Poll: Is "belief" a choice
Yes. Belief is a choice.
No. Belief is not a choice.
I dont know
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Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
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10-03-2016, 08:43 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 08:25 AM)jason_delisle Wrote:  
(10-03-2016 07:55 AM)morondog Wrote:  Assume God exists and is omnipotent etc as described in the Bible. Then indeed he should know how to convince an atheist that he exists. The fact that he does not do so - the fact that atheists exist in this world-with-God-too, then implies that he does not *want* to convert them. i.e. the Calvinists are correct, God has chosen his elect to go to heaven and punishes the rest for not believing in him, when he has made such a belief an impossibility for a rational person.

I am stepping in what you are laying down. Many theologians have have sought to answer this problem. One possible explanation was given by Thomas Aquinas where he basically says that belief is a gift of grace. That an unbeliever who begrudgingly prays and asks God for belief will be given "saving grace". This "saving grace" is simply where God will open your heart to allow yourself to believe. I personally don't know how I feel about this explanation though.

The entire concept of belief/disbelief is far too simple as portrayed in the bible. What if you did believe earlier in life? Are you still saved regardless of what you believe now? There are certainly significant groups of Christians that think this is the case.

What if you were a believer, but due to a debilitating mental condition such as Alzheimer's, you forgot about ever believing in this Jesus character, you don't even know who he is? What if you weren't a believer, but you don't even remember what you did earlier in life and you don't remember anything about this Jesus character because of your mental state?

Bible doctrine simply reveals it's ignorance about the human condition and it's utter disregard for our independent moral sensibility in regards to forcing any kind of post-mortem punishment on people that has no second chances and no possibility of redemption.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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10-03-2016, 08:53 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 08:20 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  I'm in JennyBee's camp here in that of course belief is a choice. I hear two stories from children after seeing a broken window and baseball on the ground. One tells me a story that they were playing catch and the ball was thrown too high and hit the window and he's sorry. The other says, it was like that when we got here. I choose to believe the first kid. Now, later on, if I find out the first kid was lying to cover for another friend and was taking the blame and that it was indeed true that the window was broken when they got there, I will THEN believe the other child. I am choosing one story over the other, hence my choice was to believe A over B.

I can see people getting all meta on this but that's bullshit. You have a brain and it choose what is more credible to you. It's a choice.

You can be in her camp, but I want to be in her tent......

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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10-03-2016, 08:58 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 07:47 AM)jason_delisle Wrote:  So if belief is not a choice, the simple act of believing in Jesus is really not that simple. So how can a Christian truly convince and unbeliever to believe?

I don't think Christians would claim that believing in Jesus is all that simple. That it's not a matter to consenting to a series of propositions, or even agreeing on certain historical facts. If that was the case then even the demons would be believers.

When the command is to come and die, the result should be considerable tension, and rebellion to the very prospect of belief in Christ. And the truth of the matter is that we all have to take ownership for this tension.

"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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10-03-2016, 09:00 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
I don't think it's such a simple yes/no alternative.

SOME beliefs can be chosen, while some are so incredible (literally) that one cannot choose to believe them.

It's possible, through sheer will and determination, to repeat an incredible belief like a mantra and eventually, after much time, brainwash oneself to the point of conscious belief. But even then there will be a level of cognitive dissonance at the subconscious level in conflict with the conscious belief. What's more, in order to do this, you'd have to be motivated to do it in the first place, which requires some level of belief.

I think most people, when they say that you can't choose to believe, are referring to this sort of cognitive dissonance that remains in place, and grows, regardless of whatever conscious choice someone makes. The key to belief is then identifying potential causes of cognitive dissonance and addressing them directly. In the case of religion, some things to address are:

1) An awareness that prayer does not move mountains as promised.
2) A conflict between conventional, modern morality and the morality on display in the holy book.
3) A recognition of a great many other religions out there, with more or less the same degree of evidence for them.
4) The realization that one isn't holding the basic's of one's own belief to the same standard of evidence that they would hold... anything else to.
5) A distrust of individuals within one's faith, particularly realizing that the faith does not necessarily produce good people and sometimes causes good people to do bad things, or a realization that people will sometimes lie and deceive in the name of their faith.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to epistemology and willingness to ask questions. People who are prone to questions and analysis, whether because that's their personality or because they were trained into a skeptical, scientific mindset, will wonder and fret and process these issues regardless of a desire to believe. People prone to blind acceptance and obedience won't sweat these details and will come to belief easily.
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10-03-2016, 09:00 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
We can be convinced of the truths of something for good reasons or bad reasons.

Let's take the example above: two children, a broken window and a baseball.

