Why I Believe
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14-04-2017, 07:03 PM (This post was last modified: 14-04-2017 07:07 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:52 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  
(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 ...

Meanwhile, try believing 2+2=7. Really believe it. I can't do it - I don't think you'll be able to either.

Sure I can. All I have to do is redefine the symbols in the number system appropriately. As long as they respect the Peano postulates I can easily make 2+2 equal whatever I want and it will be every bit as true as 2+2=4. Or 2+2=10 (base 4). Or 2+2=11 (base 3). Mathematical "truths" are not good examples because they are always relative to an axiomatic framework. There is nothing absolute about them. They don't pretend to be.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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14-04-2017, 07:15 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 03:00 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Is it possible to believe but not want to worship?

As far as labels go (atheism etc) is concerned, what would that be called?

Deism.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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14-04-2017, 09:36 PM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 03:00 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Is it possible to believe but not want to worship?

Yes. I called that my "spiritual" phase.

(14-04-2017 03:00 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  As far as labels go (atheism etc) is concerned, what would that be called?

It depends on what you believe. If it is in some specific god, I would say that is theism of a sort. If you think something is out there but don't know what, that is closer to deism.

My $0.02.

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The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
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15-04-2017, 01:22 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:50 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(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.

Sure yeah, if you wanted to make a massive effort to delude yourself over time, that could certainly be done. So you've chosen to manipulate yourself. Whether or not it actually works would still not be a conscious choice; at some point you might manage to win over your subconscious. If you succeed, you'd then be unable to choose to win it back again without a lot of effort, I presume. So again, you've locked yourself into not having a choice.

I agree you can certainly try to get yourself to believe something (or not to believe it). But I'm talking about actually flipping the switch on cue. I think that would be an extremely rare and dangerous ability. Such a person would probably end up dead or in jail quite quickly I expect.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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15-04-2017, 01:26 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 07:15 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(14-04-2017 03:00 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Is it possible to believe but not want to worship?

As far as labels go (atheism etc) is concerned, what would that be called?

Deism.

Sure yeah, although deism generally refers to a God that doesn't interact. One could still believe God interacts but not be interested in worship, which would be garden variety theism.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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15-04-2017, 01:28 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2017 01:36 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Why I Believe
(14-04-2017 06:47 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  
(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.

Thanks very much for your reply, it's most interesting Smile

I've tried very hard over my time on forums to understand the theist perspective, and it's good to know I'm reasonably near the mark.

I used to think to myself people could just stop believing in religious stuff "because it was dumb". I've since realized that was a naive and rather insulting way of thinking about it. Believers can't just stop any more than I can just start. We can both stop to re-evaluate our beliefs from the ground up, and that may or may not produce a change, but we can't simply toggle them because we want to.

PS, general comment: Say I make a statement of fact to a person and they consider it and decide where they are on my scale. Can they then immediately consciously choose to be somewhere else on the scale instead, without gathering any further evidence? I don't think they could, in general. They could profess it, but I don't think it would be honest.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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15-04-2017, 01:36 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(15-04-2017 01:22 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(14-04-2017 06:50 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  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.

Sure yeah, if you wanted to make a massive effort to delude yourself over time, that could certainly be done. So you've chosen to manipulate yourself. Whether or not it actually works would still not be a conscious choice; at some point you might manage to win over your subconscious. If you succeed, you'd then be unable to choose to win it back again without a lot of effort, I presume. So again, you've locked yourself into not having a choice.

I agree you can certainly try to get yourself to believe something (or not to believe it). But I'm talking about actually flipping the switch on cue. I think that would be an extremely rare and dangerous ability. Such a person would probably end up dead or in jail quite quickly I expect.

Personally (and I could be very wrong about this) I think belief is partly involuntary and partly choice. Here's why I think this.

1. Manipulation and brain washing/indoctrination: If there was NO element of choice involved these tactics would be infective I think. The fact that they work to me is evidence that there is some element of choice involved, particularly when you are young and have less to draw on to form your thoughts from. We all know once a person accepts an idea there is a tendency to dig in and defend that idea at all cost even in the face of irrefutable evidence, often resulting on cognitive dissonance after the facts come out.

