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Belief a Conscious Choice?

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  • Belief a Conscious Choice?

    A number of folks on these boards are saying or at least implying that they can consciously choose to believe things. If you are one of them, perhaps you might help me. I have never been able to consciously choose any of the beliefs that I have and I would like to be able to do that. If you think that you can consciously choose to believe things, I wonder if you might explain how you do it. What do you do at the last moment to instantly change your one state of belief to another? What is it that you do that would allow you to say, "OK, at this moment I have a lack of belief that 'x' exists or is true, but I choose to believe that 'x' exists or is true and now instantly at this new moment I do believe that 'x' exists or is true"?

    Maybe you could use something like leprechauns to demonstrate your technique. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a leprechaun is "a fairy peculiar to Ireland, who appeared in the form of an old man of minute stature, wearing a cocked hat and a leather apron" and who hides his gold at the end of the rainbow and if captured has to grant three wishes. So, assuming that you don't already have a belief in them, how about right now, while you are reading this, choose to believe - be convinced without a doubt - that they exist. Now that you believe in leprechauns, my question is, how did you do it? How did you make the instantaneous transition from lack of belief to belief?

  • #2
    What do you mean by belief? Is it assent to propositions?

    Comment


    • #3
      A conscious choice most often involves research and weighing between two or more choices to decide which one is most likely/probable given the evidence. Occasionally, there may be an epiphany event that pushes someone one way or the other...
      "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

      "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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      • #4
        Paprika,

        re: "What do you mean by belief?"

        For the purpose of this topic I define belief as a conviction, without any doubt, that someone or something does or doesn't exist or that a certain proposition is or isn't true.

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        • #5
          Littlejoe,

          re: "A conscious choice most often involves research and weighing between two or more choices..."

          That is correct. In order for something to be considered a choice, there must be at least two things to select from, and each one of the things has to be able to be selected.

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          • #6
            Well you consider the evidence for and against something, then you decide whether to believe it or not. Everyone does it.

            Think of a court of law. You hear evidence for someone being guilty and evidence for them being innocent. Then the jury weighs the evidence to make a decision.

            I don't see the problem with making a conscious choice to believe something. Are you saying that you just believe by osmosis or something? You just sit there and all of a sudden you believe it for no apparent reason?

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            • #7
              Sparko,

              re: "I don't see the problem with making a conscious choice to believe something."

              Then assuming you don't already have a belief in Leprechauns, you should have no trouble in demonstrating your ability as requested in the OP.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by rstrats View Post
                ?"

                For the purpose of this topic I define belief as a conviction, without any doubt, that someone or something does or doesn't exist or that a certain proposition is or isn't true.
                Most of my beliefs aren't held with absolute certainty, so I find your conception of 'belief' unrealistic.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by rstrats View Post
                  Sparko,

                  re: "I don't see the problem with making a conscious choice to believe something."

                  Then assuming you don't already have a belief in Leprechauns, you should have no trouble in demonstrating your ability as requested in the OP.
                  If you show me convincing evidence of Leprechauns, I will decide whether to believe in them or not.

                  Nobody ever claimed to just choose to believe for absofreakingly no reason at all. But when it comes down to it, you have to decide whether to accept the evidence for or against something as true or not and then make a decision to believe in it.

                  and thanks for ignoring most of my post.

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                  • #10
                    Paprika,

                    re: "Most of my beliefs aren't held with absolute certainty, so I find your conception of 'belief' unrealistic."


                    So then John 3:16 could be written: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever thinks that there is a chance that He exists, even though they have doubts about it, should not perish but have everlasting life"?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rstrats View Post
                      Paprika,

                      re: "Most of my beliefs aren't held with absolute certainty, so I find your conception of 'belief' unrealistic."


                      So then John 3:16 could be written: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever thinks that there is a chance that He exists, even though they have doubts about it, should not perish but have everlasting life"?
                      belief is not "thinking there is a chance he exists" - but neither is it certainty. About the only thing you can be certain of is math.

                      Do you believe George Washington was the first US president? Why?
                      Do you believe it or just think there was a chance he was?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rstrats View Post

                        So then John 3:16 could be written: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever thinks that there is a chance that He exists, even though they have doubts about it, should not perish but have everlasting life"?
                        No, because John 3:16 isn't about belief in the existence of the Son.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A fascinating question, rstrats. A lot of it probably depends on definition. I am inclined to say that I do not really decide what to believe in most cases. When I am convinced of something, I believe it. You might say that choice comes in with conviction, but if so it is not really a conscious choice for me. It sort of happens at an instant usually, something somewhere in my mind flips like a switch and I now believe.

                          Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                          Well you consider the evidence for and against something, then you decide whether to believe it or not. Everyone does it.

                          Think of a court of law. You hear evidence for someone being guilty and evidence for them being innocent. Then the jury weighs the evidence to make a decision.
                          In a court of law things are a bit different. You consider the evidence and must choose one or the other. You may not be absolutely certain so belief here is more a tentative one.

                          I can only speak from my experience, of course. Most of my life from grade school on the main thrust of my interest was to understand the truth of how the world fit together. I did not choose to believe that the world did fit together in a way that could be understood - I just "knew" that it did from living in it. I started with science, moved on to various different efforts to understand that truth.

                          When I came to Christ I did not choose to believe, not consciously at any rate. All the pieces fell together at one moment and I realized that I did believe. Once you know that something is true there is no choice to believe. That has already taken place in the process of learning.

                          My experience and my opinion.
                          Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                            A conscious choice most often involves research and weighing between two or more choices to decide which one is most likely/probable given the evidence. Occasionally, there may be an epiphany event that pushes someone one way or the other...
                            I believe I have for the most part and I have gone through a process since my late teens make a deliberate effort to evaluate and understand different beliefs and their variations. I had a Martial Arts teacher early that inspired me to question. He was a Buddhist and passed on the concepts impermanence and 'nothing is necessary.

                            My quest in a way is reflected in my history on Tweb. My interest here is in part wanting to have more insight into 'Why people believe as they do, and what is their justification for their belief system?'

                            The philosophical issue deeply involved here is 'What is Will? and is Will Free? My conclusion is 'We have a Will, but it is not necessarily 'Free.' There is a potential of Free Will, but it is illusive. My search in part came about by a satori, or sort of awakening when I realized that considering the diversity of human beliefs, and our fallibility we are most likely wrong about what we believe, and especially the beliefs we hold most dear.

                            The Vedic wise saying plays a role in this: The elephant is held by a chain when it is young, so that it may be securely held by a string as an adult.
                            Last edited by shunyadragon; 10-21-2014, 06:05 PM.
                            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                            go with the flow the river knows . . .

                            Frank

                            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sparko,

                              re: "If you show me convincing evidence of Leprechauns, I will decide whether to believe in them or not."

                              If beliefs can be obtained by simply consciously choosing to have them, then evidence is not necessary - prudent in some cases, perhaps, but not necessary. However, even if it were necessary, how would you know when you had the convincing evidence? What would be the staie of your mind with regard to the issue in question at the moment you realized you had the convincing evidence?



                              re: "Nobody ever claimed to just choose to believe for absofreakingly no reason at all."

                              But could they? And anyway, in this topic there is a reason - and that reason is to demonstrate one's ability to consciously choose to believe something.



                              re: "and thanks for ignoring most of my post."

                              You're welcome. At the time I figured you'd be thankful for my not pointing out your failure to be responsive to my request in the OP.

                              Comment

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