We are all brought up to believe that we have free will. It is a lie. Just as none of us are totally free to just be because of societal constraints and laws, our will is not free but constrained by our knowledge or lack of it and the effect that our bodies including our brains, have upon the exercise of free will.
The religious of the Christian variety (this is the religion I have most experience with) are forever banging on about free will seemingly oblivious to the fact there is no such thing.
What?! I hear you exclaim. This man must be off his trolley. Perhaps I am. After all how many people do you know who are off their trolleys who recognise the fact? Precisely.
Putting aside my trolley and whether or not I am on it for the time being let us proceed upon the subject of free will.
Free will is all about making choices. The most obvious reason therefore that our will is not free is that we do not know all of the choices that are possible.
We are very much constrained by the way that we think, what we believe, and the choices that society makes available. How can you possibly choose something you do not know exists? How can you make a pronouncement when you do not know all of the facts? People do this all the time of course. They make decisions about other people, usually whether they are good or bad, but when they do, they do not have enough knowledge to make such a claim. Not only do they not have enough knowledge,they never will. This is the reason why we ought not to condemn others. We do not know the full story and there is no way that we can.
We must judge other people and these idiots who go around with a smug smile on their face saying ‘do not judge’ are lying twats! Only a fool does not judge. If we did not judge we would allow anybody in our front door. We would allow anybody to interact with our children. We would allow anybody to have financial access. In short, we would be completely irresponsible and really would not last very long. The irony is that these twats who tell you not to judge have made a judgement concerning you otherwise they would not have said it to you! There is nothing worse than the spiritually smug. New Age adherents are just as guilty of this as any other type of Fundamentalist.
Back to free will. How long can you prevent yourself from emptying your bladder or your bowel? Can you prevent it all together? The sane answer to this is no. Well there are some things that people do that are judged as wicked or seriously bad which they have no control over at all. Addiction is the most obvious condition where free will is of no use at all. This is not to say that this condition cannot be helped or rectified by a different way of thinking and believing on the part of the person who is addicted. This however is a monumental task and is attained only by the few I would guess. Many people do indeed manage to stay sober but this is not necessarily a sign of a reversal of their addiction. Many of them have merely become addicted to something else, the most common one being food, but also they can become addicted to meetings which they attend daily and often more than once daily. Or they become addicted to religion and become Jesus freaks or they develop OCD behaviour such as compulsive cleaning or compulsive checking or compulsive masturbation. You see, the lack of free will is clear and until the addicted person has truly scooped out the whole barrel including the dark slime at the very bottom of it they will always be driven by that dark lump inside of them.
I write this as somebody who has had many addictions in life starting from childhood. It was my way of dealing with what was happening to me. Although I had the ability to disassociate I really did not have the ability to stop feeling altogether. These feelings became buried but they were not silent. The terrible feeling that used to come over me which compelled me to act in whatever way I was acting out at that particular time was the feelings attempting to show themselves to me for me to deal with. However, not only was I ignorant of this but so were those whose job it was to help disturbed people. Their way of dealing with it was to medicate the feelings away. To them the expression of feeling was a sign of mental illness, especially when those feelings were powerful and overwhelming. Of course they were powerful and overwhelming! That was the whole problem. So my recovery was delayed by very many years because the psychiatric profession does not recognise the effect that feelings have upon the psyche and upon behaviour. To them drugs are the answer. Really it is no different to the self-medication that addicts are indulging in. (The main reason for the lack of sensible help was the homophobia of the professionals but discussion of that is not for this post.)
I tell you I have absolutely no choice in what I was doing. I absolutely hated what I was doing. I also absolutely hated myself and could not bear to even look in a mirror.
Eventually I discovered a new way of thinking about myself and about the world that I lived in and most importantly about the experiences of my childhood. It was an astounding revelation to me that there were other ways of thinking and other belief systems apart from those that I was mired in!
I was totally gobsmacked! I was totally unaware of the possibility that the way I had been taught to think was just one of millions of ways of thinking.To discover that my parents and the church were not privy to absolute truth was truly my Damascus moment. It was the beginning of freedom.
