The contradiction between the existence of inevitable constraints, imposed by divine authority, and human freedom, a contradiction solved by the Stoics by appealing to controlling desires, it is a problem that will stand in the philosophical debate of the future.
Nowadays we no longer have any mercy for the concept of free will; we know what it really is: the most wicked thing of all the theologians’s tricks, being meant to make mankind “liable” in their sense, that is, depending on them. Here I only provide the psychology of any action “to make liable”.
Wherever liability is sought, what is acting is usually the instinct of judgment and punishment. The doctrine of free will was invented for the purpose of punishment, because it was desirable to impose guilt.
All the old psychology, the psychology of will, was conditioned by the fact that its initiators, priests and the leaders of the old communities wanted to create the right of punishing or wanted to create this right for God.
People were considered “free” so they could be judged and punished, so they could become guilty. Consequently, each act should be considered intentional, and the origin of each act should be considered to be related to consciousness.
from Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
Existentialist atheism affirms that God doesn’t exist, but then there is at least one being whose existence precedes the essence, a being that existed before being defined by a concept, and that being is man…
What is meant here by the statement that existance precedes the essence ?
This mean that man first exist, is situated, is emerging in the world, and then he is defined. As he is conceived by existentialism, man is undefined because at first he is nothing. But then he will something, and he will be what he does himself. So there is no human nature, because there is no God to create it.
Dostoievsky wrote: “If God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted”. This is the starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permitted if God doesn’t exist, and consequently man is abandoned because he finds neither in himself, nor outside, any possibility that he can cling. He can no longer apologize.
If indeed existence precedes the essence, we will never be able to explain something reffering to a established or fixed nature; in other words, there is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom.
On the other hand, if God doesn’t exist then we don’t find any value or ordinance to legitimize our behavior. Today we have neither justification, nor excuses, in the bright field of values. We are alone, without excuses.
If we suppressed God, then one has to invent the values. The things must be interpreted as they are. In fact, to say that we invent the values doesn’t mean anything: life has no established meaning. Before you live, life is nothing; but you are those who give it meaning, and values is nothing but meaning you give to life…
from J. P. Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism