Am I Free to Believe?

"I believe, for Christ sakes—""No—no. You know. And there's a difference"
“I believe, for Christ sakes—”
“No—no. You know. And there’s a difference”

 

I assume I am not the only person who a religious person has told words to the effect of “I can’t make you believe, you have to choose to believe”. What does that mean? I cannot think of a single belief I hold about anything, big or small, that I have chosen to believe.

No, instead, ideas are things you become convinced of. The chances of you choosing—without reason—a true thing to believe in are very low indeed, even if you limit yourself to only coherent statements. Alternatively, if you choose to believe something for good reasons then it’s not sensible to say you “chose” to believe.

Did you choose to believe in gravity? Of course not, you were convinced against your will. Could you choose not to believe in gravity? You could say you don’t, but could you actually stop believing?

This must still be the case for the statement “a god exists”. Even if we ignore that I don’t think we have freewill, and that if God is real and omniscient He’d know whether I will ever believe and that dictates whether I believe—not my freewill—we still have a big issue.

Having only the arguments and the evidence that I have, can I choose to sincerely change my mind? Sincerity is important here, because insincere belief is actually not belief; instead it is you deluding yourself. Given that I don’t believe in God’s existence on the evidence that I have I cannot see that I should be able to simply choose to believe based on the same evidence and arguments.

Belief comes down to what you are actually convinced of.  I cannot choose to believe something I do not believe. If I look at the arguments presented to me for God and don’t find them convincing—especially if I can put logical reasoning behind it—then how can I choose to sincerely believe; to lie to myself?

With that in mind, what does the following comment mean? “If someone were to make you [believe] then it wouldn’t be faith my friend”.

Exactly, if someone makes you believe—by providing convincing or meaningful evidence—then you don’t have faith. If you can be convinced of God’s existence—which some people unfairly are by being provided with personal revelations—then you believe in God, but that’s not faith; you have good reason to believe, you’ve been convinced.

Did Abraham and Moses and Job and Jacob and anyone else who spoke directly to God really have faith? Did they choose to believe without being incontrovertibly biased by nuisances like evidence? God spoke directly to them; what does it mean to say that they could have chosen to not believe in Him?

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11 thoughts on “Am I Free to Believe?”

  1. Hi,
    I guess I didn’t “choose” to believe. I was backed into a corner in life when I reached out from hell. I have my story on one of my “Pages” called “Her Testimony”. This is how I was forced to believe. And now I feel very lucky that I was forced to. It’s like being spoon-fed something you think will taste like hell – but turns out to be sweeter than honey – once you get the taste of it that is.
    robin

    1. I have read your pages, and they very much agree with what I’m saying here: you can’t choose this. You had an amazing emotional revelation. And it convinced you. I’m sure we’ve already talked about the nature of personal experience…
      But equally, I couldn’t fake it.

      1. Hi,
        Oh. That’s right. I already told you about that Page. Sorry. I talk to a lot of bloggers about this Page. I guess I forgot that I already told you about that.

        No, one can not “fake” sincerity. I think it pain MIGHT be a requirement to get really sincere, but I’m not totally sure about this. I just hope that if you get into some heavy-duty pain in your life, that you will remember my Pages about finding God through Christ. I won’t pray for you to get pain like that, I will just pray that some day you will be able to reach this kind of sincerity. It’s truly magnificent to find Christ and be introduced to a love unequaled on this planet.

        love to you, my blogging buddy
        robin

        1. It is an unfortunate methodology if it is the case. But I am glad that you have founds something magnificent!
          If I ever go through something heavy duty I will look out for that silver lining.

  2. I think you’re still free to believe. In the case of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and Job, they could have believed that either God was talking to them from above, or that they were insane. 🙂 Both are viable.

  3. I think I’m crazy sometimes, so yes it’s viable in my opinion. Also, I was just poking fun, sorry if I hadn’t made it apparent enough 🙂

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