Free Will, Existence, and Obesity

I’ve been thinking much about existence lately and what it means to exist or not. The trouble is that if we say the mind exists, then the things contained in the mind(dreams, thoughts, beliefs) exist. The thoughts and beliefs we have are powerful enough to cause us to act in certain ways. A fine example of this is the fear of hell and how powerfully it scares people away from questioning religion.

We have much work ahead of us in reforming our language. In a recent podcast I spoke with Mitch about the existence problem. The free will question is not a question of existence. It’s a logical problem of trying to make people responsible doing for what they could not have done otherwise. When we talk about free will, choice, personal responsibility, etc. We are talking about things which are believed or felt psychologically but which cannot be observed with our 5 senses nor can experiments be performed to test them.

This brings me to an important topic. We need to revisit the whole issue of obesity and fat shaming. I recently watched the first pary of a documentary called “WHO made me FAT”. The comments revealed huge belief in choice and personal responsibility. Here is one of the dumbest comments:

“I saw the title for this video. I did not watch the video. I know the answer. YOU. You made you fat. No willpower, no self control. You’re fat and it’s a problem. I have four words for you: Eat less. Move more.”

Because people believe in free choice, they are going to blame the obese people for choosing to eat unhealthily. Another comment summed this up:

“hmm, who made a fat person fat? Probably that person, unless someone is forcing them to eat fatty foods at gunpoint.”

So apparently the only way you were caused to eat a certain food is if someone held a gun to your head. People are forgetting about the “Invisible Gun to the Head” that Nick Vale and I were talking about in one of our older episodes. The reason for this is simple, unless something is visible, people don’t think it exists! That’s why people say that something has no cause just because they don’t see a cause. Seriously this is a challenge and worth serious conversation.

I recently started a playlist which I will be adding videos related to obesity and why it’s not not people’s fault that they are fat. If we can find the magic spark to connect the obesity issue with the free will issue, then just maybe people will get it. I’m still not exactly sure how but we need to revisit it and get back to something which is quite visible: obesity.

The Free Will, Science and Religion Podcast is Live on iTunes and Stitcher.

The usual times we get on Skype are Saturday 6PM Central and Sunday 1PM Central. Also, any two or more co-hosts are welcome to record episodes at any time during the week. If they do so, it is a good idea to email me at so that I can keep things organized when I upload them.

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117. I Have no Need of That Hypothesis

In recent podcasts (114-116), George Ortega has attempted to reconcile determinism – and a rejection of free will — with a pantheistic notion of god. Nick Vale supports George in this endeavor, but Chandler Klebs, Trick Slattery Michael Walsh and Mitch J. argue that an atheistic/agnostic worldview is more reasonable, scientific and compatible with free will skepticism and the “true” nature of reality.

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116. Biotheism and Intentional Evolution

Chandler Klebs and George Ortega continue their talks about God and the Universe. In recent episodes, George has presented his case that God is the Universe. Chandler has a different idea than George based on the idea that life creates life through various means of reproduction. This relates to the infinite regress that Chandler talks about which relates to determinism and the idea that matter is not created nor destroyed. His theory is that there has always been some form of life in existence. Chandler views life as something that evolves intentionally as organisms learn to adapt to their environment.

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115. Part 2 of No Free Will, and a Proof for God’s Existence

In part 2 of this series, George Ortega, Chandler Klebs and Jamie Soden explore a proof of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God based on the following commonly held attributes, which are listed on the Wiki page. They are presented here in descending order of salience; 1. Creator; 2. Ruler (Governor); 3. Omnipotence; 4. Omnipresence; 5. Omniscience; 6. Omnibenevolence; 7. Eternal Nature; 8. Personal Nature; 9. Source of Moral Obligation; 10. Incorporeality/Immateriality; 11. Divine Simplicity.

We generally agreed that the first five assigned attributes and Eternal Nature are logically and/or scientifically valid, Omnivebevolence is clearly mistaken, (but we note it is not asserted in the Bible) and the four remaining ones may or not be valid, depending upon the context within which they are understood.

Since we have not arrived at a full consensus regarding the existence of these attributes as proof of God’s existence, we’ll continue to explore the theme in future episodes.

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Mini Series on God

My friend George Ortega has been very adamant that he has the true understanding of God. Because of this, recent episodes of the Free Will, Science, and Religion podcast have had more to do with the Religion part.

Below is the episode from Sunday October 18. It was wild. There will be more episodes exploring this theme later on.

114. No Free Will, and a Proof for God’s Existence

Following from our lack of free will, George Ortega presents a logical-scientific proof for the existence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God that is based on similarities between God’s commonly-held principle attributes and the fundamental properties of the physical universe. The argument is then explored further by co-hosts Chandler Klebs, ‘Trick Slattery, Mitch J. and Jamie Soden.

FWSR Podcast Titles and Descriptions

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to old episodes of our Free Will, Science, and Religion podcast so that I can write titles and descriptions. It takes a lot of work but I think it will be worth it because more people will listen if they are described well.

