Freewill, Or “If It’s Free, Why Does It Cost So Much To Use?”

 One Choice I Know I Do Have Is To Eat Christian Baby For Dinner Tonight

One Choice I Know I Do Have Is To Eat Christian Baby For Dinner Tonight

I pretty much grew up in the streets of a poor neighborhood on the north-west side of Chicago. I did a lot of head banging as a young man, that is when my head wasn’t the one being banged. I eventually got into theater and quickly fell madly in love with Shakespeare. This interest motivated me to put myself through University, where I excelled at all things academic.  I did, however, find the sterile safety of the academic environment to be lacking the tactile touch of the streets on many occasions. The masturbatory, rhetorical chest thumping exhibited by academics arguing with each other over esoteric concepts of mind-numbing banality was and still is my greatest complaint about academia. At some point, it is time to hit someone in the mouth and fight, or simply shut the fuck up about an issue. Discussions on freewill almost always illicit this response from me, so I’ll try to stop blabbing before that happens with this post.

I was just skimming over Sam Harris’ short book ,”Freewill”, which I actually understand, or think I do at least. I agree with Sam Harris in that I, too, feel there really is no such thing as “freewill.”  When I think about “me” as an entity, I wonder about how much of “me” was freely chosen by me to be me, if anything at all.  I was born in the sixties in Chicago to poor white parents who sent me to Catholic schools. They provided food, clothing, and a Catholic education, but beside those things, they were true sociopaths who’s hatred for my very existence never ceases to astound me. I most certainly had nothing to do with any of these factors and had absolutely no control over them. However, I sure as hell can tell you, they DEFINE the major portion of who I am and how I see the world and my place in it. There are choices I make in how to live with who I am and better myself, but the choice of choices I have in this matter were never mine to choose.

I Like This

I Like This

I speak English. Not because I chose to at any point ever in my existence, but because that’s the language people around me speak and that’s the language I learned. Sure, I could learn another and stubbornly will myself to speak nothing but it, but what the fuck for? As well, I was born with all of my limbs and all of my chromosomes intact. These are facts that STRONGLY affect my sense of self, the choices I can or can not make freely about certain things, and they have NOTHING what-so-ever to do with anything I freely chose for myself, ever. I’m a white male. Not by choice but by chance. If anyone tells you being a white male in America, even a very poor one, doesn’t have built-in perks, they need to fuck themselves hard with a metal object. It matters. It effects my freewill and my choice of choices. I was raised Catholic. And while I’ve come to not believe in the Catholic dogma, I’m still Catholic the way I’m still Irish and Bohemian. It doesn’t wash off, and it can’t be willed away. Most importantly, it has nothing to do with anything I did or decide to do at all. Nothing. And yet, it’s me. Like all the other shit that’s me that I had NOTHING to do with. There is NO freedom in that at all. If I’ve a brain tumor which affects my behavior, I’ve no freewill in it. If I’ve a traumatized neurotransmitter system in my brain due to repeated tosses down stair-wells while growing up, I’ve no freewill in it. If my brain is wired to think my shit doesn’t stink and I’ve tons of power and freewill and that’s why I’m great, I also have no freewill in that. It doesn’t exist.

I Like This One, Too

I Like This One, Too

A white, male baby who is born with all of his limbs and chromosomes intact into a conservative Christian, wealthy upper middle class family, who grows up to be a wealthy white, male Christian conservative and all round good chap, did not choose to be white, male, wealthy, Christian conservative, or to have all of his limbs and chromosomes at birth.  He had a choice of choices laid out for him far different from mine, and further even yet than had he been born in Pakistan to a deeply religious Muslim family. By far, and I mean VERY far, Christians are Christians because they were born to Christian parents and raised that way. Muslims born to Muslim parents in Pakistan are Muslim because they were raised to be and they live in a Muslim society. People convert, but I assure you, the majority of conservative Christians in America are not former Muslims once living in Pakistan, as the majority of Muslims living in Pakistan were not once Christians living in America. I’ve never read anything written by a Muslim claiming to be the perfect rhetorical argument proving that God exists and he is, indeed, the Christian god. Only Christians write such things. It’s because of where they were raised and by whom that they hold such beliefs. Muslims hold their specific beliefs for these very same reasons.

When such defining core elements of ourselves as those I mentioned above are in no way decided by or chosen by us in any way at all, how much freedom of will do we truly have? We want freewill. We want control. We want to feel WE have control of the ride we’re on. In some things we may have limited control, but what those things are, are limited greatly by the things we have no control over at all. And it is here that I stop. The academics wouldn’t. But that, I feel, is because they lack the tactile sense of how easy it is to prove just how powerless they are over their environment. They can control the written word, but not a fist in the mouth that jars out 6 teeth and dislocates the jaw so badly talking with a lisp becomes the new norm.  All it would take is for the right nut-case to get pissed off enough one day to do it. Won’t be me though. I haven’t enough freewill left to do it.

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19 thoughts on “Freewill, Or “If It’s Free, Why Does It Cost So Much To Use?”

  1. Love the hell out of the first two paragraphs
    When I get more time I promise to read more
    Sheldon

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  2. I remember one day after school sitting around with my friends discussing whether or not we were really heterosexual or if we had been conditioned to be that way. I said that I felt that had I been raised in a neutral environment the I would have been bisexual and a couple other girls followed by saying the same thing….

    Hmm. Change this from high school to college and I think I have the premise for a porn film.

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    • Indeed. I agree however. What we consider “weird” or “not OK” sexually, I feel, is very much influenced by what our culture and immediate care givers teach us about sex. If it were considered normal in our society for young men and women to experiment sexually with members of the same sex, which, btw, I believe it is, our society would be the better for it. We could then place energy into making it better rather than pissing energy away on idiotic religious bullshit about how evil it is to be “bi sexual” or “gay” or whatever. People would not be more “gay” or “bi” or whatever if this were the case either. They just would be more comfortable discovering who it is they are sexually than they are now in this very Christian America. I fucking hate religion more and more, I tell you.

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    • It’s not normal to experiment sexually with members of the same sex when you’re young? Ooops. Someone should have told us.

      I grew up in a fairly liberal environment at the tail end of the sexual revolution. In fact, the degree to which the culture has gotten more conservative since my adolescence still throws me for a loop sometimes. We actually engaged in group sex, boys and girls together, when I was about fifteen or so.

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    • Boy, do I wish I hung out with you and your crowd growing up. Sounds like FUN. I got to go to mass every morning and once a week I’d have to think up shit to tell the priest I did during confession. They’d have LOVED it if I told them that.

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    • My mother had been raised Catholic and she felt the church gave her negative feelings about her body and sexuality, so she self-consciously tried to not pass those ideas onto us. Consequently, I never had it drilled into my head that my entirely value as a human being rested on keeping my legs crossed.

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    • You’ve no idea what fun you missed. How dare your mother care for you that much!

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    • The better porn film would be to use college aged girls, but keep the setting in a high school. A Catholic high school where uniform skirts and patent leather shoes were the required dress code.

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  3. “The masturbatory, rhetorical chest thumping exhibited by academics arguing with each other over esoteric concepts of mind-numbing banality was and still is my greatest complaint about academia.”

    Beautiful, Shakespeare could not have said it better (he probably could’ve made it rhyme, but this was a prosaic masterpiece nonetheless)

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    • He’s my inspiration. Most of his stuff didn’t rhyme, actually. He wrote in prose a lot, and in iambic pentameter verse, but too much rhyming and you’ll vomit. Freewill arguments are AGGRAVATINGLY STUPID. Theology is by far the worse offender of academic masturbation. Theology is like searching for a cat in pitch black room, only there’s no cat in the room. And thanks so much for that compliment. It’s flattering. Check out Drawn Together if you can find episodes online. It’s about these really inappropriate cartoon characters living in a reality show house like Big Brother. Dirty. Foul. And Funny.

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  4. Well said, and i’m in complete agreement on you: discussing such subjects is maddening.

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    • It sure is. Especially this one. Thank god Harris wrote his little book on it. Now I get it. These fucking philosophy and theological academic folks can fucking stretch this shit out into the dullest shit imaginable. Thx again.

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    • Nothing, and i mean NOTHING is more anal than Christian philosophy.

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    • I imagine Jewish and Islamic theological discussions aren’t great either, it’s just that the shit isn’t rammed down my fucking throat all the time so I don’t really know. See Christians, they do their thing and I do mine, and we don’t fuck with each other. That’s ALL I’m asking for here. But yes, Christian arguments to prove the existence of the Christian god are beyond horrible. What fucking idiot would start chemotherapy simply because their doctor wrote a strong, logical essay about why he needed it. Are you kidding me? Ridiculous.Yet people expect me to believe such a method works just fine to prove an all powerful invisible guy exists who created everything 14 billion years ago and they absolutely know this is true. Fuck off.

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  5. You have said it very well.
    Among the books on my to read list this year is Freewill by Sam Harris. I have discussed the topic quite a bit have arrived at the conclusion that either those who say we have free will don’t know what they mean or they haven’t thought about the matter very deeply.

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