Author Topic: Belief Being a Choice  (Read 1833 times)

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Offline Brakeman

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Belief Being a Choice
« on: August 16, 2012, 11:18:05 AM »
I'm firmly against telling people what they should or shouldn't believe in.

The issue is not that people "choose" to believe something. Belief is not a choice.
The issue is that people are being lied to, in a massive dishonesty campaign.  Kids are being brought up to believe that evolution isn't true and are given false stories to support that. If in fact someone had a good education on the evidence of evolution yet still thought a jew loving god man did it all in six days, then that is another problem altogether, but that is almost never the case.

Secondly, these beliefs that you feel that should be strongly tolerated and not tolerable themselves. The only reason women in Iran are burqua clad and oppressed is because of religious ideas that you seem to be saying you have no problem with.

Did you really mean it this way, or am I reading too much into your words?
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Offline Traveler

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 11:27:54 AM »
Hello and welcome aboard.  :)

To respond to both what you and Brakeman said, I don't mind other's beliefs as long as they keep them to themselves. They can say anything they want (freedom of speech and all that), but actions to control others? No. In other words, the moment they want to control me or anyone else (oppressing women, for instance) then I've got a big problem with them.
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Offline Gohavesomefun

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 11:41:51 AM »
Whilst your beliefs recieve a great deal of influence from the past and present (social, parents, education, etc), the choice on 'forcing' my beliefs is within MY control and noone elses. That is what I was refering too. Im not talking about anyone else, just moi :P
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Offline Bad Pear

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 12:40:31 PM »
... the choice on 'forcing' my beliefs is within MY control and noone elses.

Are you able to 'force' yourself to believe that the Earth is flat?
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 11:36:27 PM »
... the choice on 'forcing' my beliefs is within MY control and noone elses.

Are you able to 'force' yourself to believe that the Earth is flat?

I think the idea has some merit - after all, there is a spectrum of strength of a belief, and it seems pretty universal that stronger emotional feelings are correlated with deeper conviction of belief.  It seems at least plausible to force yourself to 'feel' stronger and often times more positive emotional experiences while internalizing a claim about the world.  I suppose I mean by sheer force of will, focusing on the positive, ignoring the negative, blah blah blah.  Is it possible to do that with enough self-deluding conviction as to change or incept a belief?  Seems like it'd take quite a bit of autoempathy kung-fu.  Not sure if I dismiss it as a possibility outright.

Anyone qualified to run a psychological/neurological study around here?
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Offline Aspie

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 02:24:48 AM »
The thing is that what you're describing is maintaining convictions that one already holds, or at the very least is heavily leaning towards. The whole reason anyone will adopt a belief is because they consider it reasonable. If you ask any fervent believer in conspiracy theories, alien abductions, or leprechauns they won't just say "Yeah, even I can't believe I'm dumb enough to believe that", they will insist that it's an entirely reasonable position because to them it is.

The crux of the issue is randomly pulling a 180, dismissing a previously held conviction as entirely untrue, and suddenly accepting an idea you consider completely absurd as absolutely true, all out of the clear blue on the sole basis of "choice".
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 02:28:37 AM by Aspie »

Offline Bad Pear

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 04:47:00 AM »
The thing is that what you're describing is maintaining convictions that one already holds, or at the very least is heavily leaning towards. The whole reason anyone will adopt a belief is because they consider it reasonable. If you ask any fervent believer in conspiracy theories, alien abductions, or leprechauns they won't just say "Yeah, even I can't believe I'm dumb enough to believe that", they will insist that it's an entirely reasonable position because to them it is.

The crux of the issue is randomly pulling a 180, dismissing a previously held conviction as entirely untrue, and suddenly accepting an idea you consider completely absurd as absolutely true, all out of the clear blue on the sole basis of "choice".

This. It is not possible to, at will,  change your beliefs on a given subject.  Outside influence,  as well as internal ones such as emotions, all play a role and are all outside of your control.  Belief is a compulsion,  not a choice. Being convinced of a position is not an internal action,  it is something that happens to you.
Atheism is not a mission to convert the world. It only seems that way because when other religions implode, atheism is what is left behind

Offline bertatberts

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2012, 06:37:50 AM »
Belief! Any belief can never be a choice, it is nonsensical to even claim it as such.
There is always an underlying reason why someone would have confidence in a thing that will not hold up to scrutiny. I.E. Peer pressure, a trauma, etc.
Making a choice can only come from knowledge.
We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

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Offline Bad Pear

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 08:39:33 AM »
Making a choice can only come from knowledge.

I would argue that a belief gained through knowledge is still not a choice. I used to be a YEC. I can't unlearn what I have learned about biology, evolution, etc. It is a compulsion. I MUST believe in it.
Atheism is not a mission to convert the world. It only seems that way because when other religions implode, atheism is what is left behind

Offline bertatberts

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 12:39:38 PM »
A belief cannot be gained through knowledge, a belief by it's very nature can never be anything other than a belief, if something is learnt through evidence then it is knowledge, knowledge is evidence.
We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Offline befree

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 04:01:16 PM »

Why is there so much anger?
I'm firmly against telling people what they should or shouldn't believe in.

