Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


Are we free because we feel free?
 
"No one can ever know whether freedom is real or just an illusion" - page 224, Philosophy for Dummies, Martin Cohen, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, West Sussex, 2010

A quote from the internet: Our will, whether it is free or otherwise, is only realized as our will when it is translated into the process that brings about the purpose that is willed. [Note it is the result that makes us think we are free.  It is the result that makes me see me in the action.  Feeling free is a reward for the result rather than the action.]


WHAT IS FREE WILL?
 
Free will means you can be unpredictable and do something that is totally out of character. Some say that people doing unpredictable things proves we have free will.
 
Free will means you are free from restraint.
 
Free will is psychological - you are attracted to doing something and you must decide why you should do it or should not.
 
Those are the different understandings of free will. Believers in free will say it is all three.
 
So free will means you freely cause your decisions. They are not caused by your past or your programming. If they are then we are not free. If they are not caused then we are still not free. Then we are not causing our decisions so they are not ours.

 

WE FEEL WE ARE IN OUR HEADS

 

The feeling of being in your own head is an illusion.  You feel like you are not you body but living in it.  So you have this big illusion that is central to your experience.  You cannot then trust the feeling of being able to wield free will and be an agent.  If you believe in free will, feelings are not a reason to believe.  There is something egotistical about making them that important for egoism is essentially putting indulging your feelings first.

 

With out of body experiences, it seems that if the brain is blocked from experiencing day to day life, it cannot bear this vacuum and then starts playing tricks and images to fill the void. One evidence of that is when you close your eyes to sleep or take drink or drugs you are soon struck by images and perceptions that are not there.  For example, if you are on a lorry all day you will feel at bedtime when you close your eyes that you are back on it again. We are conditioned not to consider them out of body experiences though in fact they are.

 

If we realise that we cannot control other people and cannot make them want to be controlled by us and that we cannot control reality then because the brain hates a vacuum and will make us feel free.  This can be imagining that if reality lets us control anything in reality it is letting us so it is in control that we in fact really do control.  Or we may feel that at least we control our thoughts and what is inside if not out.

 

You have no right to be so sure of your free will when you are not sure of something so much more basic - your consciousness and how accurate and true it is.

 

THE ILLUSION

 

Turing shows that it only seems like we have free will, because we are "computationally intractable" and so we cannot know what we are going to do next.  We think we know what we will choose next but the fact remains we are only guessing.  That means free will is not an illusion - the illusion is thinking we have an illusion.  Free will is an error and we have an illusion that the error is not there.

 

Feeling you are free and feeling you are sure you are making choices and decisions would seem to be an illusion if we are in fact programmed by forces beyond our control such as our genes etc.

 

Whether it is an illusion depends on what you mean by free.  If you feel that what you do comes from what forces beyond you have made you, you will feel free.  If you mean that you are free in the sense that you are independent of any programming then that is definitely an illusion for you have no reason to think that. The other kind of "freedom" accounts for the feeling.

 

A steak made of non-meat products will seem like a steak to you when you don't know how it was made.  So it is with "free" will.  It feels a certain way because you cannot detect or see or explain your programming.

 

How we got the values and inclinations and desires we have does not matter to us.  What matters to us is that they are there.  It does not matter if they are programmed into us or not as long as the programming is not something obvious such as being taken to a brainwasher.

 

The feeling of being free is important.  That is why the state should only limit what we do when it is really necessary.  Nobody should be sent to jail for five years for stealing a can of beans.  Nobody should be in a religion with all its extra rules.  Nobody should fear a God who will punish sins after death.  If God did not punish but merely just gave no rewards to sinner that is a subtle pressure.  We need to feel the feeling as much as possible for that is the key to happiness.  You may be tied up in rules and still think you are happy but good happiness and better happiness are not the same thing.

 

The feeling matters.  Being really free does not matter one bit.  And being really free is no good without the feeling anyway.  Religion then is evil for caring about free will as in being able to step outside your programming. Not only that but it is all it cares about for it seeks to blame us for suffering and evil and not God.

