Is Atheism a Choice?
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14-05-2011, 05:04 PM
Is Atheism a Choice?
Seems that the prevalent school of thought is that it is NOT a choice. I think it is.

http://centersolid.blogspot.com/2011/05/...hoice.html

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14-05-2011, 05:13 PM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
I think some people make a conscious choice whereas some people just find themselves believing or not believing in something and have no control over it.

I think it depends on the person.

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14-05-2011, 06:55 PM
 
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
Humans are born atheist.
One has to make a choice to believe in religious doctrine. And in so doing, relinquish a part of their rational intellect, in order to live by a standard that is fantastical, invested in magical thinking, and is wholly irrational.
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15-05-2011, 03:57 AM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
I was baptised a Catholic and socialized to believe in God and Jesus as a child. But by the time I was old enough to think about larger topics like man's reason for existence objectively- about 10 to 12 years old- it became fairly evident that the Bible as a whole was not to be taken literally. Still, everyone else accepted it as the truth, and in all the media (not to mention school) it was a given that God existed and Jesus was an actual person, so I still had some doubts until I started studying Greek mythology in high school. When I was presented with the sheer breadth and detail of the stories involved, and was assured by my teacher that at one time people believed the stories to be true and actually worshipped the many gods in the same fashion they worship the Christian God today, suddenly all of my questions about why the Bible made no sense in light of innumerable historical and scientific facts that conflicted with it, not to mention my own first-hand observations of the world around me and the hypocrisy I had witnessed in a lot of supposedly devout Christians, it became obvious to me that ALL religions were the invention of man.

Suddenly it made perfect sense. OF COURSE the Bible was a work of fiction; OF COURSE God did not exist- that was the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn, and the only way that all of my accumulating knowledge and observations of the world made any sense.

What puzzled me then, and continues to puzzle me today, is how so many people still continue to believe in various Gods when there is absolutely no justifiable reason for doing so. It is plainly evident that the Bible along with all the other holy books were written by men with very little, if any, scientific understanding, and moral standards that no one in their right mind today would consider acceptable.

So why isn't it as obvious to everyone else as it is to me that it's all a fiction? Is it still a secret that the Earth is a hell of a lot older than 6,000 years? Or that man evolved along with all other life on Earth? Or that the existence of God is wholly unnecessary for the Earth's existence, not to mention the larger universe that the writers of the Bible were clearly not aware of? What more do people need to open their eyes? A slap across the face with a wet fish?

So do I consider atheism a choice? I have to go with the answer that it's not a choice so much as it is the inevitable conclusion reached when one actually looks at the evidence available. Once I was in possession of the facts, I no longer had any choice but to be an atheist.

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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15-05-2011, 06:16 AM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
Mike - it sounds like your experience growing up was very similar to my own.

Completely understand your characterization of how you arrived to where you are today. I think the "choice" lies first in accepting doubt and the pursuit of knowledge that conflicts with faith. The second "choice" is in acceptance. I know a few Christians that have made the first choice, but when confronted with the option to make the break or double down on faith, they've chosen the latter.

I know GK's point that we are all born atheist is a good one, but many of us were "conditioned" from earliest memory by religion by our families. I do not have a memory as a child that included a time where I was religion free. It is the most insidious cult program of all time. Unlike those rescued from "crazy" cults and deprogrammed afterward, we are left to our own rescue and individual deprogramming - and in the process I just feel that individual choices and decisions are made...

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15-05-2011, 04:22 PM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
Atheism is a result of a choice, you can't straight away decide to be an atheist though (at least, that's what i think).

I think the case with most ex-theists is the decision to think further than people tell you to. When you do, you either become agnostic or atheistic or you just stay a theist depending on where your thoughts have lead you.

From the moment you agree to call yourself an atheist you actually were one a few moments before, this was just the point where you acknowledged your own beliefs.
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15-05-2011, 04:38 PM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
I actually had this same argument with a Republican at a local fair. We argued over the issue if you choose what you believe or if you are forced to believe something because of your rationale. I understand now that this would be a small scale version of a free-willer to a deterministic debate, but at the time I was completely unaware.

