Quote for the Day

This comes from Jerry Korsmeyer’s book Evolution and Eden: Balancing Original Sin and Contemporary Science, published in 1998. Korsmeyer is both a physicist and a theologian.

The tremendous amount of time it took for the simplest elements of matter to form themselves into stars, and to make the other elements, is consistent with the concepts of persuasive power and minimal creaturely response. A God with classical omnipotent power who could create anything at a word, would not produce the universe as we know it today. The messy aspects of evolution, the diversity of life bursting into all niches available after extinctions, the dead ends of evolution, dinosaurs in vast array living for hundreds of millions of years, the parasites, the disease bacteria, nature “red in tooth and claw” — all these things become more understandable in the light of a persuasive God and co-creating creatures. The evolving universe makes no sense whatsoever if divinity has the characteristics of classical theism. No wonder the idea of evolution is so repugnant to biblical literalists. (Emphasis Added)

Those bold-face statements sound like the kinds of things I always say. Korsmeyer goes on to argue that we need a view of God that is fundamentally different from that of classical theism in order to reconcile evolution with Christianity. I think there is much to say about the credibility of his model, but I shall leave that for another post. For now I would just note two things. The first is that it is not just biblical literalists who will object to Korsmeyer’s statement, but anyone who subscribes to a classical view of God. The second is that if reconciling evolution and Christianity requires major reformulations of core doctrines, and it does, then many will see that as equivalent to saying the two cannot be reconciled.

Comments

  1. #1 Wowbagger
    September 14, 2010

    Jason wrote:

    Korsmeyer goes on to argue that we need a view of God that is fundamentally different from that of classical theism in order to reconcile evolution with Christianity.

    The problem is that Christians today want to have their cakes and eat them too; they want to have a god supported by many years of tradition, plus the love-in aspects of Jesus – but who is also not opposed by the always-increasing scientific knowledge and the changing ethics of human society.

    However, instead of just saying ‘yeah, we were really wrong, let’s start again’ they’ve spent years twisting scripture into fantastic shapes to make the peg fit into the hole – and developing even more convoluted rationalisations for what happens when its obvious the peg hasn’t gone all the way through.

  2. #2 G.D.
    September 14, 2010

    Seems to me that evolution doesn’t present any particular problem here. Rather, the problem is really just the old one, the problem of evil. The problem of evil entails (even though many theists refuse to accept it) a wholly different god than the omnibenevolent Christian one, and that should be obvious regardless of evolution.

  3. #3 G.D.
    September 14, 2010

    (sorry, bad url there – not that it really matters – in any case, my point is just supposed that evolution does indeed disprove the classical Christian God, but so does a lot of even more mundane everyday observations)

  4. #4 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    GD,

    The problem of evil entails (even though many theists refuse to accept it) a wholly different god than the omnibenevolent Christian one

    There is no such thing as an omnibenevolent Christian God. That’s a misconception. Benevolence entails doing things for the welfare of others. The Christian god condemns people to eternal torment. That is, quite obviously, not for their welfare.

    The problem of evil has nothing whatsoever to do with god’s alleged (erroneously) omnibenevolence. It has to do with God’s holiness–an altogether different matter.

  5. #5 Lee Harrison
    September 15, 2010

    “The Christian god condemns people to eternal torment.”

    And yet you still worship it.

    Why is this?

  6. #6 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    Lee Harrison,

    Why is this?

    Irresistible Grace. (The “I” in TULIP.)

  7. #7 Lee Harrison
    September 15, 2010

    Right… so you’re a robot and God is the douchebag child with the remote? What an enthralling theology Calvin came up with…

    Do you have any thoughts of your own?

    On second thoughts, scratch that – I’m not that interested in engaging again with Calvinism.

  8. #8 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    Lee Harrison

    so you’re a robot

    No I am a Calvinist, not a materialist. It’s the materialists who teach free-will is an illusion–that we are naught but playing out the differential equation of the universe. That our so-called choices were predestined by the cosmos’ initial conditions. By contrast, Calvinism has a very libertine view of free will.

    How did you get that so wrong?

  9. #9 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 15, 2010

    heddle –

    Korsmeyer is an advocate of process theology. John Haught is another theologian who uses it as a way of resolving potential conflicts between evolution and Christianity. Catholic theologians in particular seem enthusiastic about process theology. I’d be curious to know your opinion of it. To me it seems a bit ad hoc and invented on the fly, but that’s pretty much what I think of all theology. :)

  10. #10 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    Jason,

    I’d have to read more, but I’m not too impressed with the blurb. I would have to study the book (maybe I will) to understand what are the classic characteristics of god that, in his view, preclude god’s use of evolution as a secondary means—given that there already is, in classical theism, a seemingly insoluble problem of evil. We can argue whether evolution makes it worse (I know you think it does—and you know I disagree) but there is no argument that it’s already there—evolution doesn’t inject the problem of evil into theology.

