Sunday, March 11, 2012

Can we choose what we believe?

This is a rather esoteric idea, and I'm not even sure it meets the technical definition of "meaningful".  But it is a question that has plagued me, particularly in conversations with Christians.  Many times I have been told that I need to "believe before I understand".  My contention is that belief is not a choice, but rather a state of being

3 comments:

  1. I've gotten the same comments, and I'm with you on this. You don't choose to believe in the Pythagorean theorem, you just *do* the moment it's properly explained. These two posts from Less Wrong may be of interest to you:
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4/belief_in_belief/
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/i6/professing_and_cheering/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the links Leah. I just read
      http://lesswrong.com/lw/i3/making_beliefs_pay_rent_in_anticipated_experiences/ the other day (probably via a link on your blog, now that I think about it...) and bookmarked the page in my browser

      best sentence I've read in a long time, from the first of your links:
      "For one thing, if you believe in belief, you cannot admit to yourself that you only believe in belief, because it is virtuous to believe, not to believe in belief, and so if you only believe in belief, instead of believing, you are not virtuous"

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