Somebody on this site said "my actions aren't predetermined". Could I please have some examples. When did humans start making choices? I don't think the cave man/woman made choices. "what's for dinner Wilma? I don't know, Fred, should we have beef or chicken? I don't care hon, you chose."

It seems that religion is about choices. Someone introduced it. Heaven-hell, god-devil. good-evil. Choice was defined at some point. Choice seems a wonderful concept if you're religious. When I'm around xians, their always asking me to choose. "You don't want to go to hell, wouldn't you rather go to heaven", they say. You don't have to think. You MUST choose.

Please forgive me if I'm too simplistic. I've been an atheist for most of my life. But, I haven't asked questions as to why I do the things I do. I thought I did them based on my thoughts. I certainly didn't choose to be an atheist. How could I be anything else?

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I don't think the cave man/woman made choices. "what's for dinner Wilma? I don't know, Fred, should we have beef or chicken? I don't care hon, you chose."

I'm probably missing the point here, but do you think that a caveman didn't have choices? What about the choice to go fishing or hunting, to go left or right, to choose a suitable partner. To choose whom to wage war with etc. Early humans had brains quite similar to ours, so I don't get what you mean by this.
I guess that's what I'm asking. You say caveman had choices. You could be right. I just don't think so. I guess I need to read more about the caveman.
Are you talking about neanderthals or other early forms of humans? Even ealier than Neanderthals (usually the ones referred to as cavemen) they made choices, they made tools which they had to decide what material was best for, they had to choose which places were safe or not safe, Neanderthals took care of their ill, they shared living space. Any basic physical anthropology text book would be able to give you early background and show you examples of choices made.
If by cavemen you mean early homo sapiens, then you can be sure that they had plenty of choices. I would think that even simple animals have certain choices, egg laying animals have to choose their place for a nest for instance. For some species the process of making this choice is not a cognitive action such as it is with humans, for species such as apes there are some definite similarities. But in the most basic way, they are all making choices.

The brain's role is to process information coming from sensory perception, so as that the host can make a better informed decision about what action to take. It's purpose is to process data, which is necessary to make choices. I'm not sure if there are animals without brains which are also capable of making choices, maybe it's even possible that there are animals without brains that are capable of choice making.

I'm quite curious really...

Would it be possible for one of the biologists on board to share some knowledge about this subject?
Isn't this a PART of the selection process of evolution? I mean, if the flower isn't colourful enough, the bee goes to the one that is. To our understanding it doesn't MAKE a choice as part of it's conscience, however, it does choose the most attractive/highest nectar bearing flower. Just read Dawkins or Dennett for example.
For actions to be predetermined, one needs to ask who predetermined them. I think there are things we choose (what to have for breakfast or which shirt to wear) and other things that are not choices as much as the natural result of what insights and understandings we are able to attain. A rational mind does not choose to believe 1+1=2. It is simply impossible to believe otherwise. I can remember the moment that I realized I no longer believed. It wasn't a choice. It was just impossible to continue to believe when I saw things in a new light. I saw what a fraud religion is. I saw the contradictions in the bible, the illogical concepts that they propose are true, and I saw they way they distort what is in the bible. And on and on.
True, but I think this was more a post about the version of choice which is common in popular as well as legal conversation, where it means something along the line of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them for action*

I still think that the word choice has some merit in conversation.

* like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choice
I don't think that choice really means anything in the context of belief. I choose to take actions. I can choose to accept a premise. But I can't meaningfully choose what to believe.

And, I think 'when did choices start' seems like asking 'when did the first chicken come into being?'. Neither is really answerable because they assume a binary that isn't necessarily there.

On one end of a spectrum, we have purely physical processes, like salt dissolving in water. This is clearly not a choice. A little further along, plants bend towards light. This is just the result of complex chemical interactions causing a physical outcome that looks like a decision. But, we wouldn't call it a choice. Further along, we animals that seem like biological robots. Jellyfish, for instance.

We can keep going until we get to things like cats. They respond with a combination of instinct and awareness to make decisions that look reasoned. We can call this a choice or not. Humans seem to be different only by degrees. We still have instinct and awareness, but just in different proportions.

So, I don't think there's ever a bright-line where we cross from purely a physical process to purely a choice.
Determinism, and any of it's antecedent philosophical inquiries, is a matter of metaphysics.

If one accepts metaphysics, the next fall is spirituality and religion.

As far as free will, that's tough to define well, and even harder to understand, if one reads neuroscience. The brain does the deciding, 3-5 seconds before making the "self" aware of the intended decision.
Given that I was in a serious "funk" a few months ago because the script in my head told me I had no choices except death--the idea that all of my choices are predetermined is bunk. I really like what Spinoza and other philosophers have to say in this matter--sure context is everything but being self-aware and knowledgeable about the world around you, your own motivations, and the realistic options before you takes you closer to free will.

So free will is half free and the world is half determined, because humans certainly have an effect on the world around us especially concerning interaction with other human beings, but in the end we'll all die.

Also... I mentioned being in a funk, because to cope with all of that existential angst I was slogging through the philosophy books I skimmed over really helped. Camus' Myth of Sisyphus and Kierkegaard's Leap... really highlighted for me that the "act of choosing" is totally absurd but to choose life and to choose intentionality IS a choice that is consciously made when you decide not to drone on in life without self-reflection and in my case the fact that suicide is always a p[topm is an empowering idea for me because i CAN kill myself, but i choose not to.
Camus is always a good read, Kierkegaard is an utter waste, much in the same manner that Descartes is a waste.

I have to wonder why so many who claim atheism still bandy about in the muddy waters of metaphysics and other such non-sensical bullshit. Quite odd.
to cope with existing...?
yeah, really odd.

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