The Free Will to Make Changes

“Life move’s pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you can miss it.” -Ferris Bueller

It’s been a busy month and next year looks like it will be even busier as something I’m working on for a big career change appears to be working out. I’ll get to work abroad if it does. We’ll get to experience more of this “pale blue dot” and do more to enjoy the variety of life that is available to us humans on this planet as it slowly spins in this little corner of this vast universe. Life is for living and we intend on living it up as much as we can. Otherwise I fear for falling into the ever present cycle of work and home. It begins to wear a rut in our existence as we move through repeated patterns of the same activities and experiences over and over. Every now and then when I notice it happening again, I shake myself awake and take a look at pictures of far away lands and remind myself of my place and perspective in the universe. As far as I know, we only have this one life and I know I have the free will to make changes to how and where I live it.

pale blue dot

I recently read some articles about Sam Harris’ interesting view on Free Will that he put in a very short book. Basically he says that free will is an illusion. When it comes down to it I believe you either act or you don’t and it is a free will choice to make changes or stay with the status quo. Even if the environment around me and the structure and chemicals of my mind really adds up to my choices just being derived from all of that instead of from “me”… well, I still think the choice between “do” or “wait” is the free will we can exercise. Even if we are predetermined to the actions we take when we act, we still have to choose to act. Maybe I was already destined to seek to change jobs but I feel like I had to actively take my recent actions for this path instead of passively waiting for something to happen to me.

In contrast, my religious brother seems to be a bit more passive with life and I often wonder how much he sits back and prays for good things to come to him instead of seeking them out. I believe he can change his path in life simply by doing something, anything, instead of wishing with prayers for the universe to bend to his will through an imagined god. He looks to a mythological super being instead of using whatever free will we have to move within the universe to achieve whatever he wants. I think it’s pretty self-centered and egotistical to expect any aspect of the universe to do anything for us since there’s no true evidence or knowledge that it does or should.

On a final note of changes, my oldest child is 19 and has decided he doesn’t want to continue with college at this point after a lackluster first year of it. He now plans to move to another state with a cheaper cost of living to start his life now. Fortunately he has a pretty good head on his shoulders, a good bit of money saved up, and I think he’ll do fine taking care of himself. He’s given his 2 weeks notice at work here and plans to move out after Labor Day. Yep, it’s been a busy month so far and it probably won’t slow down anytime soon as my little family with our nomadic spirit acts upon that trait. I’ll try to post things about agnosticism as I see it when I have a chance. You may hear more crickets than mumblings as we ramble on through our lives without knowledge of gods. Such things are beyond us and ultimately unimportant for us to live good and meaningful lives on this planet.

Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time i was on my way.
Thanks to you i’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay.
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way.
For now i smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way.
Ah sometimes i grow so tired
But i know i’ve got one thing i got to do

ramble on
And now’s the time the time is now
To sing my song.
I’m goin’ ’round the world,
I got to find my girl, on my way.
I’ve been this way ten years to the day, ramble on,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time to for spreadin’ roots,
The time has come to be gone.
And tho’ our health we drank a thousand times,
It’s time to ramble on…..

4 thoughts on “The Free Will to Make Changes

  1. Stunned again, Jeff,
    I am reminded of your threadhead about Penn Jellette. While the man is an arrogant asshole, a self appointed guru of logic, and smears the image of freethought with his bile. Then, yet again, you ask, what’s up with atheists? I told you what’s up with atheists, they have abandoned the principles of science on a crusade to prove the universe is an accident. They are a fanatic religion, and like every other religion on the planet, the have adopted the “universal religious dogma”, which is, “everyone is deceived except us.” I fail to understand why you sadly continue to seek to garner their affection. To them, you are a retarded stepchild, and they will never see you except to humiliate you. How ironic that you have the anchor in reality.
    Matthew 7:6 :
    “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Ironic again.
    But, Jeff, you hit me in the head with a sledgehammer, when you put forth the idea that we all have free will. Well, on some level that is true. If you live in Syria, you have the choice of living in a war zone, or taking your family to wait in line for a tent with no food or water at some bordering country. Free will. Congo, or Nigeria, or any other war torn country in Africa, maybe the refugees will take some night classes and make a career change.
    I am shocked to the foundation, that a freethinker, in this world, watching the same news I do, would want to prove to the world that free will works because he can pull it of inside affluent America. If, a couple of thugs come to your house tonight, and take everything of value in your home, and murders your family, where’s the free will? If you ever dream you are master of your destiny, consider this:
    Ecclesiastes 9:11
    “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”
    Out of bullshit arises tidbits of wisdom.

    Norman Lycan

  2. I’m reading Penn Jillette’s “Every Day Is An Atheist Holiday” and though I don’t agree with his views of agnosticism, I do enjoy his viewpoints. He’s an agnostic atheist regardless of what he says about agnostics. Anyway, there’s this cool essay in it called “Easter is A Hollow Waxy Chocolate Rabbit Who Suffers in An Unsatisfying Way For Your Sins.” It describes this funny gospel magic trick and then an atheist version of it that’s just this neat metaphor for the difference between religious nonsense and human reality. I suggest getting the book for at least that chapter.

    Norman, atheism isn’t a religion despite how many times you try to claim it is. I’d much rather refer to something interesting from the intelligence of Penn Jillette instead of the biblical quotes you posted. The bible is unoriginal so any non-biblical source that speaks of the same wisdom is better so the bible followers can’t say “see, we know so many wise things because of our god!” I honestly don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks of my views and beliefs – atheists and theists alike. I don’t know why you seem to care or think I would or should.

    You missed the points on free will and confuse the term with a power to do things. Read some things on Sam Harris’ view that free will is an illusion and it matches with what you’re talking about not having free will. I simply said that what we may have control over is “do or don’t” in any given moment. You talk of free will as if it is a will of power. The powerless still can “do or don’t” within the confines and parameters of their powerless lives. Being in affluent America and the actions I take with each “do or don’t” decision has nothing to do with proving the existence of free will.

    The illusion of free will may mean that I could only have written what I’ve written here and nothing else if I don’t really have free will. The only free will choice that may exist is if I really will hit “Post Comment” or will I just close the browser and not bother at all. It’s the choice to do or don’t. I looked at this comment once before and did nothing in response. Was that free will or was the universe structured for that to happen that way? The choice to “do or don’t” may also be an illusion if Sam Harris is completely right.

  3. Jeff said:
    “Norman, atheism isn’t a religion despite how many times you try to claim it is.”
    No, Jeff, it is a religion, despite how many times you try to claim it isn’t, because of one irrefutable fact. It believes the universe is an accident, and while that claim can not be refuted, it also cannot be proven, therefore belief in that conclusion is faith, not science, and therefore, religion. By the way, I’m getting tired of shitstomping you in that debate over and over again.
    And the last paragraph of your response seems to me objectively like you have taken too many meds before you wrote it. It’s not the insightful freethinker I have come to know. Disjointed. It’s okay brother, sometimes, I get disjointed, too. Cheers!!!!
    Norman Lycan

  4. Where is it written or proclaimed that atheism claims the universe is an accident? It might be implied by atheism that the universe is only of a natural origin. It isn’t a creed or dogma that’s required to be considered among those that lack a belief in gods. Atheism is only a rejection of belief and doesn’t proclaim any beliefs of its own despite how many times you try to tell the atheists what they all believe. I’m getting tired of spinning circles around you in that debate too. 🙂

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