any atheist podcast that I'm aware of. I seem to be the only raving bastard on atheist forums attempting to shed light on it. I just think it needs to be more carefully looked at. I want to leave some quotes relative to what I'm trying to get out here. You guys don't have to read 'em, but they're there for your indulgence.

“One toke [of DMT] away is this absolutely reality-dissolving, catagory-reconstructing, mind-boggling possibility. And I feel like this is a truth that has to be told.”- Terence McKenna

"Our society has created a gigantic prejudice against altered states of consciousness. You know, we're very happy for people to blitz ourselves into oblivion with alcohol every night. We're very happy for people to close down their mental processes by watching endless hours of the most awful television, but if a free and independent adult chooses to experiment with his own consciousness, to explore his own consciousness through sacred plants, that grow naturally along side us on this planet, if an individual does that, he can be sent to prison in our society. We so value the alert, problem-solving state of consciousness needed to deal with the everyday world, that we have simply neglected, cut-off, ignored, missed the other 90% of our consciousness, and it was that 90% of our consciousness, I believe, that made us human." -Graham Hancock

"This is what psychedelics were and are about in terms of their social position, and their legal position in society. Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned you may jump out of a third story window; psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve structured opinions, and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you to the possibility that everything you know is wrong." -Terence McKenna

"I didn’t get into this business by being an airhead or a screwball. My attitude was always if it’s real it can take the pressure. You don’t have to pussy foot around the real thing. If they’re telling you, oh you must lower your voice, and avert your gaze, then you’re probably in the presence of crap, because the real thing is real. It doesn’t demand that you adjust your opinion to suit it. It’s real! That means that it’s pre-eminent. That means it sets the agenda. And, I studied yoga, I wandered around in the East, I was fast shuffled by beady-eyed little men in dotes. I know the whole spiritual supermarket and rigmarole, and I find nothing there to interest me on the level of, you know, five grams of psilocybin mushrooms in silent darkness. That’s where the pedal meets the metal. That’s where the rubber meets the road. And the inspiration for me to get up and talk to an audience like this simply comes from the fact that I cannot believe that this could be kept under wraps, the way it has. I mean, I kidded with you earlier that they would make sex illegal, if they could. Well they can't, so it isn’t. But the psychedelic experience is as central to understanding your humanness; as having sex, or having a child, or having responsibilities, or having hopes and dreams, and yet it is illegal. We are somehow told, we are infantilized. We are told you know you can wander around with in the sanctioned playpen of ordinary consciousness, and we have some intoxicants over here if you wanna mess your self up we’ve got some scotch here and some tobacco and red meat and some sugar and a little T.V. and so forth and so on. But, these boundary dissolving hallucinogens that give you a sense of unity with your fellow man and nature are somehow forbidden. This is an outrage! It’s a sign of cultural immaturity and the fact that we tolerate it is a sign that we are living in a society as oppressed as any society in the past." - Terence McKenna from the talk "Eros & The Eschaton"

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 23, 2013 at 4:09pm

@Jimmy - unlike Unseen - and it is the height of my ambition to be as unlike Unseen as possible - I read everything you write, because, as a writer myself, I'd like to believe that those who read my work also read everything I write - think of it as a, "Do unto others --" kind of thing ==

RE: "Well, to be clear, I said the 'and what's with this,' then continued to quote something you posted earlier in the thread. It's the 6th post from the bottom of page 10 on this thread, you said that you agreed with Dawkins regarding these 'altered states'." - I don't recall having said it, having been, as it were, a bit under the influence of my own "altered state," and if I seemed a bit grouchy, it could only be because I woke up on the wrong side of the floor.

Good luck with your psychedelic experiments, but I think I'll stick with plain, old joi d'vive --

Comment by Jimmy on March 23, 2013 at 5:00pm

@archaeopteryx - That's fine with me. I mean, I don't know how honest your profile is, but if you truly are in the 47-52 age range, I suppose the psychedelic endeavor sort of loses its "joie de vivre"? I don't know. Terence McKenna was 53 when he died, and claimed to have a psychedelic experience at least once or twice a year, even in his 50s. I've been trying to get my mother to try psychedelics, she's 52.

But I mean, as I said, it's definitely not for everyone and the only people who psychedelics seem to draw in are people who have the courage and will to travel to the very depths of consciousness, and it's not easy. I mean, all the things you've been hiding under the floorboards of your psyche and brushing underneath the carpet will jump at you all at once during this experience, and that's just within the first couple of hours! I mean, once you get past all that, then you get down to the nitty-gritty, you know... meaning of life, am I dead? Is this God? That sort of thing.

And to be honest, I had a very childish curiosity prior to trying psychedelics... I simply wanted to experience hallucination, so when I heard Terence McKenna's recommendation of "five dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms" as the amount to take to have the full-spectrum experience, I immediately sought that. It took me about two years until I finally found someone that had the "stuff." And I bought five dried grams, it cost me $75... but I didn't think I'd get into all this other religio-philosophical stuff. That came after the experience. I thought, you know, that I'd gleefully sit back on a couch, watch pink elephants dance, leprechauns prance, and ride a unicorn trance. Instead... I thought when McKenna said, "You will be nailed to the ground, etc." he was just using metaphors to describe the profound hallucinations. I didn't think he meant that literally until I found myself on the ground hanging on to my sanity for dear life.

It's an experience that when you have it, you'll spend the rest of your days pondering it, and who knows? Perhaps we all see it at death, but thanks for your time and reading these posts. I stopped arguing with people about this stuff, 'cause I  eventually realized for it to be truly dealt with, one has to experience it, so I only offer these as concepts to ricochet in your mind. I'm not trying to convince you that this is so, I only want you to consider its possibilities. I offer 'em simply as ideas to play with.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 23, 2013 at 6:01pm

@Jimmy - it's the word, "hallucination" with which I have a problem - the word itself means the opposite of reality, and I find realty preferable, but thanks for the invitation.

As for Unseen, he's an acquired taste, which, if I ever acquire it, feel free to just shoot me --

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 23, 2013 at 6:43pm

Of course not.


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