Jump to content

The Idea That We "choose" Not To Believe


Recommended Posts

With the tooth fairy, I choose when I placed one under my pillow and didn't tell mom and dad.   The next morning it was still there.   With Santa I caught my parents putting the gifts out.  So I had objective evidence that it wasn't true.  With santa I played along because it made my mother happy.  I even bitched about the stupid orange in the toe of the stocking.  She actually responded "Well it a tradition.  I had to deal with it too".    

 

As to the shipwreck, it would depend on the person.   Some may choose to drown deliberately.  Some may choose to fight for life as long as they can.  Regardless, at some point the person will choose to die and then experience the process of death.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 71
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I recently had a few encounters with some Christian friends regarding this idea of a "choice" that I supposedly made to turn away from God/Jesus.  I have a very close friend who pastors a small rural

A believer can choose to practice Christianity or not. In fact, a non-believer can choose whether to practice Christianity or not. That is not the same thing as choosing to believe or choosing not to.

We didn't choose -- we realized.

I'm still circling around the definition of choice. I wasn't inactive, no. I read books and talked to people and watched nature and science programs, but that wasn't necessarily with the goal of making a decision, but to inform myself about life and the world and to acquire knowledge. I was active in gaining knowledge that finally drowned my beliefs. 

 

Let's put it this way, would you say someone who died after a shipwreck because he was lost at sea that ultimately he chose to drown? After all, didn't he at some point quit treading water and choose to give up? He could've kept trying to swim, even after 10 days of no food or water or sleep, right? Or maybe his body just shut down from dehydration, muscle spasms, exhaustion, etc.

 

This is what happened to my faith. It drowned. I couldn't choose to keep it. It just stopped being real and nothing I could try to do to keep believing in it worked. I wasn't inactive. I tried to keep it. But my brain finally shut down and refused to hold it. 

 

And it's gone. I'm happy it's gone. The only credit I take for leaving Christianity is that I didn't choose to kill myself while I was going through my de-conversion. It turned out to be much happier here on the other side, but I didn't know that until I got here.  

 

Look, some people's brains can live in denial or hold paradoxical thinking. Mine can't. I see my family do it, and I marvel at their ability to shut out any new idea that goes against something they already believe and like believing. Yes, all of our brains process information and accept or reject it as true or false. When I see or hear something provably true, I don't seem to have the ability to reject it as false. That is, I don't feel I have a conscious choice in the matter. I can't convince myself something false is true once I see it proven false. So no, I don't have active control of that. But then again, you can't make yourself believe in Santa Claus. Even if your life depended on it, you couldn't. Did you choose not to believe in the tooth fairy? No, your brain realized it was absurd and let go of the idea at some point.

Santa is a good example, because my belief in Santa is 0% today. But if I happened to catch sight of him on Christmas Eve then the percentage might change to 10% Santa exists, 90% I hallucinated. However somebody else might be so logical that they wouldn't believe in Santa even after seeing him.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband said it best, and more concisely than me: "We don't choose whether or not we believe Christianity; we choose whether to continue practicing the religion after we don't believe it anymore."  

 

I do see what you're saying, we're just defining choice differently. If someone is waving an offensive picture on a sign as you round a corner and it's right in front of your face and your eyes see it and your brain processes it, and you close your eyes fast and hurry past, you can "un-see" it. It's in your brain. You know what was on that sign. Did you choose to see it? I'm saying just because your brain processes something doesn't necessarily mean that you meant to allow it into your brain in the first place and what your brain will do with that knowledge once it's in there. You're saying that you think a person has more active control over how they process information and what they do with that information once it's in there. Yes, I think some people can mentally shove unwelcome knowledge into a dark corner of their mind and repress it. I tried that but it didn't work very long. I couldn't un-know what I knew. I wasn't able to choose to reject it. 

 

I mean, I don't care either way really. Choice. Not a choice. 

