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So, here is my personal argument against free will: I did not choose to become an atheist. It just happened as a consequence of my learning certain things (about the bible and then some science). I did not choose to have doubts about my religion, and then about the existence of any gods, I just had them. They just popped into my mind (I was taught this was the devil). But, even if that were so, it would not have been by my will that I was having doubts. One can say I chose to explore my doubts, rather than ignore them as I had been taught to do; but the drive to do so was overwhelming to me and I could not simply ignore them--even though I was terrified. And, if I had ignored those doubts, and dived deeper into my religious beliefs, would that have been my free will in action, or the result of years of programming? And, now, there is no way I could just decide to believe in a god--not that I would want to. But, if I have free will, I should be able to make myself believe and then make myself not believe again, right? Also, I really wish I could will myself to not like chocolate so much--but, here I sit, drinking my mocha latte.

Joanne 7 Aug 12

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I was born an Atheist Feminist and used my free will to condem the lies told to me as a child age 5 December 25th 1957 I concluded fat Santa Claus could not come down our skinny chimney and boy Easter bunnies laying candy eggs on dogshit lawns was the same pattern of lies as an alleged vaginal virgin birthing an alleged baby gawd in a dirty donkey stables EVERY DECEMBER 25TH all 3 lies to deprive me of my Feminist Atheist birthright and I used my free will to read many bibles to ridicule and condemn the horrors therein....genocide incest misogynistic rape and violent unsafe abortions infanticide and anti-science
...3 does not equal one and 1 does not equal three....there are exactly zero alleged gawds known anywhere in our observed universe just as are the impossible perpetual motion machines


No matter if you were biased or using your free will. You ended up making the right choices : Being Atheist and drinking mocha latte


I never think about "free will". I've never suffered from any kind of
existential angst.
I was born not believing and indoctrination didn't take.
I knew it was ALL bullshit from the start.
I don't have "doubts".

Congratulations on returning to everyone's default position.
We are ALL born atheists. Everything else has to be taught.


Call it whatever you wish - but at any crossroad in our lives, be it trivial, or consequential, we decide which road to take - every time. Even if we're under pressure from outside sources. Even if the choice is to avoid making a choice at all - thus leaving us with the haphazard results of our own non-choosing.

PS - several months ago, I was unhappy with my long standing excessive intake of chocolate, and candy in general. I decided to stop it all. And I did. My choice - and it has proved to be a very good one !

But, we don't know what happens in our brains that "causes" us to make the choices that we make. This is not to say that we should eliminate personal responsibility; but, there is more to our decision making process than simply making a choice to do one thing or another, or nothing. And, about chocolate, it isn't about making the choice to eat it or not, it is about choosing to not like it--that I cannot do.

@Joanne Concerning myself about my brain's inner workings seems a grand waste of time, and possibly a reason not to make a decision. And trust me - I still very much would like chocolate - but I fully recognize the sugar content is akin to poison. And I also very much like me.


Looks like you've put your finger on another big faultline among members here. Those who believe in free will and those who don't. Interesting.


Free will is a tricky thing because you can find yourself second guessing your motives for whatever the said action (or inaction) is. Are we guilted into doing something by some code of ethics handed down via family or ingrained in us via some school or church? The quivering conscience we created for ourselves in the name of doing the right thing? But what is "the right thing"? It should be to be true to yourself but that's not the case because we are taught to act generously and help others and put others above our own needs. Most decisions we make are done with the thoughts and consequences of how it will impact someone else: "I don't want to go but I probably should because (name) will be sad if I don't." "I can't buy that, it wouldn't be fair to my sister, she can't afford one." etc., etc. Even our strongly held convictions are at jeopardy because we try to placate or even NOT alienate anyone. When we try to deviate from this and "just do it" because we want to...guilt inevitable follows. So, while in theory, free will is ours for the taking (or doing), it's not "free", nothing is ever free. You pay for it with your conscience.

