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Is belief a choice?

molten_dragon

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I've always wondered this about other people's beliefs. Did you choose them, or did you simply always feel that way?

Have any of you ever made a conscious decision to believe something else and actually done it? I mean really truly deep down in your heart believe it?

Personally, I've never believed in god or a higher power. I never chose not to believe, I've just always felt that way. And I can't honestly picture ever being able to change the way I feel. I honestly can't imagine just choosing to believe in god. I don't physically think I could do it.

How about you?
 

Aunt Spiker

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I've always wondered this about other people's beliefs. Did you choose them, or did you simply always feel that way?

Have any of you ever made a conscious decision to believe something else and actually done it? I mean really truly deep down in your heart believe it?

Personally, I've never believed in god or a higher power. I never chose not to believe, I've just always felt that way. And I can't honestly picture ever being able to change the way I feel. I honestly can't imagine just choosing to believe in god. I don't physically think I could do it.

How about you?
I've changed myself - like: not wantign to be depressed, anymore - I had to force myself phsycially out of it every day, case by case basis, and my heart eventually followed.

But I don't see how that could work over beliefs unless it's a matter of accepting something that's being presented in opposition to your current belief.

But there's been nothing really ground breaking for me in *that* sense. In ever case in which my beliefs and feelings changed - they changed *first* and eventually I realized it.
 

Cephus

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No, a belief is not something that you can simply choose, it is something that you have to be convinced of. You can't just decide one day out of the blue to believe a random religion and actually have that belief mean anything.

Of course, just because you believe something doesn't necessarily make it factually true. Lots of people forget that.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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You can't just decide one day out of the blue to believe a random religion and actually have that belief mean anything.
No? I'd say people do it all the time. They decide what they will allow themselves to be convinced of.
 

CriticalThought

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I was raised Christian, went atheist in college, moved back to agnostic not long after I graduated, and then finally settled on Existential Absurdist in grad school.

Children are different than adults when it comes to beliefs. They are much more ready to accept what they are told, hence why they are likely to believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy.
 

Cephus

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No? I'd say people do it all the time. They decide what they will allow themselves to be convinced of.
But they cannot actually hold the belief until they are first convinced. Just saying you believe something is quite different than actually believing it.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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It's like love. You say it, and you act like it, and eventually it's true.
 

Catz Part Deux

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I've always wondered this about other people's beliefs. Did you choose them, or did you simply always feel that way?

Have any of you ever made a conscious decision to believe something else and actually done it? I mean really truly deep down in your heart believe it?
I was indoctrinated to believe in God in a particular way. In my mid 30s, I criticially examined those beliefs, rejected many of them, and replaced a few with more rational ideas. It was a painful process.
 

Dittohead not!

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Most people choose what they want to believe, whether it is in the realm of politics, religion, or even science, then set out to accept only what supports that belief, and reject what doesn't, and so make themselves believe what they want. That's why it is so difficult to change someone's belief system by citing facts: They will reject any facts that don't support what they want to believe.
 

Catz Part Deux

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Most people choose what they want to believe.
Actually, when it comes to religion, I think that children are inculcated with religious views at such a young age that choosing something else is largely unthinkable. That's why most people remain in the faith that they had as children. there may be brief detours, but they almost always come back to their original worldview that was provided for them by their parents.
 

Gardener

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I don't think I am very easily socialized, since I reject most everything that doesn't make any intuitive sense to me.

I was raised in a logging camp 40 miles away from civilization and didn't know any other kids other than my immediate family until I was 6, though, so my very lack of conforming to groupthink may just be a product of my upbringing.
 

MaggieD

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I've always wondered this about other people's beliefs. Did you choose them, or did you simply always feel that way?

Have any of you ever made a conscious decision to believe something else and actually done it? I mean really truly deep down in your heart believe it?

Personally, I've never believed in god or a higher power. I never chose not to believe, I've just always felt that way. And I can't honestly picture ever being able to change the way I feel. I honestly can't imagine just choosing to believe in god. I don't physically think I could do it.

How about you?
My introduction to God came from Sunday School. Introduction/indoctrination. When kids are taught that Bible stories are real, it gives them a foundation for their beliefs. When your culture fosters those beliefs, well, many just keep on believin'.

Many people reject those beliefs as they get older much like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus...but with more severe cultural consequences. Many of them begin to realize that Christianity simply cannot be the be-all-end-all...that if there is a God, there are many pathes to him. That's my vision.
 

