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Featured Do We Choose Our Beliefs?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Left Coast, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    All you're saying here is that your choice is not being made consciously and deliberately. But most of our choices are not being made consciously or deliberately. Yet we are making them, nevertheless, and we do 'deliberate', even if quickly and unawares. Also, we choose to hold onto them, which adds yet another layer of self-will, whether we are aware of that, too, or not.
     
  2. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Reason without imagination is completely useless; ... keep in mind.

    If you want to reason about "God", you're going to have to imagine what God might be, first. And since it's an unanswerable question, the possibilities are limited only by your own imagination, and the results. So what would you WANT God to be? What would happen if you chose to trust that this God you wanted possibly existed? How would it change your thoughts and behavior? Would it increase the quality of your experience of being? If not, how could you 'fix' the ideal to get better results?

    Or, ... you could just decide that God is a moot question/concept, and move on to other things. A lot of folks find that a lot more difficult to do that it might seem, though.
     
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  3. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    I'm not so sure that our reason and conscious activity play so much of a substantial role in the formation of belief, but I do sincerely think that we make very real conscious choices about what evidence we will permit our reason and consciousness to entertain when our beliefs are challenged.

    Certainly, how we observe things inform our beliefs, so children belief that jumping from heights can be harmful long before they know what gravity is, so in that sense you are probably correct. But when we talk about deeply help religious beliefs, I am confident that we get those "spoon-fed" with our Pablum from early on, usually from those we are programmed to believe and trust out of sheer necessity...and often in the face of what may seem to be contrary evidence even then. (I was taught the basis of the Christian religion as a child, but not by my parents, and thus when I heard it from those I was not programmed to trust, I didn't believe it because it didn't fit the world I found myself in.)

    Those "spoon-fed" beliefs can be very tenacious, and if you listen carefully enough to believers, when confronted with evidence that seems to contradict those beliefs, filter out and do not do not consider what might challenge their confidence. It can be quite fascinating to note, for example, in a religious debate about this very topic, what things believers will generally not even respond to, as if they hadn't seen them in their interlocutor's argument.
     
  4. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    We chose what to consider, what to study, what life style to try. We chose to some extent what influences we allow into our lives, which can impact belief. I'm not sure that we choose which belief system feels right or seems right though. Although I think some people choose to believe one thing over another for convenience. Some belief systems require personal sacrifice that perhaps we don't want to make. So, we choose to not believe in those systems.
     
  5. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    I've always been baffled when theists tell me that I just have to 'believe' and THEN God will provide me with evidence for His existence. They act as if I have a switch in my brain that I can flip to turn off my logic and rational thought and replace it with belief in some fantastical claim. I'm simply not capable of sincerely believing in anything of significance without verifiable evidence.
     
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  6. lukethethird

    lukethethird Active Member

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    Do We Choose Our Beliefs?
    I choose to believe whatever appeals to my prejudices, but then again, I'm biased.
     
  7. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    Atheism isn't the rejection of the possibility of a god. It's a failure to accept that there definitely IS a god.

    Let's say the two of us enter a room we've never been in before and there is a jar filled to the brim with various sized marbles. I look at the jar and declare "I believe that there are definitely 448 marbles in the jar, no more and no less." I then turn to you and ask. "Do you also believe that there are definitively 448 marbles in that jar, no more and no less?"

    Now, if your answer is "NO, I do NOT have sufficient evidence for me to believe that there are definitely 448 marbles in that jar, no more and no less."

    Are you stating that you believe that there definitely are NOT 448 marbles in the jar? No, you are not. You haven't ruled out the POSSIBILITY that there MIGHT be 448 marbles. You simply have no reason to accept that the number IS exactly 448.

    So when a theist states that they believe that a god definitely exists and asks if I also believe that a god definitely exists, the only honest answer I can give is "NO, I do not have sufficient evidence to believe that any god definitely exists. By making this statement am I also saying that I believe there there definitely is not any god? Of course not. Some atheists DO take it a step further and declare definitively that no gods exists, but that's is NOT what an atheist is doing when they simply declare a lack of belief that any gods definitely DO exist.
     
