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Featured Is Believing in God(s) a Choice?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Oct 15, 2022.

  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Vestigial Member
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    It was suggested in another thread that one can choose to be a believer or not.

    Is it a choice, is it something inherent to one's psyche, or is a product of one's environment and experience?
     
  2. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    As a fervent god believer when i was a child i made a conscious choice to leave my belief behind. So i see it as a choice.
     
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  3. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    It's a bit of both. But once we become conscious of the question, and of our unknowing, then it is clearly a choice.

    Not everyone is so conscious, however.
     
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  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    At issue is whether or not the choice was compelled by an evolving complex of beliefs and values. One would hope that most of us experience such changes in the face cognitive dissonance.
     
  5. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    As you have no idea why idea my choice I'll leave it there.
     
  6. Erebus

    Erebus Well-Known Member
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    Chaos magic emphasises deliberately altering your beliefs in order to alter your perception of the world. Some practitioners will pray to gods they know are fictional and will attempt to believe in them nonetheless, if only temporarily. So yes, there are at least some people in the world who have deliberately chosen to believe in something.

    That said, some practitioners of chaos magic also like to use psychedelics so... maybe that's a factor?


    For most people, beliefs tend to change gradually over time so it can be difficult to say how much of that comes down to choice. People can have a crisis of faith that makes them re-examine their beliefs or they can have an experience that makes them more inclined to accept a new belief. In either case, it's likely that the person in question at least had the choice as to whether or not they engage in some soul-searching.

    I also personally suspect that some people are naturally predisposed towards either theism or atheism. This is obviously a controversial subject and my understanding is that it hasn't been confirmed one way or the other. If it is true, then it would suggest that some people are either incapable of deliberately choosing a belief or are at least going to have a hard time doing so.
     
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  7. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    My mind is incapable of faith. So, the rejection of the Catholic presentation of God, a tradition in my family, was not a choice for me. However, I have found enough evidence to convince me that a Creator might exist, one that the founders of the world's most popular religions knew no more about than I do.
     
  8. Aštra’el

    Aštra’el Aštara, Blade of Aštoreth

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    Like many other things… it is not some single choice made, and is not a result of being “born that way”… but it is a development.
     
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  9. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    I do not think it is a matter of choice. It all depends on your bringing up, religion, education and life experiences. That my orthodox theist grandpa accepted Big Bang, Evolution, Paleontology, Plate Tectonics and Mendeleev's periodic table and that was what finally made me an atheist. Some never realize the question (like my family).
     
    #9 Aupmanyav, Oct 15, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2022
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  10. Yerda

    Yerda Well-Known Member

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    Try to believe that Santa is real, has a workshop at the North Pole and flies around the world on xmas eve delivering presents. If you can't then I suggest the answer is no, we make the evaluation of whether a claim is true or false automatically and outside of conscious control.

    If I had to guess I'd say that the mind does this based on whichever evaluation has fewer conflicts with currently held beliefs.
     
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  11. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Well-Known Member

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    Yes, we spiritually journey on from plane to plane.
    Some people spiritually "grow", while other's don't.

    There are a number of factors at play..
    Our life experiences, and psychology / intentions, for example.

    A person with intention to get closer to God, will indeed find Him.
    ..but it doesn't stop there. That is just the beginning.
     
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  12. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Vestigial Member
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    Wait, you're not suggesting Santa isn't real, are you? :eek:
     
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  13. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    I think questions like that, involve determining if humans are the generators of primary concepts and experiences. John 1:1 implies, oddly, that languages, for example, might be more conscious than humans. And not only that, but by 'being with god,' these languages are tangled up in concepts like belief. And so it could be, that humans are the organisms that are in a symbiotic relationship with languages, and we are their host organism.
     
  14. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Hey God, what went wrong?
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    I think it depends upon the individual and the circumstances into which they are born all too often. For me, I didn't apparently have too much to influence this matter other than a mild indoctrination from school and the accepted Christian culture of my own country. To counter this, I did apparently have sufficient intelligence to actually question such assumptions, even if it did and does take some courage to dismiss much of the power and religious history based on the belief - the religion endorsing and apparently verifying such a 'fact' as to the existence of God. Hence I have made a choice not to believe in God or gods, but since I can't be 100% certain, I would class myself as agnostic.

    Of course I realise I might be wrong but that is irrelevant - the choice being mine to make. I don't know if this is possible for all and not just reflecting my own intelligence, given that I know plenty will be more intelligent and who do believe in God or gods. But I did have enough intelligence, and the facilities available, to search out the information necessary so as to make such a decision. Many might not have either of such. I probably dipped into and out of the subject over the years but nothing much has changed.

