I was hesitant to write this because I don’t like picking battles with atheists. At first I didn’t see how anyone would take this idea about free will and our judicial system seriously, but it seems some people are. So I offer the following with the hope that if more people know about this discussion, more people can see it for the nonsense that it is.
Victor Stenger, Ph.D. particle physicist and best-selling author of God and the Folly of Faith has written an essay at Huffington Post “Free Will is an Illusion” and it took an unexpected turn. Certainly, the atheistic consideration of free will is nothing new, but Dr. Stenger also makes a connection between free will, or the lack thereof, and our judicial system in the United States. This position has disturbing societal implications.
Keep in mind, this is the man who popularized the phrase: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” He has also published such titles as God: The Failed Hypothesis and The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason. Victor Stenger has made it known that he thinks science can prove there is no god, and that he considers religion dangerous to society.
In this Huffington Post essay he references a book by another physicist, Leonard Mlodinow, who says that the unconscious plays a dominant role in human behavior. As Dr. Stenger puts it, “before we become aware of making a decision, our brains have already laid the groundwork for it.” He goes on to say (read carefully), “This recognition challenges fundamental assumptions about free will and the associated religious teachings about sin and redemption, as well as our judicial concepts of responsibility and punishment. If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions? How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren’t in full control of their decision-making processes?”
He also references the book Free Will by neuroscientist Sam Harris and title-quotes him in stating that “free will is an illusion.” Dr. Stenger writes, “We don’t exist as immaterial conscious controllers, but are instead entirely physical beings whose decisions and behaviors are the fully caused products of the brain and body.”
So, essentially having established that humans are determinant blobs of matter with no free will, he then makes the case to the Huffington Post readers that “our largely retributive moral and justice systems need to be re-evaluated, and maybe even drastically revamped” if the people in society are going to be able to protect themselves from “people who are dangerous to others because of whatever it is inside their brains and nervous systems that makes them dangerous.”
That is, he is calling for a new system of morality and justice based on the the presumption that no one is ultimately responsible for his actions, and remember, he’s made it clear who he thinks the “dangerous” people are. This is eerily like the argument used to justify abortion, only we’re all blobs of tissue now.
The woman formerly known as beautiful and author at Huffington Post, Shannon Bradley-Colleary, had an article recently with the declarative title “Abstinence Got Me Pregnant.” It’s a “family planning” story meant to demonstrate that people should not be expected to follow a moral code when it comes to sexual intercourse, and probably many women (who don’t think about what words mean) can relate.
The author describes how she was raised by religious parents and a father that scared off boys while cleaning his gun, how she fell in love in college and “relinquished” her virginity unexpectedly on Cheez-It crumbs behind a couch in an off-campus apartment while “roommates farted and belched like cannon-fire in adjacent rooms,” how she began taking birth control pills and used them for the next five years as a “serial monogamist,” how after she had her heart broken and broke a few herself she decided to take a “leave of absence” and become abstinent, how a broken-hearted young man still pursued her with roses, poetry, and silly declarations of love, how she got pregnant and to her relief miscarried so she was “spared, making a choice” that might “haunt” her for the rest of her life, and finally how some ten years later she gave birth to two daughters with her husband “at just the right time, with exactly the right partner.” What does she credit for things working out well? Birth control, because abstinence got her pregnant.
Her point: “…sex should NOT BE a MORAL ISSUE, it should be a PRACTICAL ISSUE.” [Emphasis hers.]
She plans to take her daughters to Planned Parenthood when they are in high school because although she hopes “they will only give themselves to men who cherish them” she believes it is better to be “practical” and dispense with any “moral imperatives” so they won’t ever experience shame or blame. She concludes, “Knowledge is power.”
Take a deep breath, relax your face muscles, and let’s examine the logic of this statement because this is a serious issue that needs to be clarified. I once thought this way too, until I realized 1) everyone needs a moral code, and 2) words mean things.
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:
1. On ABC’s “This Week” this past Sunday Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post accused Glenn Beck of “inciting the American people” to commit violence against Obama by talking about “people being slaughtered.”
Here is Glenn Beck’s response from last night:
[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 4:21pm CDT 10-16-2009 AD]
This week there has been a whirlwind of character assassination done by the mainstream media to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh’s bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams (American) football team of the National Football League (NFL). They have been accusing Mr. Limbaugh of saying several racist quotes without confirming their existence. All the alleged racist quotes have been debunked by Snopes earlier this week as well as being denied by Mr. Limbaugh. Additionally many in the mainstream media have been unable to find any evidence of these allegations.
But today there has been a sudden realization of regret when the heat turned up on their yellow journalism. Regret that some elements of the mainstream media were involved in libel and slander.
The most prominent of the yellow journalists are liberal news anchors Anderson Cooper and Rick Sanchez of the left-of-center CNN, sports columnist Bryan Burwell of the liberal St. Louis Dispatch, and finally the liberal Huffington Post (HuffPo) blog.
Douglas Brinkley on Ted Kennedy’s Life: ‘He Did a Kind of a Redemptive Work’ by Matthew Balan of NewsBusters
Democrats now seek to exploit Ted Kennedy’s death by Jonah Goldberg
Larry King-like softball questions in a Q&A with Ted Kennedy Biographer Adam Clymer on Kennedy’s Catholicism by Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report