Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reason and volition

Pseudo-atheism and pseudo-intellectualism aside, the possibility of true, rational atheism should be allowed as well. Since my last blog post, I have spent some time in perusing and cogitating and writing about the relative merits of atheistic vs. Christian/theistic systems of thought from within the discipline of logic. But the writing part, while still just the hint of an insignificant beginning, soon became much too long and involved for a blog post. If you are so inclined, you may read and judge for yourself at This may be a work in progress, as I think of more to say, or respond to critical review.

Cutting to the chase here on the blog, I believe that a key point in favor of theism is the issue of free will, or volition. In the atheistic paradigm, man is composed solely of physical stuff; there is no spiritual component. This means he is driven by a combination of genetics and environment, determinism is the rule, and free will cannot exist. The theistic system allows for free will, and the Christian system positively affirms it.

Ironically, this rational point reveals the relative unimportance of rational argumentation. Sound reason may lead to faith, but if we have free will, each individual has the ability to choose whether or not to believe, whether for rational reasons or otherwise.

The opposite also applies. If we lack free will, rational disputation is pointless. The determinist says that everyone behaves in a determined way. He says to the Christian, "You believe because of your genetics, upbringing, and environment." The Christian replies, "You choose to disbelieve." It's a rational stalemate.

My earlier point still applies (see "Pseudo-atheism" below). Within the system of materialism and determinism, evangelism is absolutely pointless. Within the free will system, rational disputation may not sway many minds, but, together with other means of evangelistic outreach, it does at least make some sense.

I, for my part, have chosen to believe that I have the freedom to choose. Why? Because it's more reasonable.


JayG said...

I think the big problem is that while many people claim to be for Free will, as expressed by the Pro-Choice crowd, few actually want it: because Choice involves alternatives, when you choose one thing, you give up many other things. The Pro-choice people don't want anyone to comtemplate the terrible choice being made, they want choice without consequences, choices without thinking about what was given up.

In some ways it could be argued that because God respects us enough to endow us with Free Will, that God is in effect Pro-Choice. But we need to realize, God is not pro-abortion, He is for allowing us to make a choice for Him, or against Him. God is a gentleman and will not force Himself upon us. This should make us all shake in our boots, because it means that being Pro-Choice by worldly standards is to choose against God. Worldly choices do have eternal consequences, which is why worldly Pro-Choicers do not want to think about it.

Jerry said...

You nailed it, JayG.

The further irony is that pro-choice folks, whilst insisting upon the supremacy of individual choice, or free will, are, with some exceptions, materialists. That is, they would claim that man is not qualitatively above other animals, that he has no spiritual nature, that he is, in fact, a product of blind evolutionary force, an accident of nature, and that his behavior is solely the result of genetics and environment. But this material view of man does not allow for true free will, nor even true reason. As my friend Kyle Eller has written,

"By the freethinker's own philosophy, he is neither free nor capable of thought."