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Consciousness and Free Will: Why are they important to us?

I have a paper due in about a week, and I am asked to delve into the subject of religion. In the direction I’m going with my paper, I am left to delve into these two subjects.

On a drive home from school, I ask a few questions… (please answer in you own opinions)

1. Are we actually conscious, or are we under the illusion of such?

2. If you think we are conscious, why do you think so?

3. If you think we have free will, why do you think so. If not, why do you feel humans have the desire to believe they do have free will?

4. If God exists but is imperfect, what would that mean for us?

5. If God does not exist, does that eliminate everything else in the metaphysical perspective?

I do not expect you guys to do my paper for me or anything. I’m just looking to get some ideas, and possibly stir up some of my own. All intelligent responses are appreciated.
keynereind: could you please elaborate?
egn18s: If you don’t believe in God, is it a safe assumption that you don’t believe in the soul? If so, what would you attribute your consciousness to? Do you believe that your consciousness simply dissolves at death?

*I don’t mean to sound too critical of your beliefs; I respect your beliefs. I’m just trying to get as deep with this subject as possible.

3 Comments

  • 1.) Yes, we are actually conscious.

    2.) I think so because of the fact that I’m think about it. If you’re asking yourself whether or not you’re conscious, then you’re conscious.

    3.) In a way, I think humans have free will because we are not forced to do anything. Although, I do find arguments for determinism to be convincing. If everything, including our brains, is physical material and all physical material responds in reaction to causation, then everything we do is caused by things that happened in the past. But even if that’s true, we don’t feel or notice those causes and so we have, I guess, the illusion of free will. But it’s such a convincing illusion that, for all intents and purposes, we have free will.

    4.) If God exists but is imperfect, it means that he might judge us in ways that are unfair. That’s really the worst case scenario is that God could send someone to hell for eternity when they did not deserve it. Supposedly, nothing is worse than hell.

    5.) If God does not exist, then everything is what it is. I don’t know what the hell you mean by “eliminate everything else in the metaphysical perspective”. What is the metaphysical perspective? Metaphysics is the field of inquiry about reality and the universe.
    I don’t think God exists so therefore I that “if” God didn’t exist, the world would exactly as it is right now. And without God, there is no “right” or “wrong” metaphysically. Things only seem right or wrong to conscious beings. But in the big picture, nothing matters in a metaphysical way. The universe didn’t care that black people were slaves for 300 years. But to a lot of people it SEEMS “wrong” because it’s not nice to make someone be a slave. In 50 billion years, when humans no longer exist, no one remember or care about slavery. Whereas if God exists, slavery will eternally be decreed as wrong by the ultimate law of the reality.

  • 1. We are conscious. I do not think this could be an illusion for the same reason that Descartes was certain of his existence. Our consciousness is something which we experience directly. If we are able to analyze it, then we are conscious. In order for us to not really be conscious, we could not be aware, but because it is possible for us to question consciousness, we know that we are aware.

    2. See above. I think we can be certain that we are conscious. It is one of the few things we know with absolute certainty.

    3. No, I think free is impossible. Why do I think humans have a desire to believe they have free will? I don’t thing there is any innate human desire for free will. There are many cultures and religions which do not believe that people have free will. Sartre thought there was a psychological need to deny our free will. I think the need for free will is probably something which depends on the culture. The reason why many people you see seem to need free will is that they are a part of western culture. Western culture has relied very heavily on the idea of free will. It forms the basis of the western monotheisms, acts as a justification for economic distribution (very important psychologically since the west has the most wealth and so needs to justify having it), helps to ground our ideas of justice and law, and many other things. Free will is a key part of the Christian tradition out of which the modern world arose. No wonder then free will needs to be so widely believed. Without it our civilization loses its grounding.

    4. It would depend on the nature of the imperfection, but it sounds like we would be in trouble.

    5. No. There are many metaphysicians who are atheists. If God does not exist there still exist many metaphysical problems. Metaphysics is the study of what “really” exists. It has had a lot to do with religion, but without religion it still has a lot to contribute, especially to theoretical physics, epistemology, and philosophy of science.

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