Leo

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Actually, when it comes to religion, I think that children are inculcated with religious views at such a young age that choosing something else is largely unthinkable. That's why most people remain in the faith that they had as children. there may be brief detours, but they almost always come back to their original worldview that was provided for them by their parents.
I totally agree, and I think it is very wrong. I was lucky (in a way) that I grew up as a good little Church of England boy (went to Sunday school - sang in the choir - all that stuff). I say lucky, because even though I was indoctrinated from a very early age, the C of E is a very lukewarm religion. Like the average Sunday morning congregation at the village church, was three very old ladies and a stray dog that had wandered in from the rain. I consider this an appropriate (and safe) level of religious fervour for a civilised society.

I continued to be suitably devout until about the age of six. It was at that age that I was expected to attend Sunday school, and the first nagging doubts reared their ugly heads when I was told various Biblical stories, including that of Noah and the flood. My faith was severely shaken when I was the only child to be 'sent down' from Sunday school with a note to my mother. It seems that I was being incorrigably disruptive in asking the humourless lady who took Sunday school, why the lions and tigers did not eat all the rabbits and hamsters and smaller creatures during the course of the sea voyage. I never received a satisfactory answer.

Organised religion (as opposed to personal beliefs) is a worry to me, and I have a great deal of trouble with many of its tenets. I remember being taken aside, with a small group of my fellow students, at the age of about 12, and told of the evils of masturbation by the school chaplain. (This was something most of us had only recently discovered, and we were quite put out to learn that it was prominant on the prohibited practices list.)

All organised religion seems to have a particular problem with sex. Christopher Hitchens describes organised religion as "Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive towards children ..."

What a pity our relationship with God (if we hold such beliefs) is under the stewardship of such organisations.
 

bangkok2010

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I've always wondered this about other people's beliefs. Did you choose them, or did you simply always feel that way?

Have any of you ever made a conscious decision to believe something else and actually done it? I mean really truly deep down in your heart believe it?

Personally, I've never believed in god or a higher power. I never chose not to believe, I've just always felt that way. And I can't honestly picture ever being able to change the way I feel. I honestly can't imagine just choosing to believe in god. I don't physically think I could do it.

How about you?
I think ,as far as you are a human being in this life and you can see that every thing around you is to serve you.and look carefully to the fact that every thing has as purpose in this world so you must have a purpose as a human ,simply your purpose is to use your mind and search for the true answer about the great questions :
-Who am I ?
-Where am I going after end of my life ?
-How is universe and every thing found ?
-What if there is a system or a group or ...... having the answers to all these questions ? where is it if ever ?
after you find the answers you will feel a very happy feelings ....................
 

Moot

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I was indoctrinated to believe in God in a particular way. In my mid 30s, I criticially examined those beliefs, rejected many of them, and replaced a few with more rational ideas. It was a painful process.
Are you familiar with Julia Sweeny's "Letting Go of God?" It sounds like you and Julia might have gone through a similar evolution of belief or should I say disbelief. Its quite funny and profound and I think you might enjoy it, especially part two

Part one: YouTube - Julia Sweeney - Letting Go of God Part 1-13
 

mike2810

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Actually, when it comes to religion, I think that children are inculcated with religious views at such a young age that choosing something else is largely unthinkable. That's why most people remain in the faith that they had as children. there may be brief detours, but they almost always come back to their original worldview that was provided for them by their parents.
guess I am an exception. Was raised Luthern. When I got out of high school I quit going to church services. It seemed many churchs became more of a business than people sharing a common belief. I just don't like big organized churchs. Mathew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." set the tone for me. IMO, it is possible to have faith without belonging to an organized church.
 

Black Dog

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Yea I don't agree in that indoctrination crap. Parents install the values they hold into their children. When the children grow up they can make their own choice.

I was raised Catholic. In high school went into occult. Scared myself out of the occult when things actually happened. Went to the Army and college later and became agnostic. After leaving the military went total atheist.

Finlay when life was going no place, I came back to Jesus, not born again, just back. I have seen wonderful changes in my life since that day.

It is a choice. And I would at this point rather die than turn my back on Jesus again.
 

Catz Part Deux

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guess I am an exception. Was raised Luthern. When I got out of high school I quit going to church services. It seemed many churchs became more of a business than people sharing a common belief. I just don't like big organized churchs. Mathew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." set the tone for me. IMO, it is possible to have faith without belonging to an organized church.
You were raised Christian and you remain a Christian. The indoctrination worked. You've adjusted your worldview (very) slightly, but it is still within the framework of generic Christianity. It is entirely possible to have faith without an organized religion. And, you've maintained the same faith you were raised with.

