April 28, 2007

Leaving Jesus at the Altar of Thought Control

Posted in marriage, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, scripture at 10:09 am by Jerry

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the Christian value of “free will”.

I’ve read and had conversations with many Christians who argue for the existence of free will by saying something like – you can’t truly love someone if you don’t have freewill (as if the choice itself rather than the act authenticates love). Nevertheless, if God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) look into the future of possible Universes to decide which one he was to create, and – if the present Universe is not completely governed by the laws of causality, then – there would seem to be room for the ever-popular “FREE WILL”.

According to bible-based Christology, the volition or will of a Christian will be sacrificed to God when they enter into heaven so that God can make it perfect, thereby – making it so that God’s followers will always choose what God wants.

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12 (NASB)

10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5 (NASB)

I suppose, if I knew that someone who was all-good, and had the power to give me a righteous brain-washing (and was willing), I’d consider having it done for the simple purpose of stopping myself from harming others and myself. But I have a hard time imagining myself handing someone control over every facet of my mind because I’ve never met anyone THAT trustworthy! (And as you can see from four previous posts of mine, I don’t think the God presented in the bible is “all-good”.)

I use to be a Jesus follower…

[The bible paints a metaphor of the body of Jesus followers as a virgin betrothed to Jesus the bridegroom. And whenever Jesus followers die in this world they walk down the afterlife-isle to be married to Jesus – a match made in their heaven.]

..but I left him at his altar of thought control.

Advertisements

6 Comments »

  1. Theseus said,

    “I suppose, if I knew that someone who was all-good, and had the power to give me a righteous brain-washing (and was willing), I’d consider having it done for the simple purpose of stopping myself from harming others and myself. But I have a hard time imagining myself handing someone control over every facet of my mind because I’ve never met anyone THAT trustworthy!” –– This is a curious use of the words “I,” “my,” and “myself.” If one really did control all of a person’s thoughts and actions, how would one find room for such personal pronouns? Whether or not there is free will, human beings are defined by their actions and thoughts. These are the cradle of personal identity.

  2. Jerry said,

    “If one really did control all of a person’s thoughts and actions, how would one find room for such personal pronouns?”

    Are you saying we can’t be wired to use personal pronouns?

  3. Theseus said,

    “Wired” to use personal pronouns? No, I am suggesting that the concept, itself, would be absent from the vocabulary. Whether we would use the terms if we were merely automaton is irrelevant to my point. Even if the concepts are linguistic conventions or arise from reflexive self-awareness, they certainly have a use in our language. If self-consciousness were merely an illusion it is difficult to explain them.

  4. Jerry said,

    “If self-consciousness were merely an illusion it is difficult to explain them.”

    Couldn’t self-consciousness (or the concept of personal pronouns) also be wired/determined by a supreme being? Does an automaton have to be made exclusively conscious without being made with the ability to discover its program, or who it was made to be (become self-conscious)?

  5. Theseus said,

    This is indeed a loaded subject. I think that it is fair to say that most philosophers of mind would object to such an innatist picture, i.e., that it is possible for human beings to be “hardwired” with concepts. This, in part, stems from Peter Geach’s brilliant critique in his book Mental Acts (I do not have my copy with me, so I cannot outline his argument at the present); nevertheless, the critique goes back as far as Aristotle. Hundreds of years later Locke exalted this idea of the mind as a tabula rasa, i.e., a blank slate, and Wittgenstein brilliantly poked holes in the theory throughout his Philosophical Investigations.

    As for automaton having self-consciousness: I am of the opinion that self-conciousness, itself, is a refutation of materialism and, to a certain degree, naturalism. With that said, it must be clear that “self-consciousness” and “consciousness” are two entirely different things. A dog is conscious while a human being is conscious and self-conscious. In other words, a human being has an awareness of herself as an intelligent agent (however, see my post on introspective thought and the dialog in the comments to see what I do not mean by this).

    The point I was driving at in my first comment was that this idea of “brain washing” truly would be undesirable. If this was the case, I truly cannot see how one would truly be oneself. Nevertheless, there is that curious note by Paul that to find oneself, one must die to oneself. You will hopefully see a post from me on this statement in the coming weeks.

  6. David said,

    The whole idea of free will is illusory. Human beings have no free will, whether they are Christians or no. As non-Christians they are enslaved to their own desires. They always do what is going to bring them pleasure or cause them to avoid pain. Even if you were forced to do something by someone else you would do it only to avoid the pain that that person would inflict on you. After a person becomes a Christian you have the ability to act based on a servitude to Jesus Christ, although all Christians do this imperfectly. Human beings are merely reactive to external stimuli. This whole idea of free will is something that depraved man has concocted to glorify man. If humans had nothing to react to, they would do nothing but breathe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: