Re: Creationists

Scott Badger (
Fri, 26 Jun 1998 09:18:42 -0500

I've quite enjoyed the eloquent elucidations offered on this thread. I
wanted to humbly include my perspective regarding the debate on free will.
IMHO, no one is really "waking down their own path". It seems clear to me
that we are constrained and directed by countless influences, both genetic
and environmental. As difficult as it is for the western, individualistic
mind to accept, free will as we generally understand it is a myth.
Behaviorism (stimulus-response, rewards and punishments) is the most
empirically supported psychological theory we've generated. We now embrace
the Cognitive-Behavioral theory because we accept that we are clearly not
born as blank slates (i.e. genetics does indeed account for a sizable
percentage of our behavior), and we accept that it is not that useful to
ignore cognitions and focus solely on observable behavior. The point being,
however, that a large portion of the theory of Behaviorism holds water
regardless of the fact that it eschews the notion of freedom of choice. We
all utilize behavior modification techniques in an attempt to control the
actions of others (especially children and underlings) and we are often
successful in our manipulations. When we're not, it's probably because we
haven't properly analyzed the stimus-response complex. Do those whose
behaviors are thus manipulated have free will? I don't think I'd sign up
with Radical Behaviorists and declare there is no choice whatsoever. But
our ability to exercise free will is probably far more attenuated than we
generally recognize. Transhumanism/Extropiasm, it seems to me, is all about
utilizing technology to unconstrain ourselves and achieve greater freedom
from the delimiters that currently plague our species.

Scott Badger