I believe a person chooses to believe or not believe based on empirical evidence; “empirical” as derived from or guided by experience or experiment. That is to say “belief” is what a person chooses to be true based on their own observations and their own personal inner experience.
There is no choice involved. A more accurate statement might be 'A person comes to accept that something is true based on the 'evidence' they have gathered throughout their life in support of the position'. Experience and experiment have a lot to do with it yes, but context is incredibly important. If someone is told throughout their life that the little voice inside their head is a deity of some kind talking to them, then every time they hear that voice, they are going to be more convinced that the deity is real.
I can say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow because I have acquired sufficient knowledge through observation and experience to say that it is “true”.
If there exists a being that has the capability of not making the sun rise in the east tomorrow, how could you claim with any degree of certainty that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow? A god could change his mind at a whim and make the sun rise in the west whenever it wanted. Yet this has never, ever, ever happened. Nor has a limb ever, ever, ever regrown. The evidence piles up.
Given the past history of sunrises and the 100% consistency with which the sun has risen in the east, it is safe to say that sunrises behave as if there were no such thing as a deity with the power to keep the sun from rising in the east.
I’m not so personally convinced I have adequate knowledge to categorically make a “truth” claim one way or the other regarding the existence of “god”.
I like the intellectual honesty here, but there is sufficient evidence to place the Christian God in the same probability category with Zeus, Thor, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy. The knowledge you require to make this categorization is out there for you.
I don’t consider myself as having lost any “faith”… it’s more like; sometimes I “choose” to believe and other times I “choose” not to believe based on changing knowledge and personal inner experience.
You keep using the word 'choose' here as if that's what you really mean. You can't choose to believe something. If you think you can, go ahead and choose to believe in Santa Claus. Go ahead, see if you can do it. I doubt you can. You might be able to fake it, but you can't choose to believe in it.
I think of belief as being on a continuum. One end is strong belief, the other end is strong dis
belief. You're probably just sitting near the middle. One piece of information pushes you one way, another pushes you another and the see-saw shifts back and forth, waiting for a giant push from one side or another.
This is true for me whether the belief is related to “god”, or life on other planets, or free will, or wormholes or whathaveyou…
You ride the continuum of all of those near the middle, yet you seem to ride the 'the sun rises in the east' continuum toward the strong belief end, and most likely the Santa Claus continuum near the strong disbelief end. That makes more sense, doesn't it?
In other words, it’s easy for me to say there is no empirical evidence of amputees regenerating limbs because of prayer, so based on this observation I don’t believe in “god”. But it’s not so easy for me to say – I possess adequate knowledge to definitively declare, without doubt, there is no “god”.
Lack of limb regeneration is just one piece of evidence that pushes you toward the disbelief side. For most of the folks on this site, there is such an overwhelming number of these sorts of pieces of evidence that they are simply sitting on the far end of the continuum. Those pieces are out there for you as well. The difficult thing is something you mentioned earlier. Faith. Faith in God will literally override piles and piles of evidence that would normally push someone toward the disbelief side. The people here are capable of bombarding anyone with huge amounts of knowledge that, in the absence of faith, would easily sway just about anyone. Most of the time, I really think we butt our heads against faith more than anything else. Its frustrating. Believing something for which you have no evidence is such a dumb thing, but god believers never see it that way.
My own inner experiences sometimes point to what I would consider the “divine” - moments of altruism, beauty, music.
Chemical and neurological changes in the brain. No divinity required. We also experience boredom, fear, jealousy, hate, etc. All chemical and neurological.
Other times all I see is pitiless indifference.
This categorically rules out a benevolent deity. It does nothing to help rule out something like deism, however.
I have a v e r y loose idea of what “god” is… for me, you can’t define “god”, because a god defined is a god dethroned. There’s more but I’m busy now…
A god defined is a god dethroned because the more carefully you define a god, the more likely it is that humans can check to verify it's qualities. That's why they all get dethroned. The most resilient of all proposed gods are also the ones that are most ill-defined. That says something... doesn't it?