Why I Believe
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14-04-2017, 06:10 PM
RE: Why I Believe
But of course belief is not an option. I mean choice Rolleyes

I've no idea *how* I became religious (wasn't brainwashed or brought up with it for sure) nor why I lost god ('cause frankly, I very rarely lose my things, just the occasional phone and sunglasses). It was a mostly subconscious process and there was no choice involved. None at all. Hell, I prayed to the imaginary bastard to not let me lose my faith. You can all guess how that turned out (thank god, glory be and all that jazz Rolleyes )

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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14-04-2017, 06:16 PM (This post was last modified: 14-04-2017 06:19 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: Why I Believe
Absolutely, yes. I think that neither belief, nor lack of belief, is a conscious choice. I don't have the power to decide I'm going to believe something that I currently don't, nor can I stop myself believing something I do. I can't decide to believe I can fly, and I can't decide to not believe a ball will drop if I release it.

I can choose whether or not to seek more evidence, or re-evaluate the current evidence, or even to analyse my own thought processes. But the outcome is ultimately just whether my brain swings one way or the other. It believes, or it doesn't.

So it seems to me people cannot consciously alter their beliefs. I've had a couple of people claim they can, but I didn't believe them as they didn't make a good case. It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Choosing to stop believing that walking off a cliff is a bad idea would be very much detrimental to survival.

For Seajay: If you believe there's a god, but choose not be part of a religion, you're an irreligious theist.

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14-04-2017, 06:18 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:16 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  I've had a couple of people claim they can, but I didn't believe them

Maybe you just didn't try hard enough Tongue

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14-04-2017, 06:23 PM
RE: Why I Believe
Lol Big Grin

One particularly obnoxious theist claimed belief was a choice, so I asked if he could choose to become an atheist, right now. He refused to answer the question and just tried to muddy the waters as much as possible.

Another more pleasant one answered that yes, he could switch between being a theist and an atheist any time he wanted. I would conclude from this that it's a choice to profess a belief, not to actually hold it. I'd be seriously worried about anyone who could actually do this kind of thing. Maybe he could, but I wasn't convinced.

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14-04-2017, 06:28 PM
RE: Why I Believe
"Believe" is however a rather vague word. I could objectively assess some evidence, and come to a probabilistic conclusion, say from a historical perspective. At what point my probability becomes a belief that the event happens is rather arbitrary, but you're still either convinced or not convinced.

Note that not being convinced doesn't necessarily mean convinced to the contrary. I'm not convinced a massive jar of sweets has an even number of sweets in it. I'm also not convinced that it doesn't.

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14-04-2017, 06:28 PM
RE: Why I Believe
Kinda like people asking gay people how/when they knew they were gay (or, even worse, when they became "of the gayz") But you ask them how/when *they* first knew they were straight or when they became straight, and you can almost see them go the ignoramus's version of DOES. NOT. COMPUTE Facepalm

(And yet again, those people you mention apparently have no idea what atheism really is. To their god-addled brains it really means pretending there isn't one, while deep down knowing there is. Way too many of them honestly think we are lying to ourselves and/or pissed at him)

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14-04-2017, 06:40 PM (This post was last modified: 14-04-2017 06:48 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: Why I Believe
I'd say belief and knowledge could be put on a scale, something like this. Let's say you make a statement of fact. I respond with:

-3: I know it's false
-2: I believe it's false
-1: If I had to guess, I'd say it's false
0: I have no idea if it's true or false
1: If I had to guess, I'd say it's true
2: I believe it's true
3: I know it's true

Based on this, if I'm at point 2 or above, I believe your statement. If I'm at 1 or below, I don't believe it. I'm not convinced.

I can't consciously decide where I am on this scale, with regard to your statement.

[Edited my scale to remove redundancy.]

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14-04-2017, 06:47 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:23 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  Lol Big Grin

One particularly obnoxious theist claimed belief was a choice, so I asked if he could choose to become an atheist, right now. He refused to answer the question and just tried to muddy the waters as much as possible.

Another more pleasant one answered that yes, he could switch between being a theist and an atheist any time he wanted. I would conclude from this that it's a choice to profess a belief, not to actually hold it. I'd be seriously worried about anyone who could actually do this kind of thing. Maybe he could, but I wasn't convinced.

For what it's worth, as a theist, I agree with you on this line of thought. There's a big difference between professing a belief and actually having a belief. I could say right now I was an atheist, but that would be an outward profession, but not necessarily an inward truth for me.

A friend and I were just chatting on Facebook about a Catholic site we both go to, and I used to mod on. No less than three former members ended up becoming atheists, each of them citing how the forum there would batter away at their beliefs bit by bit. It's not like the tried to stop believing; I think, from the conversations, that one day they just realized that they didn't any more.

Conversely, one could argue, I think, the same with belief. I can't tell you when I began to believe or why. But often enough, emotional highs can be linked to the spiritual highs in my own life. Sometimes these were natural, sometimes they were man-made, as it were, or if you care to use the term, due to indoctrination. Baptist summer camp being the main example that comes to mind. Take a bunch of campers for a week, keep them from the world, maybe six hours of sleep if they're lucky, multiple sermons a day, prayer before every activity, all music is Christian in nature and aimed at glorifying God. Throw in emotionally manipulative things like washing people's feet beneath the stars, or being told to try and wander through fog machine fog and counselors standing there still like a zombie to "find your way through the world" and then ask afterwards why you didn't try to "reach the lost". Etc.

Belief is something subconscious, at least in my opinion, and while we can try to influence whether it occurs or not, it's still going to be something developed or lost on an individual basis.

Need to think of a witty signature.
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14-04-2017, 06:50 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:16 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  Absolutely, yes. I think that neither belief, nor lack of belief, is a conscious choice. I don't have the power to decide I'm going to believe something that I currently don't, nor can I stop myself believing something I do.

I think that ignores conditioning and deception. There are any number of psychological experiments, some less ethical than others, that demonstrate our beliefs are easily manipulated. If someone else can so easily manipulate my beliefs then why can't I? Self-conditioning and self-deception should be able to accomplish the same thing as external conditioning and deception.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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14-04-2017, 06:52 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:03 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  ... i'm still working on the belief is not a choice bit. Might be something to that ...

I've hunted Google trying to find any studies along these lines but haven't been able to find anything. Might be something in a real library.

Meanwhile, try believing 2+2=7. Really believe it. I can't do it - I don't think you'll be able to either. My belief (sorry) is that belief and understanding are the same thing, and that reaching understanding is strictly a subconscious process. I believe this is so because if understanding could be adjusted consciously, we'd be constantly mired in analysis and incapable of timely action. Belief/understanding frees us to analyze only novel situations instead of every situation.

The belief/understanding process synthesizes more than empirical knowledge, it incorporates our emotions into the calculus, largely because there's never enough empirical knowledge to make fully confident conclusions, so the subconscious substitutes the pseudo-knowledge of emotional experience to fill in blanks in the syllogisms. I believe (again) that the principal emotional weights are our fears and our desires. Since are fears and desires are anything but monochromatic what they do the calculus may not be formulable - if they were we'd start being able to adjust belief/understanding consciously, and die in the quicksand of the analysis the subconscious process keeps us out of.

Anyway, as soon as someone is able to believe at will that 2+2=7 I'll wager that person finds life an unendurable trial of indecision, and unable to attain confident understanding of anything.
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