Is belief/non-belief a choice?Jake Farr-Wharton 12 comments Poll
As many may know, while I do identify as ‘atheist’ (i.e. no belief in gods or the supernatural), I was raised in a strictly theistic (Catholic, then later Fundamentalist Christian) household.
Arriving at the atheistic conclusions as I did, took many years of deprogramming and was a tremendously arduous process, however the old adage, ‘you only get out what you put in’, reigned true when I came out the other end with a far greater appreciation for life, love and living than I ever could have before that point.
This aside, I proposed question yesterday which utterly rocked my world. I’ll get to this in a minute.
In debates which I engage and am involved in, I am often asked (presumably as an end-game style argument/question) what would it take you to believe, to which I reply, ‘tangible evidence that; god/s were real and that belief in them provided some intrinsic benefit’. Thus far, no such evidence has eventuated and I remain better for my disbelief.
In a similar vain, I often see frustrated atheist debaters resort to similarly fickle questions, “what would it take you to relinquish your belief?” The answers one receives to this question is always the same, “nothing; my belief is unshakable!” This is usually followed promptly by the theist storming out of the debate as they realise they were not as open minded as they once thought.
While I maintain that I am open to belief if presented with evidence, I asked myself this question yesterday and find myself with a changed opinion.
The question: Is atheism a choice?
I thought I’d share some of the 200 answers I received:
M.H.: “Given that my mind posesses the information that is subconsciously processed and makes it impossible for me to believe in things that contradict such information, I'd say no, it's not a choice.”
R.R.: “I made a choice to be a skeptic and empiricist. My atheism was an outgrowth of my adoption of critical thinking. It took years to eventually get to atheism...so it was not so much a choice as it was an arrival. Being an atheist really isn't all that much fun, but it is better than living in a make-believe world. I like reality even when it's harsh. With reality you know where you stand.”
M.M.: “It's more of a conclusion than a choice.”
E.V.: “Nope. I can no more choose to believe in gods than I could believe in square circles.”
R.H.: “Sometimes I think that I would like to believe in God and a life after death, but I have no choice because I would be deluding myself. It is not a choice!!”
A.H.: “Belief is not a choice. But using the title of "atheist" is a choice.”
J.F.W.: “I don't think it really is, once there is no more reason for belief, you can't choose to believe again.”
K.M.: “Any belief is just a thought you keep thinking. To not believe is still a thought you just keep thinking. Therefore yes. You are choosing to think it. IMHO!”
J.G.: “No it's not a choice, if i asked if not believing in the invisible pink unicorn or the flying spaghetti monster was a choice.... You would laugh, because the real choice is being logical.”
M.W.: “I don't think it is a choice. I don't "choose" not to believe in leprechauns or Bigfoot. I think *belief* is a choice. But if you're someone who examines the evidence and concludes that belief in God is unwarranted, then an atheist is simply what you *are*.”
X.K.: “Being atheist is the most logical but most uneasy choice. It's rough and not as pleasurable nr commiserate as other choices, but worth it, over all. I think it's like asking: is being empathetic or realistic choices? Yes, they are.”
F.T.: “If evidence were what was required there would be no religious beliefs...all info is anecdotal and impossible to confirm or refute.”
A.N.: “Out of the protected classes; race, color, religion, sex, National origin, age, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, veteran status - religion is the only one which is really a choice.”
B.D.: “As we all start out unindoctrinated, it is the default setting. The state of being godless is not a choice. We are all godless, right? The self-identification with the label is a choice, IMO.”
J.S.: “We are born atheists -- realists! To be otherwise is acquired ignorance.”
C.P.: “Perhaps a rediscovery, since we are all born atheists. A lot of us have the misfortune of being waylaid by religion when we are too young to defend ourselves. Some of those victims are fortunate enough to find their way back to freedom.”
J.G.J.S.: “I can't make myself "believe" there's a god. I tried. I really wanted to for a very long time. I tried hard. I tried everything I could short of an elective lobotomy. I'm not ... See moresure that would have worked. If one could "choose" beliefs, I would most definitely be a Christian for all kinds of good, bad, family, social, benevolent, and selfish reasons. I couldn't do it. I finally gave up on it when I realized it was just impossible to bend my brain that far.”
G.P.H.: “It is a choice to read, investigate, ask questions. Being an atheist, however, is not a choice but an involuntary realization that happens for many on its own along the way.”
A.D.: “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
There are just some of the responses. It’s an interesting question, perhaps one you should ask yourself.
Is your belief or non-belief a choice?
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