The issue is not that people "choose" to believe something. Belief is not a choice.
The issue is that people are being lied to, in a massive dishonesty campaign.  Kids are being brought up to believe that evolution isn't true and are given false stories to support that. If in fact someone had a good education on the evidence of evolution yet still thought a jew loving god man did it all in six days, then that is another problem altogether, but that is almost never the case.

Secondly, these beliefs that you feel that should be strongly tolerated and not tolerable themselves. The only reason women in Iran are burqua clad and oppressed is because of religious ideas that you seem to be saying you have no problem with.

Did you really mean it this way, or am I reading too much into your words?

Offline Brakeman

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 05:26:00 PM »

Why is there so much anger?

Which anger are you referring to?
Anger against con artists taking money from little old widows?
Anger against Lying about the realities of science and pushing us backward?
Anger against the psychological damage to one's psyche? (suicide by sinners/gays/ or other guilt)
Anger against religious intolerance against heretics?
...ad infinitum.
Help find the cure for FUNDAMENTIA !

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2012, 07:47:24 PM »
Why is there so much anger?

Why are there so many disingenuous trolls?
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2012, 10:34:15 PM »

Why is there so much anger?

Don't spam this forum with such inanity.

Read the rules you agreed to follow when you signed up, then behave with some integrity.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Aspie

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2012, 10:35:51 PM »
Ah, how refreshing - the Christian version of "u mad bro??"

Offline hiraichu

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2012, 03:17:14 AM »
I totally think a belief became what it is because of a decision made in the past. That person was presented an idea that jived or was pleasant to him so he kept it close to his heart in every waking moment of his life.
For a belief to become a belief, you must first be exposed to it. If you refuse to listen or 'take it', the first barrier in the transformation of a concept to turn into a person's belief, it can't be a belief of the supposed recipient of the message.

Offline hiraichu

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2012, 03:33:24 AM »

Why is there so much anger?
I'm firmly against telling people what they should or shouldn't believe in.

The issue is not that people "choose" to believe something. Belief is not a choice.
The issue is that people are being lied to, in a massive dishonesty campaign.  Kids are being brought up to believe that evolution isn't true and are given false stories to support that. If in fact someone had a good education on the evidence of evolution yet still thought a jew loving god man did it all in six days, then that is another problem altogether, but that is almost never the case.

Secondly, these beliefs that you feel that should be strongly tolerated and not tolerable themselves. The only reason women in Iran are burqua clad and oppressed is because of religious ideas that you seem to be saying you have no problem with.

Did you really mean it this way, or am I reading too much into your words?

The amount of anger is relative to each person you meet. The entire ocean may be a drop of salt water to a giant.
Anger is both good and bad. Good in moderation and with good reason but it is detrimental in large intakes.
I am also against telling people what to believe in because it is just plain wrong! People should respect each others' beliefs because it is part of them. I understand theists want to save people from hell because they believe in the afterlife. I know that when the bible says that you need to put gays to death it does not mean to kill them. It means to kill or get rid of that action or part of them that is detrimental to them. Being attracted to the same sex is not a sin, it is a preference but being sexually promiscuous is not beneficial to the actor because they are putting themselves in danger of catching sexually transmitted disease or unplanned parenthood (you can still get STDs even with contraception). [Yeah, I'm getting a little out of topic here.]

I will quote from Corinthians "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial."

People just care about your well-being, okay? Whoever you are, I don't want you dying an early death whether there is an afterlife or not.

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2012, 07:16:16 AM »
Why is there so much anger?

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?
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Offline kcrady

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2012, 07:52:14 AM »
I think it is possible to choose to believe in something, as long as you can convince yourself that you're not actually doing it.  We experience it every time a theist comes in here.  They give us the same set of "arguments"[1] and we systematically demolish them, only to have our arguments and evidence bounce off a ten-foot thick titanium wall of wannabelieve.  It's not as if they ever have counter-arguments or evidence that ever make us say, "Well, OK, I can see why you find that compelling, but I'm not quite convinced" or think, ~Huh.  They may actually have something there.~  I can come up with good arguments and evidence for UFO's or psi.  I can come up with better arguments (IMO) for skepticism about those things, but still--believe, or at least consideration of the possibility of those phenomena can be founded on evidence.  Not so with Abrahamic monotheism.  They've got nothing in the holster, and they know it (or find out, after they've been here awhile).  Yet they still resolutely cling to belief.

This will-to-believe aspect of Abrahamic faith is evident in the way they project wannabelieve onto us ("You atheists only reject God because you wanna be free to sin!"), and the fact that unbelief/belief in some other religion is considered a punishable crime.  That only makes sense if beliefs are presumed to be a matter of choice.  Otherwise, people who believe different things are mistaken, not wicked. 

On the other hand, Christians have to at least tell themselves that they believe in Christianity because it's The Truthtm and not because they don't want to be disowned by their spouse and/or family, they like their church, "Moral, upstanding, God-fearing Christian" constitutes their sense of personal identity, they want a happy afterlife for people like them and a miserable one for all those Other People, they feel it gives their lives meaning and purpose, etc..  They have to be able to pull off the sleight-of-mind trick of convincing themselves that they have a proper belief in Christianity, while not actually expecting reality to behave as if Christianity were true, i.e., what Daniel Dennett calls "belief in belief." 

