Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Human Robots


A disturbing belief of nearly all atheistic intellectuals is the concept that man has no soul and therefore no free will.

The atheistic perspective seems to be that man is a robot, no different basically than an electronic robot, which works automatically, based on a computer program (in this case, DNA) and environmental input.

The only thing unusual about the human robot is that it has self-awareness. I don’t think that the computer on my desk is aware of itself, however the human robot is aware of itself. Also, the human robot for some strange reason imagines that it is not behaving based on a pre-written program; rather it imagines that it is spontaneously, from moment to moment, deciding what to do. This, however, is a fantasy. According to atheists, everything which happens is predetermined by other causes; there is no causeless effect.

This would seemingly make the entire issue of morality irrelevant. Good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral is only relevant in regards to a being that can choose freely between different options. Regardless of what a robot does, it is not immoral because it does not choose anything. Perhaps the builder or programmer is immoral, however it makes no sense to put a robot in prison. And according to atheists, in the case of man, there is no builder. The universe has existed eternally and human robots are just random little specks floating in it. Hitler had to do what he did just like a volcano has to explode when it does. No matter what crime a person commits he can explain “my genes and environment made me do it”. Morality, like free will, is a fantasy.

I recently exchange email with Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker on this issue:

Question: If someone has committed a crime, is there any rational reason for him to feel guilt?
His answer: Guilt prompts one to repair harm caused to a person and not to repeat it, so if he has any ties to people and a community, then yes.

Question: Can he not console himself with the thought that he had no choice and he was under the control of his brain chemistry, environment, childhood experiences, etc.?
Answer: No, because his brain chemistry, environment, and so on can also lead him to inhibit the urge to commit a crime.

I’m not sure I fully understand him, however Professor Pinker's busy schedule doesn’t allow him to elaborate.

Professor Pinker argues in “The Blank Slate” chapter 10 that the criminal justice system should continue to function as usual, not for the reason that people usually understand, to bring criminals to justice, but rather to serve as a deterrent to other potential criminals. In other words, if a human robot goes haywire and damages other robots, we should kidnap him and lock him in a cage, not because he is evil, but because doing so will influence other human robots to behave more peacefully.

The fact is, that if we are merely dealing with poorly programmed robots that need to be controlled, the most obvious method would be eugenics. It is probably not that difficult to predict in advance which people have a higher likelihood of producing criminal children and simply sterilize them. This might prevent the vast majority of all crime while also controlling over population – two birds with one stone. This makes much more sense than to wait for a human robot to freak out and do damage and then lock it up hoping that this will somehow influence other robots. Dell, for example, recalled all computers which had a defective battery, not only ones that actually caught on fire. Professor Pinker (The Blind Slate page 153) rejects eugenics because “The costs of freedom to the individuals and in possible abuse by authorities are unacceptable.” Why would it be more unacceptable than our present criminal justice system, which leaves many criminals free, some innocent people behind bars and many neighborhoods dangerous? I think we don’t accept eugenics because we believe that the criminal is responsible for his freely chosen behavior and he must be punished and the government has no right to sterilize people.

I think this demonstrates how atheism is fundamentally, deeply anti-humanistic. Once we remove “the ghost from the machine”, man’s soul, the divine spark, the image of God, whatever you want to call it, man is reduced to being not merely an ape, but to being a cell phone. This helps us understand why many atheists live alone and have few friends. Their lack of respect for others makes it difficult for them to form families and communities.

Seemingly, this denial of a spiritual component within man would deny the validity of egalitarianism, which is the basis of liberal democracy, and it would promote elitism. People’s inherent value should logically depend on their material attributes such as intellect, strength, beauty, wealth, etc. since nothing else actually exists.

In my humble opinion, the atheistic denial of free will is one of the clearest indications that atheism is illogical nonsense. I think we all know that we are not living in a real life version of The Stepford Wives.

21 comments:

Shmuel Steinberg said...

If it is not true that man is controlled by his genetic makeup, how do you explain twins that have never met in their entire life, and when they do meet as grown adults they have similar habits? One example, two women who never met, they both spin their soup with their spoon before they eat. More examples abound ...

jewish philosopher said...

If man has no soul, than his behavior is a product of heredity plus environment. Like a computer's output is based on programming plus input.

Joebaum said...

Its interesting how you can understand the idea of free will, but you don't have it yourself,

jewish philosopher said...

My point is that of course we do have free will.

Joebaum said...

Sorry, i meant how "we" can... and "we" don't...

Cameron said...

JP said: A disturbing belief of nearly all atheistic intellectuals is the concept that man has no soul and therefore no free will.

CH: Some much wrong with such a small sentence!

- 'nearly all' atheistic intellectuals? How would you know this? Is there a meeting of atheist intellectuals that I missed where this was discussed?

- 'man has no soul, and therefore no free-will', one does not necessarily flow from the other. Man could be soul-less and have free-will (my position), or he could be en-souled and have no free-will (what happens when you have an all-powerful deity who sets things in motion - you have no choice but to follow God's plan), or we could be ensouled and have free-will. Three distinct positions, and yet you insist on the first and ignore the other two.

JP: The atheistic perspective seems to be that man is a robot, no different basically than an electronic robot, which works automatically, based on a computer program (in this case, DNA) and environmental input.

CH: Robots are designed things. I think people are animals, natural to the world, capable of learning, choosing, and deciding. I see no evidence anywhere in the argument you give below to dis-confirm this thinking.

JP: According to atheists, everything which happens is predetermined by other causes; there is no causeless effect.

