Kind of a personal question...

This forum is founded on discussions about T Campbell's work (alone and with artist partners).

Moderators: TCampbell, Gisele

Is belief (religion or otherwise) a choice?

Yes. I actively choose to believe what I believe.
2
33%
No. I just believe it without choosing.
1
17%
I don't really know.
3
50%
 
Total votes : 6

Kind of a personal question...

Postby Valerie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:03 am

I believe what I believe because it's what makes the most sense to me. It's not a choice, in my case. But what about you guys? Religious, Atheist, Agnostic, whatever you are: why do you believe what you believe? (It's okay if you aren't sure why. There's an option for that.)

I'm asking here because I am so curious to know how this whole religion thing works, and I know you guys are open-minded and know me well enough to know that I'm not trying to attack anyone. I've just heard some people say things that suggest they actively choose to believe in something, and that's difficult for me to wrap my head around. Any discussion would be lovely.
Lia S wrote:Valerie is right.

As usual.


TCampbell wrote:Val has a harem, but it's chiefly structured online at the moment.
User avatar
Valerie
 
Posts: 4003
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:18 pm

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby mikbuster » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:33 pm

I don't identify with any religion. Buddhism would be a close place to start from. There's no solid evidence for those beliefs. Now, I do have some. Reincarnation strikes true for me in all the things I know how to do, or just know, despite never learning.

As for why I choose to believe those things... My belief in reincarnation started a long time ago. It started as a way for me to explain what was "wrong" with me. At the time I thought maybe I was just stuck on a previous life as a woman, explaining why older styles of clothing appealed to me and the gender issues I had. I don't particularly believe those things now. I've done research more recently into the topic to see what others believe in relation to reincarnation. The parts that make sense I store and keep for reference. Another thing, the night I decided things had to change or else, I was ready to hurt myself and suddenly thought about what happened to those that killed themselves with reincarnation. Turns out that the sites I checked with said that they came back quickly with more problems in life. Since then, I've come across people blunting that a bit. Still, obviously I thought I could handle this life so I must be able to :)
You don't need a reason to help people. ~Zidane Tribal
Geez. Why are adults so pigheaded? ~Palom
How do you prove that we exist? Maybe we don't exist... ~Vivi Orunitia
The only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty. ~Amarant Coral
User avatar
mikbuster
 
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:09 pm

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby LadyObvious23 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:38 pm

I dunno. Religion hasn't been anything that I could understand fully.
Growing old is inevitable, Growing up is optional.
'As long as you cater to my every whim, fullfill my every wish, obey my every command and never argue with what I say I shall be your slave forever.'
User avatar
LadyObvious23
 
Posts: 1053
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:42 pm
Location: Right behind you.

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby Lia S » Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:34 pm

I’m not sure if it’s OK for my wrist to type much now, so I’ll try to keep this short.

To me, belief in the religious sense is not the same thing as assuming things to be facts without evidence (or even ignoring overwhelming evidence to the contrary). I believe in ideals and... feelings? Sometimes it takes poetry or fiction to express those properly. Believing in that fiction does not mean I consider it historical fact. I do not think Gregory Hill and Kerry Thornley actually encountered a chimpanzee in a bowling alley while time stopped.

I believe what I believe because otherwise I would be a meanie and I just can’t do that, so that’s not a real choice, but on the other hand I think I make aesthetic choices in which stories I choose to not-literally believe.

I have made a choice to literally believe that some things about before the universe and after life are NOT true. I don’t have evidence for that, that’s impossible, but I feel that a god who would create flawed beings and then punish those for being flawed does not deserve to have his existence acknowledged if he does exist. You could say I disowned a probably-fictional character.
Artemisia: if we cannot sympathize or understand then all we claim to be as human beings is just marsh gas
Valerie: Lia knows how to turn that frown upside-down. :D
User avatar
Lia S
 
Posts: 1363
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby Artemisia » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:30 pm

I've been considering this for a bit, so here goes....

A lot depends on what one means by 'choice'.

Religion is a choice in that we can choose to believe in specific things.

Religion is not a choice in that we are often taught to believe specific things from an early age by our parents.

Religion is a choice in that it is not coded into our DNA.

Religion is not a choice in that, if we are taught to believe specific things from an early age, they remain coded in our brains throughout life.

Now, to explain things...people are not born with a religion encoded within them. They are, as one philosopher said, a tabla rasa- or blank slate- in this regards. One can take a new born infant and transplant them into another culture and barring any other interference they will grow up acclimated to that culture. (This does not mean that the child won't grow up with a sense that something is wrong or different about them, but that still does not mean that they won't be acclimated to the culture they grew up in.) Religion, like any cultural element, is taught, and often from an early age. Thus, a person grows up believing in a specific religion, and that can be hard to eliminate along the way.

