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Is Belief a Choice?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Monk Of Reason, May 25, 2013.

  1. Monk Of Reason

    Monk Of Reason ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

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    Some feel that Belief is a choice. Some don't. I personally don't to a degree. For example can any of your choose to believe in Santa? Truly really believe? Can you choose to believe in any god in particular?

    You can lie to yourself and to a degree believe something by Choice. However this is denial.

    So if you truly believe in a Religion or god is it really a choice? And if your an Atheist is it really a choice? I know we can always re-evaluate the evidence but can we really chance how we look the world as easily as switching sides? I know opinions can change over time but is it possible to simply change ones view on the basis of "choice"?
     
  2. savagewind

    savagewind Veteran Member
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    I think I cannot switch sides.
     
  3. Union jack

    Union jack Member

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    Obviously the threat of eternal hell is enough to sway some opinions. Proof of a more lenient system could sway them in another direction.
     
  4. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I'm never sure if it's actually belief, or just saying, "I believe ..... " Just because someone says they believe in something doesn't mean they do. There are lots of other reasons to say you believe in something, like
    .. getting along with parents or friends
    .. being accepted
    .. it's cool
    .. it's weird so you get attention
    .. you don't get noticed or singled out
    .. you get a better job, or favored
     
  5. Union jack

    Union jack Member

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    But at the point of death we may be inclined to go one way or another depending on what we 'believed' (chose) during life.
     
  6. Union jack

    Union jack Member

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    Yeah, that or eternal hell.. lol
     
  7. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    No, it's not a choice, but as a hard determinist, obviously I would say that.
     
  8. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    People have a degree of choice on whether to research religion, whether to explore their beliefs and other beliefs, which could lead down the path of changing beliefs. It's somewhat limited by intelligence, education, access to information, etc.

    But I think it's pretty clear a person can't just "choose" to believe something. There are no mental gymnastics I could do to turn myself into a Scientologist, for example. Likewise, there are no mental gymnastics I could do to un-learn the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun. A person is rather restricted on believes they can acquire or lose, based on their current information.
     
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  9. Titanic

    Titanic Well-Known Member

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    sure why not.
     
  10. Evee

    Evee Member

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    I pretty much agree with Penumbra.

    I know that my own belief isn't a choice. If it were, I think I'd choose to believe more consistently than I do. But I do choose, to an extent, how much to observe. That, in turn, influences the strength of my belief.
    There might be some people who can straight up choose to believe things, but I'm not one of them.
     
  11. Tarheeler

    Tarheeler Argumentative Curmudgeon
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    Yeah, I don't think it's a choice either.

    I tried to remain a Christian for a long time, but I couldn't force myself into believing it. I even fancied myself my atheist for a while, but I couldn't actually make myself stop believing in God. And I really tried; it would have made my life so much easier.
     
  12. Monk Of Reason

    Monk Of Reason ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

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    Hmm.Despite this being in the debate thread there isn't much disagreement. Perhaps this was a bad choice for the debate thread and would be better suited in the discussion thread.
     
  13. 1137

    1137 | O.S. Co-founder
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    We really have very little (if any) choice in anything, and everyone has faith / belief in some things. It's obviously in some people's nature to not believe some things. I for one am incapable of accepting Christianity.
     
  14. Union jack

    Union jack Member

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    I think some of us would waffle in our choices If we were forced to choose at the point of a gun.

    As far as I'm concerned I think Vinayaka nailed this debate:

     
  15. Monk Of Reason

    Monk Of Reason ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

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    At the point of a gun I don't think its possible to believe something. You can claim you do but not really. Just as Vinayaka said.
     
  16. Sha'irullah

    Sha'irullah رسول الآلهة

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    It is complex but it is a choice based upon one's own level of reason. People will interpret things differently of course as we see this all day with out likes and dislikes.
    For many atheist certain subjective proofs disprove god while for others it only validates is existence.
    We chose to accept atheism or theism based on what we feel is appropriate given our understanding and knowledge.
    People always reference that one makes a choice in religion. People leave religions and choose others yet for some reason it is viewed that one does not choose atheism. This primarily ones from atheists as far as I know as they assert that the natural default of man is atheist but lately this has been shifted to agnostic although in reality it is above agnosticism yet below theism since if the natural standpoint of man was atheistic or agnostic nobody would consider dedicating so much time in religion yet alone the previous beliefs in god which predate organized religion.

    So believing in god is indeed a choice no different than being atheist is a choice. But they are not done so in such a simple manner. They are choices chosen from personal experience and individualistic reasoning skills.



    Also comparing god to Santa Claus is not even remotely true and is used as an insult. Santa Claus is given attributes which have been proven false centuries ago while we do not even know god's for certain.

    One attributes of god is creation and we cannot disprove this but we can disprove that presents come from Santa by merely staying up at night on Christmas Eve. I could tell you that a unicorn is in my room but I can only do so unless yo do not look into my room.
     
    #16 Sha'irullah, May 25, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  17. Union jack

    Union jack Member

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    There's one way to prove how quickly we would choose to change our beliefs but I wouldn't want to subject anyone to that ordeal.
     
  18. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    I think whatever beliefs we have are based on factors, some of which we can seemingly help and some others we can't. I don't think we can help the result of the combination of these factors, but perhaps we can help keeping that result in a state of change by consistently changing the factors we can help.

    Then again i'm not really sure of our ability to do even that, hence the "seemingly" part.
     
  19. 1137

    1137 | O.S. Co-founder
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    :facepalm: that's just your belief haha.
     
  20. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    One of the reasons why there is so much discussion about that "god" and "belief in god" actually are is because actual capability for belief is so difficult to change. It is far more of a vocation, an affinity, than an actual choice.
     
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