One extreme example of this is ISIS. Many join, and many will not escape alive. However, our beliefs can kill more subtly. What we think about ourselves can kill us.
Many years ago, after taking LSD, I lost the awareness that I was a human who could die. I could easily have jumped out of a window, thinking I could fly.
However, we can lose awareness of who we are, with deadly consequences, without taking LSD.
In a vain attempt to dismiss the existence of God, many have opted for materialism - the belief that only a physical reality exists. However this belief entails other beliefs - that everything is determined by the laws of science. Consequently, everything is predetermined by these laws. As a result, they are convinced that freewill is only an illusion.
Some even relish this belief. If they do not have freewill, then they couldn't have acted otherwise, and they cannot be held accountable for their behavior.
Although this might serve to mitigate feelings of shame an guilt, it also carries unintended lethal baggage. For one thing, they have also relinquished their right to hold others accountable. Along with this, they have sacrificed vital concepts like justice, retribution, honor, dignity, courage, meaning, and any purpose for their lives.
But do these sacrifices kill? They will definitely kill relationships. What are you going to tell your wife, when she accuses you for pushing her? Are you going to apologize? You cannot honestly apologize, if you believe that you couldn't have done otherwise. But how then can there be reconciliation with your wife?
Nor can you require your children to apologize. After all, they too couldn't have behaved otherwise.
You can instead decide:
- I will apologize and will require my children to apologize even though we couldn't have done otherwise.
However, to apologize contradicts your worldview. It admits that your worldview fails to address the needs of your life. It is therefore dysfunctional and should be exchanged for a worldview that reflects reality and serves as a guide for life.
The denial of freewill and accountability kills in other ways. It tells criminals that they are not responsible for their rapes and murders. It even tells them that they lack the freewill to improve.
Perhaps, even worse, it teaches them cynicism. It tells them that they do not deserve punishment, because their crimes had been pre-programmed into them.
If so, they will wonder why they are being punished if they couldn't have acted otherwise. They will see that your system of justice is just hypocrisy. Such an awareness will not inspire change and personal responsibility.
Instead, we need to be nourished with a coherent rationale for responsible living. Without this, I fear that our society cannot long endure. And why should we even care if we cannot do otherwise?
Should we deprive such people of the vote, a vote that is no more than a chemical-electrical reaction! And when deprived, should we take their complaint seriously?
This is not a flippant remark but a reality. To deny freewill is to deny that we are responsible and moral agents. It is also to seriously degrade humanity. If this human machine fails to respond in socially acceptable ways, why not simply deposit us in the city dump with the rest of the garbage!