I recently heard this compelling argument for the existence of god and want to know what you all think about it. The argument goes like this:
If there is no god and the world is an accident, if everything about people, including what they think and feel, is just the chance combination of molecules and is explained in terms of chemistry and physical laws, why be rational? On the basis of atheism, weeds grow because they are weeds and minds do just whatever they do. People act like they are free to think about different kinds of ideas and then choose the best one. On the basis of atheism, that's impossible. Our minds are just a bunch of atoms vibrating and will do whatever they have been programmed to do. If there is no god and the physical world is all there is, there is no logical basis for logic. But people, including atheists, do trust reason and logic even though they have no reason to assume that it works.
Any input you have is appreciated.
Mark Blaguer - Free Will
Mark Blaguer - Free Will as an open Scientific Problem
Raymond Tallis - Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience
Raymond Tallis- Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
Daniel Dennet - Freedom Evolves
Sam Harris - Free Will
Hofstadter - Godel, Escher, Bach
Robert Kane - The Oxford Handbook of Free Will
Robert Kane- The significance of Free Will
Henri Bergson - Time and free will : an essay on the immediate data of consciousness
Derek Pereboom - Living without Free Will
Bruce Waller - Against Moral Responsibility
Anthology - Essays on Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Oxford Press - Free Will: A very Short Introduction
I don't remember the title of a couple more books. In December I'll be back in Leuven and can look them up when I pass by the philosophy library.
I particularly recommend Raymond Tallis's essays, Daniel Dennet's response to Sam Harris and the Significance of Free Will. If you are really up for the challenge, then try Freedom Evolves as well as Godel Escher Bach.
Thanks for the list. I'll have to track them down.
Neuroscience may not negate free will (or it may), but the logic of physical science doesn't leave a whole lot of room for it in a world where everything has a cause. You do what you do based on antecedent events and circumstances, and the only way around that is randomness in some form, which itself is anathema to free will.
Free will is a feeling, not a fact.
@Ian: "Neuroscience says there is no free will. "
I disagree with this premise.
From Wiki: Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system.
From my P.O.V. Neuroscience does not take a position on Agency or free will, it is just a investigative method used to understand the nature of the nervous system.
Sam Harris for example seems to draw conclusions about agency and free will without a high percentage of support from other Neuroscientists.
Consciousness is not an illusion I am conscious at this moment I assure you that I am.
IMHO Neuroscience is in it's infancy and it's way too early to be claiming a full understanding of agency, will, choice, thought, consciousness or subconsciousness and how the deterministic relationship of the atomic, sub-atomic and the quantum effects our lives.
I'm just trying to find my way through life without fooling myself too much.
Consciousness is not an illusion
In fact this is very like trying to use logic to disprove the utility of logic. An illusion consists of having a conscious entity perceive something that's not there. Trying to claim that consciousness itself is an illusion, should require one to bear in mind which consciousness is being tricked by the illusion, but um...that consciousness that has to be there for there to be an illusion, is supposed not to exist.
It's weird, while I just think of myself as a conscious being, other people sometimes think I'm a deity. Just last night my girlfriend started screaming "OMG, OMG, OMG ." :)
Exactly, the logic of the world of physical objects. Very well illustrated. Even octopi understand it, as well they need to, as they have eight physical legs to coordinate.
"If there is no god and the physical world is all there is"
"there is no logical basis for logic."
Logic is something the utility of which humans discovered somewhere along the way. But humans aren't the only logical critters. Crows and other birds use tools to draw food close enough to grab. Some birds drop mussels onto rocks to crack their shells. Not only that, some behaviors get passed along, not genetically, but in the form of training the young and even associates.
In a lawful universe, logic is simply there to be discovered. The basis of logic isn't logical, it's practical.