 

FREE WILL IS NOT THE ONLY POSSIBLE ILLUSION WE HAVE

 

Most people do not want to think that blind forces have given us or left us with (if you like) the illusion that we have free will and the duty to do good with it. But even if we do have real free will it could be that the way our brains work, our feelings and our ideas are really just an illusion caused by our genes.   Ideas come to us and we cannot really summon them. Ideas are easily planted in you and pass themselves off as your own when they are not. Our feelings fool us a lot.  Feelings do lie a lot and try to pull you in a direction that has too little regard for truth and reality. Feelings are definitely down to chemistry.  They can be detected by machines. In fact free will means very little if anything if feelings are just or largely chemical reactions.


The phenomenon of alien hand syndrome shows that a part of your body can act like you are controlling it when you in fact are not.
 

FREEDOM AS IN LICENSE

 

Why is freedom as in license not freedom at all? Because you are never really free unless you reconcile feelings and reason. How can it be such an effective illusion? Why is it putting you in bondage though you feel you are free and even freer than you could ever imagine? The answer is that feeling free is not only not the same as being free feelings easily lie. Feeling free is an illusion and illusions tend to breed illusions. Religion by telling you feeling free is proof that you have free will from God is based on a lie and to blame when feeling free becomes freedom as in wanton licence.
 
PARTLY FREE?
 
What if your decisions are partly caused by things outside of your control? That is no freedom at all. A university that would let people learn anything but not 2=2=4 cannot say it lets its students freely learn. They will not know if what they learned really was learning. They will not know if the university was right about anything. It has proven itself more interested in being arbitrary than in being mathematical.
 
Free will, if real, is a mystery because it is hard to see how we can self-regulate and be programmed at the same time. In other words the mystery is how we can be sufficiently free though we are not completely free. It is a paradox or a contradiction and we will never know which. It is safe to say it is a contradiction for there is no proof that it really exists. Proof is the only thing that stops a paradox being mistaken for a contradiction or vice versa.
 
Free will involves the use of reason but it cannot take reason seriously if it is a contradiction or paradox and we don't know which. When you think of it that way you soon lose the feeling of freedom. It is not true that we have to feel free all the time. We don't.

 

Some think that the things that program us are beyond our control but in time we develop more control over them.  Does that make sense?

 

COMPLETE FREE WILL DOESN'T EXIST


Suffering usually does not come with the freedom to choose.  If you have free will it should be about being moral as in helping suffering so the idea that non-deliberate suffering is ever good or tolerable by God is obscene.

 

Free will is really just about what step you are taking not about what you are stepping into. That actually is not much freedom. Freedom does not give you freedom from the truth, from responsibility or consequences so freedom is paradox. Is freedom an attempt to get away from all that? The answer is yes.  But it disappoints for you cannot really do it.

 

We do not have complete control over our feelings. Suppose I know that sitting on the shore makes me happy. If I go to the shore on a sunny day and the feeling comes to me it does not follow that I caused the feeling. If I know the sun will shine on the beach and go to enjoy it, it does not follow that I caused the sun to come out. Same with my feelings. I could be wrong to think that the beach will make me feel happy - maybe I will feel nothing or maybe I will even feel sad. If I feel happy, I cannot make myself feel even better simply by willing it.
 
We cannot act without our thoughts.  Thoughts matter most in the same way breath matters most when you are out for a cycle.  We do not have complete control over our thoughts. Try visualising a teabag for a minute. Soon other images will take over.  Your system is not bothered about your alleged free will.
 
You cannot then be fully responsible for anything you do.


 
INTUITION AND EXPERIENCE
 
It is said that our intuition tells us we have free will.
 
What is intuition? It is said to be the way we know things though we cannot understand how or why we say we know them. It is like the way you know you can talk though you do not exhaustively know how you can do so. This would make it a rational belief even though we have no evidence or proof.
 
Surely it is better to have evidence and rational justification for saying that free will is probably real. If you want evidence your free will does not respect you if it does not give it to you. If you want evidence and your free will belief has little or no justification then your free will is not really free will.
 
Intuition is a sense but a very unreliable one.
 
It is not our intuition that is telling us that we have free will at all. We simply feel free and that is why we think we are free or have free will.
 
Some argue that if reason says free will is impossible, experience says different. They say, "Experience says free will is real even if it is a miracle. We must listen to experience for reason cannot explain all things anyway". But reason matters more than experience. If reason says there is no pink angel making your breakfast and you see the angel doing just that then you will just have to remember that you can hallucinate and maybe that is what is happening.