    Again I assume that, in the book, he does more than just make assertions—but the blurb gives little hint of his arguments. A God with classical omnipotent power who could create anything at a word, would not produce the universe as we know it today. Well, why not? I guess in the book attempts to explain why not. The evolving universe makes no sense whatsoever if divinity has the characteristics of classical theism. Again, why is that so? He would have to convince me.

  11. #11 Wowbagger
    September 15, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    It’s the materialists who teach free-will is an illusion–that we are naught but playing out the differential equation of the universe. That our so-called choices were predestined by the cosmos’ initial conditions. By contrast, Calvinism has a very libertine view of free will.

    And yet none of us would be okay with worshipping a monster and arguing that it’s holy. What a pity your magic god doesn’t provide you with some character instead of an irrestible urge to drop to your knees in order to fawn and forelock-tug.

  12. #12 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    Wowbagger?

    And yet none of us would be okay with worshipping a monster

    Well that’s not fair! You are not okay with it because natural forces, steered inexorably by the universe’s diffy-Q, has made you “not okay” with it. Right? If not, where did the supernatural effects enter in? Change the baryon density of the nascent universe by one part in 10600 and maybe I’d be criticizing you for your obsequiousness to a mean ole’ skydaddy. I, like you, am just what the universe made me.

  13. #13 Wowbagger
    September 15, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    Well that’s not fair! You are not okay with it because natural forces, steered inexorably by the universe’s diffy-Q, has made you “not okay” with it. Right? If not, where did the supernatural effects enter in? Change the baryon density of the nascent universe by one part in 10600 and maybe I’d be criticizing you for your obsequiousness to a mean ole’ skydaddy.

    Er, okay. Quick question: are you high?

    I, like you, am just what the universe made me.

    Well, yes – except for, as I noted, the part about having character. If you had any you’d be telling the evil god you claim to believe in to cram his irrestistibility in one of his three corn-chutes, with walnuts. But you haven’t, so you don’t.

    But hey, you keep making the god-of-the-free-will-gap excuses if it helps you sleep at night and hold your head up when you walk through a crowd of people you know your god’s going to torture for eternity at the same time you’re on bended knee, grovelling and telling him how wonderful he is while he pats you on the head, saying ‘Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy, aren’t you!’

  14. #14 JimV
    September 15, 2010

    “No I am a Calvinist, not a materialist. It’s the materialists who teach free-will is an illusion–that we are naught but playing out the differential equation of the universe. That our so-called choices were predestined by the cosmos’ initial conditions.”

    I am a materialist, currently, based on the evidence I’ve seen and my own reasoning on the issue. For example, I believe that it is possible, although not currently practical, to build a machine which thinks as well or better than I do, and that when my brain ceases to function so will my consciousness. But I don’t believe my choices were predestined by the cosmos’ initial conditions. Rather, I believe that if I were to relive my life (unknowingly), small quantum mechanical or other random fluctuations would accumulate over time so as to present me with different conditions, and I might have become a computer programmer instead of a mechanical engineer. I also think it likely that the billions of neurons firing as I write this are themselves subject to small random influences (that’s how I would design a thinking machine for survival – random searches being the way to go if all else fails).

    Who are these materialists who believe in cosmic predestination? I doubt if Feynman or Hawking would be included. Anyone alive today who is recognized in the field of cosmology?

  15. #15 Kevin
    September 15, 2010

    Heddle:

    The “classical” god (the one you apparently worship) spoke a magic phrase and created the universe with all the stars and planets; took only 4 or so days to form the Earth’s ecology including all the creatures in it. This god can do massive amounts of work in an instant merely by wishing it so.

    And yet, that’s not what happened. The universe may indeed have begun with a bright flash (everything starts in an instant, so this isn’t really the point), but it took billions of years for stars to form, billions more until a third generation star and its solar system had accumulated enough heavier elements to make us possible, billions of years more for multicellular life to appear on the planet, hundreds of millions of years more for mammals, millions of years more for apes, and millions of years OF apes to get to us.

