Sense and Goodness Without God Part 5

What do I will to say about the topic of freedom in Carrier’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ll go ahead and say that this is one debate I tend to not take a side in. I believe in the freedom of the will and that’s about it. How far does that go? I’m not going to say. If there’s one debate I can’t stand in Christian circles, it’s the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. It’s particularly bad when I have seen some people say “Calvinism is the gospel.” Thankfully, I do have some Calvinist friends who do not go to that extreme and we never discuss it.

So when I look through this section, I am not going to be critiquing on the points. Carrier is taking on J.P. Moreland in this part of the book and I am not going to be Moreland’s defender either. He can fight his own battles, though it’s a wonder why anyone would think he should take a challenge such as Carrier’s seriously. Still, what did I find in this section that concerned me?

For one thing, Carrier says Moreland’s meaning of freedom doesn’t correspond to actual human practice. We are told on page 105 that if you ask people on the street whether freedom is “getting to do whatever you want” and they will wholeheartedly agree.

The first problem is, when using philosophical terminology, it is not best to get the terminology from the man on the street, but from those who have most often done the serious thinking on the issues. This would include a good philosophical dictionary or encyclopedia.

Second, no one has this kind of freedom also. I can’t do whatever I want. If I want to murder my neighbor and then follow through on that, the police will have something to say about my use of freedom. If I want to jump off the roof of my house and fly, gravity will have something to say about what I want.

It’s noteworthy that later on this page, Carrier says Moreland gets a definition from the antiquated medieval philosopher, Thomas Aquinas. (Yet we saw in the last post that perhaps Carrier should have listened to this antiquated medieval philosopher) We are told Aquinas uses a definition of source that is not employed in normal conversation.

I wasn’t aware Moreland in giving a philosophical defense was engaging in “normal conversation.” In saying all of this, there is not a reply to Aquinas. (In fact, I find most people who want to reply to Aquinas redefine what he said, such as a modern notion of motion from Newton rather than the one Aquinas was working with.)

Carrier does the same thing on page 111 when he says “In the real world, hardly anyone brings up the acausal metaphysics of the soul, much less do they actually try to determine where and when such a strange substance was or was not involved in any given case. So the libertarian defense of free will is irrelevant to human and social reality, while the compatibilist definition fits it like a glove.”

Which pretty much says our words define our time fairly well so anything that disagrees with our understanding is wrong. In fact, I could even give another reply.

“”In the real world, hardly anyone would spend a whole chapter in a book talking about the meaning of words. So Carrier’s emphasis on the importance of words is irrelevant to human and social reality while modern ignorance of it fits it like a glove.”

The last point to bring out is that Carrier then goes to court cases to see how they understand the definition of freedom. Again, why not go to philosophical dictionaries and encyclopedias? Why should I think the modern courts definition of a philosophical topic is correct?

There’s not much in chapter 5 to really comment on so I plan on skipping that. I will next time then cover a short portion in chapter 6 on the nature of the mind.

In Christ,
Nick Peters