Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
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24-01-2013, 10:31 AM
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(24-01-2013 10:02 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(17-11-2012 04:21 PM)Impulse Wrote:  I don't think anyone can choose to have faith or to not have faith. The only choice we have is whether to learn all we can about various faiths and the arguments for and against their being truth. After that, belief or non-belief really just happens.
I think that this is the essence of religion, "Do I believe the story?" = Leap of Faith. I think you must choose to believe.
I find that surprising unless you never have believed (in which case it may be hard for you to relate). People don't choose to believe. Most are indoctrinated from birth. What kid doesn't believe everything their parents tell them is true? So kids believe and grow up believing just because their parents said there is a god and they should have faith. They don't choose this anymore than they choose to believe that stealing is wrong which their parents also teach them and they internalize. After that when they grow up enough, it all becomes a matter of how much they decide to examine their faith. Far too many just continue on and keep listening to all the BS their faith leaders tell them. Far too few actually stop and think about what the religious doctrine they follow means and where it comes from, let alone considering whether they should continue to follow it.

No, faith is not a choice. If it was, you could choose to have faith right now; but you can't, can you... Sure, you could choose to practice religion, but that's not the same as actually having faith. You can't make yourself have faith.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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24-01-2013, 10:31 AM
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(24-01-2013 10:02 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(17-11-2012 04:21 PM)Impulse Wrote:  I don't think anyone can choose to have faith or to not have faith. The only choice we have is whether to learn all we can about various faiths and the arguments for and against their being truth. After that, belief or non-belief really just happens.
I think that this is the essence of religion, "Do I believe the story?" = Leap of Faith. I think you must choose to believe.

If that were true, I could choose to believe in unicorns. But no matter how hard I try, I'll never actually believe in them, because I have no reason to.

With religion, it's about gullibility and how impressionable someone is. Some people are just dim enough to be swayed by little (or no) evidence and a lot of "if you're wrong, you're gonna burn forever!". That's why indoctrination works best on children. They're young and, quite frankly, stupid. That's why we can make them believe in nonsense like Santa Claus. They didn't choose to believe in him; they're just dim-witted enough to be swayed.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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24-01-2013, 08:18 PM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2013 08:58 PM by Full Circle.)
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(24-01-2013 10:31 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  
(24-01-2013 10:02 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  I think that this is the essence of religion, "Do I believe the story?" = Leap of Faith. I think you must choose to believe.

If that were true, I could choose to believe in unicorns. But no matter how hard I try, I'll never actually believe in them, because I have no reason to.

With religion, it's about gullibility and how impressionable someone is. Some people are just dim enough to be swayed by little (or no) evidence and a lot of "if you're wrong, you're gonna burn forever!". That's why indoctrination works best on children. They're young and, quite frankly, stupid. That's why we can make them believe in nonsense like Santa Claus. They didn't choose to believe in him; they're just dim-witted enough to be swayed.

Impulse wrote - After that when they grow up enough, it all becomes a matter of how much they decide to examine their faith.

This is the point I tried to make but obviously didn't clarify.

One thing is to be a child and believe your parents, no argument there (I, too, was indoctrinated and didn't truly question until my early twenties), but it is quite another to become an adult, examine the religious doctrine and dogma and continue to go along with the story.

The unicorn analogy is, at first glance, funny until you realize that at one time in our history people did believe in them along with centaurs, dragons and the like. There are folks right now that are convinced Sasquatch is looking for beef jerky in the Northwestern forests for christ's sake. They believe this story because apparently there are enough "facts" to convince them.

But now suppose you were brought up to believe in unicorns? You become an adult surrounded by others who firmly believe in them and pray to them and build monuments and building to praise them...at some point you might ask yourself why you've never seen any evidence. It is at this juncture you might say this is all bullshit (unicornshit?) or you choose to continue having faith in them. Same with having faith in God. People want to believe so badly that they'll abandon their critical faculties. People are so fearful of the finality of death that they will, without any evidence, choose to believe the comforting stories.

I maintain that faith in whatever the religious story might be is something that people, as adults, consciously choose not to question and therefore believe.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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24-01-2013, 09:02 PM
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(16-11-2012 03:57 PM)onedream Wrote:  My wife has known for months that I'm doubting the existence of God.

And she told my mother this week. My mother raised me devout Baptist. And she's still a very committed believer.

I got this e-mail from his yesterday:



Good morning, my son. Hey, I don’t need any answer to my message here EXCEPT just a confirmation that you read it.
So
you must know how difficult it is to be “just mom” at times like this.
I’ve told *** that I’m not bothered by the fact that you’re questioning,
because there is no faith without that process. I’ve undergone it more
than once in my life but I don’t suppose we’ve ever had occasion to
talk about it.

