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: 1291

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

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 19, 2013 at 6:48pm

@Angela - RE: "Im not sure that wanting to kill someone and having superstitions come from the same part of the brain." - I didn't say it did, is it relevant which part of the brain it comes from? And using the word, "murder," when I used the word, "killing" puts an entirely different negative spin on what I said.

RE: "If anything I would say that humans have an innate aversion to killing people." - how were your grades in World History?

RE: "People have superstitions because it makes them feel comfortable." - Translation: "People think irrationally because it makes them feel comfortable." - let's keep it real.

Comment by Dr. Bob on March 19, 2013 at 6:49pm

Hmm... can't edit.  I was only going to add that as a guest, I would never comment on a thread like the "Seeking" thread, where someone was very clearly asking for guidance from this community.  I only feel it appropriate to comment where people seem to be asking things a theist might provide insights on.

Comment by Jorita on March 19, 2013 at 6:56pm

Professor Robert you are free to talk on this blog, but I do think that you do understand that not everybody is going to agree with you, and that you will find that some of us and I can only speak for myself do at times get anoyed with your logic and way of thinking. It does however not mean that I don't find the discussions interesting. So bare in mind that I am the only Atheist in my home, living with 3 other adult christians, from different faiths. So you my friend might end up getting the sharp end of the stick , nothing personal.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 19, 2013 at 7:03pm

@Angela - RE: "I think that there is need for religious or spiritual belief, including the superstitions that go with them. Humans just need it."

It likely won't surprise you that I don't agree - I believe Humans have lived with superstition for so many millennia, that many, and it would seem yourself included, are afraid to set it aside and walk away. I don't believe we NEED it at all - why would we need irrational thinking?

@Bob - frankly, as I've mentioned before, I appreciate your insight, even though I might not agree with you. I will also say that of all of the Bibles I've used in my research, the Catholic Bible - The New American Bible - is by far the most forthcoming when it comes to pointing out biblical foibles - throughout Genesis, for example, when camels are mentioned, there are always footnotes informing the reader that camels weren't domesticated until nearly a thousand years after the era of Abe, Ike and Jake/Issie. It also delves deeply into Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis and confirms that Moses did not write the Pentateuch/Torah. That kind of honesty is refreshing.

Comment by Jorita on March 19, 2013 at 7:16pm

@Angela why would we need a religion or a spiritual belief, including the superstitions that go with them? I see no logic in believing in supernatural beings or time spent on rituals that has no value. Non of those will lend any quality to my life. There is no need for a spiritual or supernatural being to give me compasion, morals, or joy. I don't have to do charity work to please a god or feal that I have scored points I do this because I care about humanity. I find joy in everyday things from the simple to the complex. I can take a walk on the beach if I need some clarity of mind or need to be at one with myself or go for a long run. No need for rituals, or superstitions

Comment by Dr. Bob on March 19, 2013 at 7:19pm

@Jorita: "So you my friend might end up getting the sharp end of the stick , nothing personal."

I would never take it personally.   I can appreciate how annoying living with a houseful of Christians can be.  Feel free to take it out on me anytime.

Comment by Unseen on March 19, 2013 at 7:48pm

@archaeopteryx

RE: "If anything I would say that humans have an innate aversion to killing people." - how were your grades in World History?

You don't need to be a historian to know that soldiers come back from war with PTSD, often because of knowing that they killed someone (or killed many). Most of us could only kill in extreme kill or be killed situations. Of course, there are exceptions, but they prove the rule.

Comment by Ryan B on March 19, 2013 at 8:08pm

PTSD and the psychological effects of killing another human doesn't cover why there has always been some sort of conflict where senseless killing has taken place.  At some point it has to be considered human nature to be so territorial and defensive against anyone outside one's own group.

Comment by Unseen on March 19, 2013 at 8:15pm

...it has to be considered human nature to be so territorial and defensive against anyone outside one's own group.

No, that's largely part of animal nature.

Comment by Unseen on March 19, 2013 at 8:16pm

Also...most wars happen not out of murderous hostility but due to irresolvable conflicts or due to perceived or imagined wrongs committed by one side against the other.

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