Belief – something you can just ‘do’?

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Sometimes I find that the religious think you can just ‘believe’ in something, especially when you are presented with something they call evidence, such as a personal experience or a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I don’t think it is as easy as just ‘believing’.

Take for instance Pascal’s wager, the old claim that if the religious are right, atheists will lose, but if atheists are right, nobody loses. Ignoring the fact that the wager leaves out the possibility of other religions, therefor committing the false dichotomy fallacy, only believing ‘just in case the religion is right’ is, in my opinion, worse than not believing at all.

I have problems with believing in general too. To me, believing in God because of some sort of weak logical argument, like the cosmological one for instance, wouldn’t work. I could say that I believe in God, but I would never be able to genuinely do it, because it would be like believing in Santa Claus – I could make up all the excuses and rationalizations I want, but I could not’trick’ myself into believing.

It is possible to trick yourself into believing something; repeat something over and over again long enough and you will begin to think it is true. But I don’t think that I would be able to do something like that. The mind is capable of self-deception, and if a lie is told long enough people will begin to believe it. This is what all religions are based on.

Furthermore, it is easy to believe that something is true if you want it to be true. People want their God to be real, they want eternal life, so they are much, much more likely to believe in it.

It is probably near impossible for me to trick myself into believing for a few reasons, firstly, because I have seen so many atheist arguments, and barely any decent religious rebuttals. I’m not saying that I haven’t looked, it’s just that everything I have seen looks more like a excuse than an answer. Secondly, because I already have the position that God is extremely unlikely to exist. This means that the evidence must be even more convincing. Third, I need more evidence than most people, especially regarding a god like the Christian god, Muslim god, Hindu gods, or any other god that looks so man-made. It seems more likely that if a god were to exist, it would be one that nobody has even thought about yet.

Image Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 thoughts on “Belief – something you can just ‘do’?

  1. I was able to believe and was unwilling to change my mind. And yet, even while I still wanted to believe with all my heart- I lost faith. It takes some pretty strong evidence to convince a stubborn mind to change. It’s also a common tale that says a lot about belief.

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  2. “I could say that I believe in God, but I would never be able to genuinely do it, because it would be like believing in Santa Claus – I could make up all the excuses and rationalizations I want, but I could not’trick’ myself into believing.”

    Interesting to see the structure:
    A = “God”
    A’ = “Santa Claus”
    If I change into A = “non-existence of God”, it would still hold. In the end, it will be a choice of which statement you want to convince oneself. Self-brainwashing is a freedom of choice no one should be forced to do, otherwise, it will not be freedom. Without freedom, there can never be true love.

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  3. I could say I believed. I could pretend that I could believe. I could even go through the motions and act as if I believed, but if I don’t believe, I simply don’t believe. Interestingly, this was more or less what Pascal was actually saying. The argument is twisted ever so slightly nowadays, but at the time, he was championing the “fake it ’til you make it” approach.

    Liked by 1 person

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