Belief: a choice?

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This has cropped up a number of times.

I am quite firm that beliefs are not choices. We do not choose what we believe. There seem to be a number of definitions of what a “belief” is – which might explain this to some extent. I considered making this an AX with my definition of belief, but I’d like to leave it open to debate that too.

So two questions:

1) What is a belief?
2) Is it, then, a choice?

 
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And my answers:

1) A belief is nothing more than holding something to be true. It does not require reason, but neither do reasons preclude it. I hold it true that I’m a basically decent person – but wouldn’t know where to begin justifying it. I hold it true that the Earth is round. I believe both.

2) Belief is not a choice; we find ourselves believing what we do, and cannot decide from one day to the next to believe different things. It would be nice to believe a variety of things are going to happen this weekend, for example, but they’re unlikely and I’m unable to choose to believe they will despite how nice it would be.

 
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1) What is a belief?

A denial of the truth/what you cannot understand or explain.

2) Is it, then, a choice?

Of course.

I firmly believe that it is a mistake to hold firm beliefs.

 
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To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

 
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Originally posted by pacaholic:

To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

Dear eris, I agree with pacaholic.

 
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Originally posted by pacaholic:

To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

Yes. And?

 
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Originally posted by Iggyshark:

1) What is a belief?

A denial of the truth/what you cannot understand or explain.

2) Is it, then, a choice?

Of course.

I firmly believe that it is a mistake to hold firm beliefs.

So you would not say something like “I believe the Earth is round”? And if you were asked “Do you believe the Earth is round?” your answer would have to be “No”?

 
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Originally posted by Iggyshark:
Originally posted by pacaholic:

To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

Dear eris, I agree with pacaholic.

You secretly love me so im not surprised you agree.

Originally posted by Syneil:
Originally posted by pacaholic:

To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

Yes. And?

Who decides who is right? I believe all people born with less than 10 fingers should be killed. Why am I wrong? It is actually very moral to do so. These people aren’t really people. A real person has 10 fingers. This is my belief.

 
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Originally posted by Syneil:
Originally posted by Iggyshark:


1) What is a belief?

A denial of the truth/what you cannot understand or explain.

2) Is it, then, a choice?

Of course.

I firmly believe that it is a mistake to hold firm beliefs.

So you would not say something like “I believe the Earth is round”? And if you were asked “Do you believe the Earth is round?” your answer would have to be “No”?

I would say yes, but it is my belief b/c i choose for it to be my belief.

 
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1) A belief is something you think is true. Be it your religious leaning or what colour you think your eyes are. I would argue that things you ‘know’ are things you ‘believe’ and also ‘believe’ you can convince others to ‘know’ as well.

2) Unless you have mastered doublethink, no. Even then, it would be your beliefs causing you to force yourself to accept it. Think how many times you have heard someone say “I wish I could believe you, but I can’t”, or similar – belief isn’t a choice, though I’m sure some will believe otherwise.

 
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2) Is it, then, a choice?

I don’t think so.

I can’t say I don’t believe this. And then randomly say I do believe that.

I think they can change.

 
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Originally posted by Syneil:
Originally posted by pacaholic:

To say a belief is not a choice. And to also say that some beliefs are wrong. Is to say that some people have no choice but to be wrong…

Yes. And?

Who decides who is right? I believe all people born with less than 10 fingers should be killed. Why am I wrong? It is actually very moral to do so. These people aren’t really people. A real person has 10 fingers. This is my belief.

Why must someone be “right” (which I read as meaning some form of objective rightness)? See debate at http://www.kongregate.com/forums/9/topics/29210

 
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Originally posted by RMcD:

2) Is it, then, a choice?

I don’t think so.

I can’t say I don’t believe this. And then randomly say I do believe that.

I think they can change.

Yes – I should make that clear. I believe beliefs can change and people can seek to change them (for example, by researching).

 
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Originally posted by Kyriva:

1) A belief is something you think is true. Be it your religious leaning or what colour you think your eyes are.

2) Unless you have mastered doublethink, no. Even then, it would be your beliefs causing you to force yourself to accept it. Think how many times you have heard someone say “I wish I could believe you, but I can’t”, or similar – belief isn’t a choice, though I’m sure some will believe otherwise.

The “i wish i could, but i can’t” doesnt validate a belief as not being a choice. Example

Tom constantly cheats on his girlfriend Betty; Betty finally leaves Tom. One day Tom says, “Betty, I promise I will never cheat on you again, take me back!” Betty responds with, “I wish I could believe you, but I can’t.”