Oh, and as for the chocolate thing....If you want it, eat it (drink it). If YOU think you need to cut back than do it... YOUR choice. 🙂

Many women are guilted into self sacrifices marriages and pregnancies few of us men were victimized that way after infant brutal painful amputations of 4 square inches of my prepuce flesh by a catholic osteopath when I was 5 days old


@VictoriaNotes, this is your bailiwick. Personally I do my best to ignore the fact that I don't have free will. Because believing I don't have free will tends to make me less of the person I want to be, meaning that I make more limited choices. This was/is even more true for my son as he tends to think of himself as a GIGO machine (garbage in, garbage out).


I think free will is more about actions than thoughts. I'm not sure any of us have complete control over what we think and our feelings. But, you could, for instance, have doubts and yet continue to go to church. You could give up chocolate even though you love it.

I can't imagine ever wanting to give up chocolate 🙂


Interesting read. This video is worth watching. I enjoy watching all of his videos.

This is great!

Glad you like.

His entire channel is worth watching.


How is this an arguement Against free will? You appear to be exercising using free will with every change of your mind......


Don't think free will is about thinking, it's about choice. All through life you choose; apply for new job or not for instance.
If I wanted I could become a fraudster and become rich, but I choose not to. Not because of the law but because I choose not to live my life that way.


I think the problem with arguments both for and against "free will" lay in the lack of a strict definition of what "free" and "will" are in this context. Is "will" somehow separate from other aspects of our psyche and therefore unconnected with other things that influence us? Is it somehow inviolable and independent of experience? I would argue that our "will" is shaped by our experience but not determined by it. And does "free" mean that something outside our selves determines our choices? Or does it mean that for any decision there is the possibility of an aleatoric choice? Given a singularly experienced future, one could argue that the choice made in the past was determined by the presence of the currently experienced future. Of course this is given the framework of our experience in which quantum probabilities collapse at the point of observation. Perhaps it's our observation of choice that collapses us into determinism.

Real well put.


Those who believe in free will are counter intuitively the easiest to manipulate. By assuming that your own actions are completely yours and not subject to underlying subconscious bias, you leave yourself vulnerable to subtle cues that dictate your actions.

Only by realizing that you are constantly subjected to influence can you reclaim any meaningful resistance to that influence, and finally limit your chocolate mocha latte intake.


free will has been pretty effectively disproven. we have the freedom to stop ourselves from doing something, but the choice to do begins before the decision making section of the brain engages. your brain takes an action, and then your 'mind' has a chance to veto... nothing more.

Interesting, can you share some sources. I would love to read about this.

@LucasfromGR []

IMO those demonstrations can be understood without demolishing the concept of free will. The decision (act of will) was made before the experiment began. The conscious self just doesn’t know the precise time of action. Most of out brain activity is subconscious.

@WilliamFleming subconscious action is not free will. free will is talking about conscious choice.

@dellik I know, but it is a mistake to think of a person as a unified single agent. In that first example the conscious self decides to wink. That is the free will part of the process. How and if that directive is carried out is left to the subconscious mind/body.

Compare it to an infantry captain ordering his company to open fire. He tells his clerk to call the platoons and relay his order. The word gets passed down through the chain of command to the men with the weapons. They in turn have to get into position, load and aim before they fire. The captain is not the one who fires so he can’t say exactly when the firing will commence or which platoon will fire first. His order might in fact be superseded by conditions unknown to him, for example, there could be friendlies down range. In that case he would be informed later. If you consider the company as a single “thing” then because of the time delay you would think that the company has no free will. The commander however certainly has power to initiate action. It’s just that there are limitations to his power.

My conscious self has power to initiate bodily action, but it has to nudge the body into action. The body is a robot with no consciousness and no free will, but it can function by itself as on autopilot. The conscious self has only limited control. It works with and influences the body.

@WilliamFleming yes, but what I feel you are missing, is in your example, (and actually in your brain) what really happens is the troops fire, and then the commander decides he told them to fire, and then he remembers it as he told them to fire and the did. our brain literally deceives us, as far as what order things happen.