I guess you’d ask me if you wanted my sage advice [Image: blank.gif]
but given that you are MY beloved son, I’m going to send just this one
message that - in my small human mind – goes to the heart of the
matter. Please remember that you are as precious to me as
*****, ****, & *** (your kids) are to you and just indulge me for this brief
moment:

Intellectuals conduct arguments by cutting to the heart –
the foundational logic - of the matter. So what is the foundational
logic of the question “Is there a God and, if so, what is His truth?”
Any argument that is being conducted on the basis of logic has to
consist of statements that meet the requirements of being BOTH necessary
AND sufficient. Too often people will stop with a necessary statement
and think they have made their case. But they have made only a part of
it. They’ve stated something necessary and logically true, but it’s not
enough to prove their hypothesis, therefore, it’s not sufficient.

Here
is the core of any argument about “spiritual” truth – By definition,
man’s intellect is necessary, but it is not sufficient. If the realm of
the spiritual exists at all, then we have to accept that the essence of
it is not entirely accessible by just our intellects. It must make sense
to us (that’s necessary) but we will never be able to either fully
understand or justify it only on the basis of intellect.

So the
first assumption we have to make is whether the spiritual exists at all,
but the intellect is not capable of grasping that! No matter how you
come at it, in the end a person’s WILL is central – Faith would not be
faith if it were “prove-able.” There is always an element of choice.
(You can see how our emotions will enter in here, too; our faith may be
more vulnerable there than in the realm of the intellect).

So
what’s the point? The point is that our questioning can lead us to some
type of personal understanding of our faith, but it will never PROVE it
for us (witness poor Soren Kirkegaard) and it will certainly not
convince anyone else who wants to argue about it. (I think Paul learned
that lesson when he preached in the agora.)

Forgive me if this is
all already apparent to you. We don’t have the opportunity to talk
enough for me to know exactly where you are, but I’m always here if you
want to talk to “just mom” – about this or anything completely
unrelated. And you do know, of course, that I will fight any force in
heaven or earth that comes after you? “That’s the power of love.” [Image: blank.gif]

~Mom

How do you feel about it? How do you feel about your wife telling your mom? Are wavering between belief and atheism? Where do you sit? (none of these questions are meant for public consumption unless you really want to share).

The reason I ask, is because all these things come into play with a reply or how you peoceed to decide for yourself without the apologists are right or your mom.

Personally, I questioned a long time, wavered back and forth...my husband made up his mind quite easily and based it on what his gut told him -- there isn't any god. For me, I just needed more evidence before I could commit either way....


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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25-01-2013, 06:24 AM
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(24-01-2013 08:18 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(24-01-2013 10:31 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  If that were true, I could choose to believe in unicorns. But no matter how hard I try, I'll never actually believe in them, because I have no reason to.

With religion, it's about gullibility and how impressionable someone is. Some people are just dim enough to be swayed by little (or no) evidence and a lot of "if you're wrong, you're gonna burn forever!". That's why indoctrination works best on children. They're young and, quite frankly, stupid. That's why we can make them believe in nonsense like Santa Claus. They didn't choose to believe in him; they're just dim-witted enough to be swayed.

Impulse wrote - After that when they grow up enough, it all becomes a matter of how much they decide to examine their faith.

This is the point I tried to make but obviously didn't clarify.

One thing is to be a child and believe your parents, no argument there (I, too, was indoctrinated and didn't truly question until my early twenties), but it is quite another to become an adult, examine the religious doctrine and dogma and continue to go along with the story.

The unicorn analogy is, at first glance, funny until you realize that at one time in our history people did believe in them along with centaurs, dragons and the like. There are folks right now that are convinced Sasquatch is looking for beef jerky in the Northwestern forests for christ's sake. They believe this story because apparently there are enough "facts" to convince them.

But now suppose you were brought up to believe in unicorns? You become an adult surrounded by others who firmly believe in them and pray to them and build monuments and building to praise them...at some point you might ask yourself why you've never seen any evidence. It is at this juncture you might say this is all bullshit (unicornshit?) or you choose to continue having faith in them. Same with having faith in God. People want to believe so badly that they'll abandon their critical faculties. People are so fearful of the finality of death that they will, without any evidence, choose to believe the comforting stories.

I maintain that faith in whatever the religious story might be is something that people, as adults, consciously choose not to question and therefore believe.
You misunderstand what I mean when I speak about children and gullibility. What I mean is that many adults possess the gullibility of children. Not everyone examines the absurdity of their beliefs in a skeptical and rational way. Many people - children and adults alike - are just intellectualy vapid. They'll believe what they're told at face-value and simply not have the cognitive fortitude to investigate further. That's why so many witches have been burned at the stake and why conspiracy theories run rampant every time a tragedy happens. It's not that people are ignoring the option to be rational; it's that they have no idea what rationality is. There is a reason atheists are a minority. It's because reasonable people are a minority.

Agent K said it best:




Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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25-01-2013, 08:23 AM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2013 08:29 AM by Full Circle.)
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
(25-01-2013 06:24 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  
(24-01-2013 08:18 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Impulse wrote - After that when they grow up enough, it all becomes a matter of how much they decide to examine their faith.

