Freethinker … May 19, 2014

free·think·er (frē′thĭng′kər)

n. One who has rejected authority and dogma, especially in religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation.

objectivity – judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices

Total objectivity is impossible. Therefore, would it not be true also that totally free-thinking is also impossible?

In favor of rational inquiry and speculation? I have heard many a theologian claim to engage in rational thinking. If rational inquiry and speculation is carried out via subjective perspectives does it really qualify as freethinking? A human mind, I think, is incapable of maintaining an objective perspective for more than a brief time. Prejudices, upbringing, many factors, tend to squash results that are not desired. Subjective thinking might be the normal state for all humans despite grandiose claims to the contrary.

How can your mind be free then?

The human mind is influenced by emotions, yes, feelings. This fact seems to omit the possibility of objective thought by itself. Is it then only those who lack compassion that are capable of free-thinking? I would think that if someone existed who lacked all emotions, that of compassion, greed, anger, hate, love, etc., they would be the only person capable of free-thinking, totally unfettered. A stinking robot then? A persona-less computer?

I like to think of myself as a freethinker. Of late, I have changed my mind, in the face of new evidence, about a great many things. Is this then the mark of a freethinker, merely the ability to change one’s mind?

I can at least state, I think, from my recent experience, that not all atheists are freethinkers. Theists have so many mental cobwebs I cannot imagine them hardly able to think at all, much less freely, at least where their faith is concerned. When I first declared my atheism I naively imagined all atheists, all non-believers, as freethinkers as well. Now, I think that actual freethinkers are in scant supply. Everyone has a hidden agenda. Every ideology can be co-opted, twisted, to immoral purpose. The best intentions often do not end that way.

I am sure I must have some hidden motive for presenting this post. Perhaps that motive is to get everyone to consider that their minds might not be so free after all. Maybe I am trying to get back at someone who has treated me badly? I hope that isn’t so. I would caution atheists, though, since I am one, not to criticize someone so harshly for being closed-minded until you are sure your mind is not locked up too.

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