 

I think Christians care because they think everyone deep down believes in God and the choice is whether to accept Him and all his rules in the Bible, or else you deserve eternal punishment. If you don't believe in God in the first place, there isn't anything to choose to accept or reject from that God. So I don't think of it in terms of choice or not a choice anymore. But, you know, whatever works for you. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I meant to say CAN'T un-see it. 

 

Santa Claus: Yeah, if I saw Santa, I'd first think it was an amazing hoax someone was pulling. Then I'd think hallucination or dream. I think I'd still be at 0% plausibility that Santa exists as a real, magical being. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

(Snip)

 

This notion of choice is often accompanied by the idea that I still know deep in my heart the reality of God/Jesus' existence.  As if I willfully and knowingly reject him.  That would imply I think God is real.  I do not think this, but Christians are convinced that this is the case for everyone who doesn't believe. 

 

This misunderstanding might be a key to trying to bridge the gap between believers and non-believers.  I haven't made any headway with my Christian friends and family, but I would love to hear from others about their thoughts and experiences with this particular issue.

 

Hey Deconverted!

 

As a latecomer to this thread, here's my 50 cents worth.

 

There seem to be two key points that this issue is founded on... the reality of the Christian god and the reality of our free will.  It seems to me that the Christians you've been in dialog with take these two things as givens.  They presuppose these things to be so and then work from there, without questioning them or even supplying much in the way of evidence for either. 

 

For myself, I just can't reconcile these two presuppositions with what I know about the latest findings in science.  The data tells me that there's no need to invoke a supernatural god to explain reality when natural mechanisms will do just fine - thank you very much!  Also, our telescopes, satellites and particle accelerators seem to be casting doubt on the notion of free will too ...on the grand scale of things, that is.  In the portion of the universe we can see, I live and think and feel as if I possess free will and have the ability to make make free choices in my life - but if the theories explained in the following links continue to be supported by the data - then to be honest and true to myself I have to conclude that my identity, my uniqueness and my free will are just illusions.

 

Illusionary choices are no choices at all and no basis for a god (real or not) to judge me or anyone else.  Therefore, since reality seems to require no god to create or sustain it, since the very notion of a singular, personal identity is questionable and since nobody is really making any free choices at anyway - nobody is consciously, wilfully and deliberately choosing to accept or reject Jesus.  I therefore contend that the two key presuppositions your Christian friends are making Deconverted, can be dismissed as wishful thinking on their part.

.

.

.

 

 

http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/crazy.html

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_inflation

"For cosmology in the global point of view, the observable universe is one causal patch of a much larger unobservable universe; there are parts of the universe which cannot communicate with us yet."

 

"Inflation from the global point of view is often called eternal inflation. On a global constant-time slice, regions with inflation have an exponentially growing volume, while regions which are not inflating don't. This means that the volume of the inflating part of the universe in the global picture is always unimaginably larger than the part that has stopped inflating. If the probability of different regions is counted by volume, one should expect that inflation will never end, or applying boundary conditions that we exist to observe it, that inflation will end as late as possible. Weighting by volume is unnatural in the local point of view where inflation is not eternal—it eventually ends as seen by any single observer."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_inflation

"All models of eternal inflation produce an infinite multiverse, typically a fractal."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Linde

Linde's model of eternal inflation has been confirmed as compatible with the data obtained by the Planck satellite.

 

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Planck

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

.

.

.

 

Deconverted, what I find most telling is that three branches of scientific inquiry - Cosmology, String Theory and Quantum Physics - all appear to be pointing to the existence of a Multiverse, of which our observable universe (94 billion light years across) is just one infinitesimally small speck that is duplicated over and over again... ad infinitum.  Just as the configuration of pixels in a fractal eventually repeat themselves, so our universe is replicated infinitely within the Multiverse.  

 

Therefore, on the grandest scales you and I are not unique.  We are exactly and infinitely replicated throughout the Multiverse. There are an infinity of BAA's typing this very message, right now, somewhere else.  Likewise, there are an infinity of Deconverted's reading it.  Do they think they possess free will just as much as we might?  Probably.  But if none of their thoughts or actions are unique, where and how are free will and personal choice involved?  