    The more we know about the universe, our solar system, and life on this planet, the more the attributes of a god with instantaneous creative powers becomes…well, childish silly superstitious nonsense.

    When man thought Earth was the BIGGEST thing in the universe, when the sun was alone as source of warmth with the moon being a secondary source of light and the stars merely tertiary points of light placed in the sky as a navigational aid, then the thought of a god who could create everything with a wave of his metaphysical hand was conceivable.

    Problem is, that’s not what the universe looks like; this has been known for centuries. But the old belief in the “abracadabra” god persists.

    There’s a reason the church condemned Galileo and burned Bruno as a heretic. Taking the Earth out of the center of the universe was radical. It meant that we weren’t likely to be the reason for the universe (as much as you would like it to be).

    The larger the universe is, the less likely there is to be a supernatural source for the universe who created it with us in mind and created us as his special species on this special planet.

    It defies logic to think of “something” creating all that. It defies both logic and the evidence to think that an omnipotent being who could accomplish everything in 6 days instead took billions of years and billions upon billions of detours along the way.

    I suspect you’ll engage in special pleading now.

  16. #16 heddle
    September 15, 2010

    JimV,

    Rather, I believe that if I were to relive my life (unknowingly), small quantum mechanical or other random fluctuations would accumulate over time

    Fair enough. Your “choices” are some combination of steered by the universe’s differential equation with some randomness thrown in. Still not what most people think of as free will.

    Who are these materialists who believe in cosmic predestination?

    How about a Cornell biologist, William Provine:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.

    Kevin,

    The “classical” god (the one you apparently worship) spoke a magic phrase and created the universe with all the stars and planets; took only 4 or so days to form the Earth’s ecology including all the creatures in it.

    You must be confusing with a different heddle.

  17. #17 Lenoxus
    September 15, 2010

    Heddle’s position on God’s goodness is not internally inconsistent, merely very sad.

    Hitler was worth resisting, but God, being all-powerful and not just really-really-powerful, is not. No resistance is remotely reasonable. Heddle isn’t kissing God’s butt out of love for the deity — he’s explicitly recognizing the infinitely powerful gorilla in the room. In resolving the problem of evil in that direction, he’s more consistent than 99% of theists.

    The only puzzle left is Heddle’s willingness to speak against God aloud (shush, Heddle, he’ll damn you for your faint praise!). This is resolved by Heddle’s Calvinism, whereby due to prior election, it matters little whether Heddle actually says… nice things about… God…

    Okay, never mind, in writing this very post, I’ve shown to myself the incoherency of the topic at hand. But at least it’s no more inconsistent than other God-isms.

  18. #18 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 15, 2010

    Fellow reformed theologians.
    It is evident that the lack of scholarship among the participants who are unable to discern sovereignty from determinism and limited free will from libertarian free will. Let alone that they come from a naturalistic presupposition.

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    September 15, 2010

    Fellow smart people.
    It is evident that Collin Brendemeuhl is unaware of the fact that nobody cares about your “scholarship” unless you can demonstrate that you have something useful to contribute, which Collin never does.
    Also, cocks!

  20. #20 Wowbagger
    September 15, 2010

    Collin Brendemuehl wrote:

    It is evident that the lack of scholarship among the participants who are unable to discern sovereignty from determinism and limited free will from libertarian free will.

    Yes, and no doubt we’re incapable of appreciating the very significant differences between invisible satin and invisible silk, too.

  21. #21 Lenoxus
    September 15, 2010

    Re # 18:

    Even with the latest theology on hand, I am unable to discern the missing verb which takes the argument “lack of scholarship”. It is evident that the lack of scholarship among the [participants who don't discern this and don't discern that], and… it ends there.

    What is it evident that the lack of scholarship does? Without that knowledge, the sentence fragment which follows is meaningless. (Well, more meaningless.)

    I’m starting to suspect that this verb doesn’t exist, rather than that it is simply hiding itself from the unfaithful, or something.

  22. #22 JimV
    September 15, 2010

    RE: Heddle @ #16

    Thanks for the reply, but it was not responsive. I said nothing about free will, yet that is all your response dealt with.

    Coincidentally, I wrote the comment twice. The first time was swallowed somehow by (ugh) Windows 7. (I blame evrything on Windows 7.) In it I did mention free will, as follows: “I don’t know what free will means to you, so I don’t know if I believe in it or not, but I don’t believe in cosmic predestination”. The second time I relived that portion of my life, whaddyaknow, it did come out differently.

