Simple question for the hardcore born agains to answer...

Try spending a minute not loving your mother.

How’d that work out for you?

Welcome to SDMB, Chunder77! I hope you enjoy your stay here.

I have a problem with the above. You want us to justify something you already believe in? I would imagine that if your answer is “yes”, then you would want those who disagree with you to chime in. Am I wrong? Perhaps you could rephrase your question.

The doctor analogy brings up an interesting point - how do you distinguish faith from gullibility? Without being somewhat informed, it is just luck whether you go to a qualified doctor or to someone selling fake herbal remedies. Do those who have faith have faith also in the efficacy of the stuff sold by the spam in your inbox?

How do you distinguish faith in your god from faith in Allah or Krishna? Do you think your faith is different in any real way from a Moslem’s or Hindu’s faith?

When I went to Hebrew School, the very first story in our “history” book was how Abram as a child put flour on the floor in front of the idol who was supposedly consuming the offerings. When he found footprints, he then knew that the idol was a fake. It seems that the geological and archeological record is the flour for our Western god, and many fundamentalists would rather have faith than look at the footprints. I’m sure a fundamentalist idol worshipper would say that footprints in front of the idol don’t prove that whoever was there took the food.

I know the current theory is that faith without evidence makes for stronger belief in some way. But there is contrary evidence in the Bible. Remember when Moses was punished for striking the rock with his stick, bringing out water. If he had not struck it, there would be stronger evidence for God’s miracles - the amount of faith required is unchanged in either case. Abram did not have to have faith in God - he spoke to him.

I can only conclude that the emphasis on faith comes from the lack of anything else. I find that rather sad.

Faith in what?

(BTW, welcome to the boards.)

Stoid and others: Heck if I know. Only answer I have is that of grimpixie: perhaps you are capable.

I disagree with the first part of the sentence and agree with the second part of the sentence. I have no idea how one goes about choosing to change one’s beliefs.

And it’s not only one’s most deeply-held beliefs (in the nature of the cosmos, in one’s love for one’s spouse, etc.) that cannot be changed by choice; I can’t deliberately change even my most trivial beliefs.

Yesterday morning, I had a blackberry danish for breakfast. I believe that; and although that belief is completely trivial to me, I am incapable of deliberately changing that belief.

What are folks talking about when they say that they can choose to change their beliefs? How does one go about doing this?


Nope. Couldn’t. Could you CHOOSE to BELIEVE you can fly? I don’t think you can. You can wish, you can pretend, but I think inside you will always know you can’t.

Same with God. No can do. Not capable. The brain, the intellect, the education, the personal world view that make me me all make me someone who thinks that the idea of a Creator as presented in the Bible is ridiculous. Utterly unbelievable. It’s exactly as unbelievable as believing that my dog secretly uses my computer at night to communicate with her doggie friends. Exactly as unbelievable as believing that my boyfriend can collapse his skeleton to pass under our bedroom door. You know, pick your insane, ludicrous belief…that’s god for me. I cannot see it differently.

I forget who said it, I think it was Stoid, but it was above suggested to stop believing for a minute.

I go along with what seems to be general consensus that that’s not really possible. I don’t want to convert anybody from there chosen faith, or choice to not have any sort of faith, but what if that was rephrased to say, “Look at the world for a day as though you didn’t believe?” What I mean to say is, try to see things through a non-believers eyes.

And Chunder77, I agree with you but would say that the purpose of religion is basically a grouping of all those who agree on a form of faith, or who those whom an agnostic path of life isn’t satisfactory.

My two cents.

I might be wrong, but it seems to me that you’re sort of assuming that your soul (and people’s souls in general) should be saved…that God should let you into heaven.

What if you start with the premise that everyone is doomed to go to hell. You, me, guy down the block, everyone. It’s just what’s supposed to happen. However, God, for reasons unknown to us, chooses to save some of us and let us into heaven. He doesn’t have any obligation to do so…he just does it because he’s a nice guy. And one of the things he gives those people he saves is faith in him.

So, in that case, it’s not God demanding anything of you…it’s not a trade…you do X for God, and God lets you into heaven. It’s just God choosing to give some people something that by rights, he doesn’t have to give anyone, to allow them to escape what’s naturally going to happen to them.

I believe faith is gift from God. You are right I don’t think you can get it for your self on your own. However God can, and I believe, will give it to you if you ask for it.

Why don’t you try the experiment of a prayer for it.

Maybe say something like “God I don’t believe you exist, but if you do please reveal your self to my heart”

Circular logic. You’re saying that in order to believe in God you must first ask God for faith, which requires…belief in God.

I have tried your experiment, by the way, several time, in fact. Never got jack for an answer.

I’ll do that, if you try the same experiment with Odin or Zeus.