I hope this made sense.
There was a girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was homicidal.
I am a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife.
User avatar
Artemisia
 
Posts: 1626
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:03 am

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby Alice Macher » Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:14 pm

For me, belief in that which I can't verify by observation is a semi-conscious choice, for the reasons Artemisia gives. I'd add that it's also a a partly intuitive choice. I believe God is the source and overall sustainer of the universe, even as I recognize that by this point in history, science can account for how the cosmos, life, and such came to be and keep going, without needing God (or gods) as a hypothesis. It just feels righter to me to hold that belief than not to hold it.

If I were to go by reason alone, I'd have to say the agnostics are correct: we simply can't know whether there is or isn't a God or gods. The hypothesis isn't testable through the scientific method. But reason, for all its importance, isn't all there is to human thought. There's also intuition, that inner sense of what feels right, wrong or somewhere in between. And just as we don't all follow exactly the same rational arguments when we think, say and do things, so is intuition not the same for each of us.

My intuition tells me God is real in the sense I defined "God" in the previous paragraph, but no more. Another person's intuition may say God is also a being who knows each of us individually, cares about us and is to some extent or another concerned with how we live. Someone else's intuition may say that God additionally has very specific, even non-negotiable, expectations for how we live, and that there are consequences good and bad for respectively living or not living up to them as best we can. And still another person's intuition will say there's no such thing as God outside of our imagination, and even that it's a bad idea to believe otherwise. In each case (yes, even for atheists and agnostics) one's own intuition informs their position just as rational argumentation does.
"Life doesn't wait forever." --Lisa Winklemeyer
User avatar
Alice Macher
 
Posts: 4719
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:57 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby thebitterfig » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:29 am

I'm fascinated by an expression which has popped in a few forms, about belief in X because not-believing-X just feels wrong. There are a couple of things like to that to me, and since a few others have said it here, I'd wager there's a good number more people out there who take a similar approach. My general opinion on belief is that a solid chunk belief is what folks grew up with; inherited from circumstances. Clearly, there's a lot which isn't--converts and apostates abound--but it really seems like a lot of folks learn something and mostly stick with it.

Is something a choice if you can't imagine yourself making the opposite decision? Maybe in some technical sense, but that's word play rather than anything helpful.

Anyhow, I'd describe myself as an atheist (and secular Catholic, in the sense that Catholic has implications of cultural identity). Technically, I might be an agnostic, "well, I can't rule deities out," but the label feels dishonest to me, like I'm actively questioning. It's just a passive "eh, whatever" in there. Agnosticism is a huge label, potentially encompassing everything from virtual atheists to devout monks humble and honest enough to admit they don't have access to absolute knowledge. I think it's almost as complicated a label as "bisexual." In my raising, well, I'd basically say religion never came up. Went to churches maybe twice for funerals when I was young, never taught much about anything (not unless you count Weber/Rice musicals--Joseph, Superstar). I read a bunch of Zen books,* but a lot of that was a feeling of connection with those crazy Rinzai monks. I tried belief in deities once or twice, but it just never took. Didn't feel right, I suppose.

I'll say though: I believe Hell is not eternal. It was a line I came across in a philosophy book, a sentence describing the monk Eriugena, and it stuck. I mulled it, thought about the implications and reasons. God is infinite, and humanity is finite. How can a God with *any* mercy or justice then punish eternally? And if such a cruel God did punish eternally, could the choice to believe in a deity be ethical? It just doesn't square to me. And so I believe Hell is not eternal, despite having no belief that God or Hell even exist.

One other thought, perhaps little more than sophistry (and here my affinity with Jesuits pops up...): Suppose there was a lost parable of the Bible, that Jesus came across a Greek mathematician drawing circles in the sand, trying to use a compass and straight edge to create a square with the same area as a circle. The source of the phrase "to square a circle." Mathematically, it is impossible. But suppose Jesus came across such a mathematician, who explained his problem to the man from Galilee. Could Jesus square a circle? My best answer is kinda. He could, by miracle, draw a square with the exact area as any given circle, freehand and always perfect, with 90 degree angles, and exactly matching side lengths, and all that. But Jesus could not take up the compass and straight edge and draw a circle by geometrical construction. So only by miracle, and not mathematics.

*I'm quite thankful Dharma Bums was my go-to, instead of say, Atlas Shrugged.
The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not refrain from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here. - Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (trans. C. Garnett)
User avatar
thebitterfig
 
Posts: 622
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:25 pm
Location: Maine, where it's probably snowing.

