Can I decide to believe in God?

Yes you can. It is something you do every time you sit down to watch a movie or enjoy a work of literature. It is known as “a willing suspension of disbelief”.

There is only one reason people “believe” in things that they do not or cannot know — because they want to. They do it because it is fun. Because it fulfills them and their view of themselves in some way. Anyone can stop believing at any time however. It is a key benefit of having cognitive functions. We can decide.

Gods come from human imagination. Imagination is just a modern replacement for a somewhat older word — faith. When you have faith in god, you imagine him to be true. You don’t know if god exists, but you imagine that he does. I find it more than a little amusing that these days the word faith has such somber feelings associated with it whereas “imagination” gets bandied about so much more recklessly.

The trouble with suspension of disbelief of course, is that you know that you are fooling yourself. Sooner or later, the movie ends, credits roll, the lights come on, and people start drifting out of the theatre. You decide you no longer need to lie to yourself and toss your empty popcorn bucket aside before stepping into the light.

In real life, you can believe in god or any other supernatural phenomenon you like. It is your decision of course. The theatre is much bigger and the actors are many — places of worship, fellow believers, religious festivals — these are all elements of this illusion.

#imagination, #faith, #god, #belief, #religion