You may have questioned small aspects of it, but you don't appear to have questioned the bigger issues (death, hell, salvation, sin).
 

Catz Part Deux

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Yea I don't agree in that indoctrination crap. Parents install the values they hold into their children. When the children grow up they can make their own choice.

I was raised Catholic. In high school went into occult. Scared myself out of the occult when things actually happened. Went to the Army and college later and became agnostic. After leaving the military went total atheist.

Finlay when life was going no place, I came back to Jesus, not born again, just back. I have seen wonderful changes in my life since that day.

It is a choice. And I would at this point rather die than turn my back on Jesus again.
Exactly what I stated. In spite of your wandering, you reembraced the faith you were indoctrinated with as a child. It probably felt like coming home, because in a sense, you were coming back to the beliefs you were raised with.

My original post:

Actually, when it comes to religion, I think that children are inculcated with religious views at such a young age that choosing something else is largely unthinkable. That's why most people remain in the faith that they had as children. there may be brief detours, but they almost always come back to their original worldview that was provided for them by their parents.
This is exactly what you described, Blackdog.
 
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Black Dog

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Exactly what I stated. In spite of your wandering, you reembraced the faith you were indoctrinated with as a child. It probably felt like coming home, because in a sense, you were coming back to the beliefs you were raised with.
Has little or nothing to do with being raised a Catholic. I don't want to insult Catholics, but I can tell you it literally had nothing to do with it.

This is exactly what you described, Blackdog.
You are still painting with a huge brush. It does not apply. My being raise in a Catholic family had nothing at all to do with my faith as it exists now. I was raised a Democrat. You can see how well that turned out.
 

Catz Part Deux

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Has little or nothing to do with being raised a Catholic. I don't want to insult Catholics, but I can tell you it literally had nothing to do with it.

You are still painting with a huge brush. It does not apply. My being raise in a Catholic family had nothing at all to do with my faith as it exists now. I was raised a Democrat. You can see how well that turned out.
Let me break this down for you...did you worship Jesus Christ as a child? Do you worship Jesus Christ now? The answers to both of these questions are yes. It doesn't matter that you changed buildings. You were raised Christian and you are now again Christian.

It is extremely rare for people to permanently reject the paradigms of their childhood.
 
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Black Dog

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Let me break this down for you...did you worship Jesus Christ as a child?
I was too busy being afraid of him watching me as it was only between the age of 5 and 8. I got as far as my first holy Communion at age 5? Hardly ever went to church after that. Last time in a Catholic school was 3rd grade. My parents were not that big on church or religion.

Do you worship Jesus Christ now? The answers to both of these questions are yes. It doesn't matter that you changed buildings. You were raised Christian and you are now again Christian.
Bull****. I have been allot of things. I mean I guess because I went to a Catholic school until 8, I was indoctrinated. Hehehehe! Common Catz, that is ridiculous.

It is extremely rare for people to permanently reject the paradigms of their childhood.
Any proof of this? Evidence? Most kids rebel.

And yet I am not a Democrat. Go figure.
 
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peas_and_corn

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IMO it's a bit of a mix of many things. Yes, there's a certain element of choice, but choices can only be made if you're in an environment and social situation where the options and information you need to make an informed decision are available. Without available information about your options, your 'choice' is rather pointless because you're choosing what colour Model T Ford you want. Of course the internet has made information incredibly easy to find nowadays.
 

FluffyNinja

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I'm not sure about the whole indoctrination thing, but I'll share my story, for what it's worth. i was raised a Southern Baptist and I don't think I missed a Sunday Service until I was around 15. While in high school i rebelled, became everything from a headbanger to a skate-punk, went to college, joined a Frat, drank myself into oblivion, and didn't set foot in a church for 15 years (much to my dear mother's chagrin). I served some time in the military, married, had two beautiful children, got a decent job, built a house, bought a boat, finished my Master's Degree, took the fam on vacations, all the while turning my nose up to all the "Jesus Freaks" out there. Through it all, I always felt that there was "something" missing in my life - always wanting "more" or asking myself if this was my "life's purpose". I eventually found my way back to Christ and the church and it's made ALL the difference.

In the end, I believe that at some fundamental level, that is what we all search for - a purpose to our daily grind; "meaning" to our existence. I'll be the first to admit, I am often hypocritical and fall quite short of how I believe I should live my life; but at least my spiritual beliefs give me a daily goal for which to strive. :shrug:
 
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