The Cycle Of Choice
Monica Harris

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Monica Harris
Subject: Re: The Cycle of Choice
Date: Sunday, July 11, 1999 8:44 AM

My big problem with changing the belief system is that we tend to be reluctant to "believe" something we don't think to be true. If I try to choose to believe something other than what I think is true, am I not aware that I have made this change in my belief system? How, then, can I leap from a state of being aware that I am trying to believe something I do not now believe to a state of actually believing it? It seems that I must somehow become convinced that it is true before I will actually believe it.

The best and most lasting way to come to a belief is to discover that it is true.

True, one can brainwash oneself over time, from repeated exposure to a certain dogma, but I don't think this tends to build a lasting foundation for belief. To keep it up, one needs repeated and lasting exposure to the dogma or to affiliate with others who say they believe that way. Classic examples of this are regular church or meeting attendance, or cloistering oneself in a cultic living situation. Beliefs developed this way, believe it or not, are the easiest to unlearn.

Many people say they believe something, but when those beliefs are examined, it is found that the statements of belief are meaningless. An example would be: "A god exists outside of space and time." What!? What does this mean? Theodore M. Drange, in his new book, "Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God" describes this phenomenon as "The Mumbo-Jumbo Theory of Some Religious Belief." He says that some people, usually at a very early age, learn to repeat a nonsensical statement and then to tell others that they believe the statement to be true. They cannot really "believe" the statement, though, because it is not a statement at all, but is nonsense -- not unlike saying, "I just drew a triangular parallelogram." I reviewed the Mumbo Jumbo Theory in the June issue.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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