Post by Malcolm McMahon Post by aaa Post by Michael Cole
I can't. I have met religious people who say they "choose" to
believe the gospels. Let us not get into the question of free will
and whether we can actually choose anything. But in whatever sense I
seem to be able to choose what to eat for lunch, I do not feel I can
choose what to believe about reality. Either something seems true to
me so I believe it, or seems false so I disbelieve it, or I'm not
sure in which case I don't know. How could anyone do otherwise?
I think that's just your exaggeration. People choose to believe in the
teaching of Jesus because they are moved by the passion of Christ.
Its not a question about why one would choose to believe something. In many societies there are clear, practical advantages to believing the prevailing religion.
But the rational person believes not what it is expedient to believe, or comfortable to believe, but what they see evidence for.
There may be strong reasons for _pretending_ to believe, but that's another matter.
I can conceive of a desire to belong so strong that one
checks one's reason at the door and gives in to emotional
appeals to believe.
Consider our troll, Jesper. He tells us he bounced from
Lutheran to Buddhist to Mormon before settling on the Krishnas.
Have you heard of the cult-recruitment technique called
For a lot of "seekers," it may not be a matter of
"finding the truth" as much as it is finding a social
group where you feel welcomed and comfortable.
Once they've set that hook in you, people can
rationalize any belief.
I don't doubt that, when I was deciding to drop Catholicism,
the fact that I had a network of fellow fans of science fiction and
punk/new wave music, and folks interested in libertarian politics
to crash with and hang out with, help me get a job and basically be
a "substitute family" until I could get on my feet helped me. In my
case, it was "change my mind, then figure out new living arrangements,"
rather than "fall in love with a religious girl and convert" or some
other social benefit tempting me.
Now, if you ditch faith as a fully formed, employed adult, you
might not have to scramble for a place to live, as I did. Note:
my parents didn't kick me out. I just couldn't put up with
their daily disapproval, and I was living with them 2,000 miles
away from where I wanted to finish college. So I packed up one
weekend after giving notice at my job and caught a plane - you
could just start to get cheap fares in the late 1970s.
A fellow fan put me up until I could find a job and an apartment,
which I shared with another fan. I lived in a series of "slan
shacks" for a few years, until we could afford our own places.
Nobody cared if you were unconventional. Hell, we liked you
better if you were a geek or a weirdo. :) Life was interesting.
a couple of my buddies started a comics shop, where we hung out
and filled in behind the counter as needed. We went to SF and
comics conventions, and especially at the SF cons we were
surrounded by people who took a rational approach to the universe
to a much greater extent than in the "mundane" world. A similar
dynamic existed when I got involved in libertarian politics.
some of my friends and allies were religious, running the gamut
from Catholics to Unitarian Universalists to Taoists, but nobody
expected you to agree with you about religion, and, probably because
most had at least heard of Ayn Rand, didn't assume non-believers were
necessarily moral monsters, but might be committed to ethical behavior.
I imagine their might be similar acceptance of rationalism among
our socialist counterparts, while the actual communists would
look askance at any religious belief.