There is ADULT (us) and CHILD1 and CHILD2.

ADULT asks "What happened?"

CHILD1 admits guilt. He says that the two were playing ball and the window was accidentally broken. He expresses remorse.

CHILD2 denies guilt. This child says that the window was broken when they got there and that he has no idea how it happened.

(The second part, the "actual guilt" is not relevant, yet.)

We, the ADULT want to know what happened.

ADULT looks at the physical evidence. The window is broken. A baseball is present. Baseballs, when thrown, can break a window. Children often play with baseballs. Two children are present.
This is the easy stuff. So far, so good.

ADULT could assume the children broke the window, but ADULT understands that the two children present may not have thrown the baseball. Another adult could have thrown it or another child. So, being reasonable, ADULT questions the children.

After hearing the children's answers, ADULT considers the following:

Both children presented reasonable explanations. A child could have broken the window. The children could have come upon the scene afterwards.

Does ADULT know either child? How well does ADULT know either child? Has either child lied to ADULT in the past?

Does either child show body language that indicates lying?
Does either child "sound" more convincing? (probably subconscious?)

Admitting guilt might be seen as a harder choice, thus making a false confession less likely.

Denying guilt would be an easier choice, making a false denial more likely.

ADULT may or may not have been in similar situations prior, both as an adult or as a child.

ADULT processes this information...

~~~
Sorting through this information, deciding which facts are true and which aren't, which facts are relevant, which aren't, is often subconscious and always colored by our prejudices, experiences and preconceptions.

What I described above would likely happen in seconds or minutes. Our decisions are made as we are getting the information. Early facts can color the perception of later facts.

But it's the subconscious part, the "gut" feeling that defines the belief.
~~~

After weighing the various facts ADULT accepts CHILD1's explanation and confession.

To summarize:
We analyze the data and determine what the facts and evidence are, then we determine what facts are true and relevant.

This information is the evidence which convinces us to accept a belief.

Now the truth of that belief is an entirely different matter.




That's my take. Agree/disagree?

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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10-03-2016, 09:00 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 08:25 AM)jason_delisle Wrote:  
(10-03-2016 07:55 AM)morondog Wrote:  Assume God exists and is omnipotent etc as described in the Bible. Then indeed he should know how to convince an atheist that he exists. The fact that he does not do so - the fact that atheists exist in this world-with-God-too, then implies that he does not *want* to convert them. i.e. the Calvinists are correct, God has chosen his elect to go to heaven and punishes the rest for not believing in him, when he has made such a belief an impossibility for a rational person.

I am stepping in what you are laying down. Many theologians have have sought to answer this problem. One possible explanation was given by Thomas Aquinas where he basically says that belief is a gift of grace. That an unbeliever who begrudgingly prays and asks God for belief will be given "saving grace". This "saving grace" is simply where God will open your heart to allow yourself to believe. I personally don't know how I feel about this explanation though.

Hehehe. You don't like my possible explanation then? Calvinism is a ridiculous doctrine because if true it implies that God is completely unworthy of worship. It's totally fear based. Everything is motivated by fear of hell. A revolting concept.

The problem is the 'free will' argument is pretty much untenable. Free will IMO is totally an illusion. If I have free will then I can stop typing this post.

Tongue But I don't. If free will does exist, in the sense that my actions are not determined simply by complex interactions of the particles that make up my body and the external world, then we're positing the existence of something we cannot see or detect - some mechanism for free will to enter the world which is undetected by physics. Such things do exist - e.g. dark matter was undetected for a long time. But positing the existence *simply* as an escape route for the free will argument, without any logical reason to do so, is... very not Occam's razor.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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10-03-2016, 09:09 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 07:47 AM)jason_delisle Wrote:  Greeting everyone,
I just wanted to start off by saying that the purpose of this thread is not to try to influence your beliefs or lack of belief but have a conversation about belief in general, have a poll to get a general idea of what everyone else thinks, and discuss how many Christians take belief for granted. Many Christians emphasize free will and that we can use this free will to freely choose to believe or not to believe in God. But is “belief” really a choice and can we truly use this “free will” to choose to believe or not to believe? I can’t say that I agree. I don’t think anyone can simply choose to believe anything….they either believe or not believe something. Here is an example. If I told you that in order to be saved you had to believe the sky was pink and purple polka dotted. You may look me in the face and tell me “yes, I believe it”. Deep down, you truly want to believe it because you want to be saved. But can you really believe it? Let us look at what the bible says about “belief” and salvation.

