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midniterider

Suspension of disbelief.

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It seems to be an assumption that a person can only have one religious/non-religious mindset at a time.  And that one cannot just suspend disbelief at a moment's notice. And that changing one's belief (or non-belief or acceptance of a different mindset) 'requires' months or  years of gradual change. There's also an idea that floats around that people are supposed to choose a side. 

 

I've also heard someone say that something they read instantly destroyed their belief. The  house of cards imploded. Does this mean they went from full belief to full non-belief? Or from shaky belief to non-belief? And if one can flip from belief to non-belief, can they flip right back? Can they alternate? 

 

I think it was LF and I who were discussing pagan beliefs and whether or not I 'really' believed in a pagan deity and magic .... or if I simply found them very entertaining but still retained my sanity (haha). As an atheist it is probably extremely difficult to impossible to suspend disbelief even momentarily...as an agnostic it is much easier to temporarily assume a belief, at least for a short period of ritual. 

 

So, atheists, do you ever have moments where you accept woo? Even for a half second? :) 

 

My other question that goes with it is can you turn belief off and on at will? If not, why not? 

 

 

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I believe I can turn belief on and off... no I don't. 

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I would say that a specific belief is the bottom line of a bunch of equations that include sensory input, judgment calls, personal biases, and so forth.  And the data may be constantly changing.  If I read an internet post that says vaccinations are deadly, I might believe it; but then if I read that many credible sources have collected hard data that say they are not deadly, if I were a rational person I might question my original belief, or change to believing that vaccinations are good.  But if I had a fixed bias to mistrust any and all authorities, my belief would probably not change.

 

Some people believe that the universe is all one piece, everything is connected under the hood somehow, and that is the basis for synchronicities, divination, omens, etc.  A person who starts out not believing that, or at least questioning it, might consult the I Ching or something and get a reply that seems to be relevant beyond what chance would predict, and then the answer to the belief equation might change.  Until he thinks about it some more and decides, “naah, it was coincidence.”

 

A believer who takes a real look at the inconsistencies and moral failures in the bible might go with, “I am going to be honest with myself; I don’t believe this anymore.”  Or he might say, “I just can’t give up on what my whole social world believes, or my gut feelings,” and stick with it.

 

My guess is that if a belief is based on a lot of data, or very deeply-ingrained data, it would take something extraordinary to suddenly change it, but it could happen.  But if a belief is based on shaky ground, things you are not totally sure of, or mixed messages, it could waver back and forth more easily.

 

And as to “suspending” belief, a person might decide to hold off on (consciously) making a decision while pondering the data; or he might temporarily not be honest with himself for some reason.

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Believe in woo?

No.

Not for an instant.

 

If there is a force/being/beings/entity that created the universe that it would have had to use science to perform said creating. Once something really takes place it is no longer woo. Is it something we do not, at this time, posses the knowledge to explain. yes. But still science/reality.

 

Is there a god? Not likely. Is the bible god real. Not  likely. At least not in the classical sense that this being possesses special powers. Special knowledge? well maybe. But if that's the case and this begin is not using that knowledge to end suffering then what fucking prick!

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6 hours ago, midniterider said:

It seems to be an assumption that a person can only have one religious/non-religious mindset at a time.  And that one cannot just suspend disbelief at a moment's notice. And that changing one's belief (or non-belief or acceptance of a different mindset) 'requires' months or  years of gradual change. There's also an idea that floats around that people are supposed to choose a side. 

 

I've also heard someone say that something they read instantly destroyed their belief. The  house of cards imploded. Does this mean they went from full belief to full non-belief? Or from shaky belief to non-belief? And if one can flip from belief to non-belief, can they flip right back? Can they alternate? 

 

I think it was LF and I who were discussing pagan beliefs and whether or not I 'really' believed in a pagan deity and magic .... or if I simply found them very entertaining but still retained my sanity (haha). As an atheist it is probably extremely difficult to impossible to suspend disbelief even momentarily...as an agnostic it is much easier to temporarily assume a belief, at least for a short period of ritual. 