 

The answer is... only on the local scale, within their own particular observable universes. 

Only in these is there likely to be one BAA, one Deconverted and one of everybody else.

So identity, free will and personal choice are illusions on the grand scale and only have the appearance of being real... locally.

In my book we might as well continue to live as if they are real because we've evolved that way and it works for us.  If it isn't broken - don't fix it!  

 

Presupposing that god and free will are both real is a non-starter for me.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the whole thread... sorry, but something came to mind and I wanted to express it before I lost it again

 

I think Christians like to SAY they chose... but like to believe they are chosen.. they are special. I also think they are fearful that something that is so emotionally charged for them can be refuted by thought, logic.I do not believe that most christians have ever really examined their 'faith' or why they believe... and maybe deep down they know it may not hold up to scrutiny.

 

I don't think they really understand that they never chose to be christians in the first place... they were brought up in a culture which almost guarantees they would be, or were at a bad place in life and saw it as their life preserver, or need the emotional security blanket of a cosmic daddy... or, and this is the biggie, can not tolerate the thought of their own non-existence... death and loss is overwhelming for a lot of people. I learned this watching 'hoarders'... every single one of them is dealing (or not as the case may be) with grief and loss, and that is the pathology around their hoarding.

 

Think about the catchphrases and such in modern christianity... jesus loves you, etc.. they are all very like things we would say to a small child who feels frightened or insecure... mommy will always love you, no matter what... this is what they are selling.. that unconditional love of a parent for a small child... that, of course, changes over time and we begin to expect our children to behave in certain ways... not because we will stop loving them but because in the adult world responsibility for oneself is all important.

 

Christianity does not really expect this responsibility... with the 'sacrifice' it's okay to mess up, but you still get the unconditional love part a small child gets.

 

So.. when we say we haven't chosen, we just can't believe something that's so ridiculous, or has no evidence, or whatever our research has shown us.. they freak out and put up these walls of defense mechanisms... because they can't IMAGINE being without it... and they don't know why they believe so it must be us, something is WRONG with us because OBVIOUSLY they have to be right

 

or they may have to face their own mortality and be responsible for their 'sins'.

 

make sense?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Many of you seem to be taking a much deeper look into the question of choice.  All very interesting (expeically the stuff about multiverse's and such), but as RaLeah mentioned, I think the definition here is part, if not the problem.  As florduh said

 

"It's not a belief, but simply the way it is; once you know it's a sham you are simply unable to feign the religious belief any longer. The only importance of making this clear is so Christians have a more accurate picture of those who have seen through the religious claptrap."

 

It's important (to me at least) to try and clear up this misconception because as long as it continues to be held amoung religious people, the divide between "us" and "them" will be continue to be large.  This divide will probably always be large, but I for one want to do what I can to bring humans together for the benefit of humanity.  Of course what I think would "benefit" humanity is different than what a Christian thinks!

 

To those of you like stryper, your definition is complex and in some ways meaningless.  Maybe not meaningless, but very generic it seems.  I suppose I have "choice" in inhale air to breathe and stay alive but at some point isn't that definition of choice almost meaningless?

 

My Christian friends and family are convinced I still believe (that I know in my heart...whatever that means) that the God of the Bible exists and is real.  As if I just want it my way...and as if I am in a state of rebellion or something.  That kind of thinking is taught in churches all the time.  It's a falsehood that simply is not true for most.  I suppose there maybe some people that do still think God is real, and are going through a rebellious phase or something, but I think that is a teeny tiny minority.

 

Bhim asks "What I'm more interested in asking is: why is it important for Christians to believe that we chose to leave Jesus?  And why is it important for us to believe that we did not make an active choice to disbelieve?"  I think it's important for Christians to believe this because my freinds are convinced 100% that Jesus is real...and they need to reinforce that.  See flordah's reponse to the second question...and I'll tact on to it that I personally despise being accused of something that is not true and I don't like being misunderstood.

