According to the Bible, Jesus commanded his followers to turn the other cheek when slapped. He said he was aware that they had heard an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but he commanded them not to repay evil for evil. He commanded that they forgive not once, not twice, but seventy times seven. Christians are suppose to hate the sin and not the so called sinner. Yet, in practically no case do Christians follow these important commandments of their Lord. In fact, Christians are real quick to say, “Payback is hell,” and proceed to act accordingly–even though their god said vengeance wasn’t theirs but his. What factor could cause Christians to be hypocrites in this matter?
When I first pondered the reason for this hypocrisy, I speculated that the Dogma of Eternal Damnation might be the contributing factor. After all, how can Christians be forgiving when their god supposedly shall subject individuals to unlimited torment for limited offenses? Why should Christians be expected to be more just or moral than their god? “Or, could it be” I wondered, “that a belief in Hell results in believers feeling justified for being prejudiced hate-mongers?” But then it dawned on me that Christianity itself may have evolved from the instinctive desires of individuals. The Dogma of Eternal Damnation could have arisen from humanity’s unconscious mind. Is that possible? I think children indirectly answer the question for us:
The first time I heard the “reasoning” of a child who was very angry with someone I was shocked. (Still, me being human, I probably was guilty of similar sentiments at that age, but have since forgotten.) The child wanted to go to the store with her grandfather but her mother said she wasn’t allowed, because she hadn’t picked up her toys as she was supposed to. The child stated very sternly and sincerely, “I wish mommy was dead.”
I don’t believe the child had been trained to think in such a manner. My experience has been that children usually think this way and thus have to be trained to think otherwise. Therefore, I suspect the reaction of the child was a genetic predisposition. And this may even be one of the factors involved in Christians assuming humankind has a “sinful” nature.
Such a genetic predisposition would also explain the thought behavior of most atheists. For instance, the doctrine of free will is held by many atheists even though they reject the religions that invented it. And a few atheist are so befuddled over the issue that they make contradictory statements like, “well, you see, the choices people make are a consequence of their life’s experiences–what happened to them–but choices are still free.” These two types of atheists cannot bear the thought that crime may have been the consequence of particular environmental circumstances to which the criminal was personally exposed, or they contradict themselves in the matter. Like the Christian, these atheists would like to hang the criminal up by his heels and fill his nose with BBs until his neck breaks. Some of these atheists speculate on the possibility of creating a literal Hell to replace the imaginary one created by Christians.
This reminds me of the videos I have seen on You Tube titled, Absolute Certainty. But I personally don’t believe absolute certainty is the problem. I mean, nearly everyone is pretty much certain that the sun will “rise” tomorrow. And the belief doesn’t make people dangerous. I suspect that when the absolute certainty turns into self-righteous indignation, then you’ve got serious problems.
Anyway, surely one can see that to be born in India and raised in a Hindu community makes it likely that the individual will grow up to be a vegetarian Hindu. And to be born in the US and raised in a Christian community makes it likely that the individual will grow up to be a cattle eating Christian. And to be born in the Mid-East and raised in a Muslim community makes it likely that the individual will grow up to be a camel eating Muslim. Plus the variation we see is the result of the various personal experiences of individuals, not because individuals were able to choose independently of all the variables that created their existing mind sets.
In fact, if it can be noted that any event or any combination of events influenced an individual’s thought processes to the degree that his (or her) choices regarding any matter were altered, then such would prove that the will is not free from the laws of cause and effect.
Allow me to reiterate: Only one example is necessary to prove that “free will” doesn’t exist. Just… one.
Here’s why: One example of an event or combination of events influencing an individual’s thought processes to the degree that his (or her) choice regarding a particular matter was altered would mean that the individual is not free from the effect of an event or a combination of events. Thus choices made by the individual that appear free from causality are merely choices in which the contributing factors were unknown.
For example, the weather sometimes acts in ways unpredicted by meteorologists. The unpredictability resulted in the present inability of meteorologists to know and take into consideration all factors involved in predicting the phenomena. Likewise, the unpredictability of human behavior results from the present inability of psychologists to know and take into consideration all the factors involved in the phenomena of thought.
Of course, the human is so limited in its ability to understand complex processes or issues, some people still think the weather is the result of supernatural agencies–just as some people attribute the unpredictability of human behavior to so called free will. The ambiguity and incongruousness of language also, more often then admitted, lead to human befuddlement. For instance, the word determined means shaped or influenced, but undetermined merely means unknown. So when a scientist says an object or event is undetermined, he is saying that the object or event hasn’t been totally analyzed and thus isn’t totally understood at this point; he isn’t saying the object or event was not shaped or influenced by causal forces. But incongruousness of language sometimes results in people believing undetermined means unshaped or uninfluenced.
