Do we actually choose our beliefs?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Feb 25, 2022.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    It seems on the one hand that we don't and end up stuck with them without any chance of changing them. Yet at the same time we do deliberately exert a certain amount of "willpower" in defending them and reinforcing them. Have you ever changed a belief in your life? Did it occur suddenly or gradually over a period of time? Is the assumption that we can persuade other people to change their beliefs realistic or a mere pipedream?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2022
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    Yes
    Bit of both
    People do change beliefs for numerous reasons

    Some of those reasons are bound to be being persuaded by other people

    Equally people will not be persuaded by other people to change their beliefs

    So is the assumption (realistically people can persuade other people to change their belief) YES - it happens (a change of belief does occur)

    YES you can assume that will occur in the future

    Your offered alternative (or - is not an alternative) is moot

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    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It depends on how you define "beliefs". In a sense, I don't have any "beliefs". I go by data, evidence, experience, observation, knowledge, etc.

    When I don't know something and I learn about it, you could say I've "changed" my "beliefs" I suppose. I wouldn't define "beliefs" that way but you could I suppose.

    Real "beliefs" are just that because you don't have knowledge or anything else to base your viewpoint on so if you have those kind of beliefs you probably aren't going to change them. They were irrational from the beginning and they will probably stay that way.
     
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  7. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Prolly most ever “belief” ive ever had has changed/evolved due to becomin aware of new evidence.!!!
     
  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Was that when you learned that pigs don't fly?
     
  9. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    So true. Text books espousing the latest information available at the time, are now often deemed to be not only out of date (changing fashion - superficial) but also incorrect about the information, claimed at issue to be correct

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  10. river

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    To be open minded is my attitude , some I agree with some I don't . Open minded , read what they have to say and go from there .
     
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    In my teens I had a whole belief system that I changed called Christianity. It wasn't something that occurred suddenly--more like over 2 or 3 years. I replaced it with scientific beliefs in evolution, cosmology, physics, psychology and human secularism. I would call these beliefs that I chose as I examined evidence for them and still retain them to this very day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    Think this one a bit shaky

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  13. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Most of them, at one time or another. I'm not sure what constitutes "a belief" in your sense of it.
    If you mean world-view, like a basic philosophy of life, ideology or religious canon: Yes.
    If you mean attitude toward and expectation of humans, society, my participation in its activities and my influence on the outcome: also Yes, but different mechanism.
    If you mean specific theories, claims, convictions, someone's word, perception of an event, or that kind of local, personal datum - About half and half; some have changed, some have been constant since I can remember. This, of course, doesn't account for the constantly shifting concept-scape of early childhood.
    Each situation different. When a Big Lie is revealed, one's belief changes suddenly. When one has a doubt and ferrets out the necessary information to confirm or deny, it can be a long process. Like a trial by jury.
    In the case of religion, my belief was never deeply held, and when I started reading the Bible, it crumbled away like a beautiful gingerbread cathedral left out in the rain.
    I have no such assumption. Gave it up over 50 years ago, when all those students from different disciplines filled all those rooms with smoke and rhetoric. Sometimes each of us may influence another person's thinking, nudge them in a direction, point them to a line of inquiry. Working minds can only change from inside.
    OTOH, idle, vacant, chaotic minds can be filled up with anything. I say : Better an interest in football, bread baking or vintage car restoration than in some megalomaniac's plan to make a defunct empire great again.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
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  14. psikeyhackr Live Long and Suffer Valued Senior Member

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    When I was 6 years old I presumed adults knew what they were talking about with the God/Christ thing but I started reading SF in 4th grade. Lots of new words, ideas and information. I would lie on the bed with an SF book and two encyclopedia.

    I decided that I was an agnostic in 7th grade.

    BELIEF is unscientific!
     
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    How about plain small-letter beliefs? Belief in your own abilities or perseverance? Belief in another person's fidelity? Belief in the ability of scientific thought to accomplish something that seems impossible? Belief in the efficacy of law over disorder, or a social theory, or a method of education or the healing power of time?
     