2. Someone once said "Imagine if you were a Muslim and a Christian put a gun to your head and said "Convert or die" could you honestly just believe something else? Not just claim it so you can live, but REALLY believe it? You can't? That's because we can't just choose what we believe" (I think in the original version Muslim and Christian were reversed but you could use Paganism ect any combination works)

Situation number 2 suggests it's not as simple as a "choice" it's not some switch you can change on a whim. You don't "Choose" what you believe per say, you definitely don't choose what you are ABLE to believe. Anyone who knows how I became an Atheist should be able to remember how I was literally unable to believe despite attempts at brainwashing and indoctrination. It wasn't a choice, but smaller choices have contributed to changes in my "belief" system (if you must call it that). So I think its a mix of both.

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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15-04-2017, 01:43 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2017 01:50 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Why I Believe
I totally agree that you can change the way you analyse things, so that the same evidence might produce a different belief (or lack of). That takes work though, and can't simply be done on a whim in order to change a belief. (Someone else can also choose to try and similarly affect your thinking.)

The results could be unpredictable. You might go digging around and really examine how you evaluate evidence and end up changing your internal methods in a way other than you intended. Many times I've heard people thinking really hard about "how they think" in order to bolster their waning faith, only to end up thinking more sceptically and rejecting the religion entirely (over time).

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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15-04-2017, 02:01 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2017 02:09 AM by SeaJay.)
RE: Why I Believe
Thanks for the replies and an interesting discussion

I find myself in a bit of a strange place right now. There are things in the bible I find repugnant and if the only bad things happening were the orders to kill over a million other people, that should be enough to cause me to walk away and have nothing to do with it. But I am still not ready to say 'enough is enough', and I think that's because I keep clinging to "There has to be a reason for all this bloodshed." That, and a fear of eternal punishment.

God is the sovereign of all life, He made us so He has the right to destroy us
Might makes right? For me, this kind of thinking shows a lack of empathy and isn't something an all loving all knowing all merciful being should be doing. It does however, smack of a primitive people who were still maturing as human beings.

There's a plan, God knows best and the ones killed will be rewarded in the next life
It still doesn't make the deed morally sound. I think this is why I also have issues with the story of Job.

The people killed were sacrificing children/raping/pillaging/murdering
Fine. Ok. But even if they were guilty of all the above (and I'm not sure they were), why not just lead the ancients to a land that's not occupied by anyone? We are talking about a time thousands of years ago when the world population was much less dense. There would have been spare land all over the place.

Etc.

I think my ties to Christianity are emotional (fear and familiarity). Perhaps from an intellectual perspective (reason and logic), I might have left years ago. But if I remain a Christian out of fear of punishment, what does that really tell me about what I believe?

One the one hand, if I fear, it must be because I do still believe (after all you can't scare me with Zeus and the concept of Hades).

On the other hand, if I knew there was no punishment, I might well choose not to believe.

That word 'choose' is intentional and it throws up the emotional mess my mind is currently experiencing.

The Messy Problem: I say I still believe because I fear being wrong and suffering eternal punishment, yet if there was no eternal punishment I might choose not to believe.

I'm not sure what this is telling me but it seems illogical. I'll try and unpack it:

> My fear of punishment influences me to believe
> If there was no eternal punishment I may well choose not to believe
> If I choose not to believe then evidently I do not want to believe
> If I do not want to believe, God also knows I do not want to believe
> If you take away my fear - I no longer believe

The end result is that God knows if there was no fear of eternal punishment, I would be agnostic at the very least by now.

Not sure where to take this so I am going to let it all percolate for a while.

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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15-04-2017, 02:51 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(15-04-2017 01:43 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I totally agree that you can change the way you analyse things, so that the same evidence might produce a different belief (or lack of). That takes work though, and can't simply be done on a whim in order to change a belief. (Someone else can also choose to try and similarly affect your thinking.)

The results could be unpredictable. You might go digging around and really examine how you evaluate evidence and end up changing your internal methods in a way other than you intended. Many times I've heard people thinking really hard about "how they think" in order to bolster their waning faith, only to end up thinking more sceptically and rejecting the religion entirely (over time).

Actually I have put a lot of time and energy into understanding "how I think" but this is mostly because EVERYONE I FUCKING MEET in my life says I don't think like a normal person. I can' never figure out what the fuck they mean, it drives me crazy. I'm starting to feel like they say it just to drive me insane. Then again they are all Theists with some of the most factually wrong ideas a person could possibly have.....

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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