Maybe it's true that you can't really choose to believe that God will heal your appendicitis if you pray hard enough, but you can choose to believe that he will "guide the hand of the surgeon" and that it's OK to go to the hospital instead of the Church elders (James 5:14-15) because, *cough*twoboatsandahelicopter*cough*.
 1. Which in practical use are actually more like excuses--no one believes in Christianity because they think Pascal's Wager or 'since there's morality there has to be a Moral Lawgiver' is convincing--they think these are convincing because they believe in Christianity.
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Offline Brakeman

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2012, 05:02:28 PM »
Help find the cure for FUNDAMENTIA !

Offline Lectus

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2012, 08:18:19 PM »
Belief is a choice or accident.

But you can change your own belief if you want. If you repeat words and actions enough times, you know "fake it 'till you make it" you'll eventually start believing it.
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Online Anfauglir

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2012, 04:41:46 AM »
But you can change your own belief if you want. If you repeat words and actions enough times, you know "fake it 'till you make it" you'll eventually start believing it.

Perhaps so.  But to me the important question is "why would you?".

Consider.  Today, I don't believe there is a god.  Perhaps I could "fake it" for months or years, going through the motions, until I had wilfully altered my brain to the extent that I believed.

But why would I?  Without the belief in the first place, what would be the incentive for me to even begin faking it, to turn myself towards something I do not believe is true?

John Locke, I think, was wrong when he said that you could not force someone to believe.  I'm sure you can, as I'm sure that it is possible - with a lot of effort - to force yourself into belief.  But that's not generally the point Christians would make.  "Why can't you just believe?" they bleat, implying that it really is just an on/off switch within the brain that we can instantly flip at will.  THAT kind of coming to belief simply is NOT possible.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Lectus

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2012, 12:58:39 PM »
But you can change your own belief if you want. If you repeat words and actions enough times, you know "fake it 'till you make it" you'll eventually start believing it.

Perhaps so.  But to me the important question is "why would you?".

Consider.  Today, I don't believe there is a god.  Perhaps I could "fake it" for months or years, going through the motions, until I had wilfully altered my brain to the extent that I believed.

But why would I?  Without the belief in the first place, what would be the incentive for me to even begin faking it, to turn myself towards something I do not believe is true?

John Locke, I think, was wrong when he said that you could not force someone to believe.  I'm sure you can, as I'm sure that it is possible - with a lot of effort - to force yourself into belief.  But that's not generally the point Christians would make.  "Why can't you just believe?" they bleat, implying that it really is just an on/off switch within the brain that we can instantly flip at will.  THAT kind of coming to belief simply is NOT possible.


Well, to me belief is a tool. It's a means to an end. It's not the end itself.

You can use NLP/Hypnosis to change your own beliefs to something that's useful for achieving your goals.

Consider for example, that you believe you can't quit smoking because you believe you're deeply (psychologically) addicted to it.

A hypnotherapist could help you change this belief to something like "Smoking is optional". Eventually the addiction goes out of the window.

Christians are constantly hypnotized (without knowing) by their church leaders and most of them also do self-hypnosis by reinforcing those beliefs in their minds (without knowing too).

That's why reasoning with Christians is futile. Beliefs are always installed into a deeper part of the mind, below any reasoning.

That's also why you can't cure phobias by giving reasons and facts to the person.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 01:08:48 PM by Lectus »
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Online Anfauglir

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2012, 03:13:17 AM »
Consider for example, that you believe you can't quit smoking because you believe you're deeply (psychologically) addicted to it.

A hypnotherapist could help you change this belief to something like "Smoking is optional". Eventually the addiction goes out of the window.

Absolutely!  But you wouldn't go to the hypnotherapist in the first place unless you were already convinced that you wanted to be a non-smoker.  Christians have it bass-ackwards when they tell us that the belief was to come first. 

I can't think of any other field where someone would say "you've got to believe that you want X BEFORE you have been convinced of the benefits that X offers".....actually, scratch that - most every pressure selling advert works that way, to try to instill the desire without consideration of whether you really want or need the thing in the first place.  Funny thing, most Christians I know are dead against that kind of marketing manipulation....  ;)
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Belief Being a Choice
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2012, 03:29:49 AM »
I'm firmly against telling people what they should or shouldn't believe in.

To use some of Brakeman's words,
Quote
Did you really mean it this way, or am I reading too much into your words?
Consider this:

“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.”

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt


Today, more than ever before, there is no doubt that we all need to be educated in order to live lives that help the human race in general terms. We should take an interest in our environment and social order.

Our parents are there to give us the basics, the Education System is there to fill in gaps and expand our areas of knowledge. Information, be it news, history, science, etc, must be accurate; teaching people lies and ignorance should be punishable by law otherwise charlatans and snake-oil-salesmen will abound.

If they still believe garbage after that; there's little hope for them.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 03:36:09 AM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”