Wednesday 9 March 2022

Wishful thinking? Choosing to believe Christianity

Following from yesterday's post; it seems that the modern Western experience of becoming (or remaining) a Christian is experienced very much as a personal choice - rather than the acceptance of external truths which are forced-upon us. As a simplification: we choose to believe - and there is little point in denying it. 

But the idea of choosing to believe is often dismissed out-of-hand as merely "wishful thinking"; which conflates the perfectly reasonable desire to believe something positive, motivating and hopeful rather than negative, miserable and despair-inducing; with the default assumption that 'real' reality is purposeless and meaningless. 

In other words; our society and most people have the built-in and default assumption that there is no God, and no purpose or meaning to life; and therefore that 'honesty' entails a full acknowledgment that our individual human life is insignificant. 

Take, for example, the observation that many people seem to regard it as a fact of nature that looking at the stars necessarily makes us feel insignificant. Yet bundled-into this assertion is the denial that we live in a created universe - this denial of purpose and meaning is taken for granted when it is assumed that vast numbers and distances necessarily hammer-home our insignificance. 

We have pre-decided the meaninglessness of what we see - but do not notice, because we take it for granted. 

Because if we were instead looking-out at the vast beauty and scale of God's living universe - this would surely be a cause of joy and delight.  

So 'wishful thinking' is a slur only because it carries unexamined and unrevealed assumptions which make it into something like a synonym for 'weak-minded delusion'. 

If, on the other hand, we genuinely take on board that (especially since the millennium) we are all - as a matter of fact, know it or not - actually choosing our reality; and that real reality is not objectively compelled upon us...

Then we can see that it is illegitimate for the atheist to assume that his reality is unchosen, while only the religious person is guilty of wishful thinking. 

The truth is that the atheist is every bit as much of a wishful thinker and belief-chooser as the theist.  

'Objective' in practice, nowadays, means nothing more than publicly-agreed; and in 2022 publicly-agreed merely means 'whatever is currently propagandized and enforced by the mass media and large bureaucracies' - and this 'media-official'-reality is incoherent, and changes on a daily basis. 

Truth is not 'out there'. 

If we genuinely take on board that we just-are (all of us) choosing our reality, then the question arises which reality we are choosing now - and which we ought to choose; because the reality we choose affects our current lives, and affects what happens beyond death (which expectation then, again, affects our current lives).  

This is Not a matter of choosing which specific-facts to believe - it is primarily about the need to identify and choose our assumptions

It is the assumptions that dictate what counts as specific facts; and the meaning and importance of those facts. 

If we passively and unconsciously accept the conceptual assumptions of our world, then we are accepting that there is neither meaning nor purpose to life - and no existence beyond biological death. We then arrive at conducting our lives in accordance with short-termist and this-worldly expediency - as we see all around us. 

But if we choose instead to believe that there is a personal and loving God who is creator of this reality;  and that by Jesus Christ we can survive biological death and live eternally as resurrected and divine Men in Heaven - we arrive at a very different way of conducting our lives. 

Of course, at this level of choosing what to believe; this particular vision of Christian life may be rejected as arbitrary, because just one among many (an infinite number?) of possible assumptions. The rejecter may claim to want to know what is really true about reality - in order to believe that

But which comes first? The chosen belief or knowledge of really-real Truth? The chosen belief comes first - because we have all already chosen - whether we realize it or not. 

And some already-chosen-beliefs rule-out the possibility of there being, or of we knowing, really-real Truth.

(Think about it.)

Well, the desire for truth is a valid and Good thing - for a Christian. But very few of those who affect a desire to know the truth about such things will expend any significant time or effort in establishing the truth! 

Quite the opposite - they display a lazy, frivolous, distractible impatience with any attempt to discover and examine primary assumptions! 

Their desire to know the truth is in fact just a rhetorical device; because their assumptions rule out the possibility of humans knowing truth. 

Nothing can be done with such people! 

They have made their choice to believe this a world of accident, unmeaning and purposelessness, they are defending this choice by dishonest means (as is consistent with that primary choice) - and only they can unmake that choice. 

Forget about them, forget about trying to convince other people...

Focus instead upon your own choice which cannot be avoided and has consequences that affect every aspect of life (and beyond). 

Just choose what you most deeply want to be true - and take that choice seriously; and if it is correct then you will find your way and be led (step-by-step, by trial-and-error, sooner-or-later) to the real Truth - the Truth of Reality. 

(And if your first choice is mistaken, then you will soon-enough discover your error if you seriously try to live by it. But if, like most people, you are not serious about your own life - nothing can be done for you. You cannot even help yourself - because you do not seriously even want help. Probably you want only to be happy and comfortable, Now. And when you can't get that - annihilation.) 


Gonzalo said...

Perfectly timed for me. You made a similar post years ago, and if I recall correctly I even wrote to you about it, asking for clarification. But this time you went more in depth, this is very useful for me during my present personal crisis.

Lucinda said...

Many supposed Christians talk about having compassion for people who want meaninglessness and annihilation, but it really makes no sense to do that unless I want meaninglessness and annihilation too.

If someone is genuinely mistaken and only acts annihilationist because they assume it is true, despite a deep desire for meaning, 'compassion' only hampers them from learning.

So it's a moral imperative to not take others more seriously than they take themselves.

jorgen said...

I think I have always seen this. People choose what they believe. You have to because nobody else can choose for you. Even if you subjugate your choice to an "authority" you choose your own interpretation of what the "authority" told you to believe, and each person's version comes out a little different than what they meant.

Truth to Life said...

In my teens I was an atheist, though I had an open mind about spirituality, and I remember reaching the point where I had enough evidence to accept that God could be real theoretically...but I still had to take the final step and choose to believe. Or I guess it was more like the first step, since choosing to believe in God is an ongoing process and is the very definition of faith. Until now I never considered how much God honors our free will, so I am thankful for your recent posts.

Karl said...

It's curious how the default philosophy of the western world is nihilistic meaninglessness combined with a demand that one conducts one's daily business with a happy, cheery exterior.