 

By the way RaLeah, I really appreciated your responses!  Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe if really believed that I would be burned in a lake of fire eternally but never burn up, I would be able to convince myself that I could pretend so hard to believe that I could even fool god.   I'd sure as hell try.  bill

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have come across Christians who say that so often it's not funny. it really irritates the hell out of me too. I didn't choose to not believe in Jesus anymore. It was an inescapable conclusion I came to... a very heartbreaking one. One that I could no longer deny. It's not a matter of choice to believe it. I often say this. "Oh, I'd love to believe in Jesus again. I'd love to believe that there's a God who has the whole world in his hands, has a plan for me and that one day I'm going to go to Heaven. I also want to believe that there are wardrobes that lead to magical lands and that there's an amazing chocolate factory ran by Oompa Loompas that makes amazing candies, but I'm just simply UNABLE to believe any of it!

 

I think Christians get confused between belief and action. Belief is not a choice, but actions are. I may not believe but I can still choose to go to church. But Belief has to come first before I can make any sincere gestures towards God. No one says the sinners prayer unless they first believe that it's necessary. If I don't believe it's necessary but still pray it God is hardly going to see me is a sincere believer is he?

 

Here is an article I wrote on this topic which elaborates more. You may get some chuckles out of it:

 

 

http://reckersworld.jimdo.com/religion/belief-is-not-a-choice/

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

To those of you like stryper, your definition is complex and in some ways meaningless.  Maybe not meaningless, but very generic it seems.  I suppose I have "choice" in inhale air to breathe and stay alive but at some point isn't that definition of choice almost meaningless?

 

 

 

You also have the choice to not breathe.  You also have the choice to let your body's automatic system control your breath and get on with more important choices. 

 

It is not complex.  You have a choice in all things.  Sometimes the choice was made such as "I wish to solve problem X, and I will follow wherever that answer leads". So that once the answer is discovered the choice was already made, so it appears there was not choice.   You can also choose to ignore the answer found, but as everyone here knows trying to unlearn something is just as hard and learning it in the first place.  

 

You can choose to not go to the dentist for years.  Then you can choose to ignore problems when they arise.  But when the dentist tells you they have to pull your teeth and you have to get implants or dentures, you can say you don't have a choice in the matter.  But you did. It was years ago and you chose not to deal with it. 

 

You always have a choice. 

 

http://youtu.be/YDUXE9-SS4s

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

To those of you like stryper, your definition is complex and in some ways meaningless.  Maybe not meaningless, but very generic it seems.  I suppose I have "choice" in inhale air to breathe and stay alive but at some point isn't that definition of choice almost meaningless?

 

 

 

You also have the choice to not breathe.  You also have the choice to let your body's automatic system control your breath and get on with more important choices. 

 

It is not complex.  You have a choice in all things.  Sometimes the choice was made such as "I wish to solve problem X, and I will follow wherever that answer leads". So that once the answer is discovered the choice was already made, so it appears there was not choice.   You can also choose to ignore the answer found, but as everyone here knows trying to unlearn something is just as hard and learning it in the first place.  

 

You can choose to not go to the dentist for years.  Then you can choose to ignore problems when they arise.  But when the dentist tells you they have to pull your teeth and you have to get implants or dentures, you can say you don't have a choice in the matter.  But you did. It was years ago and you chose not to deal with it. 

 

You always have a choice.

 

 

See, your definition of choice is very broad.  Choice to breathe or not too?  That is not a "choice" in the way we typically use the word.  This is my point.  Christians seem to take words and twist them...very often...in order to shape their arguments to prove their point.  Like how Atheism is a belief or takes faith.  Like how we "choose" to reject Jesus.

