Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3
White Crane Feather

Is belief a choice?

Is belief a choice?   27 members have voted

  1. 1. Is belief in spirituality a choice?

    • I believe or not believe because I choose to.
    • I could not have believed any other way, so I did not choose my beliefs.

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

118 posts in this topic

I have always wondered if we choose to believe in the things we do or if we could not have believed any other way.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely we believe something because we see 'evidence' or encounter an argument that we feel is 'proof' of whatever it is, to make it appear 'the Truth' ................ at that moment in our life? As we get older and have more experiences and become more adept at questioning that 'evidence' and 'proof', we may change our beliefs.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I chose to believe because I could not have believed any other way.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some instances, things can catalyze beliefs.

Other times belief can be choice, if one wills it so.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always wondered if we choose to believe in the things we do or if we could not have believed any other way.

Thanks for starting this thread. It is soooo pertinent to this board in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely we believe something because we see 'evidence' or encounter an argument that we feel is 'proof' of whatever it is, to make it appear 'the Truth' ................ at that moment in our life? As we get older and have more experiences and become more adept at questioning that 'evidence' and 'proof', we may change our beliefs.

Yea, right on. I don't know how many things in the past I have thought are true but I know better now. It is humbling to meditate on just that point -- if I've been so wrong times past, how is it I think I am so right now.
5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can choose to believe something or choose to not believe something, It is a CHOICE.

Edited by ReaperS_ParadoX
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some instances, things can catalyze beliefs.

Other times belief can be choice, if one wills it so.

I have a friend who is an important Caodai official (a Vietnamese syncretic religion). Our beliefs could not be more different, and we have reached that stage in a friendship where we avoid talking about religion.

One day we were talking about spirits (not a religious thing in Vietnam although I see it clearly is put in that category in the West), and I have my doubts but he doesn't. He said to me, "Sometimes you just have to choose to believe." (Sheesh the rules in English for direct quotations are officious and stiff and misleading, but I follow them like a dutiful lap dog).

I just can't see that. If you don't have sufficient reason to believe something, or if the evidence is contrary, then don't belief. I would find it impossible to do otherwise. Obviously people differ and some have no problem believing against the evidence if they want to.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who is an important Caodai official (a Vietnamese syncretic religion). Our beliefs could not be more different, and we have reached that stage in a friendship where we avoid talking about religion.

One day we were talking about spirits (not a religious thing in Vietnam although I see it clearly is put in that category in the West), and I have my doubts but he doesn't. He said to me, "Sometimes you just have to choose to believe." (Sheesh the rules in English for direct quotations are officious and stiff and misleading, but I follow them like a dutiful lap dog).

I just can't see that. If you don't have sufficient reason to believe something, or if the evidence is contrary, then don't belief. I would find it impossible to do otherwise. Obviously people differ and some have no problem believing against the evidence if they want to.

I think your friend just has faith in what he believes

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel this way too. I would consider it lying to myself if I tried to CHOOSE to believe in something when I knew dam well I did not. It's not that those things can't change though.

I find this pertinent to theists, atheists, and deists alike. I'll explain latter after more results come in.

Edited by White Crane Feather
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think your friend just has faith in what he believes

Well, yes, of course, and he was raised in this religion. Meme theory is useful here -- successful belief systems that run counter to good sense need to promote "faith" as a virtue and skepticism as a sin. I find that a religion that resorts to that sort of thing obviously false to begin with.
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what you mean by 'believe'.

I 'believe' certain things because the evidence is compelling - eg, evolution, plate tectonics, vaccinating to prevent disease, etc.....

So, in these cases there is an element of choice.

As for religion and belief in a God, I don't think there was any choice for me. I couldn't choose to believe in God even if I wanted to. I don't think that's something I could force myself to do. An early memory of mine is sitting in church with my parents (both catholics) when I was about 8 years old - my dad was there so I couldn't have been any older. I remember looking around at all the people thinking that surely they didn't actually believe there was a magic, invisible man in the sky. But that there must be some reason that they came here and pretended to. And that it was probably some 'adult' thing that I would understand when I was older. It didn't occur to me that these people genuinely believed there was a God.

I'll believe there's a God when there's convincing evidence to do so (convincing to me, that is).

So, if by believe you mean: to have faith that something is true in the absence of evidence - then I would have to say it's not a choice.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what you mean by 'believe'.

I 'believe' certain things because the evidence is compelling - eg, evolution, plate tectonics, vaccinating to prevent disease, etc.....

So, in these cases there is an element of choice.

As for religion and belief in a God, I don't think there was any choice for me. I couldn't choose to believe in God even if I wanted to. I don't think that's something I could force myself to do. An early memory of mine is sitting in church with my parents (both catholics) when I was about 8 years old - my dad was there so I couldn't have been any older. I remember looking around at all the people thinking that surely they didn't actually believe there was a magic, invisible man in the sky. But that there must be some reason that they came here and pretended to. And that it was probably some 'adult' thing that I would understand when I was older. It didn't occur to me that these people genuinely believed there was a God.

I'll believe there's a God when there's convincing evidence to do so (convincing to me, that is).

So, if by believe you mean: to have faith that something is true in the absence of evidence - then I would have to say it's not a choice.

This is very much how I feel. I am nevertheless confronted by people who seem to manage to believe in spite of knowing what I know, so I am forced to say that they are different.
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what you mean by 'believe'.

I 'believe' certain things because the evidence is compelling - eg, evolution, plate tectonics, vaccinating to prevent disease, etc.....

So, in these cases there is an element of choice.