  23. #23 JimV
    September 15, 2010

    By the way, I am suspicious that free will will turn out to be one of those unfalsifiable premises. For example, a bunch of genetically and developmentally identical ants are placed equidistant from four identical food sources (individually). If all go north does that mean ants don’t have free will? If some go north, south, east, and west, does that mean ants do have free will? I could design a materialistic machine to do either type of behavior. I might even be able to design a machine which thought it had free will and didn’t. So I think the concept is not very useful, in distinquishing material from non-material causes of choices.

  24. #24 Wowbagger
    September 15, 2010

    We don’t understand ‘free will’ – mostly because it’s yet another concept that defies a consistent definition – though I’m happy to admit that, however it’s defined, it currently represents a ‘gap’ in our knowledge.

    Filling that gap with a god is no different from filling any other gap with a god – i.e. profoundly intellectually dishonest.

  25. #25 eric
    September 16, 2010

    Heddle: Your “choices” are some combination of steered by the universe’s differential equation with some randomness thrown in. Still not what most people think of as free will.

    Really? You think “most people” would reject the notion that drugs, alcohol, and hormones influence how you think and feel? You think they would reject the notion that the chemical concentration of oxytocsin in their system partially steers their choices?

    I would agree with you that if you gave people a mutiple choice survey question on free will and they were answering in an offhand (i.e. unthinking) way, you would probably see a significant proportion of the population giving a naive answer like you claim. But I think the vast majority of people, with even an extra 30 seconds of reflection, would agree with JimV that our free will is bounded and partially steered by the laws of physics and chemistry.

    Collin @18: It is evident that the lack of scholarship among the participants…

    Collin, you believe the age of the earth is “indeterminiable” and write blog posts like “What Should Be Called Science?.” Yet you have no scientific training at all – not even an undergrad degree in a physical science as far as I know. So you might want to reconsider snidely insulting people for opining on subjects in which they lack scholarship.

  26. #26 heddle
    September 16, 2010

    Wowbagger,

    But I think the vast majority of people, with even an extra 30 seconds of reflection, would agree with JimV that our free will is bounded and partially steered by the laws of physics and chemistry.

    Partially? Why not totally? What part of our free will (in your view) is not steered by the laws of physics and chemistry? And what is the materialist explanation for this rogue component?

  27. #27 JimV
    September 16, 2010

    Jason Alexander’s character on “Seinfeld” decided in one episode to try doing everything contrary to his normal instincts, because his normal instincts hadn’t gotten him very far. Was that free will, or just a decision based on what his neurons told him was the best choice based on empirical evidence? I really don’t see how anyone could prove a decision was based on free will, rather than mechanical reasoning and sensory input, which could in principle be done by a machine – especially when you consider that random search algorithms can be programmed and seeded by external random events (such as the number of photons striking one’s retinas at a particular instance during the decision process). So arguments based on how the general public would respond to surveys on free will aren’t convincing to me.

    How about people who voted for George Bush twice? Well, I didn’t say all mechanical reasoning processes were perfect.

  28. #28 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 16, 2010

    So while Tyler refuses to deal with the issues presented, let’s get back to the point. The first highlighted statement:
    A God with classical omnipotent power who could create anything at a word, would not produce the universe as we know it today.
    It is a classic error to persistently suggest that the world as it is today is the same as it was when created.

    The evolving universe makes no sense whatsoever if divinity has the characteristics of classical theism.
    This would only seem to make sense to the mechanical determinist. If there is freedom v. materialistic mechanics then there is the justifiable and warranted probability of God. It is not we who are at a loss to explain freedom, for we accept it; it is the determinist who is at a loss to explain it, for he willingly says that he has none.

  29. #29 James Sweet
    September 16, 2010

    The second is that if reconciling evolution and Christianity requires major reformulations of core doctrines, and it does, then many will see that as equivalent to saying the two cannot be reconciled.

    Indeed, the Republican party’s energy policy is completely compatible with an aggressive approach to stem global warming. It’s just that it needs some major reformulations first.

  30. #30 heddle
    September 16, 2010

    JimV,

    I am not asking to prove a decision (I think action would be a better word here) was based on free will.

    As a theist and a Calvinist I have no problem with free-will. I believe in it 100%, and I believe it is purely supernatural.

    What I want to know is: from the materialist perspective how is it that I can make any choice that is not either predestined by the laws of classical physics or randomized by the laws of QM. I have never heard an explanation that isn’t as much woo as saying it is supernatural.

    In that regard I think Provine is admirably honest.

