Can we choose to believe in God?
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09-09-2016, 02:00 AM
Can we choose to believe in God?
Hi,

Of course, this is just the old philosophical chestnut – can we choose our beliefs?

However, something interesting comes from the question. If we cannot choose to believe in God, then why would it not follow that we cannot choose not to believe in God? If this were true, then it would also follow that there are no atheists, only agnostics and theists.

My apologies in advance for what must be a very unpopular suggestion on TTA, but please allow that philosophy, like free speech, must go where it leads.

There is much argument in the vein of ‘Atheism is not founded on a belief’. Atheists will tell us that they are concerned only with evidence. Of course the philosophical sceptic will note that we do not have to believe in evidence per se, but that is another question. Let us say that evidence is convincing and crucial for the atheist. The theist can therefore respond that ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. It is something like this that tends me to the thought that we are all agnostics if we are not theists. To hold that it is impossible that evidence can exist for theism, is to claim universal omniscience, and that is a tall order indeed.

Maybe, this is why theists are so prickly with agnostics? They may see something of a blood brother in the atheist, recognising a Kierkegaardian leap in the thinking. But the agnostic is invulnerable to this, able to say to the theist “Of course I would believe in God if I were convinced by evidence. How could I not?”

This is a tricky subject indeed.

D.
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09-09-2016, 03:41 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 02:00 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

Of course, this is just the old philosophical chestnut – can we choose our beliefs?

However, something interesting comes from the question. If we cannot choose to believe in God, then why would it not follow that we cannot choose not to believe in God? If this were true, then it would also follow that there are no atheists, only agnostics and theists.

My apologies in advance for what must be a very unpopular suggestion on TTA, but please allow that philosophy, like free speech, must go where it leads.

There is much argument in the vein of ‘Atheism is not founded on a belief’. Atheists will tell us that they are concerned only with evidence. Of course the philosophical sceptic will note that we do not have to believe in evidence per se, but that is another question. Let us say that evidence is convincing and crucial for the atheist. The theist can therefore respond that ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. It is something like this that tends me to the thought that we are all agnostics if we are not theists. To hold that it is impossible that evidence can exist for theism, is to claim universal omniscience, and that is a tall order indeed.

Maybe, this is why theists are so prickly with agnostics? They may see something of a blood brother in the atheist, recognising a Kierkegaardian leap in the thinking. But the agnostic is invulnerable to this, able to say to the theist “Of course I would believe in God if I were convinced by evidence. How could I not?”

This is a tricky subject indeed.

D.

Being an agnostic atheist requires no trickery. Drinking Beverage

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09-09-2016, 03:45 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
I think I am going to try to start a new field ''philopragmatism''! Or, perhaps, ''pragmatosophy''?

I often wonder why the abstract so often becomes that ''tricky'' area you speak of DLJ. Being a pragmatist with philosophical leanings I come down on the side of belief, in the sense of religious belief, being a learned or acquired function.

I always invisage humans born with an amorphous ''hole'' in their intellect, a cavity that will be shaped by life experience. Yet evidence, on both atheist and theist forums as well as in life, seems to indicate that that experience does not always fit the hole perfectly. Some ''see the light'' of either theism or atheism after years trying to fit the wrong shaped peg in that hole.

I cannot accept that there is any agency outside of the human brain, with its genetic and experiential influences, that determines what we ''believe''. Even the food on our table can come under scrutiny for the origin of its ''provision''. Did some external agency guide the surgeon to discover a world saving fix for some illness, or was it that he was the right generic type who underwent years of training and experience? Ah, but who ultimately provided all those factors . . .?

An unanswerable question in terms of evidence that can be scientifically investigated. So, any such questions can only be abstract, there is no concrete evidence. The only ''survival value'' in religion can be that it absolves humand of really wondering about the origin of things, about why things happen - good or ill they must be the wish of one's particular deity. No need to worry about it, the dead are in a better place etc etc etc. Thus, life can go on, untill the deity calls for us as well and we will meet our loved ones again.

Sophistry? A natural defence mechnaism against the nasty things in life, converted to the real origin of all the good things. Ug, sitting in his cave entrance, looking at the flooded forrest, the rain still teeming down and lightneing all over the place might well look up and think, ''Someone up there really hates me! Perhaps I can pacify him by sacrificing my first born? He eats like a mamoth anyway and we can't hunt in this weather.''

Well, surprise, surprise, the deed is done and now the sun is shining!

