Are you a MAN or a TOASTER?

Toasters don’t make any decisions. I don’t know if they think they do, but we have learned enough about them in recent years to know that they are merely the product of their chemical make up and their design. A toaster doesn’t warm up a Pop Tart because it chooses to, but because someone has pushed down that little lever on the front. I’m sure on social media they are all, “I totally TOASTED that Pop Tart! #HeroTalk” but we all know that they had no choice. It’s a toaster. What else COULD it do?

See, the universe is governed by certain observable laws, like the laws of physics and chemistry. Matter is what it is, and does what it does. Metals conduct electricity because they are metals, not because of their upbringing or lifestyle preferences. Electricity causes metal wires to heat up because of resistance, which is a property of matter, and then the heat radiates off of those wires, because of the properties of heat energy, and the Pop Tart absorbs some of that heat because of the Laws of Thermodynamics, regardless of the Pop Tart’s political or religious affiliations.

All of the objects in the universe are made of matter, and all matter obeys these same laws. Matter is what it is and it does what it does. This includes all of the atoms and molecules which make up the human body, and even the human brain. The molecules which make up your brain do not make decisions. They don’t choose what they do or why, but merely obey the laws of physics and chemistry. Molecules in a brain don’t even know they’re in a brain. For all they know they are in a toaster. So they obey the same physical laws which they would if they were in a toaster, or a can of diet soda, or a rock, or a shoe.

The ultimate issue is this: Are you a man or are you a toaster?

If the atheists are right, then you are a toaster, or you may as well be. You are made of atoms and molecules which obey the laws of physics, just as a toaster does. If an atheist is right, then he is an atheist for the same reason a toaster heats up a Pop Tart; because he is wired to do so and can do nothing else. But if we have the ability to make decisions, to choose, and really to think in any meaningful way, then the Biblical worldview is right#. We have souls, and we have minds which are more than our brains. We are made in the image of God, and can choose to be in right relationship with Him, or to pretend He is not there and live as if we are in fact toasters.

The data is universally known- we CAN choose, and we do make decisions. We are real selves, and thus, not toasters, but men. And right now, my self wants a Pop Tart, so I am going to choose to go toast one whether my toaster likes it or not.

Thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.

#An alert reader (as you will see in the comments below) pointed out that this statement is a false dilemma, and she was correct. I meant when contrasted with atheistic materialism, the Biblical Worldview fits with the data of our existing free will, where as Atheistic Materialism does not. Obviously free will doesn’t conflict with Islam or Mormonism (as far as I know). So, that was me being lazy/sloppy with my writing. Sorry about that. And thanks to my readers for keeping me honest.

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About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

4 Responses to Are you a MAN or a TOASTER?

  1. Jennifer says:

    You wrote, “If the atheists are right, then you are a toaster, or you may as well be. You are made of atoms and molecules which obey the laws of physics, just as a toaster does. If an atheist is right, then he is an atheist for the same reason a toaster heats up a Pop Tart; because he is wired to do so and can do nothing else.”

    There is no particular atheistic view on the mind, and an atheist doesn’t have to be a materialist when it comes to the mind (see the views of philosopher of mind David Chalmers, for an example of an atheist who is a property dualist), though some are (see the work of philosophers Paul and Patricia Churchland).

    As an atheist, I am not convinced by materialism at this point, so I am not convinced that the mind and the brain are the exact same thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t think that the mind is very dependent on the brain because it seems clear that it is. If you damage a part of the brain, then the function of the mind will be affected. For example, you should look up what happens when the corpus callosum of the brain is severed. That’s just one example out of many. Can you list a function of the mind that is not closely correlated to the brain?

    You seem to think that free will is not compatible with determinism, but many atheists — some and theists, including Christians — are compatibilists, which is the view that they are indeed compatible. To a compatibilist, as long as a moral agent can reflect on the choices before her and can decide on one, then she is morally responsible for them. A snapping turtle is incapable of reflecting on its choices, so unlike humans, it is not a moral agent. Of course, there’s much more to it than that, but that’s the very, very basic gist.

    You wrote, “But if we have the ability to make decisions, to choose, and really to think in any meaningful way, then the Biblical worldview is right. We have souls, and we have minds which are more than our brains.”

    That seems to be a false dichotomy. If materialism is wrong, then that wouldn’t entail that Christianity is automatically correct. For all we know, some other view on the mind that is consistent with atheism could be correct. Perhaps generic theism or deism is correct. Perhaps some other sectarian version of theism is correct. Basically, you would have to argue much, much more to make the leap from the existence of immaterial minds to Christianity.

