Tag Archives: Free Will

Dialog with a [W]hite Supremacist Part III

Thus sayeth my white Supremacist, “There seems [to be] a manner in which one steps beyond basic self-awareness to that creation of the original ‘ego’ set out to push one’s psychological envelope. From the internal monologue to the inter[n]ally manufactured dialogue with one’s ‘ego’ is that initial kickstart seeking to maximize one’s autonomy.”

Here again is the word “autonomy” which in his world carries negative connotations because it suggests an attempt to break away from God. As I said he never made it clear what actions are autonomous and what actions are considered to be in line with his so-called concept of “God-ordained free will.”

In response to his statement I attempted to bridge the gap by suggesting that we both are probably in agreement that the ego is a maladaptive reaction to a misconception of reality. Where our opinions differ is that I believe this process to be largely unconscious whereas perhaps he thinks it is intentional and thus incurring guilt. Of course, he proceeded to snatch this olive branch from my hand and slap me across the face with it.

He went on to profess, “I don’t see things in terms of adaptive and maladaptive. The fundamental human process in my view is perpetuating self-annihilators. I do not grant abiogenesis.”

The term “self-annihilator” is another buzzword of his which I think he uses interchangeably with the term “radical autonomist” in that a “radical autonomist” seeks autonomy from God by acting not in accordance with “God-ordained free will” and by doing so ultimately annihilates himself. I’m not sure what his remark about abiogenesis is in relation to as I never suggested that man arose spontaneously from inanimate matter nor do I know why he thinks that is relevant to the conversation.

He continues, “I ‘see’ an ‘evolution’ usurped by the self-annihilators. I ‘see’ the human being driven by raw desire with just enough good few ones choosing right to constitute an ascending continuum. The ‘ego’ really stands as one’s only truly trusted confidante or very worst enemy OR the appearance of one’s very worst enemy, but in fact one’s understood and very much trusted driving force…. This latter individual is the radical autonomist. His ‘ego’ is that which can get him off the hook with the degenerate masses.”

I’m not exactly sure what he is getting at here. I think he is suggesting that the self-annihilators have somehow exited the flow of evolution and it is the “good ones” who are evolving upward in an ascending continuum. Both types, however, have egos only one sees the ego as an enemy and the other sees it as a guide. But it is unclear what goes with what. His final statement about the radical autonomist using his ego to get him off the hook with the degenerate masses seems a little clearer to me. What I think he is suggesting is that to the radical autonomist, the ego is a clever trick used to absolve him of responsibility for his own actions. He can say, “it’s not my fault I robbed that bank, it was my ego.” To an extent he is correct that the concept of ego may be used in such a way. A sociopath might do that. But a person seeking to do right and act ethically and morally would not do this.

The point I was trying to make in my earlier blog post “Ego and Forgiveness” which this thread is in response to, is that there is a sense by some that guilt and shame should be perpetually carried around even once amends have been made and maybe for no other reason than being born the wrong type. Realizing that perpetual shame is largely the result of abusive situations imprinted on the psyche and formed into the ego is the way out of this situation and into authentic morality. For one cannot truly act morally if one is only doing so in order to avoid feeling shame. Morality should be exercised whole heartedly in other words. Otherwise it is an empty gesture.

To be continued…

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The Free Will Debate Part I

The free will debate has existed since ancient times. Anyone can read the various ins and outs of the debate as argued by various people. I think what is more important is the debate that goes on inside the individual.

On the surface, if I do not think about it too deeply it does feel as if I have free will. I can choose to turn left or right. I choose to make the moral choice (as I understand it) or not.

But it is conceivable that I am only experiencing the illusion of free will. When a thought pops into my head I take ownership of it. I claim the credit of my creativity. But if I think about it, I really have no idea where this thought originated. Perhaps someone, somewhere sitting at a computer is implanting these thoughts in my head and I assume they are of my own doing. In this model of consciousness there is a “me” capable of observing but that “me” is under the illusion that the thoughts I think are my own. But even under this model I seem to have the choice of choosing whether or not I will take ownership of these thoughts. But then again, this choosing could also be implanted by the guy sitting at the computer.