The ordering of how things unfold and how we remember them is beside the point. The psychologist wanted me to engage in a demonstration by winking. I wanted to participate. That wanting to participate led to action. It was free will. However the decision was executed and however I remember it is beside the point. My conscious self turned the job over to my subconscious and the task was accomplished—a clear example of free will.

You wanted to write a response. You assigned the task to your body and voila! a response—free will in action. Your will came before anything else.

Sometimes our bodies do things automatically and sometimes our higher selves exercise free will by consciously coaxing the bodies.


I think you could compare being Atheist to being gay in this situation. Being gay is not a choice, it is simply who you are from the beginning.

A gay man, for example, may deny his feelings, much like the religious deny their feelings of doubt. They tell themselves that it's wrong or bad to have these thoughts. That gay man may even marry a woman and have children, living for many years the way he's "supposed to". Then, over time he comes to recognize his feelings have always been correct and no longer wishes to live a lie.

I don't think you can will yourself to believe in religion again, even if you did for many years. It's just not who you are anymore and trying would be pointless.


As I understand the concept, the free will theory is not the view that one is free to choose anything but, rather, that there are at least some alternatives one is free to choose from. I hope my beliefs are determined by the relevant evidence (rather than by my desires), but I agree that they are determined. However, it still may be that I am free to choose to do my duty rather than yield to a contrary desire (or vice versa). Not so?


It's called critical thinking, congrats on arriving.


We are all born without religion, nationality or specific language. We get processed into becoming little Hindus, Muslims, Jews or Pastafarians. Some of us are fortunate enough to grow up without religion and some are even fortunate enough to grow up without patriotism. The latter might even be rarer.


PS: Concerning my original post, I would like to add that I don't find life futile or try to negate personal responsibility. I simply think that we are the products of our brains and environmental/cultural programming. The decisions we make are not pre-decided, set in stone, or guided by some god or conscious universe; BUT, they are influenced, perhaps even controlled, by how we perceive things and how our brains process information. So, since my brain is me--it is me making the decision. However, I cannot change the way my brain works. I have no control over how I perceive things, what I innately like or dislike, whom I am attracted to or not, etc. I don't know why when looking at different outfits I will want to wear one thing and not another (all things equal); or why some days I want to do nothing but binge watch Netflix and others I wake up and want to clean house or do yard work. And, just as I did not choose to not believe in any gods, I cannot choose to believe in any--for that I would need evidence that would convince my brain of its existence--then, of course, belief would no longer necessary.

Just read this after my reply and I concur. I think I said much of the same.


I agree, I never sought to be an atheist. I arrived at it through experience.

I think that free will exists, even if it is an emergent phenomonon because of how complex our brains are. There are also quantum arguements that might support free will as a indepentant idea.

I think that the appearance of free will to our own conciousness is all we really need.


The problem with no free will is that it takes away any thoughts of responsibility. Like the cheating partner that says "It just happened". No it fucking didn't! Unless you were raped you made lots of conscious decisions to end up having sex with someone else. Yes, there may have been umpteen amounts of emotional forces at work but you chose to get your kit off and to have sex.
I used to have a big problem with gambling. I stopped betting but that does not mean that its not still a problem, just a smaller one. It would have been easy for me to stay the way I was but "chose" to change my lifestyle.
Personally, I to look at it this way. There are lots of things we cannot do anything about,.nature/nurture they are the cards that we are dealt. How we chose to play them is in part, up to us.


I hear ya about that chocolate problem. 😉
I think I follow what your saying.
we are all faced with decisions beyond religion and/or beliefs. We can choose to hold a door, look the other way, go drinking after work, book the trip, apply for that job...
I don't have any solid answers one way or the other, but we may, just maybe, have some freedom to pick own paths, at least a little?


I always say, "I didn't choose my gender, my genetic makeup, my family, my parents, my heritage..." I do have some 'influence' on my life, but not enough to call it free will.