 

stryper, I understand that at a high level, things like breathing and jumping when someone scares us are "choices", but I think there is an important distinguishing factor in them being voluntary or involuntary.  In your last post it seems like you mixed the two types freely.  You speak of a choice to breathe or not, then speak of a choice of not going to the dentist.  While I can admit to the word "choice" applying to these things at some level, there seems (to me at least) to be a big difference...don't you see that difference?  I don't freely mix involuntary choice and voluntary choice.  They are very different concepts and things.  And as I said earlier, maybe this is the problem in this whole discussion...the definition of the word choice.  As we use the word in our everyday language and culture, a choice is typically something that happens when there are two (or more) viable options.  When it comes to breathing, being able to control involuntary muscles to stop breathing and the resulting death is not a viable option.  Even if a person wishes to die and throws themselves in a lake with 100lbs of weight (a choice), they will still be trying to gasp for a breath underwater...this goes against the choice they've already made and it not something they can control...is it?

 

My Christian friends seem to mix the voluntary and involuntary choice definitions and they don't see the distinctions when it comes to a choice in believing in Jesus.  That is my frustration and that is what I am trying to help them understand.  That has to be a point where we can freely talk with vocabulary that means something and is not so vague.  Almost every dialogue between me and Christian ends up with these sorts of word games.  Instead of trying to come together in agreements, they so often lead to word games where they want different meanings to apply so they can be right.  Heck, maybe I am doing the same thing to them and just don't know it, but at some point we have to agree on a word definition in order to convey ideas and concepts.

 

For example, is God good?  Christians say yes to this statement all the time.  What kind of meaning are we applying to the word "good" in that statement?  It certainly isn't the word we use in our everyday lives.  There isn't much in the old testament you can call "good", in the sense that we use the word good.  As an author of a book I recently read stated...maybe if they make up a new term like "Godgood", then we can say God is "Godgood", but it looses all meaning when just use the term "good".

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

To those of you like stryper, your definition is complex and in some ways meaningless.  Maybe not meaningless, but very generic it seems.  I suppose I have "choice" in inhale air to breathe and stay alive but at some point isn't that definition of choice almost meaningless?

 

 

 

You also have the choice to not breathe.  You also have the choice to let your body's automatic system control your breath and get on with more important choices. 

 

It is not complex.  You have a choice in all things.  Sometimes the choice was made such as "I wish to solve problem X, and I will follow wherever that answer leads". So that once the answer is discovered the choice was already made, so it appears there was not choice.   You can also choose to ignore the answer found, but as everyone here knows trying to unlearn something is just as hard and learning it in the first place.  

 

You can choose to not go to the dentist for years.  Then you can choose to ignore problems when they arise.  But when the dentist tells you they have to pull your teeth and you have to get implants or dentures, you can say you don't have a choice in the matter.  But you did. It was years ago and you chose not to deal with it. 

 

You always have a choice.

 

 

See, your definition of choice is very broad.  Choice to breathe or not too?  That is not a "choice" in the way we typically use the word.  This is my point.  Christians seem to take words and twist them...very often...in order to shape their arguments to prove their point.  Like how Atheism is a belief or takes faith.  Like how we "choose" to reject Jesus.

 

stryper, I understand that at a high level, things like breathing and jumping when someone scares us are "choices", but I think there is an important distinguishing factor in them being voluntary or involuntary.  In your last post it seems like you mixed the two types freely.  You speak of a choice to breathe or not, then speak of a choice of not going to the dentist.  While I can admit to the word "choice" applying to these things at some level, there seems (to me at least) to be a big difference...don't you see that difference?  I don't freely mix involuntary choice and voluntary choice.  They are very different concepts and things.  And as I said earlier, maybe this is the problem in this whole discussion...the definition of the word choice.  As we use the word in our everyday language and culture, a choice is typically something that happens when there are two (or more) viable options.  When it comes to breathing, being able to control involuntary muscles to stop breathing and the resulting death is not a viable option.  Even if a person wishes to die and throws themselves in a lake with 100lbs of weight (a choice), they will still be trying to gasp for a breath underwater...this goes against the choice they've already made and it not something they can control...is it?