She wants to believe b/c she still kinda likes Tom. However she chooses not to believe b/c she doesn’t want to risk not getting hurt again.

 
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Originally posted by Syneil:
Originally posted by RMcD:


2) Is it, then, a choice?

I don’t think so.

I can’t say I don’t believe this. And then randomly say I do believe that.

I think they can change.

Yes – I should make that clear. I believe beliefs can change and people can seek to change them (for example, by researching).

Then i think we might all be working with differnt interpretations of “belief.”

 
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Belief makes things real, makes things feel, feel alright.
Belief makes things true, things like you, you and I.

 
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Originally posted by pacaholic:

Then i think we might all be working with differnt interpretations of “belief.”

Hence question 1.

Originally posted by pacaholic:

Belief makes things real, makes things feel, feel alright.

Belief makes things true, things like you, you and I.

That implies a definition of belief that I have never come across before.

 
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I think he is talking about perceived reality. If you perceive it to be real it is. Whether there is a reality or not. This reality can be proved wrong though, similar to the earth being the centre of the universe. But up until then it those people’s reality it was.

 
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So you would not say something like “I believe the Earth is round”?

No, I would state the Earth is round as a fact and X, Y, & Z is why.

And if you were asked “Do you believe the Earth is round?” your answer would have to be “No”?

My answer would be “No, I can prove the Earth is round.”

You secretly love me so im not surprised you agree.

Kindly keep such thoughts to yourself. I don’t appreciate them.

 
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Belief can be a choice. I’ve heard that it is possible to indoctrinate yourself into believing something, though I imagine it takes a lot of effort and an impressionable mind. Hypnotherapy etc. is the sort of stuff I’m thinking of, or at least it works in a similar style.

That said, belief generally is not a choice. It is the end product of what you know, what you’ve been taught and how you think. It can change on learning new things or having a new perspective, but it’s difficult to turn around one day and say ‘I decided that I now believe X’ without lying.

 
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Originally posted by Syneil:
Originally posted by pacaholic:

Then i think we might all be working with differnt interpretations of “belief.”

Hence question 1.

Originally posted by pacaholic:

Belief makes things real, makes things feel, feel alright.


Belief makes things true, things like you, you and I.

That implies a definition of belief that I have never come across before.

Then you dont listen to gavin degraw – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e1Wjyq-WKg

 
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I managed 15 seconds of that.

 
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Originally posted by Syneil:

I managed 15 seconds of that.

47. I win :)

 
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What is a belief?

A statement of assuming there is a possibility of something being true, but always realizing it is still only a possibility.

Very vague description, I know, but it potentially eliminates a lot of problems. And it describes my belief pretty well. Don’t call it chance calculations, but I am not sure if God exists. I only believe he does. Many Christians are sure.

Is it, then, a choice?

Up to a certain extent, but if you have a belief, it is far from easy to “get rid of it”.

A denial of the truth

Is this a pestering of believers or a true belief? Your choice. (So many inside jokes in that sentence, I can’t believe it.)

No, I would state the Earth is round as a fact and X, Y, & Z is why.

We have different definitions of both “belief” and “fact”.

 
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Originally posted by pacaholic:
Originally posted by Kyriva:

1) A belief is something you think is true. Be it your religious leaning or what colour you think your eyes are.

2) Unless you have mastered doublethink, no. Even then, it would be your beliefs causing you to force yourself to accept it. Think how many times you have heard someone say “I wish I could believe you, but I can’t”, or similar – belief isn’t a choice, though I’m sure some will believe otherwise.

The “i wish i could, but i can’t” doesnt validate a belief as not being a choice. Example

Tom constantly cheats on his girlfriend Betty; Betty finally leaves Tom. One day Tom says, “Betty, I promise I will never cheat on you again, take me back!” Betty responds with, “I wish I could believe you, but I can’t.”

She wants to believe b/c she still kinda likes Tom. However she chooses not to believe b/c she doesn’t want to risk not getting hurt again.

Betty wants it to be true that Tom will not cheat on her again, but she can’t believe it becuase of what he has previously done. To argue that she won’t believe he won’t cheat on her again because she doesn’t believe he won’t (she wouldn’t need to think about risking getting hurt again if she did believe him) is circular reasoning.