This is the point I tried to make but obviously didn't clarify.

One thing is to be a child and believe your parents, no argument there (I, too, was indoctrinated and didn't truly question until my early twenties), but it is quite another to become an adult, examine the religious doctrine and dogma and continue to go along with the story.

The unicorn analogy is, at first glance, funny until you realize that at one time in our history people did believe in them along with centaurs, dragons and the like. There are folks right now that are convinced Sasquatch is looking for beef jerky in the Northwestern forests for christ's sake. They believe this story because apparently there are enough "facts" to convince them.

But now suppose you were brought up to believe in unicorns? You become an adult surrounded by others who firmly believe in them and pray to them and build monuments and building to praise them...at some point you might ask yourself why you've never seen any evidence. It is at this juncture you might say this is all bullshit (unicornshit?) or you choose to continue having faith in them. Same with having faith in God. People want to believe so badly that they'll abandon their critical faculties. People are so fearful of the finality of death that they will, without any evidence, choose to believe the comforting stories.

I maintain that faith in whatever the religious story might be is something that people, as adults, consciously choose not to question and therefore believe.
You misunderstand what I mean when I speak about children and gullibility. What I mean is that many adults possess the gullibility of children. Not everyone examines the absurdity of their beliefs in a skeptical and rational way. Many people - children and adults alike - are just intellectualy vapid. They'll believe what they're told at face-value and simply not have the cognitive fortitude to investigate further. That's why so many witches have been burned at the stake and why conspiracy theories run rampant every time a tragedy happens. It's not that people are ignoring the option to be rational; it's that they have no idea what rationality is. There is a reason atheists are a minority. It's because reasonable people are a minority.
You make some very valid points and I can see two scenarios playing out. There are those, as you say, that do not examine the absurdity of their beliefs = indoctrinated and unquestioning, the sheeple if you will. I grant you this point.

But I also see another group that does question, but do not arrive at the same conclusions you and I do for whatever the reasons; comfort and fear are the two that most readily come to mind. Believing in a personal God that has your best interests at heart, loves you, and promises that you will live for eternity alongside your loved ones is a very powerful allure. Risking hell and damnation for not believing is quite a deterrent for renouncing faith. (Pascal's wager was mentioned earlier).

Take onedream's mom for one, she is obviously an educated, thoughtful person and yet she has rationalized her beliefs and holds on to her faith. I watched the debate between Hitchens and John Major and I cannot say that Major lacks cognitive fortitude and he too is in the other camp. While we cannot know why it is that such people continue having faith and believing in the supernatural I hold that these folks aren't intellectually lacking. They have suspended disbelief. These I place in the group of = indoctrinated, questioning and choosing to believe.

Now, what could be questioned is the strength, or better yet the authenticity of their faith. Have they swallowed hook, line and sinker or are they covering their bets? Who can tell?

BTW I like the clip

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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25-01-2013, 10:17 AM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2013 10:22 AM by Impulse.)
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
Full Circle,

Perhaps it will make more sense this way:

Children are indoctrinated and therefore believe without choice.

Later as adults, some simply continue to believe simply because they already do. They don't give any thought to whether it makes any sense because they already accepted long ago that it does. Still no choice.

Some eventually begin to question their faith. They do not choose to question. It just happens to them one way or another either because unintentional thoughts intrude or discussion with others raises points they never before considered. For those that question, some choose to ignore the questioning and continue on with their faith. They choose to ignore, but they still do not choose to believe. They just do.

The ones that do not ignore the questioning begin to do some research, discuss their doubts with others, or find other means of attempting to determine the truth. They choose to act upon their questioning. Eventually, the religion still makes sense to some (who knows why...) and they continue to believe. Believing is still not a choice, but they found nothing strong enough to cause them to stop believing. Others who act upon their questioning eventually find that religion does not make sense to them anymore. Therefore, they stop believing. They do not choose to stop believing, it just happens in the light of the information they found from their research and discussions.

The point is, at no time does anyone believe or stop believing by choice. They don't even doubt by choice. Those just happen. Whether they act upon their doubts if they have them, and the extent to which they act upon them, are the only choices they ever make.

Edit:
Let me also add that there are people who choose to continue practicing their faith while they no longer truly believe. They may do so out of fear of family repercussions or other reasons. But while one might say they choose to believe, I don't agree. They choose to continue practicing, but they don't believe.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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25-01-2013, 06:22 PM (This post was last modified: 27-01-2013 06:29 AM by Full Circle.)
RE: Told my family that I'm re-considering faith.
Impulse,

You write

For those that question, some choose to ignore the questioning and continue on with their faith. They choose to ignore, but they still do not choose to believe. They just do.

I think this makes my point, they make a choice, whether stated as choosing to ignore or as I have said choosing to believe.

PS Ran across this study today: "The problem with trying to correct false information is that some people want to believe it, and simply telling them it is false won't convince them." Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-false-belie...e.html#jCp

Perhaps we should just agree to disagree for now?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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