Is your belief/lack of belief a choice?

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kborsden

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EVERYONE has free thought. Even in the most oppresive society on earth, the one thing no one can take from you is free thought.

Free thought is one thing, free will another -- the freedom to choose, again something different.

There are limitations on all, including free thought. The confines of your mind are the most private and no one can really intrude on those without seriously invading your personal freedom, by way of drugging and torture for example -- so free thought can be violated in this sense. And what of conditioning? Does that not limit free thought to fit within the parameters of a certain scope? Also, certain mental illnesses can give the sufferer the impression that their thoughts are not their own, or that they are being recorded, streamed elsewhere or implanted into them - such internal confusion could be argued as having that freedom stripped away, if only for the perception of the individual -- this is still very much a reality though, albeit a personal one.

Free will, your freedom to act upon your thoughts, fantasies and ideas etc is limited - these limitations are set in place by laws, social understanding and in many cases, monetary aspects.

As for choices, they only present themselves when their options are exposed to you. If you have never been confronted with or exposed to the notion of a god, for example (and to stay in tone with this thread), then you have no options to choose from in this sense. You can't choose between two possibilities that have never presented themselves; you would, per default, not believe in the existence of a god, not by choice. The choice comes when the possibility of a god is made apparent.

That being said, if a person chooses to believe something, it's because, well, they chose to. No one has proven ANY belief system to be true, so ALL systems are based solely on one's willingness to believe in them.

Agree totally, under the right personal conditions.
 
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Swtlo

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I wasn't brought up a christian. My dad forbade it. He believes, like many here, that faith is a choice to make when u are mature enough to make that choice. I made that choice... but it wasn't a conscious decision after carefully reviewing all the facts, weighing the options and making a decision. I felt it. Once I had felt it I then had to make the decision to acknolwege it. Once I had done that then I began to read and investigate and research. A bit of a bias way to do it, but I wasn't motivated before. All I had was a.... warmth.... a burning curiosity to know more. So I felt it, I acknowledged it, and every day I have to make a conscious choice to live it. I say "it" because the subject is ultimately faith. Not religion but faith. Faith is individualized, its not always rational, its not always tangible, its not always explainable but that doesn't mean its not real.
 

TamaraLynne

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I was wondering whether those who believe feel they could choose to not believe in god/gods, and for atheists/agnostics whether they could choose to believe in deities?

I'm asking because, from what I can see, people come to conclusions based on experience, evidence or emotion etc. rather than decide as an act of free will. People often seem to frame belief or non-belief as a choice (people are free to choose what they believe) and while I agree with the sentiment, I'm not convinced that's actually what's happening. I was wondering if other people do experience it as a choice?
I've read every thread here and I understood where everyone was coming from. I will warn you...I'm not as good with expressing myself as eloquently as most of you. I have alot of growing in that area :)

For me as a child it was a choice to believe.My sister one year younger then me also made a choice to not believe. Then she told me that if I believed dinosaurs existed years ago then I could not believe in God.This was around the fourth grade.But I believed in both :)
I was head over heels in love with who Jesus was and is and my heart sought him out.I don't like the word religion because it puts God in a box. In my young adult years I questioned alot and was angry at God because the world is the way it is.Plus religion made me see him as the God who punishes...for years I was a mess.
Now...now God has made himself known to me in such a way that only I know...I can't prove his existence because it is very personal in how he touches us and it is not always the same for everyone.But now that I've been touched it is no longer a choice but to believe...and I look forward to being in his presence because I never know what to expect :)
My dad was an atheist and he was very confident in his findings as far as knowledge on religions...his choice was based on knowledge that he was able to acquire.
My mom flipped flopped in wanting to believe and questioning and deciding there was no God and then the flip flop would begin again ..
My stepdad was catholic and he was not a nice man...I think he got a kick out of watching the priests expressions after confession.