In the early days of recording the podcasts, I didn’t write titles or descriptions, so I still have to work on that for the rest of them. However, here are the titles and brief descriptions of the first 20 episodes.

1. Introduction to the podcast

This is the premier episode. George Ortega, Trick Slattery, and Chandler Klebs talk define some terms and talk about why free will is impossible and how they explain it in their books they published. There are many things from both science and religion that conflict with the belief in free will. It was this idea that inspired us to start this podcast.

2. Hedonic Imperative

Trick Slattery, George Ortega, and Jamie Soden talk about the hedonic imperative or pleasure principle. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. This is just one of many reasons we don’t have a free will. People keep doing what feels good(pleasure) and try to avoid what feels bad(pain). Upon this is our basis for morality. Some people derive pleasure from doing what they feel is right for someone else even when it may hurt them at the moment. So even altruism falls under this category.

3. Why it’s important to know we don’t have a free will

What has the universe compelled you do feel today? Nick Vale, George Ortega, and Jamie Soden talk about the importance of knowing we don’t have free will. This is a big change in our consciousness that we will benefit from but perhaps not everyone is ready for it. Some people don’t get it. Mostly likely it’s because they don’t want to.

4. Age of Responsibility?

Chandler, George, Jamie, Felicia, David, and Will talk about responsibility, the criminal justice system and how the truth of our unfree will fits into all of this. We also talk about the common fears and myths surrounding the topic that keeps people from accepting the most basic truth of human will. Some people believe that humans gain the ability to make choices and at a certain age become morally or legally responsible for their. Some people fear that without this fundamental belief in human responsibility that our existing legal system will collapse. What is clear is that any system based on libertarian free will must be changed to reflect the truth that our wills are causal.

5. These People Just Don’t Get It!

Chandler Klebs and George Ortega talk about why academics don’t understand why free will is an illusion. Even when they do understand it, what keeps them from promoting this message? George thinks that they are unable to overcome their emotional needs to believe that things are different than what the evidence suggests.

6. God’s Omniscience Versus Free Will

Chandler Klebs and George Ortega talk about the logical conflict between an omniscient god who knows the future with the belief that we can freely choose to do differently than what god knows we can do. Choosing contrary to god’s knowledge makes god wrong. What does this imply for people who believe in prophecy while also believing that we have genuine choice and our future is not written?

7. Podcast Publishing Goals

Chandler Klebs and George Ortega talk about our plans for this podcast and how we will recruit cohosts and publish the recordings. We send group emails and set up Skype sessions with a variety of cohosts and talk about what is most interesting to them. It’s not that difficult to join us. If you have an interest in the free will debate you can easily contact us.

Our official website has a form you can fill out:

Or you can easily try contacting Chandler Klebs or George Ortega. Visit this site for more details on the work they have done prior to launching the Free Will, Science, and Religion podcast.

8. Criminal Justice System

George Ortega, Trick Slattery, and Jamie Soden talk about the criminal justice system and how the free will belief leads us to blame people for crimes and cause them to suffer in unnecessary ways. We need to move away from revenge and switch to methods that deter and correct criminals away from doing harmful things. An understanding of determinism allows us to get to the causes of crimes we wish to prevent people from doing. It also opens up a larger topic of what is or is not a crime. How do we agree on a standard of legality and morality?

9. Right Way to Think

George Ortega, Gary Mosher, David Joseph, Trick Slattery, and Chandler Klebs talk about the meaning of “free”. We clarify what the free will debate is really about. It’s not about political freedom. You must first have a constraint before the word free can have any context. Gary explains that two plus two equals four and there is no point in being free to come up with 5 or 6.

10. Happy Conscious Robots

When we know that we aren’t the source of anything we do, we can no longer be proud or arrogant. We cannot brag about what “we” did any more than another robot can. However we can still be happy being what we are and doing what we do. We are constantly reprogrammed by our experiences and so we can and do change without requiring a free will. This is because we are conscious of our surroundings and adapt to them.

11. When Do We Become Conscious?

The cohosts disagree about the role of consciousness in our actions and also at what point humans become conscious. George says our decisions are made by the unconscious brain before we become aware of them. This leads to much confusion about what the difference between conciousness and unconsciousness. We don’t know why we are doing what we do! This is helpful in explaining why we are not in control as we might feel.

12. Other Topics

Chandler and George Ortega share their very controversial opinions about consciousness, intelligence, the illusion of self, and many other things. This was sort of unusual because most of our podcasts were about why free will is an illusion. This was more about other topics that come up when we understand humans are not the authors of the intelligence they seem to display. We are some amazing robots.

13. Different Definitions of Terms

Chandler Klebs, George Ortega, Trick Slattery, and David Joseph talk about how certain words have different meanings to different people. This causes confusion about terms like free will, choice, randomness, god, etc. Can we ever establish that there is a right meaning for these?

