Belief Is Not A Choice

It appears to me most Christians hold that "belief in something" is a matter of choice. As if one who does not believe in Jesus, for example, can simply make the decision to believe and then it is so. Am I the only one who thinks this notion is absurd?

Yet the way I hear it described, on pulpits and stages from Christian leaders, is nothing short of exasperating. "Just believe" or "just have faith" or "if you just put your faith in Jesus, right now, then..."

It's clear to me that people who use these cliches are themselves quite insulated within the Christian bubble to the point that they have been rendered benign, or worse, malignant towards their own cause.

Here is a question for Christians: Is it within your power to believe that Jesus is a mythical figure? Go on and try it. You can always change your mind and "re-decide back" again later, right? No harm, no foul.

It's not so fun when it's aimed at us, is it.

Here are the things, as I see them, that are within our control to choose. And these are aimed at both Christians and non-Christians alike:

  • Respect towards the world-views of others.
  • Seeking to understand first.
  • Honest investigation.
  • A fully explored curiosity.

Here's a good one, how about:

  • Having the sort of open mind that you expect of others.

This is intellectual integrity 101, by the way.

We cannot choose what we believe. But we can choose to dignify the people in our lives regardless of where they stand with respect to spiritual matters. We can choose to immerse ourselves into environments where we will have the opportunity to understand each other fully.

Sometimes, this genuinely expressed form of relationship will help manifest into a changed mind. Sometimes it won't.

In the meantime, however, let's stop expecting the impossible. That a person can simply change what they believe at their own discretion.