Over a period of years I was able to learn of other choices and to take them on board. Obviously I have only taken on board those choices that show themselves to be correct by the reflection they have in my life. In other words my behaviour slowly began to change and as a result of that my feelings too changed and became more positive. However, I still do not know all of the choices available so whilst I have some control now, my will is still not free. My will can only act within the boundaries of my knowledge.
When people are confronted with the results of the choices made by others they do not seem to understand that those choices which seem completely alien to us are perfectly logical within the boundaries of those people’s knowledge.
Frequently in crime programmes on the telly they show warfare between gangs of young people. If one thinks about it and listens to the dialogue in these dramas it is very apparent that the world that these gang bangers inhabit is completely alien to us.The way that they think and what they believe is also alien to us. Yet we think we have the knowledge and the right to condemn them as evil whereas often what they do is perfectly logical within the boundaries of their knowledge.
Often when one experiences profound change in one’s world view and in one’s view of oneself and other people it has what can be described as negative effects upon other people. By this I mean that I have different people in my life now and only three people who have been in my life long-term. The rest have fallen by the wayside and some have become angry and hurtful before departing from my life. I understand that to have somebody change from a compliant and servile individual who would not say boo to a goose and who always agreed with you and did not notice disrespect and or abuse, to a person who likes and accept themselves and who does not tolerate disrespect or abuse and who even has their own opinions, is difficult for those who can only deal with others if they feel superior to them and feel they can control and manipulate them.
I am not a scientist and so I am not even going to attempt to explain anything remotely scientific.I will however point out that recent scientific studies involving the brain and behaviour are causing scientists to wonder just how free our will is.
Going back to the very beginning and religion specifically the Christian one, this business of free will is one of the reasons I completely reject religion. There is no way that a single lifetime is long enough to be able to make any sort of definitive decision. Not only that those people brought up in societies dominated by a different religion have their free will hampered by that and therefore even if they are told of the Christian religion they would not be free to adopt it as their own. Yes there are exceptions of course. If any of you reading this consider yourselves firm Christians I am certain that you would consider yourself firm Muslims had you been brought up in a Muslim society.
If one’s attempt to think for oneself is met by condemnation and the instilling fear in one, which is what much of religious training does to children and is precisely why people are so keen to have faith schools and the freedom to indoctrinate their children, then one’s ability to express free will is seriously hampered.
This is why I consider this the worst form of child abuse possible. I spent much of my childhood in fear and I experienced much physical and sexual abuse. However, it was the emotional and mental and spiritual abuse that caused me the most harm. The physical and sexual abuse pales into insignificance in the face of the emotional mental and spiritual abuse heaped upon me by my church and my parents. It all but destroyed my ability to think for myself and therefore to have a will that was in any way free.
Today my will is more free than it ever was but one could not describe it as free because I am not all knowing. I never will be.
Every day I have choices to make and I make the best choices I can given what I know and understand. Being a human being I still sometimes make choices that fly in the face of what I know and understand. For example, I occasionally make the choice to eat something like a flapjack or bread rolls knowing that this will cause gut problems and mean that I will spend much time on the loo and experience much discomfort. I know that “one won’t harm me” is a lie yet I still convince myself that one won’t harm me!
So you see free will really is a load of bollocks. At least in the way we have been taught. The concept of free will is not simple and certainly not as clear-cut as people who want to have power over us would have us believe. Yes, much of what we are taught, we are taught in order to make it easier for others to control us.
Just listen to the way the religionists speak. I was listening to a bishop of the Church of England who was stating that without knowledge of the Bible and without priests to tell us we could not possibly be good people! He was saying that our morals only come from the Bible and without it we are all immoral. This man clearly wants to control other people. What he says is of course a load of tripe. It is a lie and a wicked lie because it has an extremely detrimental effect upon humankind. (It never ceases to completely shock me that people like him in all his religious finery and all the pomp and circumstance that the Church of England and the Church of Rome indulge in, are so completely in opposition to the message of Jesus! If there is any truth to that particular myth and Jesus returned today I am fairly certain that the first thing he would do is slap down the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and give them both a good spanking for being such hypocrites. They are the Pharisees that Jesus so detested!)
Anyway that is my thoughts for now. I could go on, and on,and on, and on, but I shall resist the temptation! xo