Now, here is a fact that most atheists are going to find hard to accept: Jesus was justified on instructing his followers to forgive 70 times 7. Yet, I have little doubt that some atheists are going to say the reason the Jew, Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek was because the Jews at the time were living under Roman subjugation. And if the Jews had tried to enforce the laws of the Old Testament on their subjugators, then they (the Jews) would have been exterminated. So some atheists are going to say that the teachings of Jesus were necessary to ensure the survival of the Jewish community. Well I’m going to move along instead of wasting time arguing for or against that point.
There is an old proverb that has been attributed to both the French and to Spinoza. That is, “To understand is to forgive.” I’m going one step further than Jesus and the old proverb by stating, “forgiveness contributes to an illusion that there is something to be forgiven.” Should lightening be forgiven for striking a tree? Should the hurricane be forgiven for battering the coast of Florida? Why do people feel forgiveness is a prerequisite to toleration? You may have an instinctive desire to rip out the heart of someone who has evoked your self-righteous indignation. And you may even get as much satisfaction out of it as some of the Inquisitors and Nazis did with their savage acts. You would be yielding to the same instinctive mechanisms that caused the concept of Eternal Damnation to be invented by humans, just as the Inquisitors and Nazis yielded to instinct. But such behavior would be scientifically unjustifiable.
Whenever I point out the fact that moral responsibility is irrelevant to whether a person should be arrested for crime, usually at least one overly emotional person will claim that the criminal would have to be released if they are not morally responsible for their behavior. I don’t know for sure where such an idiotic notion comes from. But I know that the person who feels that way wasn’t under the spell of magic or supernatural forces.
You can’t hold the lightening morally responsible for striking the church steeple. But does that mean that you’re not going to install lightening rods for protection? The hurricane isn’t morally responsible for battering Florida. But does that mean that you are not going to protect yourself and your property from the unruly behavior of hurricanes? The brain-damaged or mentally-ill person is not morally responsible for his (or her) behavior. But does that mean you are going to allow the dangerous mentally-ill or brain-damaged persons to run amuck and act however they please? You can see that assigning moral responsibility in such cases is irrelevant to the issue. Then why, when dealing with crime, do people feel the need to complicate matters unnecessarily with occasionally ambiguous and incongruous–and often emotionally loaded–notions of moral responsibility?
The human being is the most emotional animal on earth. And emotions overrule logical thought processes.
I read that at one time in Europe over one-hundred crimes were punishable with the death penalty. For a hungry peasant to steal an apple was certain death. Therefore, I have little doubt that the elimination of many unruly individuals from the gene-pool has tended to domesticate the human animal. Moral responsibility was and is irrelevant to the issue. Although, I’m sure that the self-righteous indignation felt by the constables, judges, executioners, and the general public was the driving force behind the phenomena. Still, the domestication has not made the person of European blood better, only more docile, sly, and subtly deceitful.
In India it is immoral to eat cow. I have a friend who is Indian and whose mother and father are Hindu. He is a vegetarian like the rest of his family, yet he is now an atheist. Morals are not determined by the religion you follow but by the environmental circumstances to which you have been exposed as an individual. My friend was deeply impressed during critical developmental stages with the idea that eating cow is immoral. He still retains that belief, even though his education has resulted in him no longer believing in the religion of his youth.
Social deviates exist in India that are meat eaters. The deviates didn’t become deviates by arranging the neurological connections and pathways within their own brain to make themselves into deviates. The deviancy was a developmental process determined by the individual’s genetic code and the environmental circumstances to which he (or she) had been personally exposed.
Humans are not born with conscious/unconscious morals that are common for everyone.
Another example is homosexuality. Homosexuals do not freely choose who they find sexually attractive. Furthermore, the attraction homosexuals feel and the inhibitions that fight against those sexual feelings determine the choices homosexuals make in regard to satisfying their sexual needs. The singer, Tina Turner once asked in song, “What does love have to do with it?” Although, admittedly, she probably was just being rhetorical. Nevertheless, I say love has everything to do with it. And I add that free will has nothing to do with individuals’ choices.
Free will is an illusion and so called moral responsibility is a subtle way of insinuating the individual has free will.
Moral responsibility is nothing more than religious or social obligation. We are obligated by training and social convention to obey certain rules. And we call this ingrained sense of obligation, “moral responsibility.” Religious folk belong to a sub-culture within culture. And they are obligated to obey the conventions of the group to which they belong.
For reference you may be interested in reading the free e-Books that have links provided below.
& The System of Nature /(pub. 1868) by Baron d’Holbach (2 parts):
Thank you for your attention in this important matter.