 

So, atheists, do you ever have moments where you accept woo? Even for a half second? :) 

 

My other question that goes with it is can you turn belief off and on at will? If not, why not? 

 

 

 

I can, for argument's sake, adopt a position I do not hold in order to try to see someone else's point of view. That doesn't make me a temporary believer imo. Woo? What is that, even?

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41 minutes ago, Orbit said:

 

I can, for argument's sake, adopt a position I do not hold in order to try to see someone else's point of view. That doesn't make me a temporary believer imo. Woo? What is that, even?

 

Woo: Anything rejected by mainstream science. 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, MOHO said:

Believe in woo?

No.

Not for an instant.

 

If there is a force/being/beings/entity that created the universe that it would have had to use science to perform said creating. Once something really takes place it is no longer woo. Is it something we do not, at this time, posses the knowledge to explain. yes. But still science/reality.

 

Is there a god? Not likely. Is the bible god real. Not  likely. At least not in the classical sense that this being possesses special powers. Special knowledge? well maybe. But if that's the case and this begin is not using that knowledge to end suffering then what fucking prick!

 

Could a non-physical being exist that is NOT all powerful, not all knowing, not omnipresent? It's as powerless as a human but doesnt exist in space or time. :)

 

 

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I can't switch belief in god on and off. I know too much at this point. The odds are so slim that I can't fool myself into believing it anyways. But I can suspend disbelief when it comes other, non-thestic related mysteries. 

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Religious beliefs require deep and prolonged indoctrination. Can a mind that has been deeply indoctrinated reject that indoctrination? People can be persuaded to leave a cult but it requires eduction and education requires a receptive mind. Penetrating an indoctrinated mind is difficult, and virtually impossible if the person is satisfied with their indoctrinated state. 

 

I think something has got to trigger doubt, in an indoctrinated persons mind, before their mind will consider new information that challenges their current beliefs. If they become convinced their current beliefs are wrong and are willing to accept new information, can that be reversed later on too?

 

I think so, if doubt about their new beliefs and direction occurs, then I think they would be vulnerable to returning to their former beliefs. I’m certain there are examples of that. I know some on this site have returned to their former beliefs and become Christians again. I think the fear that hell might be real is the motivation in those situations. 
 

Once a person has become indoctrinated that information never goes away. 
 

 
 

 

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Straight up, @Geezer!

And that explains the very frustration with those closest to us.


"Wake up!"

"Think!"

"Snap out of it!"

 

Don't work. I've tried.

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I think I could turn on god-belief, after a fashion.  But that qualifier is key.  
 

Between my agnostic atheism and Christianity lie several intermediate stages, which I passed through during my deconversion:

Atheism >> Deism >> Theism >> Liberal Christianity >> Fundamentalist Christianity

 

Could I travel backwards along that road?  Each stage would be successively harder.  As an AGNOSTIC atheist I’m open to the possibility there could be a sentient being behind the universe, but I’d need to know things I don’t currently know to become a deist.  

The arguments against theism would be hard for me to overcome.  I’d have to really WANT to believe in a deity.  Maybe if my life were to take a big turn for the worse, I’d start to want to believe in a loving deity watching over me.  I think most people ultimately believe in god because they want to above all.  Having traveled the journey,  I think that - unlike most people - I’ve reached what @Joshpantera calls Intellectual Immunity to theism.  This is a very significant position and those who aren’t religious but who haven’t reached intellectual immunity can be highly vulnerable to returning to faith.  But even intellectual immunity could be overcome by prolonged emotional stress.  The closest I have come is in moments of stress when I find myself uttering a quick silent ‘prayer’ (to nobody in particular) for help.  And that happens even while I’m convinced there’s nobody hearing or answering prayer.  But if things got really bad in my life I wouldn’t rule out embracing basic theism as a last resort.  But I’m a long way from there and I think I’d find other ways to cope. 
 

