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What makes a person convert to religious belief?

 
 
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:56 am
The classic arguments for the existence of God, such as the ontological argument, do not seem to be one of the reasons why people, who previously had no religious convictions, convert to religious belief.

Someone who I know experienced a nervous breakdown a few years ago, and spent some time in hospital. After leaving hospital, he got talking to someone, who happened to be a Christian, and after a while he said that “it just made sense”, and thus he became a Christian himself. For someone who had was recovering from a nervous breakdown, and experienced a major episode of depression, religion seems to be a very good thing to have. He felt he has nothing to live for previously, and he said himself that he experienced suicidal thoughts etc. Religion in this case you could say “saved his life” inasmuch as it provided a structure and meaning, through which he was able to continue to live his life in a happier way.

He didn’t choose religion by rigorously thinking about the claims of Christianity, and then concluding that they were true, so much as he chose religion out of a need for meaning, which was a result of his depression and breakdown.

In this case, his belief in the Christian religion is a leaning post, on which he can find meaning, security and purpose. His belief in the Christian religion is not a product of critical reflection, or some systematic analysis. The truth of the claims made by Christianity is not so much of a concern for him, despite the fact that he said “it just all made sense”, I think his conversion was due not so much the validity of Christianity, so much as it was due to a need to latch onto something that would provide his life with meaning.

But is that a valid reason for believing in something, because it provides meaning and purpose?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 2,732 • Replies: 52
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 09:02 am
fear (illness, personal danger, death)
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 09:03 am
@existential potential,
existential potential wrote:
But is that a valid reason for believing in something, because it provides meaning and purpose?


Certainly it is--in fact, i can think of no more compelling reason than that. If you actually believe that you and anyone else are only ever motivated by conscious, logical choice and nothing else--then i'd like to discuss some property purchase opportunities i can offer you.
existential potential
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 09:08 am
@Setanta,
it might well be a "compelling reason" but for me it isn't a "good reason". when it comes to trying to establish whether something is true, the fact that it provides meaning is not reason for believing it to be true.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 09:13 am
@existential potential,
I'd say you know very little about human nature. If you think that you personally are only ever motivated by reason, i'd further suggest that you suffer from self-delusion.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:05 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

existential potential wrote:
But is that a valid reason for believing in something, because it provides meaning and purpose?


Certainly it is--in fact, i can think of no more compelling reason than that.


Absolutely
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Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:26 pm
What is about Christianity that you would have liked your friend to have tested for truth, and how do you recognize something as being "true?"

You can think night and day for ten years about the existence of God and you will still only come away with a belief.

How do you know he did not rigorously think about the teachings of Christianity and then conclude they were true? Doesn't making sense imply that he did measure something (the tents of Christianity, the existence of God, the saving grace of Christ) against some internal set of standards and came up with a match?

Is it necessary for the reflection and analysis to take place at a concious level ?

Is the "just" in "it just made sense" throwing you?

Clearly your friend thought about Christianity before declaring or considering himself a Christian or there would not have been anything to make sense of.

I completely agree with Set that the fact that something provides your life with meaning is the most compelling reason to believe in it. How does anything that you can not believe in do such a thing?
0 Replies
 
realist phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:39 pm
@existential potential,
Hello existential potential, You are right that people become religious because of emotional needs etc. mostly. Your example was excellent. It is self-deception. Humans deceive themselves, some more some less. It is a matter of degree and it is sub conscious. I respect a person greatly who is comparatively less self-deceiving. Thank you for giving such a good example.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:58 pm
Discontent
A restless spirit
Rebellion
Having fallen in love
Eorl
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 11:05 pm
@plainoldme,
Peer Group Pressure + Fear + Reward
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JPLosman0711
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 12:27 am
Lack of belief in the 'Self' - they turn to that which they have abondoned since birth.
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 01:04 am
@existential potential,
it serves his purpose?

to understand the mystery of his own existence, the universe around him and his place in it, a moral/social code upon which to live and a way by following the teaching of a religion how to be human.

why else would someone convert?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 04:27 am
@realist phil,
Well, "Realist," while you're on about self-deception here, don't forget the self-deception, and the smugness, of telling one's self that one only does things because of one's reason.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 05:20 am
@existential potential,
Quote:
it might well be a "compelling reason" but for me it isn't a "good reason". when it comes to trying to establish whether something is true, the fact that it provides meaning is not reason for believing it to be true.

EP, have you asked yourself what 'truth' he was trying to establish?

Have you also considered that a story does not have to be true to provide meaning? Fictional stories can provide as much 'true' guidance and meaning in life as a non-fictional story.