But I am CAPABLE of that belief, even if circumstances so far are such that I don’t believe it, and future circumstances (e.g. I am unlikely to start snorting a lot of coke) make it unlikely. Your statement that you are incapable of faith, that it is equivalent to asking an animal to do calculus, remains silly. You ARE capable of faith. You’ve chosen not to believe in God, which is fine by me, and it would presumably take extremely radical or traumatic events to change your mind, but you’re physically capable of it.

Your position is circular; you are saying you are physiologically incapable of a belief because you choose not to believe it. Well, I’m saying if you chose to, you could believe it. It might be absolutely 99.99999% unlikely you ever would, but your brain can certainly process the belief. Lots of people have changed their minds in both directions, dur to traumatic of life-changing events, going from atheism to faith or faith to atheism… how are their brains wired differently from yours?

To use a counterexample, I am presently incapable of flying an airplane. It’s just inconceivable I could fly a plane; I know nothing about them. I have no interest in learning and couldn’t afford it anyway, so it’s extraordinarily unlikely I will ever learn. But I am certainly CAPABLE of flying a plane. It’s not like asking a dog to deliver the Gettsyburg Address. My eyesight’s good, I’m hale and whole, and my brain works. So I’m capable of it, in theory.

One cannot change his or her beliefs? That seems silly as we, say, aren’t actually born with any beliefs. Beliefs are what we are taught and what we form for ourselves as we grow; to say that those beliefs are immutable seems specious at best.

Anecdotally speaking, I believed in ghosts and other menancing presences in the dark when I was younger, but I don’t hold those same beliefs now. Couples, such as my own parents, who have gone through some bitter divorces once believed that they loved one another so much that they knew their union would last forever; however, that belief in a loving bond didn’t last and acrimonious fighting replaced it instead.

Still, I might be misunderstanding what others mean by “beliefs”, so maybe if we can get an agreed upon (hopefully), working definition here, this portion of the debate might run smoother.

Belief is involuntary, that’s the point. You can’t decide to believe something. So let’s leave future potential out of it. At this moment I am incapable of believing in supernatural deities. There is no process of personal effort which will allow me to believe it. At this moment then, I am incapable of worship and incapable of following God’s commands. The future is irrelevant. If I get hit by a truck right now then I will die without ever having been capable of a belief in God.

Let me take it a step back. You are not saved because you have faith God exists, and that can clearly be seen by the fact that if the Bible is true, then even the devil knows God exists, and it makes him afraid. So to believe in God is a totally separate issue. And lack of belief doesn’t mean you will go to hell. Sin sends someone to hell. So whether I believe in the court system or not, if I break the law, my lack of belief in the courts will not affect the fact that there will be punishment for my crime. Now God has given the law, and we expect a just God to do that. We want God to punish rapists, murderers, child molesters, people like Saddam, Stalin and Hitler. But God says that he will also punish liars, thieves and those who blaspheme His name. You need to see sin for what it’s worth, instead of trying to justify it as “That’s not so bad.” before you can find a savior, otherwise you don’t know what you’re being saved from.

And circular reasoning never explains anything. You don’t need faith in God to believe in God. If you really search for truth, you will find it. But I am curious as to the difference between a hardcore born again Christian and a Christian is.

I’m still not understanding how belief is involuntary. When I was in Vegas last month, I believed that one of my quarters was going to land me a big old chunck of change from the Bellagio’s progressive jackpot. Despite being aware and accepting the overwhelming odds against me winning, I chose to believe my quarter was “the one” and prepared myself so that I could kiss my slotty neighbor when the lights started flashing. It was a minor belief and it didn’t hurt anyone (except me, later, when I realized I had no more quarters for that gumball machine), but I still chose it in that instance.

So, by your reasoning, you believe in Krishna?

What use is hell as a threat if I don’t believe it exists and am not capable of believing it exists. What need do I have for a “saviour” if I don’t believe I have anything to be saved from and am not capable of believing that I have anything to be saved from?

I don’t believe in God.
I don’t believe in Heaven.
I don’t believe in Hell.
I don’t believe I need a “saviour.”
I don’t believe I have a soul.

There is no way I can force myself to believe any of these things without proof. So if God needs me to believe any of that stuff he needs to prove it. If he refuses to prove it then I can’t be held accountable for not buying into any of that stuff.

Please explain the difference.


“Born again” is a subset of Christians. All born again Christians are Christians but not all Christians are born again. It’s like asking the difference between a baseball player and a Yankees baseball player.

Captain A: So, in that case, it’s not God demanding anything of you…it’s not a trade…you do X for God, and God lets you into heaven. It’s just God choosing to give some people something that by rights, he doesn’t have to give anyone, to allow them to escape what’s naturally going to happen to them.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of that good old Calvinistic “salvation by election” doctrine—very refreshing after all the modern theological mud-wrestling about how an omnibenevolent God can still send people to hell for not believing in Him, and so forth. Thanks, Cap’n! :slight_smile:

That is an fastinating analogy, Diogenes. That’s gonna be stuck in my head for a couple of days.