  31. #31 JimV
    September 16, 2010

    RE: #30

    Thanks for the reply, but (the usual but) it seems to me we are talking at cross-purposes, since I for my part have no problem with decisions being made mechanically based on the laws of physics plus some randomness. That is exactly how I do make decisions, as well as I can examine my own thought processes. Whether you or the general public accept this or quantum mechanics or relativity or neuroscience doesn’t carry any weight for me unless it is backed by good arguments from evidence as to why it would not be the case.

    I recently spent most of a year trying to find an independent proof for Fermat’s Prime Theorem (the one about primes of the form 4N+1 being equal to the sum of two squares). It took me until November. I tried many approaches, wrote spreadsheets to investigate the numerical behavior, looked for patterns, tried to find proofs for the patterns, and in the end got a bit lucky. Looking back at my thought processes (I kept detailed notes), I don’t see anything supernatural involved. I learned more and more, until finally I had all the pieces I needed, and one day they were all in working memory at the same time and fit together.

    This started, I think, with you being dismissive of materialists as being strict determinists, which I am not (because of the random factors which I think are an essential part of every good universe). It somehow shifted into being dismissive of materialists because they don’t believe in your concept of free will. Well, what evidence do you have that your version of free will (whatever it is) is correct? Show your work, then be dismissive if it holds up.

  32. #32 J.J.E.
    September 16, 2010

    @ heddle

    I don’t really understand the “free will” perspective anymore. It sounds as if you are asking the question “Are you saying I can’t make a decision I wouldn’t have made?”

    Because I think our experience is filtered through the physical universe and our decisions are made in a material substrate (our brains), then OF COURSE it is determined by the physical world. If you see the “determined by the physical world” as being mutually exclusive with the term “free will”, then fine, I’ll agree (for the sake of this discussion) that “free will” doesn’t exist. But in this case the definition of “free will” seems awfully question begging to me.

    I prefer a definition of “free will” that is more closely akin to “autonomous and sentient”. But I’m happy jetissoning “free will” altogether and simply using “autonomous and sentient”.

  33. #33 eric
    September 16, 2010

    Heddle @26: Why not totally? What part of our free will (in your view) is not steered by the laws of physics and chemistry? And what is the materialist explanation for this rogue component?

    That was me, not Wowbagger.

    I was simply trying to rephrase what JimV said about QM and random fluctuations: if you rewound the world a few days and started with the same starting conditions, physics, and chemistry, it would not turn out the same way. If you think we should call the idea that multiple possible outcomes can result from the same materialistic starting conditions “totally steered” by them, I won’t quibble over what’s totally and what’s partially. What I was NOT implying was that some supernatural component is required to get multiple outcomes from the same starting conditions. Quite the opposite.

  34. #34 Tyler DiPietro
    September 16, 2010

    “Partially? Why not totally? What part of our free will (in your view) is not steered by the laws of physics and chemistry?”

    The laws of physics and chemistry don’t “steer” anything, they only describe behavioral generalities, some of them stochastic and some deterministic. You would also presumably be able to make such generalizations about whatever supernatural bullcrap immaterialists believe our behavior is rooted in.

    My own view, in the light of this, is that both “free will” and whatever its negation is are nonsense pseudo-concepts. They and their descriptions are words without meaning.

  35. #35 Wowbagger
    September 16, 2010

    As I pointed out in #24, there’s a gap in our knowledge. We can either say, ‘okay, we don’t know how it works…yet‘, or (if we’re so inclined) we can fill that gap with whichever flavour of woo we happen to accept.

    One of these two options is intellectually honest while the other is not.

  36. #36 Anton Mates
    September 16, 2010

    Even with the latest theology on hand, I am unable to discern the missing verb which takes the argument “lack of scholarship”.

    the participants accidentally a total lack of scholarship, is this dangerous

  37. #37 JimV
    September 16, 2010

    There are a lot of us saying similar things about free will, and pretty much everyone, especially J.J.E., doing so better than I can. But I’m going to try to add one last point.

    Doesn’t saying that the supernatural is involved in decisions and actions mean that information is being conveyed to the neurons in your brain by some process other than the electrical and chemical processes of biology? And isn’t that premise: 1) Nobel Prize material, if there is any evidence for it, and 2) if just speculation, a much less impressive theory than string theory, which at least is based on some elegant mathematics?

  38. #38 Dan L.
    September 17, 2010

    It’s the materialists who teach free-will is an illusion–that we are naught but playing out the differential equation of the universe.

    I think Dennett said something like, “There is such a thing as free will. But it’s not what you think.”

