It's been quite a while since I've posted -- I haven't been having many philosophical conversions with my Dad over the past few months due to some "life issues", however I plan to pick up the conversation with him again fairly soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to jot down my ideas about whether or not we are able to choose what we believe. I had a discussion with my Mom recently, where I asked if she believed that a loving god would send me, a relatively nice guy, to eternal suffering. She responded by saying that if I chose to not believe in him, then yes, he would do just that.
Can we really choose to believe something? I don't want to get too deep into the philosophy behind free will (I'll save that for another post), but let's assume at this point that we do have free will and the ability to make a decision. What are some things that can I choose? Here are some examples:
- I can choose to have toast for breakfast instead of cereal.
- I can choose to stop at a red light instead of running it.
- I can choose a lower paying job that I enjoy over a high paying job that will make me miserable.
See the pattern there? My choices are based on my beliefs -- it's as simple as that. Consider the following questions:
- Can you choose to believe you can fly by just flapping your arms?
- If someone offers you one million dollars to jump off of a hundred-foot cliff and fly back up only by flapping your arms, would you choose to do it?
In summary, I believe that our core philosophy dictates our beliefs, that those beliefs dictate other beliefs, and that our beliefs dictate our choices. If you accept this idea, then you can easily see how it just isn't possible to choose what you believe.