From there to liberal Christianity wouldn’t be that big a step: it would add ritual and community, both of which have a lot of appeal. 

 

I can’t imagine any circumstance where fundamentalist Christianity would be an option.  Like Josh, I’ve learned too much to accept the dogma and I can’t see what would be gained by embracing it, under any circumstances.  
 

Having said all that, I’ve been an agnostic atheist for almost five years now, am highly satisfied in this state and don’t anticipate changing. 

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25 minutes ago, TABA said:

I think I could turn on god-belief, after a fashion.  But that qualifier is key.  
 

Between my agnostic atheism and Christianity lie several intermediate stages, which I passed through during my deconversion:

Atheism >> Deism >> Theism >> Liberal Christianity >> Fundamentalist Christianity

 

Could I travel backwards along that road?  Each stage would be successively harder.  As an AGNOSTIC atheist I’m open to the possibility there could be a sentient being behind the universe, but I’d need to know things I don’t currently know to become a deist.  

The arguments against theism would be hard for me to overcome.  I’d have to really WANT to believe in a deity.  Maybe if my life were to take a big turn for the worse, I’d start to want to believe in a loving deity watching over me.  I think most people ultimately believe in god because they want to above all.  Having traveled the journey,  I think that - unlike most people - I’ve reached what @Joshpantera calls Intellectual Immunity to theism.  This is a very significant position and those who aren’t religious but who haven’t reached intellectual immunity can be highly vulnerable to returning to faith.  But even intellectual immunity could be overcome by prolonged emotional stress.  The closest I have come is in moments of stress when I find myself uttering a quick silent ‘prayer’ (to nobody in particular) for help.  And that happens even while I’m convinced there’s nobody hearing or answering prayer.  But if things got really bad in my life I wouldn’t rule out embracing basic theism as a last resort.  But I’m a long way from there and I think I’d find other ways to cope. 
 

From there to liberal Christianity wouldn’t be that big a step: it would add ritual and community, both of which have a lot of appeal. 

 

I can’t imagine any circumstance where fundamentalist Christianity would be an option.  Like Josh, I’ve learned too much to accept the dogma and I can’t see what would be gained by embracing it, under any circumstances.  
 

Having said all that, I’ve been an agnostic atheist for almost five years now, am highly satisfied in this state and don’t anticipate changing. 

 

When things are out of control, I may pray. Or cast a spell. :) 

 

I dont see myself returning to fundamentalist Christianity either. The most I could go is some liberal, bible-less, Jesus-less theism. But I dont really have an interest in it. 

 

I'm pretty intellectually immune.. but some stressors can wipe out that immunity. I dont feel guilty about praying, either. Or casting spells. Or believing in woo. At least for 5 or 10 minutes. :)

 

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Over the past 2 years, I've gone through a lot of the earth-shattering kind of chaos that might induce someone to want to believe in some kind of higher power.  I've slowly been trying to put my life back together from what might be considered a tragicomedy of errors.  It hasn't really made me want to believe in anything outside of myself; but it has made me want to believe more in myself.  I've come to adopt an attitude of, "I've been through worse; this ain't nothing."

 

With that said, I've also noticed a huge shift in my attitudes toward life, stability, career, possessions, etc.  Things I once thought I wanted no longer seem important.  I think part of that just comes with age; but, for me, part of it also comes from getting fed right the fuck up with life slinging its bullshit my way.

 

Edited to add:  This is only the fuckteenth time I've had to rebuild my life from the ashes; but the Phoenix don't fly without the fire, boys.

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14 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

Edited to add:  This is only the fuckteenth time I've had to rebuild my life from the ashes; but the Phoenix don't fly without the fire, boys.

 

I've done that a few times too. Nightmare divorce. Nightmare fiance. Where belief fit into it was in more or less mundane sort of ways.