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  8. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    By "Self Effort" we humans can evolve a lot. So by "Self Effort" we create and evolve materially and spiritually; so we also create our beliefs
     
  9. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I don't think we choose our beliefs any more than we choose our sexual orientation, or hair colour. What happens happens, and we come to believe certain things because of it. Having said that, I also believe that many don't really know what to believe about a lot of stuff. In that sense, there is pliable belief, of even fake belief, and it takes wisdom to know.
     
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  10. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    That is not what is meant when most people say they believe something in a religious context. It's more what do they have faith in, what speaks to them truth. Evidence stuff is fine if you're dealing with physics and stuff. But religious faith has to do with the heart. That thing that has a mind of its own, you know? :)
     
  11. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    Let me try to persuade you otherwise. Please view the below @21.30-25.00

     
  12. Left Coast

    Left Coast Active Member
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    Great question. This is going to sound like a cop out but it's my honest answer - I don't really know. At this point, I think we have a degree of freedom of choice, within limitations. I'm not convinced that every single event in the universe is deterministically guaranteed to happen exactly the way it does. That said, I think preconditions do exist that limit our options and abilities to choose. For example, our genetics, our upbringing, our education, our culture - all these things limit , or predetermine, our abilities to make choices. Does that make sense?


    Are you choosing what you believe, or just choosing to take another person's perspective? Those are quite different things. As someone whose paradigm has shifted more than once in my life on the question of God, I can certainly take the perspective of a theist. I could post like a theist, make theistic arguments, pray, etc. But none of that would actually change the reality that at rock bottom I don't think there's a god. And I don't see a way to make myself believe in one even if I wanted to. My mind could be changed on the subject, but it would come about by someone making a convincing argument, or presenting new evidence I haven't seen before, etc.
     
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  13. Left Coast

    Left Coast Active Member
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    I do. :) If it has a mind of its own, you don't choose it, do you?
     
  14. Left Coast

    Left Coast Active Member
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    If we do something unconsciously and unintentionally, is there any meaningful way to call that a "choice?" Perhaps this is just another semantic thing but that seems an odd label to use. And no, I don't choose to hold on to my beliefs. I am constrained to believe what I do because I'm convinced I'm correct. If I didn't think I was correct, I would automatically stop believing what I do, by definition.
     
  15. nPeace

    nPeace Well-Known Member

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    I have heard it said, 'we choose what we believe'.
    I think that means, a person can choose to believe something or not.
    In other words, we have the option of closing our minds to what can be seen to be convincing evidence.
    This is what I understand is meant by persons saying, 'we choose our own beliefs'.
     
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  16. Left Coast

    Left Coast Active Member
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    I have no problem with imagination, as long as we don't start deluding ourselves into thinking that our imaginings are real. I can imagine what it would be like to have a million dollars - what I would do with it, all the places I would go on vacation, what new car I would buy, I could walk around really happy and feeling important at the thought that I could have a million dollars...but at the end of the day, I don't have that cash.

    Who am I kidding, I'm an atheist sitting on a religion blog talking about the nature of belief and squabbling with fundamentalists (not you). :p I will probably always be fascinated (and frankly, enamored) by God and religion.
     
    #76 Left Coast, Jun 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  17. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    This seems wrong.

    The dichotomy is not between complete control or no control. The dichotomy is between some control and no control. The way you have worded this pits those who assert we have no control against a strawman argument.
     
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  18. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    Yes, but it's the heart choosing, not the rational mind.
     
  19. Left Coast

    Left Coast Active Member
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    That sounds more like falling in love than making a choice.
     
  20. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    I do not think we are completely FREE to choose our beliefs.
    Rather, we are presented with evidence for a given belief and if our interpretation of the evidence is convincing to us then we choose to believe. Conversely, if that evidence is not convincing to us, we choose not to believe.

    The only chance that we could change what we initially believed about that evidence would be if we were willing to look at that evidence differently or more thoroughly. I think that is possible but one would have to have an open mind and put all confirmation bias and prejudice aside and really look at what is there. Not many people are willing to do that.

    “If a man were to declare, ‘There is a lamp in the next room which gives no light’, one hearer might be satisfied with his report, but a wiser man goes into the room to judge for himself, and behold, when he finds the light shining brilliantly in the lamp, he knows the truth!” Paris Talks, p. 103
     
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