So I am stuck in the position where I cannot prove or disprove that I have free will. My religion teaches that God endowed man with free will. My hunch tells me I have some degree of free will but it is probably less than what I assume it to be without thinking about it too much.

Recently a white-supremacist who has been regularly commenting on my blog made the argument (if I understand him correctly) that “God ordained free-will” (his term) means actually having the limited choice between choosing to do God’s will or choosing not to do God’s will. See the comments to my blog post Procrastination When Writing is Essentially Laziness Only More Complicated. I am sure if I misstated his theory he will correct me in the comments to this post.

The question that arises in my mind is this: How can I know what is God’s will in order to properly exercise my God Ordained Free-Will in order to make the correct decision? From a Christian perspective the answer is that the Bible is the word of God and tells me what His will is. The only problem with that is the Bible says a lot of things that are open to interpretation. So I am still stuck in the position of not actually knowing the will of God.

This white-supremacist commenter also argued that the opposite of exercising God Ordained Free Will is the exercising of Radical Autonomy (his term). He goes on to say that Radical Autonomy leads ultimately to Self-Annihilation (his term yet again). Again, I am sure he will correct me in the comments if I am misstating his position. From my perspective, there are a great many hoops he needs to jump through in order to square his theories on, God Ordained Free Will, white-supremacy, and Christianity not to mention Radical Autonomy and Self Annihilation.

Of course this white supremacist has the free will to respond or not respond to this post in the comments. If he does respond (which I suspect he will) I assume he will believe his choice to respond is an exercise of “God Ordained Free-Will.” The debate will then proceed from there.

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Meditations on Life

I have heard it said that life is a gift. I find this notion a little strange because if life is a gift, it is the only gift I know where there is no recipient at the time of the transaction. The “gift” creates the recipient. The “gift” is the recipient.

I have been told I should be grateful for life, this gift, even though I did not ask for it as far as I can tell.

I have been told that life is precious. I agree that life is miraculous, that a physical object can move and have consciousness and reproduce. But there are all these rules in life. There are things I am not allowed to do. I was given this life where (if I am to believe what my religion requires me to believe) I am in danger of being eternally damned to hell if I do the wrong thing. That cannot be true, can it? If it is true, what kind of gift is that? Perhaps it would have been better not to receive the gift in the first place. Did I at some point have the opportunity to refuse the gift? Not if I did not exist before the gift was given.

On the other hand, life is interesting. People seem to want to hold on to it and preserve it. It certainly has value and seems vastly preferable to non-existence. And there is beauty to life amidst the pain and hardship. Now that I have life I cannot imagine not having it or throwing it away. I suppose I am grateful for it.

Can life properly be termed a “gift” or is it something else? To create, to bring consciousness into being is not quite the same thing as a gift. It is akin to a gift perhaps. But it is not quite a gift.

People do not create other people, they beget them. Begetting is akin to creating but is not quite the same. Begetting is different from creating in that there is not complete control in the process. It is something set in motion but then it creates itself on its own. God the Son was begotten not made. Man, however, was created presumably with the full knowledge and control of God, at least in the creation process.

I have been told man was endowed by God with free will. If this is true, perhaps life is more akin to a science experiment than a gift. A scientist may have a vague sense of sympathy for his subjects, but a proper scientist keeps a healthy distance to maintain objectivity.

But I do not want life to be a science experiment. I want it to be a gift. I want there to be a loving God. I want there to be a loving God who created me to be the recipient of myself as only a loving God could do.

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Genesis Through the Lens of Shame Part III

After the story of Cain and Abel Genesis skips forward in time through the use of genealogies. As a reader, my shame ego looks over my shoulder when I reach the genealogies in Genesis. It makes me feels like I should read them. Another part of me (my true self) wants to skip over them. Logic weighs in on the side of skipping over them. Their value is as a reference. The information is there if needed but it is not necessary to read them absent a need to find the information. Not to mention the fact that they are boring to read. But when I skip past them my shame ego tells me I am cheating and not really reading the Bible. What happens is I skim over the genealogies not really absorbing the information but satisfying my shame ego’s desire that I mire myself in useless effort so that I feel like I have obeyed the rules while ultimately stagnate my growth.

After struggling with the genealogies, we arrive at the story of Noah and the Flood. God is frustrated with his creation he endowed with free will. It turns out mankind used this gift of free will and chose not be as God intended and so he decided to wipe them out.

And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, it repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, he said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace before the Lord. (Gen 6:5-8).

I suppose Noah found favor with the Lord because he followed the will of the Lord seemingly without questioning. He had no free will or was unwilling to exercise it. God then meticulously instructs Noah on how to build the ark and how to populate it. Noah does all that God tells him to do without question. After he builds and populates the ark God floods the world and wipes out his creation. After the water recedes Noah and the other survivors leave the ark Noah makes an offering to God. He is pleased and promises that he will never again destroy the world with a flood.

Later Noah plants grapes and makes wine. He then drinks the wine, becomes drunk and passes out, naked in his tent. His son Ham sees him naked and tells his two brothers Shem and Japheth who walk in the tent backwards so they do not see their father naked and cover him with a cloak. Noah then wakes and finds out that Ham had seen him naked. Curiously, Noah then curses Canaan, Ham’s son.

Noah carries the shame ego passed down from Adam and Cain all the way through the genealogy to Noah. Noah curses Cannan and not Ham or his brothers because shame is cowardly and attacks the weakest target. Shame robbed Noah of his free will and his true self. When Noah got drunk these walls broke down. He then felt embarrassment and rage and vented it on Cannan who presumably would then shame his son so that it could be continuously passed down through the genealogy after Noah. It is this same shame that had been passed down to me. It is the one that makes me feel bad for wanting to skip the genealogies in the Bible.

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Shame and Free Will

If my actions are motivated by shame then I am not exercising free will. I am acting out a prefabricated script that was passed down to be by those who imprinted their shame onto me. But it feels like I am using my own free will when I am acting motivated by shame. Or to put it a bit more accurately, it does not feel like I am acting out a script when my actions are motivated by shame.

Shame can be very subtle in this regard. Here are a few examples:

I am told to believe in the Bible because it is the word of God and was divinely inspired. How do I know this is true? I want to believe it but I really have no evidence to confirm it one way or the other. So I am left with a dilemma. Either I believe it on faith (because I have been told that is what good people do) or I remain skeptical. If I remain skeptical my shame will punish me for not having faith. But if I believe in the Bible my shame will also punish me for not being a modern, critical thinker.

I was brought up in a family that votes Democratic. There have been times over the years that I have flirted with conservative, Republican ideology. This was back before the invasion of Iraq. At the time my liberal, neo-hippie friends and my family tried to make me feel like a dumbass for siding with the conservatives. Very little of this was based on reasoned debate. It seemed to be all based on shame. Now I vote more along the Democrat lines but I still sometimes feel like I am made out to be a dumbass by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and the people in my life who espouse that philosophy. Again, their tactics are loosely garbed in reason but their main point of persuasion is shame. Nowhere in the mix is what is true and false and best for the country. It is really all about shaming the other side. But when I pick a side I feel justified in my own beliefs and justified in shaming the other side.

I often feel awkward in social situations. When I am invited to a party my first inkling is to come up with an excuse not to go. Usually what happens is that I feel I should be social as the correct course of action. I go to the party and have a reasonably good time after a few drinks. Later in the night I feel glad I went and silly that I felt like I should not go in the first place. All this is shame. I don’t want to go to the party because I feel I will be judged. After I loosen up and feel okay talking to people I judge my pre-party self for being antisocial.

Where in the mix is what I really want? Where is my free will in any of these situations?

Shame is passed on from generation to generation. To the extent I act out the script I do so because my parents acted out the script on me. Their parents acted it out on them and so on down the line to the point where Adam took that bite of the apple, his eyes were opened and he felt ashamed. (See Gen 2:25 – 3:8). Interestingly it was free will (or so the Bible tells me so) that got us into this mess in the first place. If Adam had not chosen to eat the apple of his own free will then he would not have created the feeling of shame and it would not have then been passed down to me to rob me of my free will.

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