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Disbelief Is Not A Choice

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posted on Sep, 30 2011 @ 11:09 PM
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Some religious people might be willing to concede that although sexual preference might not be a choice after all, they'll likely insist that religious preference is a choice.

Recently I visited a Christian chat room and for identification of my general stance referred to myself as an atheist. One of the respondents later referred to me as a "chosen atheist" (her italics), which was evidently the only way she was able to perceive me.

But we do not typically believe and disbelieve things as a matter of choice. I could not, for example, decide that tomorrow I'll choose to start believing in The Tooth Fairy. We have quite specific reasons for both believing and disbelieving everything, and those reasons can be good or bad. I have fairly good reasons for disbelieving unproven religious claims.

Most theists probably did not choose their religion either. They tend to adopt the dominant religion of the region they are born into. Religious inculcation in youth combined with pro-religion support from the community tend to corral large numbers of people into their various places of worship. Indoctrination and strong pressure for religious involvement are fairly poor reasons for believing unproven religious claims.

In either case choice is hardly a factor. But in the case of disbelief, choice is never part of the factor. Disbelief is the result of reasoned, rational examination presented for a claim. If the evidence fails to corroborate the claim there is no choice but to disbelieve it.

I have yet to meet a chosen atheist. Christians in particular often insist that one must "choose between Heaven and Hell", therefore as an atheist you've "chosen" Hell. If you have this belief, please consider again the way in which I've explained how we all come to disbelieve things.




posted on Sep, 30 2011 @ 11:22 PM
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You are sort of on the right track, but not quite there. You see, I am a chosen convert. I was raised from birth in a Southern Baptist household. As I grew older, I couldn't tolerate the hypocritical, self-serving dogma and went out on my own to find what rang true to me....

hmm.. come to think of it, I think you may be onto something.. Someone who truly believes would never search for something else.



posted on Sep, 30 2011 @ 11:28 PM
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But disbelief can also occur due to subconscious denial of the facts, can it not?



posted on Sep, 30 2011 @ 11:38 PM
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Originally posted by Quantum Logic
But disbelief can also occur due to subconscious denial of the facts, can it not?


What facts are these that you speak of?



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 12:01 AM
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Most atheist ask why they cannot find God. As an ex-atheist I can say most do not seek God. You have to seek Him with all your heart. It can just start with a contrite, non-sarcastic prayer: "God, I want to believe in you I cannot. I need you so please reveal yourself in a way where I can know you exist" and then take it on faith that if there is a God He will reveal himself and try to follow His rules in life. I think you need the faith of a mustard seed to find Him.

Here, a more eloquent explanation
edit on 1-10-2011 by 547000 because: (no reason given)


Here's an experience
edit on 1-10-2011 by 547000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 12:56 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I disagree. Some people are capable of faith-based beliefs. Others are not. You may be incapable of believing something without evidence, while others are perfectly capable of doing so and really can choose to believe things. I think our ability to believe without evidence varies quite a lot from person to person. So I don't think its a yes or no question. Its a question of degree.

Its an interesting question, but there is really no evidence either way. I think you most likely can chose your beliefs by changing your brain chemistry or altering your brain in some way, though something tells me that isn't really what you were thinking of when you said that
The human mind can be programmed at least a little bit, so just maybe we can self-program it quite a lot of we really want to.

Atheism is the belief God does not exist for any purpose, including creation of the universe. Such a believe requires a large leap of faith. Practically nothing is known about how the universe came into being. To be an atheist, you'd believe that the universe came into being through an unintelligent (random) process. Given that we don't know anything at all about the creation of the universe, such an assumption has no basis in fact. So, I perceive atheists as being just as faith-based as theists.

The core fault of nearly all atheists is they believe logic is the best form of reasoning. First of all, logic rests of a foundation of emotion. Second of all, emotion in many cases is a superior method of reasoning than logic. In specific, focusing on intuition ("gut feelings") often leads to more accurate and more successful results. In some cases intuition and gut feelings may work best to accomplish a goal or solve a problem, while in other circumstances, a focus on logic will lead to more accurate or more successful results.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 01:45 AM
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I think the problem with the OP is that the term "unconscious" has not been adequately taken into account. From my perspective both theism and atheism are intense religious beliefs, and both would be clearly chosen. Beliefs in general are always chosen, are are unavoidable for a human being. I think the term "chosen christian" would alleviate some of the confusion here. An inability to accept a belief in god, or to believe that there is any good evidence for god, is a choice. The reverse would also be a choice. Making choices is what humans "do".