For George, God just means the Universe. He thinks this is the original meaning of God before it was changed by polytheists and monotheist. Similarly, the cohosts of this podcast are committed to the idea that Libertarian free will was the original definition and compatibilism is a modern attempt to confuse the issue so that people never learn to stop blaming themselves and others for what is not in our control.

14. What is our message?

Chandler Klebs, Trick Slattery, George Ortega, and David Joseph talk about what the message of this podcast is and what it is not. People do not need to fear anything from knowing we don’t have a free will. If anything life will be more peaceful without the blame and hatred that comes from believing people freely chose to hurt us. By understanding the causes of problems, we may get better at preventing them as well as stop blaming ourselves and others for our mistakes.

15. Punishment, Deterrence, and Correction

Chandler Klebs, George Ortega, and David Joseph talk about punishment and how our ideas about it will change as the world starts to understand that we don’t have a free will and nothing is up to us. Rewards and punishments are sometimes useful in modifying behavior but they should never be done because of a belief that people “deserve” anything. So it’s not a question of whether or not to punish, but how much punishment and of what type that might be effective at changing people so that they no longer desire to commit horrible crimes.

16. Misunderstandings and What We Do About it

Often when talking with people, we have errors in communicating. Some of this is is because of the limitations of human languages. Other times, it is due to a difference in experience and words being used differently in their culture. There can be a huge difference between what we say and what others hear. The free will belief often contributes to the misunderstandings and miscommunications we have with people. It causes us to blame them for being too stupid to understand us. They never chose to be different than us. Their experiences are never identical to ours and if we were them, we would be unable to understand the things we currently do. As we become more understanding of the differences between people, we can find more effective ways of communicating without the blame and hatred that comes when talking about important topics.

17. How Free Will Belief Hurts Us

George Ortega, Chandler Klebs, and Jamie Soden talk about the harms of believing in free will. We also talk about religions that tend to promote free will belief and cause great harm. The important thing to understand is that we can’t blame people for the harm they cause no matter how upset we might be at it. The best we can do is try to get to the root causes of the behavior we don’t like so that we can change it. Sometimes the problem is biology and other times it is our belief systems which cause us to be angry at humans, god, the universe, or a chemical that drops from the ceiling. As far as we know, there is no completely satisfactory explanation for the suffering we experience in our life, but we will continue to explore what we can do to reduce the pain caused from incorrect beliefs about our will.

18. Free Will: What it Means, Why we Don’t Have it, and Why it Matters

Chandler Klebs, Michael Laster, and Nick Vale go through the basics of what people usually mean by free will, why it can’t exist, and the implications of understanding this and applying it to our lives. Generally free will means that what people think, feel, say, or do is up to their conscious mind. What they don’t notice is that they don’t choose what mind they have and that they are largely unaware of all the things that compelled them to be what they are now. This means that we don’t deserve any reward or punishment for being who we are or doing what we do. Michael Laster and Nick Vale have been on George Ortega’s show Exploring the Illusion of Free Will. This means that they have much experience explaining this topic.

19. Why Partial or Limited Free Will is Wrong

Chandler Klebs, George Ortega, Trick Slattery, and David Joseph talk about the claim that we don’t have complete free will, but we have a little bit of free will. Some believe that some decisions are more free than others. People look at examples of mental illness or addiction as evidence of times when people are less free than others. However, since peoples actions are the result of brain states over which they have no control, they cannot be free to act as a different person with a different configuration of their brain. What they want to do isn’t up to them!

Aside from the fact that it makes no sense to have a limited amount of free will that is not subject to causality or acausality, this tiny amount of free will that they think they have does not enable them to nullify their addictions. If it were so simple, people could easily quit their addictions to cigarets, alcohol, sex, or Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing On Rainbows.

20. Changes in Morality

Chandler Klebs, George Ortega, Trick Slattery, and David Joseph talk about the differences in morality depending on whether or not people believe in free will. Some people claim that if people stop believing in free will, they will start acting more unethically. However, this comes from a misunderstanding of determinism and confusing it with fatalism. Studies which try to test the effects of free will belief often have the flaw of trying to temporarily change people’s beliefs, which doesn’t actually work. It’s similar to the claim that people will act immorally if they stop believing in God.

Our actions come from a variety of different biological and environmental causes.When somebody comes to understand the reasons why free will is an illusion, a long process takes place in which old habits change and the end result is that someone will treat others with more equality and compassion. Far more data is needed to accurately explain why a certain person behaves as they do. The cohosts on this podcast can each explain how their lives have improved since they broke through the illusion of free will. They wish the same for others.

A short update

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been busy with the podcasts, my job, and my new girlfriend. The funniest part of my life recently is that I’m in a relationship with Jessica Gillette. She adds an excitement to my life I’ve never known before.

In any case, the Free Will, Science, and Religion podcast has 107 episodes right now and it’s become a huge part of my life. Right now I’m thinking about how my blogs will fit into it.