THE ARGUMENT THAT WE ARE FREE FOR WE FEEL IT
 
People think they have free will because they feel free. But that is self-deception.  Feelings prove nothing. You can feel you can get the best job in the world but the truth is you do not have the freedom to achieve it. If I feel that Jesus is God that does not make me right.
 
You can be programmed by nature to feel free when you are in fact programmed. And we are programmed for we simply cannot be free. A self-programmer is still not free. A self-programming calculator cannot forecast the weather.
 
Even free willists know that we can feel free and not be free like when we are mad angry. Another example is when we have a lucid dream that seems very real when we are making decisions in that dream. Even free willists agree that these are not decisions or choices for most of the brain has been closed down. Dreams prove that free will is only an assumption.
 
Both believers in free will and those who say it is an illusion agree that we feel free. Indeed we could be unfree and still feel free. Yet believers in free will go about lying and telling people, "You feel free so you are free." They know fine well that those who say that unconscious processes and the way life and our genes program our brains make choices not us do not deny that we feel free. They see feeling free as part of the programming. And as those processes look like they make choices they do not. The leaf does not choose to fall off the tree in autumn.
 
Deniers of free will should be considered more rational and plausible and honest than believers. The more the believer stresses free will the bigger the liar he or she is. For example, believers in God stress free will hugely for they argue that he gave us free will and that we can use it to break his law and deserve punishment. They blame evil on us not on God.
 
Do you really need proof that you could be programmed to feel free and still not be free? You feel free when you are drunk though you are not. A drug is affecting your mind. The main argument for free will, the reason so many who should know better can't discard it, is that we are led to think that we seem to be told by our experience that we are free. We seem to feel that we have different options and that nothing programs us to choose one of them and not the others.

If feeling free proves you have free will, then it follows that the more you feel it the more free will you have! Free will works best when you have maximum feeling that you are free.
 
God is said to give us free will so that we might love him or reject him. If feeling free makes you free then if you are free, you will feel free all the time if there is a God. You don't so that proves either that there is no God or that the argument, "I am free for I feel free" is wrong. And if it is wrong, then it follows there is no reason at all to believe in free will.
 
Free will, if it exists, shall be in your mind and will be a faculty in it. A faculty can no more be changed than pretending you don’t have an arm will make your arm disappear and ease to exist because it is a part of you. Free will then cannot depend on our feeling of freedom for we do not have that feeling always. If it should depend, then there is no free will.
 
If the more you feel free the more you are free then it follows that you can reduce this feeling and you won't be fully culpable for what you do. Murder in psychological terms will be minor. To believe that you can switch from free to unfree by changing your attitude or suspending the sensation of freedom is dangerous. You could turn unfree and commit murder and still be innocent. It could be abused but only if you believe in free will for you will only be doing that if you believe in it. If you do not, then you will prefer to nurture your good side for it determines your future and blesses it. Luckily, we are unfree all the time.

The feeling of freedom comes from the fact that our brains have not decided yet what to do. It is not coming from a sense of real freedom. Many philosophers hold to this (page 8, GOD A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED Keith Ward, OneWorld, Oxford, 2003).
 
Even if we do have free will we cannot know it. Believing something and being right does not constitute knowledge but luck.
 
You can feel you have chosen when you actually haven't chosen at all. So you can feel free and not be free.
 
The more powerful you are the more free you are - if free will is indeed a fact. You can feel powerful though you are anything but so why can't you feel free when you are not?
 
DO YOU NEED OTHERS TO BE FREE?
 
People say, "You cannot be free if others are not free for being free and enjoying it means you and others can be free together. You cannot feel free if you think you are among machines or biological computers. "

But you can be free without having free beings around you!
 
You might not feel happy about it but it has nothing do with your freedom.
 
WHEN DECISIONS SEEM TO JUST APPEAR!
 
A lot of the time the decisions we make seem to come from nothing at all. It looks like that we are observing what we are doing and thinking as opposed to really doing and thinking ourselves. It is like something else is doing things through us. The mind is tricking us.
 
