Many Christians will claim that belief is a choice, but this is clearly one of the most ridiculous claims made by Christians. It’s impossible to force yourself to believe something or to even disbelieve something, unless you undergo some serious brainwashing processes.
Self-help guru, Tony Robbins for instance, would have us verbally chant mantras like “Every day I’m getting better and better” or “I love myself”, over and over, until our subconscious starts to believe it. There may be something in that, but sorry, I see no reason to chant, “I believe in God, I believe in God” over and over again. Why would I?
Perhaps I could go to church and sing the same songs over and over “God is great” and “I love Jesus”, until finally my brain believes it? After all, that’s the way it’s done in churches - a form of self-hypnosis. But no, I see no reason to do that either. If I’m going to believe something, it has to be as a result of evidence or reason, not by trying to twist my own arm behind my back.
Would you try to convince yourself there are fairies living in your garden? What if I told you that belief in fairies actually had some benefit to you? Would you try to convince yourself then? What if I told you that if you don't believe in those fairies then horrible things will happen to you? How about then? I'm guessing you wouldn't.
I can’t choose to believe in God, just as I can’t choose whether to be gay or straight. I was born straight and have never had any gay tendencies at all and, in fact, the very thought disgusts me. Likewise, when it comes to God, I just cannot kid myself into believing the bible version of this monster. I just don’t, it’s as simple as that.
Actions however ARE a choice. What you do based on your beliefs or lack thereof is the choice and I believe this is where the confusion comes in for Christians. They often cannot see this and continue to insist the the belief itself is the choice. But no, it's clearly the actions that are the choice. I may not believe in God, but I do have a choice of whether I go to church or not or whether I do good or evil.
I could choose to do good. I could choose to do evil. I prefer good, but not because there is some all powerful being waving a stick over me or promising me rewards for being a good boy. I find it much more honourable for someone to perform positive actions based on their own conscience than to do good deeds because of the threat of punishment or the promise of rewards from some perceived God. Who is the more worthy of respect? The Christian who does good because “God says so” or the Atheist who does good because he has empathy for his fellow man and believes doing good makes society a better place?
I for one do not need a God to dictate my behaviour… to be kind and decent towards my fellow man. I am not going about killing, raping, etc, because I don’t have God in my life. My life is not lacking in purpose or any of those other great things Christians ignorantly claim only their God can give.
Many Christians claim that to get a touch from God; to have him prove himself to you, all you have to do is accept him into your life. Make that stance, “Jesus, I believe you are the son of God and that you came to die on the cross so that my sins might be forgiven…” To them it’s as easy as genuinely praying similar lines to this. However, the above is an action, not a choice of belief. First, you must believe that Jesus is real, that he is alive, that he is the son of God, that he died on the cross and that one must repent of their sins. No new Christian has ever become a Christian while not believing. Repentance must be sincere and God would not honour it any other way. For instance, you will never hear a sinner’s prayer that goes like this:
“Dear God, I don't actually believe you exist, but I'm praying to you anyway. I don't believe Jesus ever existed either, but I'm going to make believe he does, at least until I believe it. Fake it till you make it, right God? I am a sinner... although I don't actually see what's so bad with my human nature that you supposedly endowed me with, but I'm going to make believe that I'm in need of salvation. I acknowledge that you died on the cross for my sin... even though I don't believe Jesus actually existed. I accept you as my lord and saviour and really really really really really really really really hope that I'll be able to believe in you for real one day. Amen.”
No, we don’t hear prayers like this because when the sinner’s prayer is prayed the one uttering it already believes. The only choice being made is to act on already held beliefs. Somewhere along the line, he has been convinced that the God of the bible is real and that he needs to repent.
I would personally love to believe in God. I'd love to believe that he has everything under his control, that he has big plans for me, that he's there to lay all my problems on and that I'll go to Heaven when I die. Who wouldn't want to believe all that? I'd also love to believe that there are wardrobes that lead to magical worlds and that somewhere in the world there is an amazing chocolate factory, where all sorts of amazing candies are manufactured and it's being run by Oompa Loompas. Oh yeah, I'd love to believe it all, but I'm just absolutely unable to believe any of it.
One of the reasons there are still so many Christians in the world today is due to indoctrination from an early age. For the majority of Christian homes no choice is ever given about what to believe. It is engrained in you from day-one that Jesus is the son of God and that Jesus is the only way to God; the only way to gain salvation and eternal life.
Indoctrination is not easy to break and the longer you are subject to it, the harder it becomes. Even intelligent people will continue to believe well into adulthood because that’s all they ever knew. Take a look at the most intelligent Christians around you and I guarantee that the majority of them were brought up in Christian homes - indoctrinated. They haven’t developed their critical thinking skills… or refuse to employ them when it comes to the bible.
As a child brought up in you average Christian home, you will most likely never hear a Christian parent telling their child, “Johnny, there are actually many other Gods out there available for worship. Jesus isn’t the only one. If you want to, you can worship say Allah if you like. I won’t be very happy, but it’s your choice.”
No! You will never hear that. The parent will insist that Jesus is the only one true God. They will bring out the scripture about how Jesus is the only way to God. They will pull out others that condemn the worship of other Gods. They will even say that Gods like Allah are really the devil in disguise trying to draw you away from Jesus!
Evolution? Oh, that’s a lie of the devil. God created the world! “That’s the way it is, child!”
A child will believe, because that’s what they do. Many may question this later in childhood, if enough seeds of doubt have been planted, but for the average indoctrinated child they are taught to accept it as fact and not question it, so they won’t, because challenging the bible is considered sinful; challenging God’s word is wrong.
Somewhere along the line, the child will pray the sinner’s prayer and accept Christ as their personal lord and saviour, but the belief is already there to begin with. As pointed out earlier, you won’t hear that sinner’s prayer mentioned above. They believe that they have to do it, that it’s a necessary step if they want to please God and their parents…. not to mention avoid roasting in God’s eternal barbeque pit!
Think about vegetables for a moment. As a child, we are taught from an early age that we must eat our vegetables, because our body needs them. Do we, as we grow a little older, question this claim? Do we challenge it? Do we suddenly say, “Hey, are vegetables really all that good for us? How do I know it isn’t better to eat chocolate instead?” Generally, we don’t because as we approach our teenage years we have had it so engrained into us that we need to eat vegetables and that chocolate is bad for us, so we continue to believe it without question.
It may be that at some stage in our childhood we make a decision about vegetables. A child may decide to give up resisting them and accept them as part of their diet. They believe that the vegetables are good for them and that their body needs them, so they swallow them quickly and get the unpleasantness over.
They have made a choice.
Nevertheless, the belief system was already in place. They knew they needed to eat the vegetables, but now they have made a conscious decision to include them in their diet. As such, they will continue to eat vegetables even when they have grown older and don’t have their parents forcing them down their throat. Before long, it will be them promoting the benefits of vegetables to others.
It is the same for the indoctrinated child. Indoctrinate them into Christianity and it will become part of their life; something they will continue with even into adulthood. There is no choice for them. They are just believing what they have been taught as right and will continue to do so. They will lead the way; singing the praises of the bible and Jesus. Then they will indoctrinate their own children, most likely not giving them choices either.