Thursday, May 21, 2009


For some time now, I've had a feeling that life is leading somewhere (besides my inevitable death), something major is soon to happen. Given the poor choices I've made recently, I'm not sure if this is a good event or a bad one, but it is an event regardless. Embracing determinism as a lifestyle doesn't confer you with any sort of prescience, nor grants any particular boon of hope. Knowing that what will happen is bound to happen doesn't make the future any less uncertain or scary. Possibly the only comforting thing about determinism is that you know there will be a future, whether it exists or you simply perceive one.

Some people question determinism, and rightly so. If everything were truly going to happen regardless of personal opinion or choice, why do anything? The answer to that is simply, if you did nothing, that too would be your fate. Another valid criticism: if everyone's actions are predetermined, how can we incarcerate criminals? They have no complicity in their own acts. For what reason can we justify punishing them for things they have no control over? For that is another very good answer: false perceptions of free will generated by inability to perceive past or future beyond certain point. This false belief in free will is a necessary belief, one that keeps society functioning. Demolishing the common perception of free will would only lead to mass apathy and suicides. It is for this reason also that religion was created. Not for a sinister purpose, to subvert the minds of the masses, but to keep communities together and working. Without a reason to continue the daily struggle for life, many people will invariably come to the conclusion that life isn't worth living; it being simply nasty, brutish, and short. If the common folk believe that there is a mysterious and benevolent (sometimes) force testing them for a reward in a future life, the common folk will have incentive to live.

As I've always said, religion is the cornerstone of society itself. It gives direction to those who would otherwise disperse in disgust for fellow man, or pursue ends antithetical to others. By pointing this passion towards constructive goals, religion ensures the continued survival of the human race. Modern religion, however, has fallen some distance. The "moral majority" and fundamentalist Christians have totally forgotten what the bible, what religion itself is about. But I digress. Determinism is not an idle thing, to be toyed with in the mind as a possibility, it is a genuine worldview. It's also black and white. Either you believe in free will, or you believe in determinism, because the nature of the two preclude one another.

"What?" you ask, "How do they preclude each other? God has a plan, but also people have free will because God said so."

This is precisely the problem. If one can use free will, then God has no control over the actual thoughts or choices of that person. That person then becomes more powerful than God, as he is able to deny God his plans. Say, for example, one Samuel Davis was born in the late 1700s. God intended for him to join the revolutionary army and slay a particular British army captain that would ultimately demoralize the British army and help the revolutionaries win. If Samuel truly has free will, he can simply decide never to join the army, or become a Quaker or some such. This would throw God's plan out the window, leading to a situation which God hadn't intended and therefore not also foreseen. As you can see, free will negates both of God's major powers; omnipotence, as he can't change Samuel's mind, and omniscience, he wasn't aware of smauel's future treachery. This idea transforms God from a truly all knowing, all powerful being, to a demi-god, just as trapped by existence as the rest of us. Without free will, the plan would have gone off without a hitch, though it brings about another host of issues concerning Gods omnipotence.

At any rate, the Judeo-Christian concept of God is riddled with errors, inconsistencies and inaccuracies, a fact which churches have known and been waffling around for hundreds of years. The major reason I follow Taoism instead is because Tao seems like a much more logically complete concept (or really, lack of concept) of God.

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