Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Do We Mean By "Freedom"?

What David Bentley Hart says about two different concepts of freedom [beginning at about 3:00] is important to think about.  Since I have talked a lot about the problems of materialism for free will, free thought, etc. it's something I'll have to incorporate into my thinking about that because it certainly seems to be valid and important.   Which "free will" you're talking about will probably end up having as much to do with your conclusions as where you want that to go, at least if you're being honest in your attempt to understand.  Of course, the irony of the "free thinkers" having been engaged in trying to destroy the possibility of free choice, free will, etc. because those can't be made compatible with the material universe and which would certainly be possible as a hard fact of a created universe created that way by God.   But the presentation of an alternative which associates freedom with the choice to choose the better instead of just choosing any choice is far more complicated than the kind of freedom I've engaged with.  The atheist conception which they hate is freedom as if values and intention to do what's right are not real.  It is also the concept of freedom which is generally discussed.  But if you believe that there is a difference between what's good and what is less good or even evil, then the quality of different choices would have to enter into it. Choosing the better, the desirability of encouraging people to choose the better is an inescapable issue.  It is an irony of the atheist address of these issues that they have their own version of the better choices, generally ones I think have proved to be a disaster within living memory.  That so many of those things that are identified as evil, if chosen, will tend to harm people, enslave them, destroy them or, if not them, than those who those things are done to has to be considered in a wider, more realistic and more sophisticated discussion of freedom.  I'm just beginning to think of the question in those ways.

What he says more generally is also interesting to me because he has a more sophisticated version of arguments I'd come up with on my own.   I've not listened to a lot of David Bentley Hart but I'm listening to more and, if I can find affordable copies of his books, I hope to read more of him, too.  What he confessed about the history of the association of religion with evil, especially serving as a prop to oppressive regimes is especially interesting because within the past 24 hours I've tangled with an atheist who claimed that Stalin was a Christian and not an atheist.   I have seldom if ever encountered an atheist who has addressed, seriously, the association of atheism with the worst regimes of the past two and a half centuries, especially the Marxist ones.

I can't say that I share his respect for Nietzsche, though I get what he says about him.

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