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 01:56 AM
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reply to post by seachange
 


atheists in general dont believe in god because the standard of evidence is higher than that of theists. to believe in an all knowing omnipotent being is THE biggest leap of faith. to say you are not convinced because the evidence isnt good enough is no way a leap of faith.
edit on 1-10-2011 by vjr1113 because: (no reason given)


so is disbelief a choice? the way i see it we are born atheists and as Sam Harris says, the label atheist is really useless because you wouldnt label yourself a-santaclause or a-whatever. a choice is made when someone chooses a religion where atheism is the default.
edit on 1-10-2011 by vjr1113 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 03:07 AM
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Atheism can be made further complex when we consider the difference between Weak Atheism and Strong Atheism. The following website does a good job summarising each:


Atheism is commonly divided into two types: strong atheism and weak atheism. Although only two categories, this distinction manages to reflect the broad diversity which exists among atheists when it comes to their positions on the existence of gods.

Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is someone who lacks theism and who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods — no more, no less. This is also sometimes called agnostic atheism because most people who self-consciously lack belief in gods tend to do so for agnostic reasons.

Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all. Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.

Because knowledge claims are involved, strong atheism carries an initial burden of proof which does not exist for weak atheism. Any time a person asserts that some god or any gods do not or cannot exist, they obligate themselves to support their claims. This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself.

(Source)

--------

This might suggest that for Weak Atheists there is no choice in disbelief, whereas for Strong Atheists there is a choice for disbelief.
edit on 1/10/2011 by Dark Ghost because: clairty



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 05:29 AM
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Belief is ignorance. It is ignoring the fact that you can find out for sure if it is true or not. To believe is to listen to chinese whispers. People have been repeating stories that have been told to them forever. Whether these stories are believed or not is a choice, however most just believe what they are told. This happens because there is a belief in authority. There is the belief that others know better.
Find out for yourself that you are the only authority.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 06:42 AM
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I must agree with OP. I did search and whole heartedly asked for assistance, the conclusion I reached was that no religion has the answers. I did not choose this conclusion, it is what the 'facts' lead me to, for instance;

I spent decades researching the Abrahamic religions in particular. One thing which always puzzled me was the exodus. Moses leads all of Israel out of Egypt demonstrating apparently that 'God' was with them. If the story was true then the proof would have been undeniable to all of Israel. Out of the whole of scripture these people had the most reason to believe that they had the 'truth', and yet they just kept on with false worship and whatever. The whole of scripture talks about Israelis disobeying their 'God'.

If eyewitnesses to the power of the most high were capable of doubt then they must not have seen enough proof. If they did not see enough proof then whatever occurred in those times was either grossly misrepresented in scripture or people did not have faith in an entity which had repeatedly proven itself to be reliable. The latter does not seem likely to me. If a friend proves himself both capable of helping you and trustworthy then you are loyal no matter what.

The majority of us dislike our governments and do not trust them but rely on them so we follow the rules go to work and pay our taxes even though we know they do not have our individual best interests at heart. If a trust worthy 'almighty God' was leading your country/peoples how likely is it that you would stray from the designated path? People 'may' follow the sinful desires of their heart but the majority are not stupid enough to defy a 'God' they have proof of.

This is just one small problem I have with this particular group of influential religions yet it is enough to convince me that if they doubted, we have no real reason to believe. They had the threat of 'instant death' apparently and still could not believe, that dose not sound like a choice to me. You do not chose to die rather than submit to a loving, faithful saviour whom you have witnessed the power of and has actually helped you. Makes no sense.

Something is awry in the state of ancient Israel, people generally choose not to believe what they are seeing when it goes against everything they know to be true and they are a minority in seeing it. When the whole of group witness something undeniable, repeatedly it is accepted as true. Just my thoughts on it.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:01 AM
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Originally posted by rogerstigers
You are sort of on the right track, but not quite there. You see, I am a chosen convert.


I decided to exclude mention of conversion simply because it distracted from my original point.