 

My Christian friends seem to mix the voluntary and involuntary choice definitions and they don't see the distinctions when it comes to a choice in believing in Jesus.  That is my frustration and that is what I am trying to help them understand.  That has to be a point where we can freely talk with vocabulary that means something and is not so vague.  Almost every dialogue between me and Christian ends up with these sorts of word games.  Instead of trying to come together in agreements, they so often lead to word games where they want different meanings to apply so they can be right.  Heck, maybe I am doing the same thing to them and just don't know it, but at some point we have to agree on a word definition in order to convey ideas and concepts.

 

For example, is God good?  Christians say yes to this statement all the time.  What kind of meaning are we applying to the word "good" in that statement?  It certainly isn't the word we use in our everyday lives.  There isn't much in the old testament you can call "good", in the sense that we use the word good.  As an author of a book I recently read stated...maybe if they make up a new term like "Godgood", then we can say God is "Godgood", but it looses all meaning when just use the term "good".

 

 

They sort of have to play those silly word games to support their ridiculous claims that have no proof yet they ask you to accept their beliefs with no proof while rejecting yours out of hand.

 

Most christians get hung up on words and definition since almost everything they believe was interpreted from 2000 year old or older texts that have no relevant meaning in our modern language or times.

hard to demand you are wrong and them right with zero proof of anything but that they know how to form an opinion.

 

If I never thought god was there in the first place what am I rejecting? If they cannot prove he is there to verify this and I am not asking the question is god real then what difference does it make. They are playing a semantical game with you that you should allow.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see the difference.  It is a choice. 

 

The only reason a choice is seen as involuntary is because you have already chosen to allow other processes to control it.  You still have the choice to control it or not.  

 

The internetz defines choice via google. 

"

An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

"

 

 

Even if a person wishes to die and throws themselves in a lake with 100lbs of weight (a choice), they will still be trying to gasp for a breath underwater...this goes against the choice they've already made and it not something they can control...is it?

Yes they will still gasp for air.  The body will do it's best to continue to live.  This is true of any organism.   

 

They chose to die.  They didn't choose not to breathe.  They chose to die by drowning.  Therefore, they chose to die by breathing underwater.  Thus, they chose to die by using the organism's very survival instinct to kill it.  Which is oddly beautiful, in it's own way. 

 

 

 

As we use the word in our everyday language and culture, a choice is typically something that happens when there are two (or more) viable options

 

That is a definition.  However, 

 

Viable - Capable of working successfully; feasible.

 

 According to whom.  

 

Just because you don't see a possibility feasible doesn't mean it is not an option. 

 

 

 

 

My Christian friends seem to mix the voluntary and involuntary choice definitions and they don't see the distinctions when it comes to a choice in believing in Jesus.  That is my frustration and that is what I am trying to help them understand.  That has to be a point where we can freely talk with vocabulary that means something and is not so vague.  Almost every dialogue between me and Christian ends up with these sorts of word games.  Instead of trying to come together in agreements, they so often lead to word games where they want different meanings to apply so they can be right.  Heck, maybe I am doing the same thing to them and just don't know it, but at some point we have to agree on a word definition in order to convey ideas and concepts.

 

Choices are not always what you or I might consider rational.   In my economics class we talk about this,  Are the people on doomsday preppers making a rational choice?   Most people would say No.  They are wasting time prepping for something that has an extremely low likelihood of happening.   

However,  those people have weighed the costs and benefits and have decided that this is what they want to do, for various reasons. 

 

You see not being a Christian as a viable option.   They don't see it that way.  Therefore, they don't see believing in Jesus are a voluntary choice.  To them it is the only choice.  This becomes more obvious when the only presented option between Jesus and heaven is Satan and hell.  It isn't a viable choice to them because hell is only other option.  The fact that none of this even exists is not considered as a possibility.  It would seem you are aware of this. 

 

 

 

I would ask you why you choose to save the christians.  Why do choose to engage in these word games with them?   Why choose to try to convince  them they are wrong? 