I believe 100% that you do not choose what you believe. However, you can deny what you believe (this is what a lot of Christians do, my own father was one of these, he still is, but now he curses the bible belt and blashpemizes his religion). I did not choose to be an atheist, I didn't even know what the hell an atheist was when I was 10, I just came to realize that God was a fairy tale, there was no choice, just an exit from denial.

Many decisions lead to what you believe, however you can't just stop believing something on a whim. Want to disprove me? Become a Christian right now, just choose to believe in God's existance.
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15-05-2011, 04:41 PM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
Tim - thanks for summing up the point I was trying to make Smile. Good post!

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15-05-2011, 08:24 PM
 
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
(15-05-2011 03:57 AM)hotrodmike Wrote:  Suddenly it made perfect sense. OF COURSE the Bible was a work of fiction; OF COURSE God did not exist- that was the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn, and the only way that all of my accumulating knowledge and observations of the world made any sense.

I can identify with this a great deal – there came a certain point when I realized that the understanding I was waiting for was not forthcoming, and that authority figures in my life had no more information about the veracity of religious dogma than I did. In that moment, when I allowed myself to acknowledge it, the conclusion became inescapable, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Therein lies the only actual choice made – the choice to face what was already fact: that I no longer believed. Once I did, there was no going back - and believe me when I say I wanted to. If I could have made the choice simply to believe again, I would have. Of course, there were choices I could have made. I could have chosen to investigate the matter through different avenues. I could have chosen to speak to people who I knew would attempt to present arguments to the contrary. I suppose, in some sense, I could have even chosen to not think about it anymore (or at least try) in the hopes that I'd just gradually drift back into ignorant bliss. But I knew myself, and I knew what information was out there for the "wannabe" believer; 12 years of Catholic schooling had seen to that. So I made a different choice - the choice to accept and to try to find a way to be at peace with it.

Quote:What puzzled me then, and continues to puzzle me today, is how so many people still continue to believe in various Gods when there is absolutely no justifiable reason for doing so. It is plainly evident that the Bible along with all the other holy books were written by men with very little, if any, scientific understanding, and moral standards that no one in their right mind today would consider acceptable.

So why isn't it as obvious to everyone else as it is to me that it's all a fiction? Is it still a secret that the Earth is a hell of a lot older than 6,000 years? Or that man evolved along with all other life on Earth? Or that the existence of God is wholly unnecessary for the Earth's existence, not to mention the larger universe that the writers of the Bible were clearly not aware of? What more do people need to open their eyes? A slap across the face with a wet fish?

What most people likely need is appropriate motivation. As I pointed out - there are a lot of choices involved, even if the fundamental act of believing itself isn't. People can choose to minimize exposure to information that contradicts their faith and maximize their exposure to that which re-affirms it. They can choose to ignore known voices of science, while attempting to suppress the voices of reason in the backs of their minds. And they will do these things, so long as they have sufficient emotional investment in their faith.

In many ways we all do this to an extent - have you ever cringed in the presence of a friend who has a habit of telling you things you don't want to know, like the number of Malaysian sweatshops supplying your favorite clothing chain, or how many starving children in Africa you could feed for the money you're spending on that new stereo system you've been coveting? It's human nature, an act of emotional self-preservation. Imagine how difficult it is for someone who has based their entire life or worldview on the notion that eternal paradise awaits them at the end of what, in many cases, may be a very grueling and brutal existence?

Quality of life is the key - it's no great mystery why atheism is strongest in western countries that enjoy high standards of living. Give people a reason to love this real life, and they'll be more likely to let go of their imaginary one.
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15-05-2011, 09:43 PM
RE: Is Atheism a Choice?
I've always consider atheism to be a chemical reaction. When religious belief molecules (No2ThINK) are exposed to reason molecules (No2AlAcOFPRuF), atheism is born.

For God so loved the world that he arranged for everyone to both have free will and to suffer the terrible consequences of making the wrong choice. Kind of a dick move, God.
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