Quote:
Hello existential potential, You are right that people become religious because of emotional needs etc. mostly. Your example was excellent. It is self-deception.
What in particular was self-deception? By the way, you aren't able to answer this, because you don't know what he found.

Quote:
Humans deceive themselves, some more some less. It is a matter of degree and it is sub conscious. I respect a person greatly who is comparatively less self-deceiving. Thank you for giving such a good example.
It is interesting that you can come to the conclusion that he is engaging in self deception based on incomplete knowledge, and that what he found is less worthy of respect.
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JPLosman0711
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 08:26 am
There is not that which YOU can 'know' outside of YOU. This is an easy one folks, stop arguing about some 'thing' that doesn't exist. There is no 'creator' the world was not 'created' - it is not an artifact, just as I am not an artifact. In fact one could make the argument that "the external world" is non existent(as 'external') - there is no 'thing' that which is natural that exists independant of the rest of the Whole, what your silly little feeble minds are trying to do is not only 'understand' the totality of YOUR be-ings experiences BUT the rest of existences as well! I am LMFAO!!!!

What makes a person convert to religious beliefs?
Simple. Bullshit agrees with bullshit.
0 Replies
 
JPLosman0711
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 08:29 am
@Setanta,
Indeed. 'Freewill' is an excuse created in order to justify a 'need' to make a choice, but in actuality there are NO 'needs'. What we call 'reason' is merely an excuse for putting living on hold, it's like a time machine - destination nowhere.
existential potential
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 09:15 am
@JPLosman0711,
I'm not sure what you mean by "need" in this context. I wouldn't say we have a "need" to make choices, rather it is a requirement that we make choices. we cannot not make chocies, choice is an inevitable part of life.

reason puts life on hold? I would rather possess reason, even if it did momentarily put "life on hold" if that ment that I could ensure I make as few a mistakes as possible, rather than living without reason, and possibly doing something stupid.

I'm not saying that my entire life is determined by reason alone, but it certainly plays a role in my life. if reason puts my life and choices on hold for a while, so be it, at least it may reduce the risk of making a bad decision.
JPLosman0711
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 09:39 am
@existential potential,
I am indeed appreciated by your apparent 'need' to appear sincere so as to get me to 'go along' with your argument(confusion) in disguise, however I am not in a bullshitting mood.

When I put need in parenthesis, I do so because there NO SUCH THING as 'needs' - we call them needs because our own intellectualizing ontilogically distinguished(independantly existing thinking) minds feel the need to 'push the totality of its being' around so to speak. it feels the 'need' to be somewhere other than where it is. Due to either the delusion of time, history of ontology(there are MANY reasons, choose whichever you like) however in actuality there ARE NO 'needs' - existence has no 'need' to survive, existence has no need to 'keep going', it already is where it is and where it always will be. Once again, 'you' thinking you need to make choices is just an excuse to push yourself around in order to make ANOTHER excuse that every'thing' in this life is just that which has happened TO you. You are not a victim here, everything you have every experienced or ever will, was due to your own consciouss or sub-consciouss "planning". Reasons put 'life' on hold because it is like stepping into an imaginary time machine, when you question things, the only way to get an answer is to go back into 'the past' so really it's like an explanation that your putting back and back and back BUT THAT EXPLAINS NOTHING, nothing outside f that which you already concluded before asking the question. When you start questioning, all you do is create a fire(questions) and you'll just keep burning until someone throws water on it(answers) or you do it yourself. It is an excuse to 'live' anywhere but the present. A mistake is only a mistake if YOU see it as one, what you do is what you do, you're just an event - part of the show. Risk? Haahahahaha risk you say? Risk taking is free my friend, that which is seen as 'mistake' or 'failure' is a by-product of your own consciouss decision making.
existential potential
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 10:15 am
@JPLosman0711,
"everything you have ever experienced or ever will, was due to your own conscious or sub-conscious "planning""- this is nonsense, and I'm not sure about the rest of your rant.

from birth, everthing we experience we experience involuntarily, until we develop the capacity to be more autonomous individuals. but in any case, much of what we experience in life we experience without "planning". our biological urges, the development of particular attitudes, and most of our experience of life is an experience we did not plan.

I'm really not sure what you mean, and going on rants isn't going to make what you say any clearer.
JPLosman0711
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Dec, 2010 10:18 am
@existential potential,
You're obviously confused here, and I know this for a fact and do not wish to partake in your confusion. I do, however, suggest a website you visit, judging by what you've said I know it would do you some good.

anunda.com
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