Can we choose to believe in God?
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16-09-2016, 03:45 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(16-09-2016 02:36 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Those who don't care or don't know enough to have a committed opinion are agnostics. They are agnostic in the colloquial sense, in that they're not committed to an answer.

ek,

Interesting questions.

Do theists/atheists care or know more than agnostics?

Is being "committed to an answer" the same as having an answer?

D.
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17-09-2016, 04:02 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
I have a friend who does it to stay sober. Seems like a good enough reason to me. Only talked about it once. "I've known for you 30 years Fred, I know you're an atheist." "If I told you those happy pills you take were actually sugar pills would you stop taking them?" Fair enough.

#sigh
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17-09-2016, 04:06 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
After the age of about 12 or so all of our beliefs are chosen. Younger than that we usually believe what we are told whether Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or that making a human/god bleed to death will 'save' other people.
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17-09-2016, 04:14 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(10-09-2016 02:09 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(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.

In 7th grade is the first time I ran across this type of argument. At the end of one chapter it said basically that although some people believe in evolution the vast majority of evidence points to a Creator God. So I opened the next chapter hoping to see some of this evidence, but as still I never see people who declare they have this evidence presenting it! We prolly don't give a rat's ass about induction or reduction, just give us the evidence!
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17-09-2016, 04:29 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
First off, there's so much research that indicates that many of our beliefs are post hoc rationalizations that I'm never too certain that my beliefs are rational. But I'd put your question into a category that I find very interesting: is it possible to talk oneself into a belief that, if true, would be beneficial? For example, is it possible for me to take advantage of the placebo effect in order to garner its benefits, even if I don't accept a particular cure rationally?

I've tried. Drinking orange juice doesn't make my cold feel better; wearing my lucky bracelet doesn't guarantee a good performance, etc. I suspect it would be the same for belief in a god. However, I don't know that what's true for me is going to be true for everyone. We are all able to convince ourselves that some kind of craziness is true.
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22-09-2016, 03:27 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(17-09-2016 04:02 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I have a friend who does it to stay sober. Seems like a good enough reason to me. Only talked about it once. "I've known for you 30 years Fred, I know you're an atheist." "If I told you those happy pills you take were actually sugar pills would you stop taking them?" Fair enough.

GirlyMan,

I can understand that. If someone is doing what it takes then let it be. Bowing

D.
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22-09-2016, 03:38 AM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(17-09-2016 04:14 PM)Born Again Pagan Wrote:  In 7th grade is the first time I ran across this type of argument. At the end of one chapter it said basically that although some people believe in evolution the vast majority of evidence points to a Creator God. So I opened the next chapter hoping to see some of this evidence, but as still I never see people who declare they have this evidence presenting it! We prolly don't give a rat's ass about induction or reduction, just give us the evidence!

BAP,

I would not agree with the statement "..the vast amount of evidence points to Creator God."

D.
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22-09-2016, 07:22 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.

I think it's very true that one neither chooses to believe, or chooses not to believe.
As a theist, to not believe, would require that I believe in variety of other things, to serve as ground for why I shouldn't believe what I do in the first place. But I can't choose to believe the prerequisite things here, because thats beyond my ability to dictate.

Imagine a man who says to trust no one, only believe those things that you can physically test yourself, without relying on the observation of others. Only believe that certain people or towns exist, if we have pictures and videos of them. And lack a belief in anything outside of that. All his beliefs may be true, but just partial and limited.

This man might lack a belief in a variety of things that you and I believe. But in order for us to be him, it wouldn't be a matter of lacking belief, but holding to those beliefs that got him there in the first place.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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22-09-2016, 01:02 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
Tomasia,

I'm impressed that you have remembered that this is the philosophy section and presented a clear account of the problem of philosophical scepticism.

As an agnostic, I have been mulling over this whole thing about 'evidence' and thinking that if someone tells me that they have personal experience that I have not had, then who am I to correct them? Of course I don't have to believe whatever account they wish to universalise, but it is only polite to accept their account of what they have experienced themselves. One problem is that, if I have not had their experience (or similar) then I won't know what they are talking about with any depth of understanding.

And so the 'talking past each other' pseudo debate goes on.

D.

PS - I've had a similar thing when talking with Randians about altruism. As the loggerheads continue I get the sense that they just don't feel altruism and so we are not discussing the same thing.
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22-09-2016, 01:29 PM
RE: Can we choose to believe in God?
(22-09-2016 01:02 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  And so the 'talking past each other' pseudo debate goes on.

I think that's very true. It just all seems like a constant steam of talking past each other. That it becomes easier to the see an individual who holds a competing worldview, as an alien of sorts. It starts to become evident, that our differences are not merely in what we believe, but whatever set of experiences and life that led each us there, a lot of which might not be entirely relatable to the other party, or transferable.

Even the idea of evidence seems strange to me. We all seem to infer what we eventually hold as true through a variety of sensory stimuli. It doesn't seem to be the case that we then go on to filter this through whether or not what stimulated our thoughts in a particular direction is evidence or not. If anything we label these items as evidence after the fact, after holding something as likely true, or not.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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