 

Strong belief in my ability to fly out of the fire. Faith in myself to do what needs to be done and to get to where I need to go. These are internal oriented faith and beliefs. And the problem with theistic thinking for me is that they are usually projected externally, as if some separate force, entity or being is out there looking down on the goings on here. When consciousness appears to work the other way around - from within looking outward at the world. 

 

So the only sort of woo woo that I entertain looking at is the inward looking outward variety. That's not YHWH, the transcendent deity folks. That's not a deistic god, either. Nor space aliens from afar. Nothing "out there," far away or discrete from our own individual existence.

 

And I've gotten through hard times, challenging times, and great times via this shifted way of thinking. And it amounts to putting all of the belief and faith in yourself and your own ability to navigate life's hurtles and conditions accordingly. That's the sort of thing that I see our hypothetical teenage sex slave facing down. None of this was planned by a god. A god is not looking down at it with love or hate. A god is absent from the equation. It's going to take an internal focus and drive to plot, plan and break free of circumstance. 

 

 

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In this thread...

 

https://www.ex-christian.net/topic/82674-truth-knowledge-and-belief-an-exploration/page/2/#comments

 

...Disillusioned and I have been discussing something that seems to resonate with the topic of this thread.

 

The willing suspension of disbelief (or the willingness to believe) are acts of the human will, but the underlying basis and driving power of them is emotion.  If there exists no desire to believe or to disbelieve, then no act to do either will be taken.  This works in both directions.  A Christian can be asked to disbelieve, but it's almost certain that they will be emotionally unwilling to do so.  Conversely, an Ex-Christian can be asked to believe and due to negative emotional experiences of Christianity, they will be emotionally unwilling to do so.  The ability to believe or disbelieve is not the question here.  The emotional desire to do so, is.

 

When I play Devil's Advocate I do so, secure in the knowledge that my beliefs are not being challenged.  This is emotional security.  I would imagine that when a Christian does the same, but from the opposite viewpoint, they also feel emotionally safe.

 

I would submit that the true key to understanding what's at work when it comes to belief or disbelief isn't ability, but desire.

 

Thank you.

 

Walter.

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1 hour ago, WalterP said:

A Christian can be asked to disbelieve, but it's almost certain that they will be emotionally unwilling to do so.  Conversely, an Ex-Christian can be asked to believe and due to negative emotional experiences of Christianity, they will be emotionally unwilling to do so. 

I'm not sure I agree.  My lack of belief is not, and never has been, an emotional response, or even decision.  I am intellectually unable to believe, irrespective of whether I want to or don't. 

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20 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

I'm not sure I agree.  My lack of belief is not, and never has been, an emotional response, or even decision.  I am intellectually unable to believe, irrespective of whether I want to or don't. 

 

So are you saying your intelligence bars your emotions from belief? Or is belief not an emotional thing but an intellect thing, so your intellect has pushed religion out? Or am I on the wrong track. 

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, midniterider said:

 

So are you saying your intelligence bars your emotions from belief? Or is belief not an emotional thing but an intellect thing, so your intellect has pushed religion out? Or am I on the wrong track. 

 

 

 

 

I'm saying that, in the case of religious belief, my emotions are irrelevant.  I won't dispute that emotions played a part in the deconversion process; but once I saw religion for the lie it was, I simply cannot believe anymore.

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Emotion can effect the maintenance of belief, but not necessarily.  Some folks' emotions will be involved to one extent or another.  For other folks, not so much.

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5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

So the only sort of woo woo that I entertain looking at is the inward looking outward variety. That's not YHWH, the transcendent deity folks. That's not a deistic god, either. Nor space aliens from afar. Nothing "out there," far away or discrete from our own individual existence.

I always expected jesus to make me a better person.  Not just filled with joy and the peace that passes all understanding; but really make me into a genuinely good person.  I was constantly, and consistently, both surprised and confused, to discover that people didn't like me.  No matter how hard I prayed about it, or what scriptures I claimed over it; people just generally didn't like me.  Even after 30 years of being a christian, I still never became a better person.  I was dishonest, manipulative, narcissistic, egotistical, insecure, and emotionally wrecked.

