A special philosophy episode. Nothing at all to do with Augustus or Rome. No Ray. Just me and a special guest – Dr. Richard Carrier, who has a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. Ancient History from Columbia University. Talking about FREE WILL.
Now most of you know that I’m as passionate about philosophy as I am about history. Which is one reason I’m always peppering useless information about it into these series. In 2011 I wrote a book about my philosophy, The Three Illusions, and we’ve done that as a podcast which many of you have listened to. The book is available from Amazon in ebook format and you can buy a paperback version via Lulu. And I think you should all pay attention and listen to this interview, because I honestly think this subject is probably one of the most important things you will think about in your entire life. Pondering it deeply changed my life 30 years ago and it’s changed the lives of many of my friends.
So when I was in North Carolina last month, shooting my documentary on early Christianity, and I got talking to one of the stars of the film, Richard, about free will over dinner, and he said it exists, I said it doesn’t, we agreed to do a podcast debate on the subject. And this is it.
Richard teaches an online course about free will and the next one is starting March 1, so if you’re interested in this topic (and you should be!), just jump over to his website and register for the course.
And we’ll be back to dick jokes and ancient Rome in a couple of weeks.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:25:42 — 117.7MB)
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I’m a little behind in episodes but I may skip ahead to listen to this one. I know Dr. Carrier isn’t well regarded for his biblical scholarship, but I hear his work on ancient Rome and Greece is very good. I’m sure he has some unique ideas about free will as well.
“isn’t well regarded for his biblical scholarship”
By who? All of Christendom?
Great t hear Dr Richard Carrier- supurb biblical skolarship. His On the Historicity of Jesus. and takedown of Platinga, Feser and the like.
I’m with Carrier. Libertarian free doesn’t exist, but for most decisions, there is no gun to our heads either. Is being bound by the causal chain enough reason to say we don’t have free of will?
Realize the universe is *blind* causes and effects. And as such has entropy, that is, complex things and complex information decays. That puts a limit on complexity the universe can create, some self-organizing systems, like globes with discs due to gravity, crystals due to electromagnetism, or rivers due to energy flows, etc..
But also possible is chemical self-replication, and with that a learning system, evolution. Which produced yet another learning system, namely brains. And brains, especially those with intelligence, can abstractly analyze its world, simulate it, predict it. And with that, they are the root of so much anti-entropic complexity. They push the boundaries of what can come into being the furthest.
And if we allow a few perspective changes:
* From the perspective of the universe, we are caused and shaped by blind laws;
* From that same perspective we can see that we are the root of the most complex information because we are a learning system, changing after feedback;
* From our perspective, after we have become who we are by learning, the universe is not free, it must allow our thoughts to flow, it must follow and enable them. And when we act, the laws of cause and effect don’t suddenly change.
And frame of reference is everything, the ground you stand on feels solid and standing still, but that is an illusion, its rotating at crazy speeds, flying through space at even more ludicrous speeds.
I think it is perfectly valid to switch frame of reference, since we are the learning system, we are the root of possibilities. And the label of free will, under some caveats, applies nicely.
““isn’t well regarded for his biblical scholarship”
By who? All of Christendom?”
Probably, but also most mainstream non-christian scholars like Thom Stark and Bart Ehrman.
Why? Does this make anything Dr. Carrier writes or says about the so-called biblical writings less true or Dr. Carrier’s ability to shed light on the bible’s fallacious content?
“Why? Does this make anything Dr. Carrier writes or says about the so-called biblical writings less true or Dr. Carrier’s ability to shed light on the bible’s fallacious content?”
Well, yes. That’s exactly the implication here. For instance, here’s a critic by Thom Stark. It starts out pretty mild, but you can tell Stark’s exasperation with Carrier’s ignorance on the ancient sources and languages, and the fact that claims sources that disagree with his point, and even say the opposite of what Carrier claims they say:
or by atheist professor Bart Ehrman:
or even by Tim O’neill member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia and a former state president of the Australian Skeptics:
of course this is all disagreement about history. I’m sure Carrier has it right when he talks the miracles in the Gospels and Jesus’ godhood, but there’s really no disagreement about that among scholars, only maybe with conservative Christians.
Christian scholars can have no quarrel with Carrier’s scholarship; it’s comparable to the best. Erhman saw fit to publish a refutation to On The Histority of Jesus, not something he’d do if Carrier was a hack. They reject his interpretations and certainly his conclusions, but his methodology is rigorously scientific.
“Christian scholars can have no quarrel with Carrier’s scholarship; it’s comparable to the best. Erhman saw fit to publish a refutation to On The Historicity of Jesus, not something he’d do if Carrier was a hack. They reject his interpretations and certainly his conclusions, but his methodology is rigorously scientific.”
As far as I am concerned “comparable to the best” says enough for me to conclude the lesser points about the EXACT historical elements are of such mundane importance that Dr. Carrier’s conclusions do absolutely no harm to any Atheist claim of the overlying principle of the bible’s fallacious content. The fact remains; no historical element, proven or unproven; and no Archeological find, no matter how convincing; will ever dissuade freethinkers, nor can ever prove the claims of Christianity.
While true that some scholars see fit to debate and quarrel with Dr. Carrier’s historicity on Jesus; the absolute fallaciousness of the so-called inspired word of god is abundantly clear and seems only to be debated by apologists; whom I have no respect for their lying, conniving ways.
most mainstream scholars have a lifetime of work invested in “Jesus was historical”. See the problem? Ehrman has a problem with Carrier but I think Ehrman has a bigger problem with Ehrman. (a life-time of work , king of his castle, and then one day – poof… read Carriers book, then decide for yourself
“most mainstream scholars have a lifetime of work invested in “Jesus was historical”. See the problem?”
Isn’t this the same “logic” used by climate change deniers, creationists, and electric universe cranks? and, I assume, flat earther’s though I can’t be bothered to pay attention to them as I’m not completely sure they aren’t all a very successfully troll from 4chan.