On belief

I believe belief is not a choice. There has never been a time when you have considered a subject, believed nothing about it and from that position thought to yourself “I believe neither this or that but I feel I should so I am going to select this to believe!” To some people it may seem as if they are “Choosing” what to believe but they never are.

The reason is that in the process of selection they are looking at various options (this is of course looking at the ideal situation), weighing them up, comparing them to one another. What is the defining characteristic of this process? Aren’t you merely producing propositions and bringing them before the alter of your discretion which passes judgment? You look at a certain sentence, opinion, concept or whatever and you ask yourself “Is this true?” or if you’re clever “Do I believe this?” and you wait for that feeling of affirmation or negation. Only once that intuition has spoken are you then able to declare you stance.

 

Maybe a better perspective from which to look at it is from another issue. There are many Christians who believe that Homosexuality is a choice. That people choose to find members of the same sex physically attractive. This is clearly absurd. I mean we all remember that time when we had no sexual preference and we thought to ourselves “It’s about time I had a sexual preference! Which should I get aroused over: boys or girls? I can’t possibly give any reasons for my choice because if I choose girls because I like boobs well I’m saying I already find girls sexually attractive and if I say I prefer boys because of masculine facial structure then I’m saying I already find them attractive… I know I’ll roll a dice and whatever that comes up as I’ll fancy – but even that doesn’t work because even then my choice isn’t mine but the die’s!” Of course we don’t remember that time because it never happened! You just woke up one day with a boner and an image of Melinda Messenger naked and soapy in your mind!

In just the same way any reason you give for choosing to believe something is proof that you had that belief prior to your choosing it. So you’re left with a two alternatives.

 

      1. What you believe is not under you control. You’re apparent choice to believe something is nothing other than a manifestation of a pre-existing state.

      2. You’re beliefs are based on nothing. They are totally random and meaningless. You don’t believe something because it’s true but because for no reason you choose to believe it!

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3 thoughts on “On belief

  1. I think you’ll find to the contrary that many people claim to have done exactly this, and we have no good reason to call them liars. I have had many people disbelieve me when I say I not only don’t believe in free will but function perfectly well viewing myself as deterministic. I have also had people doubt me when ai say I am able to authentically doubt the existence of an external world. I myself doubted others reports of lucid dreaming until I practiced it for myself.

    Just because you or are can’t or won’t or are not structurally predisposed to will ourselves to belief does not mean it isn’t a choice for others.

    • Maybe my choice of words was wrong.

      It certainly seems as if we make choices and i think that it is true that we make choices. But the choices are not the originators of actions that we think them to be rather they are an epiphenomena.

      This is evident by the fact the there is an answer to the question: “Why do I choose what I choose?” (I’ve gone into this somewhat in some of my other blogs on determinism…).

      Personally I’ve seen my beliefs to shift over time – even over short periods of time. Sometimes this shift has occurred very much against my will! Especially with free-will… I used to obstinately maintain the free-will position but could never convincingly maintain it and eventually I the rift between what I wanted to believe and what I actually believed became so palpable for me that I had to accept determinism!

  2. Oh, well in that case I agree. 😀

    Interesting thoughts here, btw…I pokedo around your posts a bit yesterday and liked your combination o f rationality, openness, and curiosity.

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