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby mikbuster » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:20 pm

I find your interpretations interesting. I was raised going to church every weekend, or almost so. My parents weren't that religious, but enough that I was in catechism classes. Nobody in my family believes similar to me. I guess I'm just the oddball since I agree what you're raised with is likely what you'll believe.
You don't need a reason to help people. ~Zidane Tribal
Geez. Why are adults so pigheaded? ~Palom
How do you prove that we exist? Maybe we don't exist... ~Vivi Orunitia
The only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty. ~Amarant Coral
User avatar
mikbuster
 
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:09 pm

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby thebitterfig » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:19 am

It also depends on what we consider "likely." I mean, if it were 50%, heck, probably even 30%, that's pretty significant.
The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not refrain from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here. - Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (trans. C. Garnett)
User avatar
thebitterfig
 
Posts: 622
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:25 pm
Location: Maine, where it's probably snowing.

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby Pink Freud » Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:26 pm

User avatar
Pink Freud
 
Posts: 721
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:13 am
Location: here

Re: Kind of a personal question...

Postby Twitcher » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:33 pm

I grew up in a house that was as stable as Mom's mood that day. The shadows of my grandpa and grandma loomed large over my mother's life, and it sometimes felt like my sister and I were Mom's Barbie dolls. She was happy enough to play mommy somedays, other days, when we failed at playing her parents, she would threaten to kill herself. We learned that this was a semi-empty threat, but she did actually have a vague, half-formed plan to do so when we turned 16, the age my mother was when her mother, my grandmother... died? Committed suicide? My mom's alway's been vague on the details, but she blames my grandfather for it, and one of Mom's favorite insults to throw at Sis was to compare her to Grandpa.
My Dad wasn't around much, as he had a job that took him away from home. His father killed himself, and his mother ran out on him.
I and my sister are disabled, which is sometimes, especially in the christian based medical profession, coded as: THOSE THINGS HAVE GENDERS? AAAAGHHH!
We watched our parents, learned their rules... but we watched educational tv, too, and learned that there were different, more effective sets of rules for every situation you could think of and more, especially since, when our parents tried to follow the rules they made up, they failed, or most often didn't try at all.
Mom's rules were that women weren't allowed to do certain things... like ask for help, cry, feel or express pain, say no, or express anything negative in a direct and concrete way. Doing so was mannish, and an insult to feminine empathy. Far better to imply that you didn't want or need something, it was much gentler.
Dad's rules were, if you want something, say it, if ya don't, don't, but don't ask for help, cry, feel or express pain, say I dunno, or do anything vaguely... VAGUE. That was creepy and flighty, and not strong in the least.
Fifties-style Patriarchy! Fucking up lives since... the fifties! Also, there was alcoholism. Stability was for the educational complex... and holidays. There was real comfort and kindness in the things they did at Christmas and Easter that lent a temporary solidity to life. (I remember thinking that Jesus grew up really fast between Christmas and Easter.)
Then I hit my teens, and depression hit me. A rather shady psychiatrist prescribed me antidepressants that were widely known to be unsuited for my age group at the time, while my mother explained to him that anything crappy in my childhood that I told him about were particularly... intense delusions of mine.
Ask and ye shall recieve: I did get particularly intense delusions from paxil-induced mania, and a nasty case of bipolar disorder. (I learned from family of an ex-patient that this was the Doc's M.O.: exploit disabled people by intensifying their mental illnesses before treating them. More money in it.)
At the time, my mother had been flitting from sponsor to sponsee, experimenting with CoA and AA, and maybe something else. My last real trip to the kids psych ward, I heard her yammering weakly to the social workers that she could "HEAR me, in [her] HEAD! She's saying, 'HELP! HELP!'" The only coherent thought in my head was, "it figures." Yup. Lotsa crazy runs in my bloodline.
My social workers, based on talks with my sister, figured I was faking everything for attention, so they arranged for the ward to blast my favorite music and TV at top decible level, and maybe rough me up just a little, to show how mental illness REALLY worked.
I was shifted to the adult ward, where a Cyndi like me could be dealt with appropriately. But something was... wrong. Nobody could figure out why the sociopath... malingerer... THING yammered endlessly, giggled, cried, screamed, and goggled glassy eyed at everyone around her.
"She needs SLEEP! She hasn't slept!" Dad begged. Whoops. Off the Paxil, on the lithium, let's pretend the misdiagnoses never happened, 'kay?
Let's pretend someone groping you in the nursing home never happened, 'kay?
Let's pretend you weren't being massively overdosed on lithium, 'kay?
Let's pretend that the world is a just one, and that good intentions are the only thing that matters, 'kay?

Whether or not you believe in a god, what you say and do matters. It all impacts you and others, for good and for ill.
User avatar
Twitcher
 
Posts: 597
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:19 pm
Location: In My Foggy Little Head


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

cron