Can we choose to believe in God?
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10-09-2016, 02:09 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 11:26 PM)SYZ Wrote:  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.

SYZ,

This is interesting philosophy.

In your second paragraph you employ a reductio ad absurdum against the argument from possibility. It is a tempting strategy, and seems to have power, particularly when the absurdity has emotional and surreal impact, such as the choice of faeries, unicorns, type images etc.

However, what is the structure of this strategy?

I understand the argument from possibility to infer that what is not impossible is possible. This does not mean that it is likely or plausible, just that it is possible. The reductio ad absurdum strategy seeks to limit the possible by the above poetic means. I think this fails to go through. The strategy does deal in likeliness and plausibility, but I do not think it secures impossibility. By definition, possibility can only be reasonably defeated by impossibility and that is a very big call outside of maths and formal logic. Indeed some philosophers might be reluctant even to go that far in black and white thinking.

Finally, to mention a different point - In your first paragraph, there is the also interesting line - "I choose to believe that there is no evidence". Let us leave aside the fact that there is evidence (albeit implausible and poor) for the existence of G/god. IMHO evidence is a matter of fact, rather than belief. I would agree with you that there is not extant plausible evidence for the existence of G/god AFAIK. However, it is a long jump from that view to the claim that "there is no evidence". A consideration of philosophical induction would be helpful here. As this post is getting a bit long, I'll leave induction for a later post.

D.
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10-09-2016, 02:23 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 07:43 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  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.

ts,

I agree with you on this point. Before studying philosophy I held the view that atheism might be true. I am now aware that the standards of truth/falsity in formal logic cannot support an atheist position. To attempt to use formal logic in this way would be a category mistake.

This is not to say that atheism might not be a plausible or 'reasonable' view, given the contingencies of our reality and experience.

D.
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10-09-2016, 05:38 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 02:23 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(09-09-2016 07:43 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  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.

ts,

I agree with you on this point. Before studying philosophy I held the view that atheism might be true. I am now aware that the standards of truth/falsity in formal logic cannot support an atheist position. To attempt to use formal logic in this way would be a category mistake.

This is not to say that atheism might not be a plausible or 'reasonable' view, given the contingencies of our reality and experience.

D.

Atheism is the only reasonable view given the dearth of evidence for any gods.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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10-09-2016, 10:40 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 02:23 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(09-09-2016 07:43 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  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.

ts,

I agree with you on this point. Before studying philosophy I held the view that atheism might be true. I am now aware that the standards of truth/falsity in formal logic cannot support an atheist position. To attempt to use formal logic in this way would be a category mistake.

This is not to say that atheism might not be a plausible or 'reasonable' view, given the contingencies of our reality and experience.

D.

I'm actually thinking this is the other way around. I'm sure we've all heard the meme that is like "all babies are born atheist and have to be taught religion" (or that atheism is the "default position"). But this isn't really true. Your "default" belief position is not your choice, it is determined for you by the environment you are born into. A baby "technically" does not believe in god but your dog or cat also "don't believe" in god for the same reason, because it is incapable of even understanding the premise of the question.

Before we even begin to start gaining our own understanding of the world around us we have already been encoded with the beliefs of those that are raising us.

Once we are exposed to new information, which we will choose to accept or reject as it comes in, do we then gain the ability to choose our own beliefs. Anyone that rejects new information will never be able to choose their beliefs, even though they may think that they are making a choice.

A friend in the hole

"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
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10-09-2016, 10:42 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(09-09-2016 07:43 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  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..

^This...it took me I while to realize that I didn't have to 'believe'.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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10-09-2016, 11:16 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 05:38 AM)Chas Wrote:  Atheism is the only reasonable view given the dearth of evidence for any gods.

Chas,

Bertrand Russell provided a thought experiment, popularly called "Russell's Chicken".

An intelligent chicken finds it reasonable to assume that it's comfortable life will continue as before. The date is the 24th December.

D.
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10-09-2016, 11:28 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 10:40 AM)unsapien Wrote:  Once we are exposed to new information, which we will choose to accept or reject as it comes in, do we then gain the ability to choose our own beliefs. Anyone that rejects new information will never be able to choose their beliefs, even though they may think that they are making a choice.

unsapien,

You make a good point. Just as an example, if the "new information" were to be this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Judgment

would we be able to choose to reject it?

D.

PS - Apologies for the choice of example in present company. The thought experiment is in service of philosophy, not eschatology.
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10-09-2016, 12:16 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 11:28 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(10-09-2016 10:40 AM)unsapien Wrote:  Once we are exposed to new information, which we will choose to accept or reject as it comes in, do we then gain the ability to choose our own beliefs. Anyone that rejects new information will never be able to choose their beliefs, even though they may think that they are making a choice.

unsapien,

You make a good point. Just as an example, if the "new information" were to be this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Judgment

would we be able to choose to reject it?

Well... yes & no.

One of the reasons I used the word "information" and not "evidence" is because there are levels of information that are useful in decision making that would not necessarily raise to the level of evidence.

So, Yes, not being a believer of the religion that teaches last judgment, I can choose to accept or reject the idea if the last judgment due to my independent assessment of the evidence (or lack there of) that hell exists or that there will be a final judgment.

But if I had already chosen to believe in the religion that teaches the last judgment then No I could not then choose to reject the idea of the last judgment.

Some choices we make can increase the choices open to us in the future, some choices we make reduce our options.

A friend in the hole

"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
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10-09-2016, 01:28 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
I've had friends that have been in up to five religions, last I checked. They may not have "chosen" to believe in the first god, but they definitely chose the others.

And yeah, I give them shit about it regularly. Sleepy
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10-09-2016, 03:40 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 12:16 PM)unsapien Wrote:  Well... yes & no.

One of the reasons I used the word "information" and not "evidence" is because there are levels of information that are useful in decision making that would not necessarily raise to the level of evidence.

So, Yes, not being a believer of the religion that teaches last judgment, I can choose to accept or reject the idea if the last judgment due to my independent assessment of the evidence (or lack there of) that hell exists or that there will be a final judgment.

But if I had already chosen to believe in the religion that teaches the last judgment then No I could not then choose to reject the idea of the last judgment.

Some choices we make can increase the choices open to us in the future, some choices we make reduce our options.

unsapien,

My point was not about the "idea" of the last judgment. I was considering if we could choose to reject the last judgment if it was actually happening.

Much evidence in our lives is like this, for example the diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness. In these cases it is hard to see how there can be choice over the evidence, although there is some choice in the way that we cope with the reality that faces us. I know that human beings often employ psychological denial as a coping mechanism, even to the last moments. But at some point comes acceptance.

A young philosophy student once said to me, "The great thing about life is we don't have to face reality." I often remember that comment.

D.
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