Though you claim to have chosen the beliefs you've converted to, I contend that it probably wasn't simply due to choice. You likely had a reasoned, rational examination of a religious presentation and decided, based upon your reasoning, to adhere to another religion. I suppose at some point you choose whether or not to believe the religion, but the process leading to the choice is not the same as say, choosing heads or tails.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:14 AM
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Originally posted by seachange
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I disagree. Some people are capable of faith-based beliefs. Others are not. You may be incapable of believing something without evidence, while others are perfectly capable of doing so and really can choose to believe things. I think our ability to believe without evidence varies quite a lot from person to person. So I don't think its a yes or no question. Its a question of degree.

Its an interesting question, but there is really no evidence either way. I think you most likely can chose your beliefs by changing your brain chemistry or altering your brain in some way, though something tells me that isn't really what you were thinking of when you said that
The human mind can be programmed at least a little bit, so just maybe we can self-program it quite a lot of we really want to.


Indeed, and I think you bring up some excellent points. Too many are prone to believe without evidence, though they have bad reasons for belief.


Atheism is the belief God does not exist for any purpose, including creation of the universe. Such a believe requires a large leap of faith. Practically nothing is known about how the universe came into being. To be an atheist, you'd believe that the universe came into being through an unintelligent (random) process. Given that we don't know anything at all about the creation of the universe, such an assumption has no basis in fact. So, I perceive atheists as being just as faith-based as theists.


Here's where I think you're going wrong. You've essentially conducted a straw man argument using inductive reasoning. Atheism actually has nothing to do with cosmology. And your conclusion is arrived at by invoking a God Of The Gaps and proclaiming that disbelief requires faith. I believe you are intelligent enough to spot the areas in your above argument that could benefit from retuning.


The core fault of nearly all atheists is they believe logic is the best form of reasoning. First of all, logic rests of a foundation of emotion. Second of all, emotion in many cases is a superior method of reasoning than logic. In specific, focusing on intuition ("gut feelings") often leads to more accurate and more successful results. In some cases intuition and gut feelings may work best to accomplish a goal or solve a problem, while in other circumstances, a focus on logic will lead to more accurate or more successful results.


I disagree emphatically that following emotion is a superior method of discerning truth. Atheism results solely from claims about deities not meeting their burden of proof. No emotional argument or impulse will provide valid evidence to meet that burden of proof.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:32 AM
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Originally posted by Threegirls
I must agree with OP. I did search and whole heartedly asked for assistance, the conclusion I reached was that no religion has the answers. I did not choose this conclusion, it is what the 'facts' lead me to, for instance;

I spent decades researching the Abrahamic religions in particular.


To me the claims in the Torah, Bible and Quran are irrelevant. I first have to be shown why I should believe anything the book says.

Even if we took these books' claims at face value, some of the claims at least are testable. And many of these claims have indeed been tested and have been demonstrated to be false. Though we may have decided to believe the book initially we have all the evidence necessary to reject its claims as consistently truthful.

At this point there is no choice but to disbelieve. Continued belief in the face of contrary evidence requires fallacious reasoning or insanity.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:56 AM
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I agree with the OP. I can't choose to believe something that I don't believe... And that doesn't just hold true in religion. It's throughout life. I can't choose to believe that there's a polar bear in my front yard, no matter who tells me it's true. I'm going to have to LOOK myself and see.

I agree that neither belief nor disbelief are choices. As a child, I was indoctrinated in religion and naturally believed it. A child doesn't have the rational mind it takes to reason it all out until much later, and therefore doesn't really have the choice (although I remember doubting and questioning what I was taught).

The choice came in deciding to ask the questions and take a real objective look at what I had been told as a child. The choice we make is to challenge our beliefs. They may change if we find reason. But we don't choose to believe. We either do or don't.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:01 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I absolutely agree with you.

I still leave open the possibility that consciousness and spirituality have more to them than I am aware of, I am a moral, dependable, respectful you could say spiritual person. A 'spirit' could be more than a description of the motivation behind thoughts and actions of a person. Wether consciousness exists apart from the physical body I don't know for certain but I would like to think so. I can not really choose to believe just because I want it to be true and if believing has any influence on attaining 'everlasting life' then that doesn't make sense to me.

I am certain that love exists and am determined to let that alone be my guiding principle.