As for religion and belief in a God, I don't think there was any choice for me. I couldn't choose to believe in God even if I wanted to. I don't think that's something I could force myself to do. An early memory of mine is sitting in church with my parents (both catholics) when I was about 8 years old - my dad was there so I couldn't have been any older. I remember looking around at all the people thinking that surely they didn't actually believe there was a magic, invisible man in the sky. But that there must be some reason that they came here and pretended to. And that it was probably some 'adult' thing that I would understand when I was older. It didn't occur to me that these people genuinely believed there was a God.

I'll believe there's a God when there's convincing evidence to do so (convincing to me, that is).

So, if by believe you mean: to have faith that something is true in the absence of evidence - then I would have to say it's not a choice.

I'm glad to hear you say that actually.

Edited by White Crane Feather

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My practice/goal is to believe only in those things that I know to be true for myself. Problems often arise, however, in my understanding of it, or the mechanics of it, and I'm not willing to put aside my commonsense or critical thinking in order to hold a belief, no matter how much comfort it may bring me. Oh yeah, I say that, but I'm still uncovering things I believe without any good reason, except that they probably come from some beliefs I formulated as a child and have been with me for so long they've become embedded to the degree I don't even know they're there.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hell, I for one had a real hard time in the third grade understanding why Americans don't fall off the planet, since they plainly are on the bottom of the thing.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is very much how I feel. I am nevertheless confronted by people who seem to manage to believe in spite of knowing what I know, so I am forced to say that they are different.

This is similar to my own way of thinking. Whilst I know of no evidence to support this, I suspect there may be differences in the way believers and non-believers think. Whilst this is undoubtedly true as a result of cultural or socialisation factors, I wouldn't be surprised to learn there are fundamental biochemical and neurological differences too.

Edited by Arbenol68

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who is an important Caodai official (a Vietnamese syncretic religion). Our beliefs could not be more different, and we have reached that stage in a friendship where we avoid talking about religion.

One day we were talking about spirits (not a religious thing in Vietnam although I see it clearly is put in that category in the West), and I have my doubts but he doesn't. He said to me, "Sometimes you just have to choose to believe." (Sheesh the rules in English for direct quotations are officious and stiff and misleading, but I follow them like a dutiful lap dog).

I just can't see that. If you don't have sufficient reason to believe something, or if the evidence is contrary, then don't belief. I would find it impossible to do otherwise. Obviously people differ and some have no problem believing against the evidence if they want to.

Some times a person will believe in nothing and decide to accept an ideal because it's better than believing in nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad to hear you say that actually.

Why?

Though I'm happy to oblige :yes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always wondered if we choose to believe in the things we do or if we could not have believed any other way.

Belief is a choice.

“If you were born in Israel you’d probably be Jewish. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you’d probably be Muslim. If you were born in India you’d probably be Hindu, But because your born in North America you’re probably a Christian. Your faith is not inspired by some Divine, constant truth; it’s simply geography.” Anon

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha

W.C. Feather, I liked your old Joe vs the volcano quote, a good quote and a good film.

Today is “The International day of Peace” why not join in and watch the Peace one day channel on U Tube today, celebrating with music, arts and documentaries, Eddie Izzard is on at the moment.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Belief is a choice.

“If you were born in Israel you’d probably be Jewish. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you’d probably be Muslim. If you were born in India you’d probably be Hindu, But because your born in North America you’re probably a Christian. Your faith is not inspired by some Divine, constant truth; it’s simply geography.” Anon

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha

W.C. Feather, I liked your old Joe vs the volcano quote, a good quote and a good film.

Today is “The International day of Peace” why not join in and watch the Peace one day channel on U Tube today, celebrating with music, arts and documentaries, Eddie Izzard is on at the moment.

You're referring to religious affiliation which, I agree, is largely culturally determined. This may influence your religion but not necessarily the act of belief - which is what I figured the OP was asking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided when I was about 14 years old that religion didn't make sense. That was my choice and belief, and I haven't changed my mind since. That's why I said somewhere above that I chose to believe because I could not have believed any other way. Sort of voting both ways.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided when I was about 14 years old that religion didn't make sense. That was my choice and belief, and I haven't changed my mind since. That's why I said somewhere above that I chose to believe because I could not have believed any other way. Sort of voting both ways.

You and I seem to have experienced something similar around the same age, Star.

I simply decided I couldn't know.. I had an awakening, but it wasn't spiritual.. It was of the mind.

So you could say I chose to believe I couldn't know any thing..

Although I still decided to gain knowledge despite this precarious position.

Edit: Ironically, that awakening led to me join UM when I was fourteen.

Edited by Hatake Kakashi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I voted the second option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, this is a tough one to answer, because I believed in spirituality after a dream that brought me to tears. The thing is, I didn't even remember what the dream was, other than seeing through the eyes of something looking at the planet Earth, so I don't know what exactly happened when I was asleep. Just that it moved me enough to change my whole state of being.

The other thing that makes answering tricky is that I didn't even realize I believed in spirituality until awhile of putting all of the feelings and thoughts I was suddenly having together, and realizing I had become one of those nutty sunshine and flower loving kumbaya people I used to make fun of not far back in the past at all. But at this point, I didn't care, because I had 'seen the light' in a way.

So I guess the best way to answer this question is that no, I did choose to believe in spirituality, but it wasn't my choice consciously. It was something inside me that chose for me. A helping hand. What that hand is, I still don't know, but I'm really grateful, and don't want it to ever leave me. Though I know at some level, it is me.

I don't now what box to check, and I don't think my experience of coming to believe is a common one, though not exactly uncommon in the history of human beings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.