 

I came to realize that the problem was ME and that if the problem was ever going to get fixed, I'd have to do the fixing, myself.  That is when the inward journey began, for me.  I stopped looking outside of myself for answers, for peace, for happiness... hell, I don't even look outside of myself for validation anymore.  I am enough.  

 

 

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Not that this counts towards the discussion but......I still believe in Jesus and am not really sure what God is....but I know that I don't /can't do the church thing again.  Similar to the Prof's brief story... I don't generally like folks and they don't generally like me unless I'm someone I'm having to put on a façade for.  My children and a few close friends are the only people that I can be me.

 

Towards wanting and being a better, I think it's important to associate with those given over to that goal.

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2 hours ago, Edgarcito said:

Towards wanting and being a better, I think it's important to associate with those given over to that goal.

Do you think, on a subconscious level, maybe this is why you prefer our company over that of the church?

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2 hours ago, Edgarcito said:

Not that this counts towards the discussion but......I still believe in Jesus and am not really sure what God is....but I know that I don't /can't do the church thing again.  Similar to the Prof's brief story... I don't generally like folks and they don't generally like me unless I'm someone I'm having to put on a façade for.  My children and a few close friends are the only people that I can be me.

 

Towards wanting and being a better, I think it's important to associate with those given over to that goal.

 

I put this in the Den so everyone could respond. :) 

 

I was wondering why you do believe in Jesus , strongly enough to debate us on Ex-c, but dont bother with church? Sounds like the social aspect you dont like. Church didn't appeal that much to me, especially after the service was done and you were supposed to wander around making small talk with people. That was the worst. I would have much rather read a book ... on Vedic philosophy. :) 

 

Whether or not there IS a Jesus, there seems to be many different Jesusy ideas from many different church-going weirdos. And adopting people's Jesusy ideas in a church is a big part of the whole faith thing, imo. Surrendering one's self to a variety of these thoughts is something I won't be doing again. The church freaks can enjoy their guilt, fear, shame, etc all they like. Without me. :)

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9 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

I've done that a few times too. Nightmare divorce. Nightmare fiance. Where belief fit into it was in more or less mundane sort of ways.

 

Strong belief in my ability to fly out of the fire. Faith in myself to do what needs to be done and to get to where I need to go. These are internal oriented faith and beliefs. And the problem with theistic thinking for me is that they are usually projected externally, as if some separate force, entity or being is out there looking down on the goings on here. When consciousness appears to work the other way around - from within looking outward at the world. 

 

So the only sort of woo woo that I entertain looking at is the inward looking outward variety. That's not YHWH, the transcendent deity folks. That's not a deistic god, either. Nor space aliens from afar. Nothing "out there," far away or discrete from our own individual existence.

 

And I've gotten through hard times, challenging times, and great times via this shifted way of thinking. And it amounts to putting all of the belief and faith in yourself and your own ability to navigate life's hurtles and conditions accordingly. That's the sort of thing that I see our hypothetical teenage sex slave facing down. None of this was planned by a god. A god is not looking down at it with love or hate. A god is absent from the equation. It's going to take an internal focus and drive to plot, plan and break free of circumstance. 

 

 

 

Ever read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning"?  It's on my list but I haven't gotten to it yet.  While I don't think Frankl was an atheist, I understand his focus, like yours, was on building inner strength rather than expecting external, supernatural help.  

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1 hour ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

Do you think, on a subconscious level, maybe this is why you prefer our company over that of the church?

It's not subconscious....it's conscious.  My best friends are real.  The church crowd is 2.5 kids, the mob of extended family that shows to church on holidays, the Denali or Escalade....the house.....but have an attitude....and teach their kids the same attitude.  Not all, but many come to mind.  I've met several good folks in church.  I just despise the front pew crowd more than I enjoy the good folks.  And they don't discuss much past fundamentalism..... making even more unattractive.

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