John 14:12-14 ESV
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 20:29 ESV
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10:9-10 ESV
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

So if belief is not a choice, the simple act of believing in Jesus is really not that simple. So how can a Christian truly convince and unbeliever to believe?

"So if belief is not a choice, the simple act of believing in Jesus is really not that simple. So how can a Christian truly convince and unbeliever to believe?"

IMO, you have two issues to deal with. The first is convincing an unbeliever that there is a problem (i.e., that there is a god and that humans are sinners who need to placate him), and the second is convincing the unbeliever that your solution to the problem (Jesus!) is the proper one.

I think you are better off targeting people who believe in a god (or gods) already--just not your god. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. Those people already agree that there's a god, so all you have to do is make a convincing case for your god's character traits and why Jesus is the only way to him. Plenty of "unbelievers" fall into this category--just not many atheists.

As for whether belief is a choice: research seems to show that belief comes first and the reasoning to support it comes afterwards, and that there is an emotional dimension to even the simplest of choices. (I'm not a scientist, just a layman reporting what I've read). To form a rational belief is difficult. Not impossible, but it's a learned skill that takes mental discipline and self-criticism. So belief can indeed be a choice, but sometimes a belief that's chosen in this way won't have a strong emotional component. However, IMO the intellectual effort makes up for the lesser emotional component in these cases.

That suggests that your best atheist targets for conversion are people who grew up cultural atheists because their families were atheist or their cultures are not as religious, but never gave the atheist position much thought. A fair amount of emotional manipulation, I think, is needed in that case to convince your targets that they are sinful and in need of salvation.

In summary:

1. Choose your targets wisely: look for believers from other religions to sway to Christianity and/or "cultural" atheists.
2. Learn to manipulate others' emotions. This sounds negative (and in some senses, it is), but learning to read people and nudge them in one direction or another is a skill that anyone in the persuasion business needs to develop.

I can't say best of luck, because I disagree entirely with your goals, but this is my honest recommendation, if you want to make converts.
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10-03-2016, 09:10 AM (This post was last modified: 10-03-2016 09:17 AM by jason_delisle.)
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 08:43 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  The entire concept of belief/disbelief is far too simple as portrayed in the bible. What if you did believe earlier in life? Are you still saved regardless of what you believe now?

I don't mean to come across as "preachy" but in order for me to address this statement I am required to use scripture to explain how Christians respond.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance.

Hebrews 6:4-6


Just for clarification, this scripture does not suggest that Christians who "fall away" can never be saved. Rather, nobody who truly believes will ever "fall away". So the question is, "if a christian 'falls away', did they ever "truly believe" in the first place"?

(10-03-2016 08:43 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  What if you were a believer, but due to a debilitating mental condition such as Alzheimer's, you forgot about ever believing in this Jesus character, you don't even know who he is? What if you weren't a believer, but you don't even remember what you did earlier in life and you don't remember anything about this Jesus character because of your mental state?

IMO I would have to say that in this specific example, the individual would still be saved because the lose of belief was a result of a medical infliction that was not of the individuals choosing. We will then have to ask "who inflicted this illness? As a Christian who believes in an omnipotent God, I would have to believe that the infliction was either from God or allowed by God. It would be against Christian theology to believe that God would inflict an illness on someone who is saved in order for them not to be saved anymore. I really appreciate the comments. Thank you.
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10-03-2016, 09:12 AM
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
(10-03-2016 08:53 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  
(10-03-2016 08:20 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  I'm in JennyBee's camp here in that of course belief is a choice. I hear two stories from children after seeing a broken window and baseball on the ground. One tells me a story that they were playing catch and the ball was thrown too high and hit the window and he's sorry. The other says, it was like that when we got here. I choose to believe the first kid. Now, later on, if I find out the first kid was lying to cover for another friend and was taking the blame and that it was indeed true that the window was broken when they got there, I will THEN believe the other child. I am choosing one story over the other, hence my choice was to believe A over B.

I can see people getting all meta on this but that's bullshit. You have a brain and it choose what is more credible to you. It's a choice.

You can be in her camp, but I want to be in her tent......
Hay yo!
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10-03-2016, 09:20 AM (This post was last modified: 10-03-2016 09:31 AM by natachan.)
RE: Is "belief" a choice?...lets talk about that.
No with an element of yes.

You can choose to only search out arguments that agree with your position. You can define an internal model that reinforces your preferred position. You can choose to associate only with those who agree with your preferred position. You can choose to tell yourself that your preferred position is correct. These things can influence belief.

But do you choose belief?

One description I've heard of uncomfortable beliefs is of "dark alleys [one] does not dare look down." The logical conclusions of what knowledge we have is inescapable but we can choose not to examine it.
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