The decisions do not magically come out of nowhere. But that is how it feels. It is a proof that we cannot rely on our feelings to determine if we are creatures with free will or not.
 
FEELINGS AND FREE WILL
 
It seems to most of us that we cannot choose our feelings. Our feelings and emotions are below the level of conscious awareness and control. Pulling strings in ourselves to help us feel a certain way at times is possible. But pulling strings means it is not guaranteed to work. And manipulating ourselves to feel a certain way simply proves we are not in control. It may feel it but we are not. This feeling is an illusion and so is feeling free. That feeling is part of the reason we feel free. People say we can choose our thoughts. Again we can try to think something and fail. We do not bring up the thought. We open ourselves up to it and it may come and it may not.
 
What about the view that feelings are like waves - we do not create the waves but we choose which one to surf? We can have several different feelings but we can choose one and still not feel what we want. Our feelings care little about what we choose. They often do not care at all.
 
If you have free will, you did whatever you did in the past using it. You were responsible then but not now. You are not responsible for the past now. You are only responsible for the present and the future. You are not responsible for what anybody else does unless you force them to do it. So we are not as free as we feel.
 

FEELINGS AND FACTS

 

Feeling that something is true means you strongly sense that it is a fact. That will make it seem more convincing to you than cold hard logic and evidence and proof.  But do not forget that whether the "fact" is true or not, you have created the illusion that it is true.  Feeling something true is true is embracing the truth for the wrong reason.  You put yourself under the bondage of feeling.  So feeling free does not mean you are free but that you are not.
 
OBJECTIONS TO FREE WILL BEING AN ILLUSION

 

A determinist, a person who thinks the causes of our choices do not involve any real free will but fixed causes, will never live all the time as if he thinks determinism is true.  What about his choice to believe that determinism is true?  Surely he contradicts himself?  No. In fact if determinism is right then there is no choice to recognise that or believe it! But what he thinks or feels has nothing to do with determinism being true or not.  A computer may swear it is free and be wrong. 
 
Religion is Reasonable says that the reason free will cannot be an illusion is because it would be impossible for all of us to be under the illusion all the time (page 25). But it is not a serious illusion in a sense. It is not like seeing visions of pink elephants all the time. It is only a feeling and most of us have feelings that could mislead us. Don’t we live under the illusion that many evil things are good all the time? Don’t all agree that evil doing is a symptom of delusive thinking? Don't we feel and act as if we will never die? If we took our own death seriously we would be horribly depressed every time we heard somebody has died. The arguments of religion against determinism are wafer thin and serve only to show the weakness of their position.
 
WHY DO WE FEEL FREE AND WANT TO FEEL FREE?

We know that we do not know how we are free and how we are able to do it if we have this freedom. Therefore no matter how free we might think we feel, we could be wrong.
 
The feeling of freedom is necessary to prevent fear. It would be scary if we felt compelled. The feeling is a good thing for to feel that fate controls you by pulling you one direction and another is a scary thing so you have to feel as if you can do what you want. But we can have the feeling and deny free will. Denying it then is not a sickness nor is it hypocritical.
 
Some determinists say the simplest way to respond to people who tell us we feel free and are free is, “What do you expect when we always do what we want?” The determinists are indicating that the feeling is necessary for us to have a will but it does not make that will free or unfree.
 
Yes from moment to moment we do feel we do what we want.
 
The wants are perceived to be mechanical and unfree when you look over the several thoughts and acts of will that led to the acts. So the feeling of being is actually accompanied by the feeling that you are not free though you do what you want. It is almost an ambivalent situation. For some they can stop feeling free altogether when they consider how the thoughts and feelings and motivations work.
 
If you notice that if you cannot do what is evil just because it is evil it follows that no part of your evil actions intended to be other than good under the circumstances. But you were wrong so you were insane when your mind became distorted to assume evil was good.

It is as certain as 2+2=4 that nothing can prove we have free will or even that we might have it. If religion denies that then it denies that 2+2=4. In denying that, they implicitly dissent from free will for if reason makes no sense then free will is impossible to use for there is a connection between it and reason. Free will is following reason as you see it.

If you feel free, if you feel you have free will, the feeling will vanish or at least diminish if you start listing the things you cannot choose. You are unable to choose that your child should get a terrible disease and die horribly.
 