 


The only point in why I am engaging in this is because choice IS more broad and powerful than many people realize or care to acknowledge.  This forum is, despite the claim, a confrontational forum. We challenge each other and all comers everyday in what they are thinking.  BO, Vigile, Ramen, Florduh, Odoborus, Galen and many others challenge each others ideas all the time.  I offer my thoughts on this to challenge you (the reader) and myself.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The internetz defines choice via google. 

"

An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

 

But there aren't always two or more possibilities. Sometimes there's only one possibility! 1 + 1 = 3 is not a possibility, and I cannot choose to believe it. 1 + 1 = 2 is true, and I don't have to make a choice in order to believe it.

 

And once I realized that the god of the Bible wasn't real, I didn't have to choose to disbelieve in it. Likewise, I cannot choose to believe it exists because I know it isn't a possibility. I may be open to the idea that there is some sort of god that we don't know about, but I know that the Bible god is a myth, therefore I cannot choose to believe it is real. I can pretend, but I cannot believe.

 

One may make choices that lead to a belief, generally by the deliberate gathering of information. But the belief itself (or disbelief) comes as a result of knowledge, weighing evidence for or against something. There may be a point at which one is undecided, in which case they may choose to operate based on an assumption. Still, they haven't chosen to believe or disbelieve, only to act in one way or the other. Making choices that lead to a belief is not the same as choosing to believe or not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate this discussion and I'm enjoying reading everyone's responses. 

 

It is definitely clear to me now that we are disagreeing on the definition of choice. 

 

I'm glad "you can choose not to breathe" came up, because this is the perfect example. You can choose not to breathe for a minute or so (that is, you can choose to hold your breath), but if you're capable of holding your breath until you pass out, your body will start breathing again--but that doesn't mean you are CONSCIOUSLY choosing to breathe again. Breathing is an involuntary response.

 

So we have conscious and unconscious choice.

 

You also can't "choose" to do something impossible. I can say I choose to flap my arms and start flying, but that isn't possible. (And I'd look pretty silly trying!) I can't trick myself into believing in God either. Even if I wanted to (which I don't anymore, but did want to for a while.)

 

I do think different minds are capable of different things: I know that some people can willfully delude themselves. Perhaps a long time ago when I was losing my faith I could have chosen to shut out all TV, radio, books, people, etc. and refused to allow myself to be exposed to anyone or anything that could accidentally expose me to facts I didn't want to know. But while I believed Christianity was the truth, I didn't see the point in shielding myself from other truths (scientific, historical, or otherwise) as one truth should not contradict another. 

 

So I think of it this way: I was choosing knowledge, and what I found out drowned my faith. That's like choosing to drive to the fountain of youth that someone gave you on a road map, but even by following it properly, you end up in a totally different place with no water in sight. (Because the map itself was faulty, marking an X in the middle of a desert.) You didn't "choose" to go to the wrong place, but you ended up there regardless, even though you followed the directions perfectly. 

 

Would you say you chose to go to the wrong place? Yes, you chose to follow the map, you chose to believe the map was right. But you chose to go to the fountain of youth, not to the desert. Nevertheless, you ended up in a desert. But I'd say it's not a choice to go to the wrong place by any definition--you CHOSE to go to the right place, but ended up in the wrong place, which wasn't your intention. (And the place itself doesn't even exist, which you "realize" when you get there and it's not there.) Is "realizing" that there's no fountain of youth in that spot on the map a choice? Or could you STILL choose to think it's there in front of you as you're staring at a vast wasteland? You could put on your swimming trucks and play in the sand and pretend it's water, but you aren't going to be able to fool yourself that it's in actuality the fountain of youth. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's make it even more simple: You're driving to a party, and you get lost. You accidentally took a wrong turn because the roads aren't clearly marked. Did you choose to turn the car down that road? Yes. Did you choose to get lost? No. 