The whole argument of free will or not free will is a waste of time. Life goes on anyway whether you believe in it or not. This is just a self indulgent mind fuck. BTW did you cum?


that is a rather strange description of free will. of course we do not have free will regarding everything. you may wish to rob a bank but chances are someone will stop you. do you choose what to wear in the morning? you're limited by what you have available but you had a hand in that too. i am not saying this proves free will; i am saying that your post doesn't DISprove it.


@Joanne is talking about the cause-and-effect occurring within our brains since the womb. In this deterministic argument it doesn't matter that we can choose what to wear today if that choice is a product of causes and influences arising from the interface between our environment and our brains, the actions of both of which are products of natural laws dating back to the Big Bang.

As I've said elsewhere in this thread, I don't like this theory, but my intellect tells me It is true. I do my best to ignore it because I'm a better person when I pretend I have free will. But that personal choice was also almost certainly determined.

@vertrauen i did not actually need it mansplained lol. i understood it fine. i disagree with it and my intellect tells me it's illogical. as i said in my response, i am not talking about whether or not we have free will; i am talking about whether or not her post was convincing re the lack thereof. it's not, even after the mansplanation.


@genessa Okay, I'm very sorry for the perceived mansplanation. By way of context, @Joanne and I are very close friends, so I wasn't butting in. Your gender had nothing to do with the fact that I addressed what I thought was your misreading of her point. In other words i would have mansplained the same way to a man - if that is a thing.

I would love it if there were an ungendered word like "unnecexplained" bc then I could more easily plead guilty. I'm a professor. Explaining things is literally what I do for a living. Sometimes it isn't necessary. Mea culpa.

@vertrauen i like your nongender-specific suggestion, though it may need some refining lol. it wasn't so much gender that bugged me there as the frequent response i get to my own responses that appear to assume that if i disagree with something it means i didn't GET it. (to your credit, you didn't say the dreaded "you missed the point." i have never seen that used in a case when i actually missed the point; it is always that i disagreed with the point!) anyway, nice to meet you!


I might choose what I wear each morning, but I look at my clothes and a decision is made. I don't actually know why I feel like wearing one thing over another or why I like certain styles and not others; and, I cannot make myself like clothes that I don't like. This is something that is hardwired in my brain that is at the root of the decisions I make. And, it is something that I cannot control. I can force myself to wear something I don't like--but I cannot make myself like it.

@Joanne okay, i repeat, that is what i would consider a strange view of free will. sorry, not buying it. you're not saying anything untrue but i disagree with your conclusion.


The terrific (but 30-min) video that @NoMagicCookie posted above might help clarify the points of disagreement in this convo. For example, it seems pretty clear to me that the version of free will that @Joanne is saying doesn't exist is classic metaphysical libertarianism. I can't tell, @genessa, if you are using that definition of free will or another. If you are using a compatibilist definition, that would explain why @Joanne isn't convincing to you. Then again, some of the things you've said suggests to me that you don't believe in a deterministic universe. (Compatibilist free will is compatible w determinism.)

@vertrauen i am not using any definition at all, nor am i defending the existence of free will. i am merely saying that i don't find any logic in this definition of it, regardless of whether or not i have my own, and i do not find the conclusion that there is no free will a logical extension of this explanation, regardless of whether there is or is not free will. the reason i do not have my own definition and have not drawn my own conclusion is that it's not a topic that i find relevant to my life. i don't care why i choose what i choose to wear; i am pretty certain it is often because i am trying to match it to the occasion and cross match it to comfort, plus whatever other factors i am conscious are involved, plus some i am not conscious are involved, but if i worry about it, i will miss my bus and then it won't matter what i am wearing, which, when i am not going out or having people in, is generally nothing.



It's all choices, from getting out of bed in the morning. To claim otherwise opens the door to control from the outside, hence some god. Nonsense.

I disagree. It does not mean that a god has to be involved, or even some outside force with intent...only that we are products of how our brains are wired AND environmental programming.

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