This is a comment within a conversation in response to A War of Reason Against Righteousness.
I already know where that road [believing in the Biblical God] leads for me. That is my point. Even by rejecting the idea that observation of repeatable verifiable, most likely, things is the best source for believing – that actually being convinced is the best avenue for deciding what to believe and embracing the idea that one should simply consciously decide what to believe based on what gives good results in their life (ironically a form of hedonism); Christianity utterly fails for me.
What I am open to is the consistency of someone admitting that they decide to believe based on the outcome of that belief and not on actual evidence that they might be convinced. I find that refreshing because so many Christians and people of other faiths are dishonest about our observations of the natural world, will accuse scientists and others of being part of some conspiracy or what-have-you, in defense of their faith. You instead, seem introspective enough to know that what appears to be the case simply doesn’t matter to you. You decide what to believe based on what you think will make you feel good and do good; and use the good outcome to support the idea that your belief is a greater Truth.
Just a clarification so that I’m not misunderstood. I am not using the term “hedonism” to refer to the way it is commonly used or even the phrase “feel good” the way it is commonly used. I am using them in the general sense.
All those things about “freedom from guilt” and various other positive aspects you have mentioned up until now, I place firmly in a “feel good” category. Not feeling confused = feels good. Feeling loved = feels good. Feeling forgiven = feels good. Lack of fear of death = feels good.
What you might characterize as a Living God working inside of you to convict you of His eternal grace (and what-not) – I would characterize as a feeling.
You have asserted a choice in what you believe. I have never been able to perform that psychological trick. I am either convinced or I am not. I cannot decide to believe that I am not typing on a computer right now, for example.
I was for a long time, completely and utterly convinced of the Truth of the Bible – to actually be convinced of such disturbing and horrible things; conflated with father-like love and sense of worth and community – does not lead to positive results. It leads to psychological damage, irrational fears, crushing guilt due to a burden for souls, etc.
I didn’t have a choice at the time – I was convinced. Once I realized that there was no good evidence that I should be compelled to accept this worldview, the only thing stopping me from making a break from it completely was terror. The moment that I admitted to myself that I was not convinced – that I no longer believed – was one of the most beautiful and freeing moments of my life. I never understood what people meant by a “weight being lifted off their shoulders” until that moment. It was a great peace and relief. I am not going back.
What sort of “good” belief would have you defending the eternal torture of billions of people while using the fear of a “bad report” from an unseen entity in order to convince me? Think about eternal torture – by it’s permanence worse than ANYTHING life on earth has to offer. I would make a list just to bring my point home but I’ll just let you think of your own. I have no idea how anyone with a healthy amount of empathy could emotionally handle internalizing that world view without psychological trauma.
If you base your belief on the evidence it fails. If you base your belief on a good personal result it fails – for me.
I have been told – and I refuse to discount the experiences of others – that many people find great comfort in a belief in the Christian Biblical God and the mainstream theology surrounding that belief. I seriously have no idea how anyone could find that comforting. A belief in an eternal life, the power of prayer, being compelled to do good and a feeling of importance – I can wrap my head around to some degree. However, these “good” outcomes are overshadowed by anxiety concerning the souls of others, the feeling of rejection and guilt when false hope is not realized, the dangers of mis/using the Bible to justify otherwise unjustifiable behavior and the bizarre hubris/humility convolution that comes from the idea that you are completely worthless but have been cleansed by God (unlike others).
Shoving evidence completely aside – and only looking at the results of this belief; Shoving the concept of being convinced aside – and allowing the possibility of consciously deciding belief; even then, I do not understand why anyone would inflict a Christian worldview on themselves in the absence of desperation and fear. I don’t understand what sort of person would truly realize a positive result from it; if the belief is actually internalized.