    And perhaps, as mentioned, some might be more predisposed to believing in such things or have something in their childhood or youth so as to influence any such belief. Or this might occur through some other process later in life. But for me, always having had an interest in science, it is purely a matter of probability and evidence. And as to such, I have less belief in the evidence (being as presented) and also less as to the probabilities of any of the religions being factually based. Hence, their proposals as to God or gods tend to have less weight - being more like human written material, and of their time. Proofs as to the existence of God don't make much impression either.

    Dismissing the religions, there is always the chance that something exists coinciding with a creator concept or something else, and hence again why I am agnostic.
     
  15. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I think it depends on the individual. For some, it's clearly not a choice. For others, sure. I don't see the question as an 'it is' or an 'it isn't'.
     
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  16. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I think that there is a neglected need to better define and explain what would constitute belief (more specifically, god-belief). There are also repressed and closely related needs for better vocabulary and better acknowledgment of the role of emotional responses in the continued use of god-conceptions.

    No matter how insistently many people want to treat "fear of god" as if it were one and the same thing as actual belief, the two stances are arguably of opposite natures and even mutually exclusive (as well as with atheism). At some point we will also have to recognize the urgent and dire need for gauging the mental health of believers, which varies a lot indeed and can't be very well be neglected in current times.

    All the same, I will attempt to answer your questions now.

    God-belief seems to be impossible for some people, perhaps to a very high percentage of all people even. But peer pressure can be so overwhelming that many people go through their whole lives without ever having much opportunity nor encouragement to truly consider whether they are believers.

    As a matter of fact, whole communities (from nuclear families all the way up to theocracies) are often intentionally, deliberately ill-equipped to even seriously consider whether their people are clearly believers, disbelievers or something else. Very often the social and presumed religious institutions shape themselves in order to avoid answering or even asking those questions. I have personally met anedoctal evidence that Catholic Catechism apparently neglects to even mention that atheism exists. That may be typical; the point is very often to promote the appearance, not the belief proper.

    So my tentative answer is that god-belief proper is probably rare, even very rare. But many, many people are taught from too early an age that we are expected to profess belief no matter the actual facts and feelings - if for no other reason, because the social environments lack the interest in learning to deal with other stances.

    We may very well lack any choice in actually being atheists or instead theists. But many people are taught to respond to the matter in certain specific ways for the benefit of their peers and their own perspectives for acceptance. Resisting those teachings and the hypocrisy that far too often comes with them is something of a choice even if belief and disbelief proper probably are not.
     
  17. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane My own religion

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    Depends on several factors. But there is no evidence for really free free will.
    So cognition, how to handle emotions, genes, upbringing and overall culture at least.
     
  18. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    It's only a choice to the extent that one can
    choose to believe Australia is purple.
     
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  19. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    I think you're quite right and quite wrong. :)

    You are quite right in pointing out the absurd degree of confusion and misunderstanding due to the inarticulate thought and speech, and the constant misuse of terms involved in this kind of discussion. You are quite wrong in assuming that most people are just professing a belief in God to assuage cultural expectations and peer pressure. Most people believe in God because they have been taught that God exists, they like believing that God exists, and have found no reason not to accept it as being so. They are not being pushed or pressured. They are quite willing and happy to accept the theology they've been given.
     
  20. Exaltist Ethan

    Exaltist Ethan Synverse Shaper

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    It would be extremely difficult for someone to convince me that my worldviews of theological Exaltism and Cultural Omnism are incorrect. I have grown, and adopted, various view points internally without the input of my family and friends. For most, however, religion is a social concoction devised to sway people in certain directions. What religion you decide to believe or follow in is not a choice when you a minor. If your parents are going to church, then so are you. But when you are granted enough autonomy it is then your choice, and it is up to you to decide to follow your parents beliefs or lack thereof or forge a new path.

    My parents are atheists but they don't try to convert me to their atheism. I've never been to Sunday service as a child as a result, and as an adult I convinced my mom just once to try a Unitarian church with me. But I wasn't trying to convert my mom towards that religion, I just wanted to experience that religion first-hand and was unable to drive myself to that church. What someone chooses to believe in is always their choice, even if authority figures don't allow you to make that choice. Someone can be forced into a path but that religion may not actually be in their heart as a true believer. Then it is up to them what to do when they do get enough autonomy to choose themselves.

    However... there are many religious ideas, such as my own, which the vast majority of the public do not know or understand. Believing internally is always a choice except for the ideas and concepts that you've never heard or considered before. Ignorance is not always bliss, my friends.
     
    #20 Exaltist Ethan, Oct 15, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2022
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