Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Free Will

An interesting thought crossed my mind the other morning. This post deals with christian philosophy and theology, and does not always reflect my own views on religion. However, the only way to discuss a specific religion's philosophy and/or theology is to (at least temporarily)agree on a few basic matters for the sake of discussion. The existance of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient "god" is one of these matters. The "infallibility" of the revised collection of ancient works known as the "Bible" is another, as is the existance of an evil force incarnate called "the Devil" or Satan. For the sake of this post, we shall allow those beliefs to stand.

It was an anti-choice arguement that started it all. First off - let me say that I don't buy into the "life begins at conception" theory. Due to having had a dermoid cyst, and due to things like ectopic pregnancies and the education on the growth of the zygote to fetus to birth, it is my belief that a separate life does not exist until the fetus is able to live outside the womb - without extraordinary medical intervention.

In fact, the bible seems to go a step further - until the child breathes, it is not a living soul, if you take Genesis literally. "[God]breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul". This indicates to me that the writer acknowledges that without breath, there is no soul, there is no "life".

(Whoo boy - I'm glad I'm the admin here... this could get ugly)

Anyhow. One of the reasons that so many christians want to overthrow Roe v. Wade is that they believe that all abortion is murder (I don't agree) and that they have a "moral imperative" to make sure that these "murders" do not occur.

Free will.

According to the self-same bible, god gave everyone free will. The will to believe, or not to believe. The will to make good, righteous decisions, or the will to make poor, evil decisions. God did not decide unilaterally to foist his "good" agenda on mankind. Instead, he gave each and every person "free will" to make good or bad choices, choices they would eventually need to answer for after death, or at the end of the world, whichever came first, on the "Judgement Day".

If this is, then, TRUTH - how dare the Religious Wrong choose to decide FOR others what is and what is not good for them? How dare they be anti-choice? Is this not usurping GOD's authority? Does not the bible - not less than the New Testament, even - say quite clearly that only GOD can decide what is in a person's heart, and what is right and wrong? Did not god in the Garden of Eden punish mankind not for eating a fruit, but for seeking the knowledge of good and evil - something that god had reserved only onto himself?

To take away a woman's right to choose is, then, to do the work of the Devil.


Peacechick Mary said...

I just wish we could allow each woman to make her own decision with or without the biblical influence.

Sewmouse said...

Me too, Mary - but this whole philosophising bit has been running through my mind for a long while. Why do I keep thinking "Hypocrite" when I hear anti-choice folks?

This is one of the reasons - so I thought I'd share it.

Anonymous said...

Free Will is not a stand-alone concept in the Bible. The reverse is Predestination. Both concepts are covered thoroughly in the Bible. How can God know exactly what we are going to do, who exactly will be saved, unless we don't, in fact, have free will at all? Although God seems quite comfortable with both concepts (assuming the Bible was inspired by God), people just can't seem to make those two concepts shake hands and be friends. These two have been debated ad nauseum for centuries to no avail. It appears to me that most denominations solve the dillemma by granting the existance of both but leaning more heavily on one than the other. The Lutherans, for example, lean more heavily on free will. The Baptists lean more heavily on predestination. Some people solve the problem by saying the physical world exists in TIME while God is not hampered by time in the least, existing in a kind of eternal now where all things happen at once. Others would say this is all simply evidence that the Bible is a load of crap. I doubt this helps. I just got on a roll.

Anonymous said...

i think its a beagle puppy :o)

BBC said...

Look hon.

Lets leave the bible out of this, we know that there is what anyone wants to find and believe in it.

And one of it's biggest mistakes is to say that God gave mankind freewill. Maybe you don't follow other blogs that have discussed so called freewill a lot, but I have.

Freewill is an interesting subject of course, but there is no such thing as complete freewill. We have to accept and live by certain rules around each other, that over rules complete freewill or any man that wanted to have sex with you could.

So not having complete freewill is a good thing.

Let me try to keep this short though. Should a woman be able to decide to abort if she wants to?

Yes, and the decision has nothing to do with any God. Look at it this way. If she knows that she is too immature or not able to care for a child for twenty years God isn't going to slight her for aborting the child because the spirit knows that may be too much for her to cope with and handle.

Well, I explained it the best I could in a comment box.

BTW.... If you have a bible, toss it in the garbage can and start thinking for yourself. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Well I declare. I actually agree with BBC's opinion on abortion. This could be a first and a last.

Sewmouse, as for your post - Amen sister!

The Future Was Yesterday said...

they have a "moral imperative" to make sure that these "murders" do not occur.
Having been reared by these self appointed, God's water carrying freaks......