A GUESS NOT A BELIEF
 
Free will is a mere assumption. It is a guess not a belief. Thus belief in free will cannot entitle us to believe in rewarding and punishing. Yet that is what believers want the belief for. Belief can only entitle us to give what might be a reward or punishment depending on whether the person is free or not. But you can only guess not believe. Here is a consequence. If you reward a good person you will do it with the following sentiment, "If you are not free then this is a gift not a reward. It is only conditionally intended to be a reward. In other words - if you are free then we reward you." You might as well not even bother assuming free will exists.
 
An animal has no free will yet when you take your dog’s bowl off the floor in order to put his food in it the dog will know that his dinner is coming and he will follow you around and watch you and beg for his food and lick his lips in anticipation. The animal intends to have the food and acts this way because he has a goal in mind – his dinner. When the animal can behave like that it is madness to say that the fact that we think and decide what we feel before we do something means we are free and have free choice. There is no difference.

 

I saved a child's life last week who was running across the road.  Religion and free will believers claim that if I could rewind I could have done something different and maybe walked on by and let the child get run over.  Is that judgemental?  Yes - until somebody can rewind nobody can say that I would have done other the good deed I did.  Innocent until proven guilty.  Risky until proven risky.

 

PERSONHOOD AND BEING THE SAME PERSON
 
Not every philosopher and thinker thinks you are the you you were when you were born or even ten years ago. They think each person gradually turns into another person. Christians invent the idea of spiritual soul to avoid that thought. The soul is supposed to be the same no matter what else changes so you are the same person all the time. The soul is an excuse for denying that John at 10 is the same person as John ten years later and ten years after that. It is an excuse because there is no evidence.

Personal identity and personal responsibility is the foundation of everything. But even if we have free will we have no right to reward and punish somebody who has changed a lot. Some people seem to turn into new persons faster than others.
 
Free will does not give believers what they mostly want. Thus the doctrine is only fit for discarding.

Many of us see that we do not feel that it was us that did the terrible deed whatever it was ten or whatever years ago.  Feeling free is only important if you feel you are the same person who say went to America ten years ago.  But you cannot feel that when you let yourself see how much you have changed. 

HOW TO FEEL FREE AND KEEP FEELING IT
 
The more you use a person for your own ends the more you treat that person as a thing. The more you value what you want them for and not them. If I see my universe as a thing and the people around me as things then I see everything as non-personal and cold. I see everything and everyone else as a thing that acts on me and my life. I will lose the feeling of freedom. I will make myself a slave.
 
FINALLY

We could be programmed though we may feel free for we could be set to feel that way and to act free though we are not really free at all. Nobody is able to explain how free will works, meaning all have to at least admit it is possible that the feeling of freedom is misleading. Also the feeling of freedom is easily taken away. Feeling free cannot prove free will when sometimes we do not feel free.
 
Belief in free will is based on errors. People are told to believe that they are free because they feel free or terrible things will happen. For example, God will be offended and blamed for evil. Also, you will go off the rails morally because you don't believe you are accountable for anything you do. They are blackmailed to believe.
 
People are conditioned to believe in free will because they think they experience themselves as free agents. The dog feels free to eat his dinner and nobody seriously suggests a dog has free will. We must know subconsciously that the doctrine is rubbish. Basing free will on feeling, is basing morality and life and religion and God on a feeling! Any reasoning built on that is not motivated by a concern for truth but is based on feeling. It is horrible to think that atheists who depend on reason are often insulted by those who make a god of their feelings like that! If your faith in free will is based on a feeling then what right have you to condemn people who harm others? It is malicious to base such a big thing on so little! You are really no better than those whom you point the finger at.
 
If we are misled by feeling free, that is a necessary evil. Life would be awful if we did not feel free. A necessary evil is something that is regretfully needed. People using God to feel more free than they need to is disgraceful.  There are other ways to feel more free without implying a perfect God put a lie in your constitution and at the core of your being.

 

It is evil to use your feeling free as an important or even worse the only reason for accepting the idea that humankind has free will for that means the good will end up being loved conditionally on the basis that they use their free will well and will be punished or hated for doing bad.  A feeling is not a reason for hurting another even if they do deserve it.