All humans have beliefs, just that some believe there is no supernatural or natural omni-anything supreme creator being. I believe that anything else is imposed by ''education'' or life experience.

That is not as neat as I would like it to have been, but I will let it stand.

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09-09-2016, 10:19 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
IMO and based on some evidence that I've looked at (lol), we are predisposed to believe in god(s). Belief systems helped us to survive-there's several good articles online on how similar beliefs among groups of people held the group together more cohesively in terms of survival. Then, you add in the apophenia pattern making phenomena and the tendency to gravitate to a belief in god(s) and the supernatural comes to fruition. Nowadays, as people become more and more educated and science explains away the supernatural, I think we will soon start to see an increasing tilt in the opposite direction--with people actively choosing not to believe.
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09-09-2016, 11:21 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
Story telling used to be the big entertainment. With so many rapt listeners, who can resist throwing in some manipulation?

People who believed the stories got handed handy little sets of "laws", and if the group followed them, everyone was a bit safer. Thou shalt not kill, steal, sleep with the neighbor's wife and so forth.

So, yes, there was something constructive going on in a crazy time.

Could I choose to believe in god? No. Why? Because I don't believe the stuff. I can't make myself believe something I don't believe in. Tongue Is it possible that there is "a god" of some sort? Maybe. But I don't think so.

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09-09-2016, 11:58 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
But absence of evidence where evidence should be could indeed be proof of absence. Jerry Coyne wrote about this - https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com...-negative/

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09-09-2016, 12:15 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2016 01:06 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
There is no coherent definition of a "god". The word is meaningless in 2016.
Dismissing a notion that has no meaning, and is incoherent is not agnosticism.
Are you agnostic concerning pink sparkly unicorns ?
Not very tricky.

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09-09-2016, 04:24 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 11:21 AM)Dom Wrote:  Could I choose to believe in god? No. Why? Because I don't believe the stuff. I can't make myself believe something I don't believe in. Tongue Is it possible that there is "a god" of some sort? Maybe. But I don't think so.

Dom,

I think you are on the money. I also cannot make myself believe in something I don't believe in.

Your last sentences are interesting. "Is it possible that there is "a god" of some sort? Maybe. But I don't think so."

Yes, I reason in a similar way. I can believe that it is possible that there may be a G/god of some sort and also don't think that there is one. However, I cannot make myself believe that it is possible that it is impossible that there is a G/god.

D.
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09-09-2016, 07:43 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 02:00 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

Of course, this is just the old philosophical chestnut – can we choose our beliefs?

However, something interesting comes from the question. If we cannot choose to believe in God, then why would it not follow that we cannot choose not to believe in God? If this were true, then it would also follow that there are no atheists, only agnostics and theists.

My apologies in advance for what must be a very unpopular suggestion on TTA, but please allow that philosophy, like free speech, must go where it leads.

There is much argument in the vein of ‘Atheism is not founded on a belief’. Atheists will tell us that they are concerned only with evidence. Of course the philosophical sceptic will note that we do not have to believe in evidence per se, but that is another question. Let us say that evidence is convincing and crucial for the atheist. The theist can therefore respond that ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. It is something like this that tends me to the thought that we are all agnostics if we are not theists. To hold that it is impossible that evidence can exist for theism, is to claim universal omniscience, and that is a tall order indeed.

Maybe, this is why theists are so prickly with agnostics? They may see something of a blood brother in the atheist, recognising a Kierkegaardian leap in the thinking. But the agnostic is invulnerable to this, able to say to the theist “Of course I would believe in God if I were convinced by evidence. How could I not?”

This is a tricky subject indeed.

D.


Well I could not now but I'me thinking back to when I was an ignorant kid and I remember thinking that all the adults around me believed so I should too, even though at that tender young age I was spotting contradictions in what the preacher said. So it seems like I did make a choice back then. And later on I definitely made the choice to examine my beliefs in light of reason, but once I saw in reason that my beliefs were not justified I just stopped believing. So I think it is possible to choose to believe something when one is ignorant but not when one learns some and applies reason and logic.

So if it's six of one and half dozen of the other then I think it is possible to choose but if it is 2 + 2 = 4 I think not.

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09-09-2016, 11:26 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
I choose to believe that there is no evidence to support the existence of so-called gods. I could choose to believe in gods, but I'd be making the wrong choice.

I don't believe in gods for the same reason I don't believe in faeries, unicorns, ghosts, and leprechauns. None of them exist.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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