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 19, 2013 at 10:40pm

@archaeopteryx  Hate to spring this on you Unseen, but humans ARE animals --

Since that was what I was saying, you're not exactly revealing anything to me.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 19, 2013 at 10:48pm

That's an excellent video Angela, it should be available to everyone - their superstitions, however, were based on ignorance.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 19, 2013 at 11:03pm

@Unseen - all too often with your posts, it's not easy to tell. Speaking of "ego death," if anyone's ego would benefit from it....

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 19, 2013 at 11:16pm

This will take us even further back in time --

Comment by Unseen on March 19, 2013 at 11:20pm

@Jimmy  A lot depends upon what you mean by "the source of religion." Do you mean historically where some dude founded Judaism or Taoism or do you mean the source of religion for an individual person long since then?

I discovered the source of my own religious belief by looking back at my own life. Back when I believed it was because I was raised around believers. They believed for much the same reason I did. I think the day I mostly lost my religion was the day I realized I could draw a map and pretty much predict with fairly satisfactory accuracy what people believed by noting where they lived, if not by the nation they lived in, then by the region or neighborhood. Religious choice is 90% geography. 

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 20, 2013 at 12:11am

But in it, we can see how it may well have been in our own earlier days, and we can see what we have since made of it, having transferred that power from the strongest member of the group, to some ethereal, invisible sky fairy, that the transfer was irrational.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 20, 2013 at 12:53am

Why yes --

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 20, 2013 at 1:05am


Comment by Jimmy on March 20, 2013 at 4:51am

@Angela Evangelia 

That's right. In Strassman's book, he speculates that there's many paths to this experience, psychedelics seem to just offer them with the least risk to the organism that's if you go about it cautiously. Fasting is one way, a near-death-experience can also induce this experience, in some instances, a stroke can cause this to happen as in the case of Jill Bolte Taylor, isolating yourself in a cave or even meditation is also speculated to cause a natural induction of N,N-DMT, so forth and so on.


The difference is that the proposed "God" explanation arises out of fanciful imagination in response to the "Whys?" and "Hows?" of the universe, the use of the word "God" as metaphor in the context that I used it in is  a word tiled over this very peculiar and colossal experience dubbed "ego death" which is purely an experience which truly has no name, but is a kind of  experiential, to use a Greek word, apotheosis in that your consciousness is transformed so drastically that one can have the impression of something transcendental, seemingly incomprehensible, and utterly terrifying.

Comment by Unseen 4 hours ago

"@Jimmy  A lot depends upon what you mean by "the source of religion." Do you mean historically where some dude founded Judaism or Taoism or do you mean the source of religion for an individual person long since then?"

@unseen Yes, I meant historically where the religion was founded. I mean that Christ, Muhammad, Gautama and so forth were all mortal men who underwent this colossal transformation of consciousness, and so religion was in a way their expression of what they had experienced. In the case of Taoism, it may be that Lao-Tsu had an induction of N,N-DMT during meditation.

Strassman speculates in "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" that meditation as practiced in ancient India may be a way to induce DMT in a conscious state of mind. DMT has been studied to be released during the REM stage of sleep which is when the heavy dream states are occurring. Well, meditation (ancient meditation) is the cessation of thought. To cease all thinking. In Taoism, the mind is equated to a pond of water. The ripples in the water represent your thought, and so meditation would be to have the pond to come a complete standstill, to be completely serene. It is the complete annihilation of intention or will, so one breathes involuntarily in meditation, not voluntarily. And the speculation of Strassman is that if you can do this quietism for a period of time, you will induce DMT naturally. If you've ever witnessed a monk give a demonstration of something like "samadhi," one of these states described in meditaiton, they will instantly undergo REM. When someone smokes DMT, they instantly undergo REM. Coincidence? I don't think so. I definitely think Strassman is on to something and that these things should be studied more thoroughly, as of today, despite the fact that DMT is produced naturally in your very own brain, DMT is schedule I illegal in the U.S. and highly illegal in most countries... even illegal for scientific study. Figures, doesn't it?

Dr. R. Strassman explains in his book that this is what may happen to us all when we fall asleep, it's simply that your subconscious thoughts take over, and this is cause for the dream, but nevertheless, the dream is a DMT hallucinatory experiential thing. Gurus in India have even said, "Sleep is unconscious meditation and meditation is conscious sleep." 

