Monday, July 17, 2006

Moral Evil and Free will.

The bible and the first sin: Genesis 3:16-17… And the lord commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest* freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in that day thou shalt sure die.

First problem. Is there any guesses as to what happened shortly after? This is analogous to placing a large red button in the middle of a kinder garden and saying "What ever you do not hit this red button, I'm not telling you fully what it will do, just don’t press it." How long do you believe it would take before little hands found it? Maybe 5 or 10 minutes?

The second is an offence to logic. Yes it is the tree of good and evil, but how would one know disobeying god was a sin unless they had partaken of the fruit? Would it be fair or in the modus Operandi of an omni benevolent being to punish one who did not know that their actions were in fact wrong? This does not absolve god** of moral evil, if anything God is too blame for its entrance into the world.

God, Omniscience, and fate: Almost all world religions have an aspect of fatalism. All of our actions are predicated by the Gods. Our actions good or ill, are already known and written in the heavens, sometimes relayed to those on earth, angels visiting Mary, the dreams of Joseph and Pharaoh, the book of revelation, and the promises to Moses. Fate removes free will; perhaps we are free to choose if we accept our fate? Perhaps, but many of the bible seem cruelly coerced into doing the bidding of the master. Death in the family, war and famine all leading onto "Gods great plan."

Moving on from biblical references God in most religions appears to be an omniscient being. God is all seeing all knowing, so the future has already been revealed to God. How can we still have free will if our future and fate is already known? Our future is inescapable; we march towards our doom blindly. We can not change our future anymore than we can change our past.

Illusion of Free will: You are free to minimise this window… to stop reading this blog…what if I said the minimise button was disabled? I gave you a choice, yet only one path was actually feasible. Is that free will, I knew and was able to predict that you would wish to continue reading this idle Tuesdays work, instead of minimising and doing something else. How many people have just pressed the minimise button to make sure?*** This is a nice lead in to Determinism.

Determinism: We are lead once again back to mouse trap. Why does the cage fall? Because of elderly gentleman breaking his neck diving into an empty tub, so on and so forth….all the way back to the turning of the handle. All events happen due to events preceding them, from social problems, alcoholic parents having alcoholic children, to world wars. Why did you bomb them? Because they bombed us. Why did they bomb us? Because we bombed them. All things happen for a reason unfortunately we tend to look in front to find it, the past controls our future. Any "free action" could have been in fact predicted once we understand everything about everything. Genetics, chemical signalling, the electrical impulses in our brains, physics and chemistry, we will be able to predict with 100% certainty the actions of the individual or group, when we fully understand such maters.
There comes a time in the life of a philosopher or other person with his head in the clouds, to make an actual point. Moral evil is only an extension of natural evil due to an illusion of free will. The suffering we impose upon each other does not come from free or moral choices, regardless of religious (fatalistic) or philosophical (determinist) ideals. The "choices" we make are determined by multiple social, economic and genetic factors, and given an infinite knowledge of said factors we could accurately predict the so called free choices of any individual or group. As indignant as it sounds we are merely cogs in the machine that is our Earth, Yes we make decisions but these decisions are not in fact free, it is merely an illusion.

* Mayest: This was in common usage until human beings discovered spell check.
** The creation story not only tries absolve god of guilt it then tries to shift the blame onto woman. Eve is the foul temptress that lures Adam into sin. In many ways the bible can be a misogynistic handbook.
***Nostradamus eat your heart out.


Blogger Stace said...

Food for thought: If free will doesn't exist, does that mean that god/creator also has no free will?

7:45 PM  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Adam would not have understood that it was wrong to eat the fruit having no knowledge of good and evil?!.
Shifting the blame on Eve is just an extension of the reckless misogeny that was and still is rampant in the tradition of the desert monotheists.
It all comes back to the simple fact that this tale is simply a manmade story that has taken on a life of its own. We call them myths.

Trying to extract any concrete and absolute information from this is nonsensical and pure speculation at best. However timeless and instructive these myths reveal themselves to be they are still at the end of the day...manufactured.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Stace said...

The fascination in myths lies in attempting to determine where their thread of truth may be found, or what event inspired the myth as an explanation. Moses' burning bush - there is actually a plant which effectively self-combusts as an aid to reproduction. And so on and so forth... I'd love to go on and on, but I'm at work so I should probably go and so something.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Leila said...

i for one didn't minimise it ;)

it's no good trying to shirk the responsibility/blame that comes with free will. we all choose what to do, and our choices define our lives. if we made no choices or our choices were redundant, why then life would be most meaningless and monotonous. at least to me.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Aidan said...

All myths are based on something, as stace pointed out there is a bush wish grows within a stones throw of mount sianai (spell check) which does combust, God as a talking bush, has probably come up around trying to explain the phenomenon. Rainbows and Noahs ark, there is usually something that the myth is loosely based on. As a side note i once had a long discussion with a plant, which happened to be my PE teacher behind it.

Adam and Eve is a view of historical place of woman in society, an explanation for the evils in the world. It is also a form of control, dont ask questions (the fall of Lucifer) and dont disobey or fear gods wrath.

Welcome back leila. Hope you had a ball. :) Just because it is indignant that we do not have free will doesnt make it any less true. We are products of society, all of us to some extent. Our choices are limited from the day we are born due to class, and social position. Our upbringing influeneces and determines our decisions, if it was not for my mother i would have no interest in Theology.

My version of responcibility for actions is a bit odd, i believe in shaping the social factors to avoid the need for punnishment/praise of our actions. removing poverty, making health care affordable, adequate housing, we would erradicate crime.

12:53 AM  

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