For jonP

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Since you have opened up so many topics it will take me a while to catch up. Did you read my post called “A Model of the Supernatural” and if so can you let me know your thoughts as I think it will be important for the free will conversation.

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  1. jonP  February 1, 2014

    Hi Mike,
    There are lots of topics for discussion. Sorry I comment bombed you. I spent a few hours today reading through all your posts, and I find it very refreshing. I’ve had the same conversation with too many apologists. It’s actually creepy. I’ve heard several variations of “I was just like you once.” Even the books have mostly the same arguments. It’s like reading the same exact book rewritten by dozens of people. So I didn’t know what to expect.

    Some of your arguments were written in a very confusing manner, and I think you’ve made some mistakes with your reasoning. I’m not shy with criticism, and I tried to point out where I disagreed and why. Unlike most of the apologists who basically tuned me out, and kept repeating the same arguments to me, you seem genuinely interested in the truth.

    In exchange for criticizing, I am willing to have all my ideas criticized. I like it. I like making my ideas better. I sometimes am afraid that I can come across as a “know-it-all”, but I am a very careful communicator. Feel free to reign me in if I’m out of control.

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    • Unapologetics  February 1, 2014

      Again,

      I don’t mind many comments or criticism.

      But do give me your thoughts on the post I mentioned and how you feel about using a virtual universe as a model for how to relate to the supernatural. I’m waiting to respond to some of your other comments until I hear your thoughts on this.

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    • jonP  February 1, 2014

      I attempt excessive politeness, especially in e-mail and internet posts, because I want people to want to engage me in discussion. It’s a fun way to meet new people, but there is a risk of animosity when debating sensitive topics. You know the cliche about religion and politics. I’m working on my response. You do raise interesting topics that I happen to have opinions on. Serendipity.

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      • Unapologetics  February 2, 2014

        That’s a good thing. I’m working on that as well though I’ve got a lot to learn still.

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  2. Unapologetics  February 1, 2014

    Btw, I updated the theme so that it would work properly on mobile devices and I accidentally erased a line of code. If as you are surfing around you notice anything unusual, let me know as I don’t remember what that line was for.

    Thanks.

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  3. jonP  February 1, 2014

    Ok, mission accomplished. I had a lot to think about today. It was great fun, and I eagerly await all your responses. I already said much of what I have on these topics. I see no need to keep repeating. So while I will check in to read your responses, I will refrain from comments unless you ask me a question on this thread. Then when you are completely done with all of your responses, it can be my turn again, and so on. Last word wins.

    Sound like a fun game?

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    • Unapologetics  February 1, 2014

      Hey Jon, are you subscribed to any of these posts?

      If you’re subscribed to all of them it doesn’t matter. But if not let me know and I’ll create one just for quick messages. So I will not comment on that post with regular comments but if I have a quick question for you I will place it there and you will receive an email that I left you a comment.

      I actually do have a question for you that I just thought of that’s different from the way that we have been thinking about this so far.

      But let’s say you have a group of people that in one scenario have free will and don’t in another. Let’s say they are all doing something bad but suddenly god steps in to their previously closed system and tells them they should stop. As a result, some stop and some don’t. Let’s also add that this is not something they are addicted to or otherwise unable or less able to stop but they simply choose one or the other.

      If god had not stepped in, none would have stopped. What would be the difference between a scenario with free will and one without?

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    • jonP  February 1, 2014

      I’m not subscribed. Should I subscribe to all of the comments, or just mine, or just yours? I’m not sure the best way to handle this. It would be nice to get e-mail notification of all your responses. I think that would save me a little bit of effort.

      If god had not stepped in, none would have stopped. What would be the difference between a scenario with free will and one without?

      I am not yet convinced that there are any scenarios in which it would be possible to determine if the actors had free will.

      I’m not sure the question you ask is answerable. Let me try to rephrase the scenario.

      Group A: has free will
      Group B: does not have free will
      Everyone in each group starts bad
      God Intervention
      (There is a negative control condition in which no intervention does not change initial behavior. While this would be good for very robust results in a manuscript, it is not really necessary if we are certain of no change. It just confirms our certainty.)
      We would need to know how effective the god intervention was.