CH: It's a tenet of physical materialism that causes precede effects, but this is not merely an 'atheist' position, it's the position of all thinking beings!

JP: This would seemingly make the entire issue of morality irrelevant. Good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral is only relevant in regards to a being that can choose freely between different options.

CH: Agreed, Good and Evil would be irrelevant if their were no possibility of choice. Somehow you have come to believe that 'most atheists' deny free-will, because we deny that people have some sort of invisible ghost living inside us that makes our decisions for us, yet can be untied from the physical realm. Silly Cartesians.

JP: In my humble opinion, the atheistic denial of free will is one of the clearest indications that atheism is illogical nonsense.

CH: IMO confusing free-will with having a soul is yet more evidence that all theological debates are using words without meaning, and are guaranteed to resolve nothing.

jewish philosopher said...

If you believe that things can happen without any previous cause, then you believe in the supernatural and not an atheist. If you believe that everything is predetermined, then there is no free will. I don't see how you can have it both ways.

The Atheologist said...

I really don’t get this. Maybe you have it backwards?
Atheists believe that since there is no supernatural being watching over us we call our own shots and take the responsibility for our actions.
For the religious, since their God knows exactly what will happen, down to every little detail, (you know – the all knowing and all powerful trait), then by definition their free will is only an illusion.

jewish philosopher said...

Not really. Orthodox Jews believe firmly that God has given man free will to choose to do whatever he wishes. God however reserves veto power to allow or prevent man from carrying out those wishes.

Most atheists believe in determinism, which means that man's behavior is completely determined by genetics and environment.

The Atheologist said...

All the atheists that I know believe that we have free will because there is no imaginary being telling us what to do or pre-planning our lives for us.

Christians will tell you about their all knowing, all-powerful God who created the world knowing every little detail and future event, hence they have no free will.

I thought that the Jewish god and the one that the Christians worship were one in the same. I guess not.

But JP, of course your god and religion is the only correct one. The other thousands of gods and religions are only someone’s delusions.

jewish philosopher said...

"All the atheists that I know believe that we have free will"

Like members of most religions, they unfortunately have not thought too much about the absurdity of their own beliefs. If nature is all there is, then how can anything happen which is not determined by natural laws?

"JP, of course your god and religion is the only correct one"

If you've got a better one, let's hear about it.

The Atheologist said...

“If nature is all there is, then how can anything happen which is not determined by natural laws?”
Of course everything is determined by natural laws, but not pre-determined by them.

“If you've got a better one, let's hear about it.”
All religions are based on superstition and nonsense, so there are no "better" ones.

“Like members of most religions,…”
I know that you cannot grasp the concept that atheism is not a religion, by definition it is absence of any religion., look it up.

jewish philosopher said...

"everything is determined by natural laws, but not pre-determined by them"

That doesn't seem to make sense.

Agnostics may have no religion. They simply have no opinion. Atheists have a positive metaphysical belief in nature being all that exists.

Cameron said...

Atheologoist: "everything is determined by natural laws, but not pre-determined by them"

JP: That doesn't seem to make sense.

CH: Atheologist is merely pointing out the difference between 'determined by' and 'pre-determined by'. For example, the Superbowl result will be determined by the competition between the AFC representative and the NFC representative, but that does not mean the result is pre-determined - quite the opposite. The game itself is filled with contigencies. We might say after the fact that it was determined by quarterback competency, but it would be wrong to conclude that the games result was pre-determined merely by Peyton Manning's (or Rex Grossman's) decision to play!

'Determined by' merely indicates the conditions or contingencies that will play a role in the outcome. 'Pre-determined by' means the actual results are knowable in advance.

Atheists believe in a deterministic universe - but not pre-deterministic!

jewish philosopher said...

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “determine” means “to fix beforehand” while “predetermine” means “to determine beforehand”. Sounds like synonyms to me.

Determinism is the belief that all events are determined by preceding events or natural law. This eliminates free will. Every killer can say “I had to do it; this killing was determined by preceding events such as my conception, my childhood and what I ate for breakfast today which were determined by other earlier events, going back ad infinitum.”

white said...

Ask yourself what you know, or think you know. You should think about the theories ('ideas', 'beliefs', whatever...) that you have about people, and ask whether these satisfactorily explain the problem they relate to. For example, you could have the problem "Why are some people aetheists" and profer numerous theories as to why this may be. Upon analysis, I think you will find that the greatest instrument for progress and expansion of your own knowledge is your ability to criticise your own theories (i.e. beliefs). You alluded to aetheists being no more than a cell-phone. Is that not what your behaviour reflects by blindly-following the beliefs you have? Open your mind my friend...

jewish philosopher said...

That's why I allow comments on my blog. All opinions are welcome.

Mike Roth said...

The only thing atheists have in common is that they do not accept the BELIEF in god(s). All of the other attributes and beliefs you name are based on your own prejudices and bigotry.

If your can produce your god for testing and verification then do so, otherwise all you have is a sales pitch for a non-existent product.

jewish philosopher said...

Define "god". Anything more powerful than people? Anything with free will?

Of course, I've got tons of proof.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Anonymous said...

Hey jewish guys
No offense but I'm curious about something.
How can you guys believe in a religion based on a race? Doesn't it make that religion racist? A religion calls non jews gentile and sees and treats them like an animal. I'm just curious, I'm an agnostic, I find jewish religion is the most despicable because of its racism.

jewish philosopher said...

Jews belong to all races and anyone can convert.