Free will to me is choice...But alot of choice that we see as our choice has been altered...such as what we decide to wear. So many of our choices are based on others to fit in or to make a statement...and we don't realize it. I think when it comes right down to it...whether you go to church or don't go to church our spirituality is so personal and one on one with God that when it is all said and done...it really is...our own choice.
 

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I was raised in a christian house with both parents who lead the local children's church. Aside from them being a bit weary of things contained magic in children show's it was rather fluid and natural upbringing.

They are probably responsible for my natural bias in inclinations towards the christian faith. I also believe just as easily in science and luckily so do they.

However my faith in Christianity as a religion is rather lacking though my christian faith itself is stable. Confused? Probably. Essentially I find it hard to believe that I can trust what most other human beings bring to religious table in terms of testaments due to things like how the various churches have reorganized and edited the bible. I'd like to say I believe in the core values, ie the one God, the Commandments, Christ. Those I can accept. Beyond that its more about the relationship with God than the morals its built into society.

To this end I realized now after many years that God as a whole is unknowable. At the same time I know that Humans know of God from the perspective only a human can grasp (which is rather limited if you think about it). As such a limited understanding means we are bound to get things wrong, so my definition of god is rather flexible and largely open to adjustment as I debate about the topic.

For all we know there are other gods out there created by Him. At one point humanity could have known about them or we were never told about them simply because it wasn't relevant. Which is where I find it hard to believe that humans are sent to hell for having non-christian beliefs. These beliefs are to easily changed by things as simple as brain trauma, which a person could have no choice. I'd like to think that our lot in the afterlife is largely based on our intentions in life in trying to be good.

So all in all, my belief in God is easy and comes naturally. My faith in human constructions of Him has much to be desired of.

Hope that helps.
 

HuntfortheWildborn

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However my faith in Christianity as a religion is rather lacking though my christian faith itself is stable. Confused? Probably. Essentially I find it hard to believe that I can trust what most other human beings bring to religious table in terms of testaments due to things like how the various churches have reorganized and edited the bible. I'd like to say I believe in the core values, ie the one God, the Commandments, Christ. Those I can accept. Beyond that its more about the relationship with God than the morals its built into society.


I could not have put it better myself. That is exactly how I feel.

I was brought up a Catholic by a Catholic mother. My dad was baptised Church of England but has no belief in any god. Whether that is aetheist or agnostic or whatever these days I'm not really sure... so I had an equal balance of christianity and no religion. I believed in God and all that as a child but as I grew older I kept finding things in the Bible that just didn't make sense to me. It doesn't make sense to me how humans can take his word and warp it into how they want it to be interpreted and push that forward onto everyone who will listen as the Word. So as I have grown older I have chosen to... not NOT believe in God, but... be open to other ideas. I find it kind of silly that we only have one God... I like ancient 'pagan' systems like Roman and Greek better I have to say... it just makes so much more sense to me. I still pray to God and respect him, believe in christian values and the life that Jesus wanted us to live but... I can't be 'faithful' to the faith, if you know what I mean. So far, God hasn't seemed to mind. I keep quite honest with him... I will love and respect him, but he has to return the favour as well. That doesn't mean answering all my prayers... I just can't stomach the idea that I have to love cherish and obey him just because he 'made' me... so did my parents, but I am fully allowed to disown them if I want to. So I will be loyal to God, but he has to be loyal to me as well, in his own way.

If that makes sense. Its a very... liberal way of being christian, I know....
 

Johnny Von Rotten

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I could not have put it better myself. That is exactly how I feel.

I was brought up a Catholic by a Catholic mother. My dad was baptised Church of England but has no belief in any god. Whether that is aetheist or agnostic or whatever these days I'm not really sure... so I had an equal balance of christianity and no religion. I believed in God and all that as a child but as I grew older I kept finding things in the Bible that just didn't make sense to me. It doesn't make sense to me how humans can take his word and warp it into how they want it to be interpreted and push that forward onto everyone who will listen as the Word. So as I have grown older I have chosen to... not NOT believe in God, but... be open to other ideas. I find it kind of silly that we only have one God... I like ancient 'pagan' systems like Roman and Greek better I have to say... it just makes so much more sense to me. I still pray to God and respect him, believe in christian values and the life that Jesus wanted us to live but... I can't be 'faithful' to the faith, if you know what I mean. So far, God hasn't seemed to mind. I keep quite honest with him... I will love and respect him, but he has to return the favour as well. That doesn't mean answering all my prayers... I just can't stomach the idea that I have to love cherish and obey him just because he 'made' me... so did my parents, but I am fully allowed to disown them if I want to. So I will be loyal to God, but he has to be loyal to me as well, in his own way.