    • Thanks for writing in! You have a lot of well thought out things to say- I appreciate that. I’ll try to do them justice.

      1. You are right that I seem to have set up a false dichotomy when I say “if we have the ability to make decisions, to choose, and really to think in any meaningful way, then the Biblical worldview is right.” I did not mean that, if we have free will, then only Christianity can be true- for certainly Islam could still be true in that case. What I meant was, when compared to any Materialistic worldview, the Christian worldview better matches the data, making it the better option between the two because, of the two, only it CAN be true. So, not really a false dichotomy, just me being careless.

      2. I will argue that there is no reasonable explanation for free will on Atheism. I know lots of people will try to marry Atheism and Free will, though a lot will simply follow their atheism and reject free will, saying we are merely “Dancing to our DNA.” I’m not concerned so much with what people profess to believe, but with what seems to be logical, possible, especially according to known data. I can see no way to accept free will and atheism together as I cannot see any way to divorce atheism and materialism. Not that I’m saying people don’t choose to accept both, but that they ought not because the ideas are not compatible. Only a mind can make choices, while matter and energy do not make choices but obey the laws of the universe. Even if the mind is not matter, if instead it is some kind of energy or life force, it either is part of the universe, and thus obeys some laws, and thus we have no real choice, or our minds are immaterial, but then we need an explanation for those minds which is itself immaterial and capable of making choices, which is God.

      I know of no rational way to divorce atheism from materialism. It’s only natural that an atheist would WANT to do so, because otherwise you must accept yourself as a toaster, or you must face the real fact that you CAN choose, and thus reject materialism, and with it atheism. The attempt to marry free will to atheism in a Godless material universe is just the desperate need for an escape hatch from the logical consequences of atheism. If you feel you can explain how atheism can be non-materialistic, let me know, or drop me a link. I’m always willing to learn.

      3. Another escape hatch which I’ve written on at length here on my little blog is the need for a moral framework in an atheistic worldview. You say “as long as a moral agent can reflect on the choices before her and can decide on one, then she is morally responsible for them.” But surely that doesn’t follow. Instinct drives us toward one goal or another- to kill or to protect. That we have the intellectual ability to think about the different options which may exist in a situation does not force us to choose one of those instincts over the other. In fact, the moral road usually forces us to chose AGAINST the stronger instinct. But why must we do that? If a man feels the desire to kill, and he is able to reflect on it, and even if he agrees with social convention that he should not do so, why ought he choose not to? To whom it he responsible if not to God? It cannot be himself, for who can sin against his own will if his own will determines right and wrong? It cannot even be society, for what does the will of other animals matter to a choice? You know as well as anyone that murder is wrong, but if that is true, then there must be a moral law by which to determine right and wrong. But if that is so, there must be a law giver who gave those laws to us, and who but God could that be? The fact is, if there are actual morals- real right and wrong, real shouldn’ts and shoulds- then God must be behind them. There is no other explanation.

      Once again, I see no basis for objective morals on atheism, and if morals are not objective, then they are not morals. They would be subjective feelings, or social norms, which we all know not only to be not binding, but sometimes right to oppose. If I hate my neighbor because of the color of his skin, we agree my feelings are wrong and I should act contrary to them and love my neighbor. When society agreed that Africans were animals which ought be kept as property, Christians rose against that social norm and fought to change it. Isn’t that what the gay-rights movement feels it is doing today? Trying to change a social norm it feels is wrong? But if social norms or personal feelings determine morality, then they are already wrong because they are opposing the foundation of morality- which is social norms. But it is worse, because since society changes, then morality is not a real thing, it is only a description of popular opinion: Fashion. Well, I don’t care what anyone is wearing this season- I will wear what is unpopular. Would I commit the same kind of ‘moral’ act if I decided I didn’t care how people felt about rape or genocide and committed them? Obviously not. A moral is not a choice, but a law which can be broken. And a law demands a law giver.

      Once again, thanks for reading and writing in. Here are some other posts where I go into these things in a little more detail. Check those out to see what I’m all about and let me know what you think. And thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.
      https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/the-atheist-orthodoxy-challenge-by-raf2k/
      https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/10-noncommandments-of-atheism-5-8-no-foundation-for-fish-tacos/
      https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/objective-morals-and-the-fish-slapping-dance/
      https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/dinner-with-hitler-and-other-moral-issues/

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for your thorough response, Rent-A-Friend. I plan on writing you a more detailed response when I get more time, which will hopefully be this weekend.

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