  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That's not really "belief", that's confidence in oneself. I know we also use "belief" in that way as well but it's not really "belief" in the context being discussed here IMO.
     
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    It wasn't exactly specified. Are you restricting the question to religion? Or may one consider other kinds of things we believe or believe in without absolute proof?
    Eg. I believe in honour - but have no confidence that most people are honourable. I believe in law and justice, but have no confidence that justice is always done in courts of law.
    I believe in the fidelity of my life-partner, though it has never, tmk, been tested.
    As for science, I believe most of it, but have reservations in some areas, so I do not actually believe in science.
     
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not restricting it to religion. I'm looking at "belief" as something that is required when there is no evidence. Where there is evidence you don't need "belief" in the strictest sense of that term.

    Science is evidence based so if you don't need to "believe" in it for it to be true. It just is. You may not understand it or you may not have the opportunity to test it yourself and for someone reason you don't trust in the mainstream scientific community.

    That doesn't really change the facts however. Evolution, for example, is a fact whether you "believe" in it or not.

    Regarding honor, fidelity, love, etc. Those are feelings, moral constructs and it's all relative. It's a part of our culture. You could change our culture and those things would change. Slavery used to be part of our culture. Some people could say that they "believed" in slavery. That's misusing "belief" in they way I'm talking about it. There is nothing to "believe" in regarding slavery.

    What you are saying is that you think those things are a good idea and that they should exist and do exist to a large degree. It has nothing to do with "belief" however.
     
  19. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Did you choose to believe in evolution? Or did the evidence lead you to the conclusion that it's true? Could you ever choose go back and believe in a religious creation?
     
  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I'd say the evidence and the beautiful simplicity of evolution convinced me it was true. The element of choice was in opening myself up to it. I can never go back to creationism.
     
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    So, you separate "what I believe" from "what I have faith in". I don't: I use the word believe according its common meaning and add "in" when speaking of a principle or concept. (as : "I believe in equality under the law" in theory, even though it's far from a reality in application.)
    The amount of evidence available for a new datum varies greatly from case to case. In general, I'm inclined to believe reputable scientists, even if I don't understand everything they do, and even if they don't lay all of their ten+ years' of research before me.
    I tend to believe a few people I know well, who have been truthful in the past. I tend to believe, at face value, anything anyone tells me about their own feelings.
    If I were on a jury, I would be inclined to acquit or convict on a preponderance of evidence, beyond reasonable doubt - rather than beyond a shadow of doubt - partly based on my own impression of witnesses' credibility and competence - much of which is never in evidence.
    Fidelity is not an emotion; it is a pattern of behaviour. Honour is not an emotion; it is a character trait. These are long-standing tenets of relationships in any culture. Your culture may value some ideals, behaviours and relationships more than they value others, but the individual can choose to disbelieve in the values of their own culture, or prefer a principle from another culture, depending on your their proclivities and experience.
    For example, I believe in the reality of love - as a central experience of sentient beings, as a basis of relationships between individual sentient beings, and I do not believe anyone should have the power to restrict or control another individual's freedom to love.
    And many other cultures through history, and some cultures today. Yet some people, in each of those cultures utterly rejected and do now reject the practice, because they do not believed in it; they do not believe any individual should have the power to subjugate another.
    Of course there is. Some people held it as an article of faith that 'superior' races or civilizations had the right (god-given or natural) to enslave 'inferior' peoples. Some people today hold it as self-evident that debt-slavery is just and proper.
    Others believe that all slavery - including coercion through economic dominance - is wrong.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2022
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    You "believe" in the reality of love because, as you say, it's reality. Experience is evidence, direct evidence.

    You do you think anyone should have the power to restrict someone else. That is your option. It has nothing to do with "believing". It's a subjective opinion, widely held of course.
     
  23. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    Could you ever choose go back and believe in a religious creation?

    There is the character Dawkins quotes who says

    "If all the evidence in the universe pointed to Evolution being true I would still be a young earth creationist because that is what the scriptures teach me"

    Anyone have a name for such? Belief seems weak

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