 

I don't think you can torture the definition of "choice" any further and say you DID choose to get lost. 

 

(And if you say it's a choice to get lost, then we aren't speaking the same language: we aren't agreeing on the definition of choice anymore, which you'd be defining far too broadly, and I'd be defining more narrowly.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back to other posters' comments: I agree that Christians would like to frame the question as: Do you accept or reject Jesus as your personal Savior?

 

I don't accept or reject Jesus's gift to me; I don't believe there is a gift in the first place that I'm choosing to take or leave. 

 

This is why Christians find atheists perplexing. They want to think we're all starting from a basic belief in God, then they can tell you this God is offering you a choice to accept or reject salvation. If we say we don't believe any of that is real, we aren't playing their game of "you have two choices: accept or reject the gift" and we're saying there's nothing there. They don't like, "None of the above" as an answer. I don't love God or hate God; I don't believe in God. I am not "redeemed" or "lost in sin"; I'm a human doing the best I can to treat others kindly. I'm not going to heaven or hell; when I die, I'll just be dead.

 

This does not fit in their box. It's not buying into this black and white thinking. They want badly for us to just admit we are rejecting the gift and therefore deserve hell. I won't give Christians that satisfaction, and I'm not agreeing to their deformed definitions of the word choice either. I did not choose to be an atheist. My faith drowned an involuntary death. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator

It is definitely clear to me now that we are disagreeing on the definition of choice. 

 

 

Not defining terms consistently is at the root of most of the really long threads around here. Usually, it's a Christian who distorts common definitions to his own ends.
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It is definitely clear to me now that we are disagreeing on the definition of choice. 

 

 

Not defining terms consistently is at the root of most of the really long threads around here. Usually, it's a Christian who distorts common definitions to his own ends.

 

 

I agree. It's because they're quoting the bible here: They really do want it to be that we are rejecting God when we are rejecting belief in God.

They want it to be a choice. 

 

It must also scare them that smart people on a general quest for knowledge often end up as atheists. This makes them fearful of science, and they seem to think evolution is a conspiracy theory. I would say they choose to keep ignorant of any facts that might contradict their belief. So it makes sense they only read Christian books, listen to Christian music, etc. They have to shut off the rest of the world. That means they shut themselves out of knowledge of truth. 

 

I think it's fitting that in the Garden of Eden, they could choose the Tree of Life, or the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil.) Choose life, and reject knowledge, seems to be the message there. 

 

But my sister in divinity school tells me we are missing the point of the creation myth. (And she DOES see it as myth.) She said it's a metaphor for being human--only by being physical creatures in the world can we gain any knowledge about ourselves and each other. The consequence of being human is that our physical bodies will die, and while we live we will feel pain and we will have to work to feed ourselves and keep our physical selves alive. (That's the "curse" part of being human.) The snake tells them their eyes will be open and they'll be like gods--in control of their decisions rather than deferring to god. And their eyes ARE opened. The snake didn't lie about that. 

 

It's a primitive myth, but all religions back then had origin stories. They knew they were myth. It's only been a more recent idea that the myths should be taken literally. 

 

I don't care so much, because really, taking it all literally just makes the absurdities of the bible even more absurd, and hopefully it wakes up some people who buy into the "truth" of the bible when they are finally exposed to science. Or at least for inquiring minds, there are answers out there, easily accessible, and exposure to them can wipe out a person's faith in a more primitive superstition. And I think that's a good thing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff RaLeah!  I'll have to respectfully disagree with stryper's definitions of choice (it's my choice after all smile.png)

Thanks! And thanks for starting this thread, deconverted. It's something I hadn't thought about in a long while. It's refreshing. I like realizing how differently I think now as opposed to when I was a Christian. Things make sense now, and I don't need to do those crazy mental gymnastics anymore. 

 

(But I still like a good thought exercise!)  biggrin.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

Choice can only be made when there are at least two items/actions/ etc., both of which are logically available and each of which has a probability of existing that is greater than 0%.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.