Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Free Will II

I previously discussed free will, focusing on the classic moral/public policy aspects of the debate and the motivations of those who argue either side.  I would like to add a comment concerning the motivations of those who take sides in the debate.  Specifically, the religious, who almost always take the side of free will.  (Though there are significant exceptions.  Groups who believe they are god's elect--having been chosen in some fashion.  Some Jewish people fit this category, and Calvinists definitely do.)

Recent studies have shown that there is a distinct link between a person's religiosity and his or her inability to deal with a lack of control over his or her life.  In other words, the more uncomfortable a person feels when not in control, the more likely that person is to be religious.  See, e.g., The Cult of Theoi: Sacrificing to the God of Uncertainty; A Basic Psychological Link Between Religion and Right Wing Politics; Forget Your Worries With Religious Zealotry; Fear of Terrorism Makes Pakistani Students Turn to Religion.

In a way, this isn't surprising.  This is just a longer version of the old religious adage that there are no atheists in foxholes.  This is something that we already know about them and they already know about themselves:  Fear of dangers they can't control makes them cling to the delusion that they have an invisible magic friend who can control those things for them.

The question in my mind is which type of religious person is more disturbed:  The one who believes in determinism and that he is therefore one of god's chosen elite, no matter what?  Or the person who is sure that his invisible magic friend will set aside the laws of the universe at his bidding?  I am inclined to think it is the former type, but I am not sure.

You will note, however, that both viewpoints cater to the egotism of those who believe in them--consistent with my contention that religion is based on the narcissism of believers.

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