But to be clear, you don't have to be of any type of religion to have this experience as it is essentially a phenomenon in consciousness, meaning we all have the potential for this experience. It's simply that when this happens to you, and it doesn't happen to many people... Richard M. Bucke even wrote a book in which he titled "Cosmic Consciousness" where he discusses this phenomenon and famous people he felt who probably had this experience, but to continue before I digress, when this happens to someone, people for some reason gravitate towards profundity when describing this experience. So, that means Christ probably interpreted his experience through the most profound concepts he knew of which probably were the religions he grew up on such as Hebraism or Islam, maybe even a little Greek. Siddartha Gautama obivously relied on Hinduism as a resource to interpret his experience... If someone today were to undergo this experience, if they're religious, they may feel compelled to say that they met "God" at the height of this experience or witnessed the "angel," if you're a UFO nut, you may believe that you're consciousness has become fused with the extraterrestrial itself, if you're atheist, you may reach for a more mathematical diction, as in, "I glimpsed a higher dimension." In either case, what is intuit by the individual is something profound, transcendental, and a powerful feeling of interconnectedness.

Now, the skeptical and sort of cynical view on this is that you're "high," that this is simply a neurological chaos, but I assure you, the only people saying that are the people who have never had this experience. A great example is in that last link I left where Joe Rogan asks Michio Kaku, the famous astrophysicist, if he's ever tried mushrooms... If you're interested, I'll re-post the link below, but I only ask that you listen about two minutes in, unless you're in for the long haul as the podcast is over two hours long!

The Joe Rogan Experience with Graham Hancock

Comment by Jimmy on March 20, 2013 at 7:44am

Hey, Angela...

Yeah, I've heard similar accounts to Jill Bolte Taylor. Alan Watts had a friend who had this experience through a stroke. He told Watts, "I fear to tell this to my friends, but it was the most beautiful experience I ever had. I believe everyone should have a stroke." 

Maybe, but I don't think it's guaranteed you'll get the "sunyata" during the stroke, I think it happens in some instances, just as people who flatline don't always come back with tales of the "white light" and their "life flashing before their eyes." 

I agree that marijuana can be quite innocuous, however... I mean, if you combine it with alcohol, that could end badly. It's these synergies that cause problems, but by itself, it's pretty harmless.  There have been people that have overdosed on mushrooms, but you've got to take a very MASSIVE amount. We're talkin' a belly full of this stuff.

I'm not sure if you had taken the time to search Terence McKenna's talk, but his point there is that most people nowadays only dabble with psychedelics, but that's because they want to have a good time, you know. They want to still be able to attend the concert, the party, etc. But you don't get anywhere with those sort of doses. I mean, you may as well just have some cannabis, because it's quite akin to that. 

Now, at the doses Terence McKenna recommended, it is a shamanic dose. In other words, there's a certain threshold with psychedelics that will distinguish the dabblers from the intrepid, for sure. Because at the shamanic dose, walking is out of the question, sex is something you can consider, but it's out of the question, because you're are literally, as McKenna says, nailed to the ground grappling with a mystery so profound that cannot even be explained with our M-Theory and our contemporary neuroscience, etc. 

You see, a recreational dose of mushrooms is usually less than a gram to about two or three grams. A shamanic dose or what Terence McKenna called the "effective dose" or "full-spectrum dose", if you weigh about 140 lbs, is about five dried grams. The fatal dose is close to a pound. So, there's approximately 144 grams in one pound. So, the effective dose is well away from the toxic or fatal dose. So, it's safe in a physical sense or pharmacological sense, but what most experienced users know it's not really mortality you have to fear for, but your sanity.

With LSD, now, if you wanted to have the "effective dose", if you followed the general rule as with the mushrooms, considering weight, etc. would be about 200 to 500mcg. Today, people only take about 50 to 70mcg as a recreational dose. I don't really recommend LSD if the "effective dose" is what you're shooting for because it can last a very long time. Even on a light dose, LSD last about 12 hours. Now, Albert Hofmann's first self-experimental dose was 250mcg, and that lasted 3 days! Mushrooms, on the other hand, at the full-spectrum dose, you're looking at about 6 to 9 hours at the most. Now, DMT only lasts about 5 to 15 minutes, so it's probably the best, only it's very short-acting despite the fact that it's the most powerful of all psychedelics.

But I think that it should be emphasized that the so-called "religious experience" or "mystical experience" or "ego death" or whatever you'd like to call it only occurs when you exceed this threshold. Anything less, and you're lucky to even brush against it, otherwise the experience is quite different, tolerable, and may seem like a different drug altogether, so the dose range definitely makes the difference. Not many people are willing to take upon the "heroic dose," that's why I think the only people who are called to it are people willing to travel to the depths of consciousness, people who have a ravenous curiosity, so on and so forth.


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