      I have a few extra concepts up my sleeve that I have not brought up yet. I do not know your education background, so I do not know how much explanation you need. We need to know the prior probability of the intervention. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes%27_theorem
      The simplest case is probability of 0.5. This is equivalent to not knowing what any given person will do.
      If we ran this experiment many times:
      In group B without free will, half will change, and it will be the same ones each time.
      In group A with free will, each person will have a 50% chance of switching, independent of the others. The average change will be half, but we would not know which individuals. (interestingly, because there is a 50/50 chance of two outcomes the number of people changing would fit the binomial distribution)

      If we do the experiment enough times group A will eventually have >50% or <50% of the people switching (it's just the average that's 50/50). Group B will always have half.

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    • jonP  February 1, 2014

      Oops, I should have proof read before posting; it’s past my bedtime. Let me repost to clarify my answer.

      I do know the answer to your question. We actually don’t need the prior probability for this question.

      What would be the difference between a scenario with free will and one without?
      Group A: has free will
      Group B: does not have free will
      Everyone in each group starts bad
      God Intervention
      (There is a negative control condition in which no intervention does not change initial behavior. While this would be good for very robust results in a manuscript, it is not really necessary if we are certain of no change. It just confirms our certainty.)

      If we ran this experiment many times:
      Group B will always have the same individuals switch.
      Group A the number of switches will fit the binomial distribution, and different people will switch each time the experiment is run

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      • Unapologetics  February 3, 2014

        I do not know your education background, so I do not know how much explanation you need.

        I have a biology undergrad. It was 20 years ago at a time when I was not particularly into school so my memory is fuzzy. I taught public high-school biology for a year at a very basic level in a very low income school. It did not refresh my memory too much.

        I’m somewhat familiar with issues relating to evolution and pretty familiar with the overall science process.

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      • Unapologetics  February 3, 2014

        There is an element I have not mentioned before in the free will discussion. Mainly the concept that people tend to make decisions that are in line with their characters. Not sure if this changes anything about whether we have free will or not.

        But basically, as we grow up, we develop our identity. We start with genetic inclinations and then as a result of thoughts and actions, education, etc. develop habits, then personality and character. Then, we behave for the most part according to that character, although our actions still have the capacity to bring changes to our characters. But it’s kind of like pushing or dragging a very large object. You have to try hard to get it to start moving and then it catches momentum and it’s hard to stop. The older we grow the harder to make changes.

        As far as your statement above, it could be that even the group with free-will might end up having mostly the same people choose to change if the experiment is repeated since they probably acted in accordance with their characters.

        So, to a large degree, if free will exists it would exist in the character building process and not in individual actions.

        So, although frustratingly circular, the only thing that I see different between the two scenarios is that in the one with free will God would be justified to assign blame.

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      • Unapologetics  February 3, 2014

        I just thought that free will is not only a problem for theists but also for atheists.

        Imagine again a very complex set of dominos which have occasional forks where the chain reaction goes one way or another randomly.

        If we don’t have free will there is no intrinsic difference between us as human beings and this set of dominos other than the level of complexity.

        And, as we don’t have any particular concern for the wellbeing of a set of dominoes why should we care about other human beings at all?

        It seems free will is a necessary concept or else we have no reason to treat each other with any degree of respect.

        It’s a Pascal’s wager of free will. If we have it and we’re right, good. If we have it and we’re wrong, bad…

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  4. Unapologetics  February 2, 2014

    Ok.

    So as far as subscriptions it’s up to you how you want to handle it but keep this in mind: if anyone else follows the discussion here from reasonable doubts and decides to comment on all the comments, you will end up with a ton of emails in your inbox.

    So what I will do is create a new top post called Messages for jonP where I will not allow anyone else to comment and I will only post there if I have something I need you to look at.

    So what you can do is either:
    1) Subscribe to everything and get updates for all comments. You can send stuff to a separate folder in your email if you don’t want it to spam your inbox.

    2) Subscribe only to the Messages post and then you will only get emails if there is something important like when I need more info from you to respond to something. You can then check everything else whenever you visit the site. You could even tell me when you write a comment that I should tell you on the Messages post when I am done responding to just that specific comment.

    Whichever works best for you…

    I am going to start responding in the order comments were posted (more or less). I will first go through and answer anything I can answer quickly and let you know if I need more time with anything.

    Things that I need to answer more fully might take a while. Especially since the RD conversation took a lot of time last week and I’m behind on work.

    But I’ll do my best to get through everything as soon as possible.

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  5. jonP  February 2, 2014

    Take your time. I’m in no hurry. I’ve been reading more of your old posts, and I left a few comments. Don’t feel obligated to respond to everything at once. I’m trying to catch up with your discussion, and I’m about a year behind.

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