The hallmark of their existence is cherry picking "causes" from the bible. One of the most interesting things about that book of myths, is that you can prove anything "right" and anything "wrong", by selective quotation from the Old and New testament. The bible so often contradicts itself that I don't see how anybody can believe anything in it. The Reich Wing Terrorists tend to go by the old testament, as the new shows Jesus to be too much of a liberal (free health care, food welfare, compassion, etc.) However, you'll note that they make heavy use of the book of Revelations (the original terrorist manual) to preach doom, gloom, and general "God's gonna get your liberal asses!" crap. Bush is a Fundie, and that's where he gets his talent for preaching fear. That's also where the "rapture" bullshit comes from. Sitting in a building with a bunch of those crazy bastards discussing that chapter, is better than any science fiction movie you'll ever see.:)

As I have on so many blogs, I must make the admonishment that these crazed cultists currently holding us hostage, are NOT Christians. They merely kidnapped Christianity and are using it as a shield for their own agenda.

I was once talking with a Freako who was spouting off about the sanctity of life. During the "discussion", he stomped on a bug, to which I quickly said: "You only respect SOME life, right?" He got so pissed he took off.:)

Sewmouse said...

BBC: The first paragraph gives the disclaimers, Hon. If we do not use the tools with which they are willing to agree, then we cannot expect them to listen. We ourselves do not have to personally believe in their tools, just use them.

Anonymous - please use "Other" and give yourself a nickname next time? I'd like to discuss with you further. BTW, I was brought up LCMS (Lutheran) so that may be why I lean heavily on the "Free Will" doctrine when talkin' "Xtian"

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sewmouse said...

Secret Rapture - fuck off.

Poke Salad Annie said...

(previously known as annonymous)
Okay, here's a nick. I still don't know exactly how to address your issues from either free will or predestination. I guess you did a fair job with your attempt from the free will aspect. Predestination gets a little ugly. When taken to it's logical conclusion, predestination suggest that we can't help what we do (since it is all preordained) and yet we are punished by God for something set in motion by God, something we are powerless to stop. It also suggests that God (who has known who would be saved and would not be saved from the beginning) made certain people for no other purpose but to cast them into hell and enjoy their screams of agony into the far reaches of eternity. Although I'm not an atheist, I would certainly prefer atheism to this particular image of God.

So what's my personal view of abortion? For me, the whole thing is a non-issue. I am no longer able to procreate and am content to let everyone else make up their own minds. I suffer from no fear that the human race will die off from rampant abortion. I also suffer from no fear that it will ever become impossible to get an abortion. There are people on both sides of the issue that I like enormously and they are mostly content to let me blow it off. So if it's a non-issue for me, why did I write at all? *shrugs* I guess I got hooked by the free will/predestination thing. I love/hate circular arguments that have no point and can't be resolved. Perhaps I was sucked in by your making an argument about something you are passionate about, using something you don't really like or believe in. Nothing particularly wrong with that, it was simply a unique twist for me. Interesting and different.

Sewmouse said...

Well, thanks, and welcome, Annie!

At least this way I can differentiate you from the tons of other Anonymouses that leave comments from time to time. Some of them have been quite rude.

Bartleby said...

Hey, you were indisputably correct about one thing -- it could get ugly.

And it did.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sewmouse: I enjoyed reading your post about Free Will and damned if I didn't go to another friend's blog and she has written a post about free will and God's plan. Very syncronistic (sp?). Thought you might enjoy reading it. She's a word buff also. I'm sending her to your's too.

Croila said...

I'd have thought it best to leave the Bible COMPLETELY out of it. It's just a seething mass of outdated contradictions. Most of it in my opinion is chinese whispers, utter fiction, so what on earth it's got to do with making important life decisions I have no idea. I just don't get its relevancy.

MICKY said...

Our moral freedom, like other mental powers, is strengthened by exercise. The practice of yielding to impulse results in enfeebling self-control. The faculty of inhibiting pressing desires, of concentrating attention on more remote goods, of reinforcing the higher but less urgent motives, undergoes a kind of atrophy by disuse. In proportion as a man habitually yields to intemperance or some other vice, his freedom diminishes and he does in a true sense sink into slavery. He continues responsible in causa for his subsequent conduct, though his ability to resist temptation at the time is lessened. On the other hand, the more frequently a man restrains mere impulse, checks inclination towards the pleasant, puts forth self-denial in the face of temptation, and steadily aims at a virtuous life, the more does he increase in self-command and therefore in freedom.