An Act of Tolerance

My deterministic outlook initially presented itself as an act of tolerance. When someone would do me wrong I would try to imagine those genetic predispositions and life experiences that led to their behavior. In this way, I was able to forgive them. This tendency of mine led me to resent and reject the religious precept that we all have the absolute ability to choose between right and wrong.

Also very early on I rejected the idea of personal guilt. Guilt seemed to me to be useless because it appears after the horse is already out of the barn. I thought it far better to predict beforehand those actions that might make you feel guilty and not do them!

But if I did do wrong accidentally I found it better to devise a solution that would lead to not making the same mistake again rather than feeling guilty about it.

When I was a teenager I called all of this relativism. It was the realization that every situation is unique (relative) because of our differing genetics and experiences. Free Will as the Absolute ability to choose contradicted my relativist, tolerant and guilt-free philosophy of life.  So for me, determinism promotes tolerance, reduces guilt and is a more accurate representation of the Universe.

Actually now that I think of it, the reduction of guilt could be a powerful selling point for determinism. Guilt can cause a person to internalize a negative picture of themselves. This negative self image can in turn lead to further wrongdoing. A vicious circle develops. Determinism can free a person from this cycle by allowing them to give themselves a break and internalize a positive image of self.  The focus is on solutions to wrong-doing rather than self-condemnation.

– Will Davidson, editor of the former Apex Naturalism website