Namaste.
edit on 1-10-2011 by Threegirls because: to clarify



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:47 AM
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Originally posted by Threegirls
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I absolutely agree with you.

I still leave open the possibility that consciousness and spirituality have more to them than I am aware of


Excellent! Always leave possibilities open and test them whenever you can.


I am certain that love exists and am determined to let that alone be my guiding principle.


That is an honorable endeavor. I might suggest that in addition to love as a principle to also at some point employ reason. To discover the universe as it is, rather than what we'd like it to be, is the greatest service we could provide ourselves. To seek and find truth and be a loving, ethical person sounds like a respectable set of qualities in a person. It sounds like nearly all the atheists I know...



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:53 AM
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Originally posted by Quantum Logic
But disbelief can also occur due to subconscious denial of the facts, can it not?


Or conscious denial. I have met plenty of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who consciously disbelieve all evidence that may contradict some aspect of their theory. Whether they truly disbelieve it may be questionable as they may simply be unilaterally dismissing it to retain belief in their theory. This also happens often with Young Earth Creationists.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 11:13 AM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer
... Atheism actually has nothing to do with cosmology. And your conclusion is arrived at by invoking a God Of The Gaps and proclaiming that disbelief requires faith. I believe you are intelligent enough to spot the areas in your above argument that could benefit from retuning.


My understanding of the God-of-the-Gaps theory is that if there is anything at all that has no explanation, then God's existence is evident. Since I didn't claim in my post that God's existence was evident, I don't see how I could have used that theory in my post.

As a mental exercise I'll take a step back and look at this from the Flying Spaghetti Monster perspective and see where I end up. One could say the Flying Spaghetti Monster is out there answering our prayers and doing good deeds. The disbelief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be called Afarianism. Are most Christians Afarian? Yes, while they can't disprove the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they do have an alternative explanation for who is out there answering prayers and doing good deeds that they would tell you fits better. Most people who identify as atheists would also be Afarian for the reason that there is no reason whatsoever to believe such a thing. Are most agnostics also Afarian? I believe most would tell you they are Afarians because they have no evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. Yet, are agnosticism and atheism identical? No, they are not. So, what is the difference?

I believe the difference is scale. Atheists perceive either next to none or no evidence of God's existence. Agnostics perceive some evidence of God's existence but not enough for a positive affirmation. Theists perceive plentiful evidence of God's existence. That sounds right to me, and based on that scale, atheism actually does not require any faith. I think my error in reasoning was thinking the "staring point" is the center of the scale, when its actually on the left side.

You are right that cosmology isn't related to atheism directly. However, if someone presents information about God in the context of cosmology (whether true or false), then your atheism becomes indirectly related to cosmology. A very common argument for God is origins-of-matter related, and therefore cosmology related. So I still believe both theism and atheism are cosmology related.


I disagree emphatically that following emotion is a superior method of discerning truth. Atheism results solely from claims about deities not meeting their burden of proof. No emotional argument or impulse will provide valid evidence to meet that burden of proof.


On subjects with lots of precise information, logic will work better for discerning truth. Where there is very little information or inaccurate "fuzzy data" available on a subject, then intuition works better for discerning truth. The most universal belief about God is that God is the creator of the universe. How much information is available about the creation of our universe?
edit on 1-10-2011 by seachange because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-10-2011 by seachange because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 11:52 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


Religious people make me laugh. It's ridiculous how they believe in something just because they were born into a region that believes in it, and then they fight hard for that belief that they really don't have a logical reason for accepting in the first place.

However, it is all a choice. Albeit, sometimes a difficult choice.

We've had this conversation before.

Personally, I believe in some kind of higher power, although I don't limit that belief to specific religions. I will say that Jesus probably did exist, and I'll also say that Muhammad did as well. I also believe that they probably did everything that the books say they did.

With that said, it really doesn't matter if you believe any of that, imo. What does matter is how much you can appreciate the magnificence of this living intelligent environment we are a part of. Whether this awesome place we live in was created by a supernatural deity, or whether it is derived from less supernatural circumstances is truly irrelevant. What matters is your ability to enjoy it for what you see it as. Now, if your beliefs are ones that don't allow you to see the beauty in it all, then trust me; your beliefs are wrong, and you should probably change them. Beauty is a quantifiable fact.



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