Alright, now I’m sure this has probably been mentioned here and there before in all the religious threads that have been brought up, but I wanted to get a fresh opinion on what I (and probably many other people) see as the paradox of salvation through religion.
The paradox, as I see it, stems from my assumption that a person cannot choose their own beliefs. Do you make an active choice to believe that murder is wrong? Or that Jesus was the son of God? Do you choose to believe that you love your family, or that they love you? Do you choose to believe that God exists? Or do you believe these things simply because they make the most sense to you, given your life experiences, gut feelings, verifiable evidence, etc?
If we are not in control of choosing our beliefs, then how could an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God punish us for failing to accept his existence? If, when I die, I find myself before God, flabberghasted and astounded that he actually exists, when he asks me to account for all of my sins, and why I didn’t have faith in him, I’d have to tell him that I simply didn’t have enough evidence to believe. I rationally considered his existence, and came to a conclusion based on my life experiences. I couldn’t force myself to believe in him based on what he was choosing to show me throughout my life, because a belief simply cannot be forced. It would just be a lie. I would HOPE that he would understand this, before casting me into the fires of hell for all eternity.
So then, those of us who are religious are also not making a conscious decision. The religious folks are simply believing in something that makes the most sense to them based on what they have learned from others, their life experiences, and gut feelings. They believe what they believe because it makes sense to them, not because they are afraid of burning in hell (we can all agree Pascal’s Wager is a silly idea, right?), or because they have to make an active choice.
Anyhow, I wanted to get your opinions or insights into this apparent paradox. Does it actually exist, or am I making a faulty argument based on a bad assumption or bad logic? Can anyone refer me to the name of this paradox/argument/idea (if it has a name?) I’m sure I’ve heard this argument or something similar; I doubt I just came up with it myself. I just can’t remember who I’ve heard it from.
I guess the idea can be boiled down to this: If we act according to our beliefs, and we are not in direct control of our beliefs, can we truly be held accountable for our actions?