If that makes sense. Its a very... liberal way of being christian, I know....

Then love Him because He's worth loving.
 

StephanieFox

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When I was a child, I really, really tried to believe in God. but every time someone told me about God, I could see the flaw in their arguments. I could never buy the premise.

My dad asked me if I believed in God and I told him I thought that God was moot. He wasn't going to come down and fix the world. It was up to people, including me, to do that. I think that pleased him.

I've discovered that I'm fine without believing. But, I'm also fine with those who choose to (or need to) believe in God.
 

Chrissy

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I was wondering whether those who believe feel they could choose to not believe in god/gods, and for atheists/agnostics whether they could choose to believe in deities?

I'm asking because, from what I can see, people come to conclusions based on experience, evidence or emotion etc. rather than decide as an act of free will. People often seem to frame belief or non-belief as a choice (people are free to choose what they believe) and while I agree with the sentiment, I'm not convinced that's actually what's happening. I was wondering if other people do experience it as a choice?
Sometimes I feel like it's a choice. Usually when I'm really bummed out. That's when I say my "foxhole" prayers.

Most of the time my belief inspires me and makes me feel good. Which is a great reason to believe in something, I think. And that's when I say my gratitude prayers. :)

When I was a child, I really, really tried to believe in God. but every time someone told me about God, I could see the flaw in their arguments. I could never buy the premise.

My dad asked me if I believed in God and I told him I thought that God was moot. He wasn't going to come down and fix the world. It was up to people, including me, to do that. I think that pleased him.

I've discovered that I'm fine without believing. But, I'm also fine with those who choose to (or need to) believe in God.
I can relate to the child feelings. But now that I'm an adult, life isn't so cut and dry to me, so fact or fairy tale. Life is a mystery so often, and so often good comes from bad, so often I can't predict what something will become with time. Something that seems horrible can become something beautiful. I believe there is a deeper, spiritual meaning that goes beyond what I see on the surface. That has solidified my belief in God.

But I agree that it's up to me to do something to change the world. Not everything, mind you. Just a small thing. And if everyone does a small thing, it equals a big thing. And I "choose" (;)) to look at that as the way God works. Through us.
 
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Roxxsmom

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When I was a child, I really, really tried to believe in God. but every time someone told me about God, I could see the flaw in their arguments. I could never buy the premise.

My dad asked me if I believed in God and I told him I thought that God was moot. He wasn't going to come down and fix the world. It was up to people, including me, to do that. I think that pleased him.

I've discovered that I'm fine without believing. But, I'm also fine with those who choose to (or need to) believe in God.

I had a similar sort of experience. I "tried" to believe for a while in Jr. High, because I had some friends who were religious and who insisted you "had" to believe in God. Jr. High was the age where I really noticed for the first time how different my family was from most of my friends'.

In my case, though, the whole religious right movement that started when I was in high school (called itself the "Moral Majority" back then and was against feminism, family planning, gay rights and other things I believed strongly in) killed the concept of God for me. I can't emotionally separate the word "god" from all the anti-progressive/crazy sociopolitical stuff that's been going on ever since. I don't want that being to exist.

I guess this seems like it's a rational choice on my part, but it's not. It's very visceral. Maybe it's classical conditioning, or maybe it's just something to do with my temperament and upbringing. But having said this, I have friends and relatives who believe in god in various ways (some traditionally religious, others more spiritual), and I'm fine with that. It's their actions I go off.
 
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