I was wondering about the different theories Atheists have about how our Universe came to be, what happened before the big bang? Or did that even happen? Obviously a theist generally believes God made everything happen, what are your thoughts?
Actually, I don't know where you stand on the subject, but it sounds like you put more stock in determinism (as opposed to free will). I have no problem with either position because I really don't know which is correct.
But I do know the difference between an opinion and a fact.
To refuse to acknowledge the difference between an opinion and a fact, is to make all one's opinions suspect. Rational integrity demands an honest approach to all ideas. Facts are facts. Opinions are opinions. Presenting an opinion as a fact is wrong. Claiming certainty on matters of opinion is dogmatic and an indulgence of ego.
I'm not saying you do this (I'd have to review your posts to this thread first) . . . but I have seen too many people here present their opinions as facts.
There's nothing wrong with strong opinions but there's a world of problems with "personal facts".
If I read you correctly, you're claiming your opinion is a fact ("From an empirical point of view, there is no moral right and wrong." and "Factors included were genetic, social, environmental, etc., etc. Period.").
Generally speaking, physical systems can be modeled as linear systems . . . but natural phenomena is often nonlinear. A linear system can be expressed as the sum of its parts. A nonlinear system usually exhibits emergent properties that can't be explained as a sum of its parts. It's my belief that too many determinists take a simplistic view of the universe that is myopic by nature: they're too busy taking things apart to notice the big picture. Their bias leads them to miss things like: synergy; nested levels of organization; dynamic change over time; multiple interactions; and, most importantly for free will, feedback loops.
The scientific dogma of physical reductionism, which you seem to espouse, works great for things amenable to linear thinking but it fails miserably at explaining or predicting many natural phenomena involving multiple, nonlinear, properties or components. The social machinations of ant colonies and bee hives; animal behavior; embryology, consciousness, intelligence and, yes, free will, are all resistant to linear thinking.
The certainty you express doesn't acknowledge the incongruencies that complexity theory was developed to answer.
I repeat: Free will is still at the table. It hasn't been dealt out yet. This controversy is FAR from over and ANY position, for now, is a matter of opinion.
Phil -- we should all have our favorite fairy tales .... [GRIN]
It should work that way and it can if honorableness is a virtue for the participants. Even then, though, we can sometimes become blinded by devil's advocate positions and forget what we are doing.
I find it interesting that I am often perceived as being very invested in holding certain positions and that it is important to me. What I'm doing, though, is trying to test, exercise, validate, or undermine whatever is being discussed to see if it withstands scrutiny or would work in the real world. I can walk away at any time because my investment is in getting to the truth of things. If not this time, maybe the next. But it's hard leaving a discussion that has been purposively unclear or less than honest. I have learned over the years that it is sometimes better to leave early than get involved in the emotions rather than the issue.
I appreciate your earnest attitude. A true seeker is nice to find. It's very difficult to adjust one's worldview, so your willingness to accept change is refreshing. As I've always said, "Once the unknown becomes known, the obvious response is to adjust." On a personal, practical, level, that's all freethought is about.
Phil: Read the description of this discussion topic. It asks for beliefs and theories. So why are you so offended by them here? Additionally, one need not be a physicist to know there is a scientific principle to the effect that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Moreover, on the subatomic level, particles have opposite signs (positive and negative). These particles behave according to scientific principles. You are supposed to be a chemist. Why are you acting like you don't know these things?
But neutrons have no charge. So, are you saying that 0/+ is one opposition, that 0/- is another, and that +/- is a third? As for the equal and opposite action/reaction, it is clear at the level of Newtonian physics but I'm not sure if that is true once we reach the subatomic or quantum level. [I don't know enough quantum physics to be sure about that off the top of my head.]
I am not saying that a nuetron is an opposite. It has neither a positive nor a negative charge. It is in between the opposites of positive and negative just as the color, purple, is in between the colors red and blue.