    I think your problem is that you’re asking how one could possibly make a choice in naturalistic universe instead of asking “What does it mean to make a choice?” It’s actually a very philosophically subtle question. I’ll readily admit that materialists don’t have an answer to it any more than supernaturalists do. Yet.

    Hint: Just because “making a choice” doesn’t FEEL mechanistic or deterministic doesn’t entail that “making a choice” precludes determinism a priori.

  39. #39 Dan L.
    September 17, 2010

    Incidentally, I don’t think it’s very nice to beat up on atheists for not yet having solved the problem of free will considering the lack of theological progress on that same question.

    Though people beat up on you based on caricatures of Calvinist theology, so I guess fair is fair.

  40. #40 Facebook
    September 18, 2010

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  41. #41 Kevin
    September 18, 2010

    @ Dan:

    Of course, the reason atheists haven’t solved the “problem” of free will is because it’s fundamentally a theological question. Supposedly the solution to the riddle, “If god wants us to behave in a certain way, then why don’t we do that behavior automatically?”

    Why can’t god impose behaviors on humans? It would be a simple thing for an all-powerful being. Snap of the fingers, and the mere thought of murder/rape/theft/cheating on your taxes should send waves of nausea through you. Literally bring you to your knees. If *I* were god, this is what I’d do (assuming that as god I wanted my creatures to behave a certain way in order that I as god would then be permitted to allow those creatures to spend eternity with me in heaven — why god doesn’t have this power is unstated).

    “Free will” is the supposed answer to this dilemma. God either “granted” us free will, or we “took it” (via eating the forbidden fruit), depending on the theological perspective of the person in front of you. Therefore, we can “choose” to follow his commandments or not…but if we don’t, we’ll burn in hell forever. (Some choice; some freedom.)

    What happened, however, is that we are now using the term to mean “making a choice” in the broadest, trivial and most-generic sense. Do I have the fish or the beef for dinner? Take the shortcut home or stick to the main road?

    Whether or not the universe is deterministic or not, I don’t think it cares one way or the other what I had for breakfast (waffles).

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    September 18, 2010

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  43. #43 Blaine
    September 20, 2010

    All these discussions about free will neglect the distinction between free-will and agency. I think it’s fairly clear we can dispense with free-will. This is a Christian concept that is required by their mythology. We all have agency including machines…we can all make things happen and make choices. Even machines can solve game theoretic problems. When we hit indifference points, as in Buridan’s ass, or Aristotle’s example in De Caelo about a man dieing because he was both thirsty and hungery and was placed between food and drink and then died because he couldn’t decide whether to drink or eat first, we can choose randomly. Flipping a coin solves these problems. We don’t need to resort to spooky phantasms like free-will.

  44. #44 H.H.
    September 22, 2010

    Heddle sed: “Irresistible Grace.”

    Oh, it’s resistible. You just aren’t trying very hard.

  45. #45 Tulse
    September 24, 2010

    It’s bizarre to me that Heddle argues so strongly for free will when, in his theology, it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference about one’s afterlife. In most theologies free will is vitally important because it keeps the postulated god from being a dick — people get the afterlife they choose. But for Calvinists it doesn’t matter one whit what one does in this life, since one’s final outcome was pre-determined before their god formed the cosmos. So really the issue of free will is completely irrelevant to them (and, as Heddle implicitly acknowledges, they are thus stuck with a god who is an asshole).

  46. #46 Yazsamyeter
    October 27, 2010

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  47. #47 av tüfekleri
    July 23, 2011

    What happened, however, is that we are now using the term to mean “making a choice” in the broadest, trivial and most-generic sense. Do I have the fish or the beef for dinner? Take the shortcut home or stick to the main road?

    Whether or not the universe is deterministic or not, I don’t think it cares one way or the other what I had for breakfast (waffles).

  48. #48 otomatik av tüfekleri
    July 23, 2011

    All these discussions about free will neglect the distinction between free-will and agency. I think it’s fairly clear we can dispense with free-will. This is a Christian concept that is required by their mythology. We all have agency including machines…we can all make things happen and make choices. Even machines can solve game theoretic problems. When we hit indifference points, as in Buridan’s ass, or Aristotle’s example in De Caelo about a man dieing because he was both thirsty and hungery and was placed between food and drink and then died because he couldn’t decide whether to drink or eat first, we can choose randomly. Flipping a coin solves these problems. We don’t need to resort to spooky phantasms like free-will.

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    October 2, 2011

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