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The Belief in Supernatural Free Will as a Significant Source of Human Suffering


I just had a possibly interesting idea: what is it that makes it possible for religious people to look at a image on TV of starving people dying in Africa and say,


I believe one answer might be the belief in supernatural free will, i.e. the free will given to humans by God, according to Christianity.

This belief can possibly be identified as the cause of many differences of opinion with secular humanists with regard to how people who should be treated who make poor choices, or who are at the extreme end of suffering. Basically, the humanist says, “this person suffers due to inputs from the physical world, which failed him.”, and many Christians say, “he made a choice to do that–a choice given to him by God.”

They are saying very explicitly that odds can be in favor of failure, as determined by reality, and that if said person does fail the responsibility is still on them. And as a result, public policy will be made more in line with that person choosing to fail than on them being a victim of failure, and this difference is of paramount importance in the creation of public policy.

In other words, unfair public policy can be said to stem directly from a belief in the supernatural–specifically, the catastrophic belief that the combination nature + nurture does not result in an outcome–and that instead, each person can be personally held responsible for their failure.

If this is the case, a belief in supernatural free will–as taught by Christianity and the other Abrahamic religions– could arguably be considered a direct and significant cause of the mistreatment of disadvantaged human beings. I think one could argue that this is evidence that religion–or at least religion that preaches this sort of supernatural responsibility–does cause harm.


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