Is authentic theism/atheism (a) a matter of choice or (b) a matter of conviction born from perceived evidence? Furthermore if the answer is (b) as I believe it is then what are the implications for theists who attempt to convert non-believers?  

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 (a) follows (b), I think.

 

First you view the evidence, after that you choose if you want to allow the evidence or ignore it - like a xtian who views evidence of evolution then ignores it because "it's just a theory."

But authentic theism.... that's a difficult one, I'm not sure if it exists. In the first 18 years of my life spent in church, I was never convinced that the god existed, and I had strong doubts if other churchgoers were convinced. But I saw lots of people mouthing what was expected of them. I saw some people entering the church clearly because they had issues they couldn't cope with at their time of life (masochism was one, and the guy told me that the church had cured him, what a laugh I had!). Why did all those people dutifully mouth the xtian platitudes? The only answer I can think of is that they had a comfortable social background they would lose if they stepped out.

Wouldn't authentic theism require an authentic theos to qualify?  Find me an honest-to-god GOD ... and bingo, there's your authentic system of belief right there.

I wouldn't hold my breath, though.

Right! And thank you both for helping me think - I have to divide my thoughts between language and subject, it uses more energy than using your own language.

I've found that I can't simply CHOOSE to believe something.  Either the evidence is there or the logic follows, or it isn't and it doesn't.  As I've said many times on A|N, I am positively LOUSY at fooling myself, especially about anything having to do with faith or accepting a pig in a poke.

That said, atheism is a DEDUCTION, a conclusion arrived at ... BECAUSE of the evidence (or lack thereof), BECAUSE of the logic, BECAUSE it is as inescapable as 2 + 2 = 4 and just as demonstrable.

Same for me Loren, I could never choose to believe, but I could easily choose to disbelieve.

Loren, there was a time in my teens that I desperately tried to believe...my father had escaped into a gin bottle, and I wanted him back....but I just couldn't force myself to accept the myths of the buybull, and other religions that I studied were just as preposterous.

Non-belief, whatever label you attach to it, IS the default position.  That's how we are born, and as the song in "South Pacific" goes, we "have to be carefully taught" otherwise.

Doxastic voluntarism

The question of whether people can choose to believe something. These two articles will describe it better than I can. This thread re-hashes an older, already-existing debate.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/doxa-vol/

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager#Ability_to_.22believe.22

thanks Brian!

Some theists claim to have reasons for believing in god. I have heard many times from theists that they believe in god because they think a first cause is necessary and it would have to be in the nature of god. Of course this argument is fallacious but some theists see it as valid enough for them to subscribe to theism.

Ask a theist if a first cause is "necessary," then what/who caused god.  It usually shuts them up for a while.  It might even start one or two of them thinking about the absurdity of it all.

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