I have been blog hopping a little bit this morning, and came across this great discussion going on over at Possummomma. The topic is about religion vs atheism, with one particular Christian getting pretty overboard about what he/she thinks is right. I commented about how this person is a huge part of why people choose not to believe in God. Innocuous enough, but it apparently touched a cord with someone. I think this person wrote something back about how what you believe isn't a choice. I am all for freedom of thought, belief, whatever, so this comment didn't bother me in the least. Neither does the fact that the awesome possummomma is an Atheist. I frankly don't care one way or another.
But this has made me think, which is awesome (so thank you for that, knobby!). Not so much the original post (though it did as well), but that comment. Really, why is it that what a person believes isn't a choice? I don't get this, I really don't. I guess because I believe that our lives are made up of choices-from what to wear in the morning to what we want our kids to learn about life to whom or what we believe or don't believe in. I believe in God, but that is my choice. The feelings follow: the feeling for me of having this person kind of hanging out and watching over me and helping me along. I have likened my relationship with God to that of an older brother (minus the pestering and hair pulling, but on the bad days, it feels like that, too)-you know, he is kind of lurking in the background, watching over me to make sure the bullies don't kick the entire shit out of me, just half, and there to pick me up when I inevitably fall on my ass and need some help and guidance. He will also sit back and let me do the things I thing I need to do in order to live and love and be happy-and when I learn what doesn't work, He is there to nudge me in the right direction. So sure, I feel His presence on a daily basis, but I have made the decision to believe. By the same token, and for whatever each person's reasons are, some people choose NOT to believe. Or they used to believe and now don't. Or they never even entertained the thought and are happy about that.
And religion (which I don't particularly espouse, actually)-or shall I say spirituality-is only a small part of it. I just think that how we feel about almost anything is a choice. Except, maybe, whether we like a certain food, because no matter how you wrap it up in bacon or add gourmet spices, meatloaf is still meatloaf to me and I don't think there is a choice in that one. Take love-is it a feeling or a choice? Yeah, sure, I believe in the heart going pitter patter and the stomach turning to mush, but is that lust or is that love? And once all of that is gone and you are left with the companionable guy (or gal) with the pot belly and the wrinkly face, how much of it is love and how much of it is a choice? An action? I don't know, really, not having been able to sustain a meaningful relationship for any length of time, but that is my theory. There is scientific evidence that there is no God. There is also scientific evidence that love is not a real emotion, it is just a biological occurrence designed to propagate the species, but despite evidence to the contrary, people-millions of them-still choose to take the chance that it is a real emotion. There you go: choose to believe.
You know, I am not trying to get into a huge religious debate. You aren't going to change MY mind any more than I am going to change yours. Because I don't WANT to. I don't care what you believe, as long as it doesn't involve hurting other people. I am interested more in how other people think about the whole choice vs feeling issue. Plus I find the way other people's minds works fascinating. I went back into possummomma's post to read the comments, and one person gave me a lengthy, well-thought out an written explanation for why the atheists feel the way they do. I already knew everything she was saying (knew as in am already aware, LOL, not that I KNOW. I am no expert by any means!), but I completely respect her for a) expressing her beliefs in a totally non-confrontational way and b) choosing to NOT castigate me for the things I choose to believe. How cool is that?