Anyway, that said, a long and convoluted train of links, stemming originally from my internet stalking and then wandering to many strange and wonderful places in the swampy backwaters of internetland, led me to this Straight Dope message board thread from 2002, started by a guy who wanted some advice on how to start believing in God. I was generally impressed by the level of rational discourse on both sides of the question (something that seems to be rare at times on dA's own beloved forums), but one response kind of grabbed my attention:
How can you just all of the sudden believe in something? How does that work?
Just try it. As was suggested, start talking to God. When you doub that there is no God, ignore that doubt, and hope that there is. Envision whatever God you want to believe in. Form an internal relationship with him, as if he was a real person that listens to your concerns and helps you out. Pretty soon, the belief will stick. The important part is to work God into those parts of your life that are emotionally important to you so that God and those experiences seem inseperable. That's what really makes a belief stick.
Maybe it's just me, but that kind of sounds like, idk, some sort of self-brainwashing, more than anything else. Wasn't it Lenin who said, "A lie told often enough becomes truth"? Am I wrong in thinking that it somehow applies here? Not to offend the religious by saying it's all a lie, but it's the same principle, no? I mean, I could follow her same technique, except pray to purple people on Mars; my belief, if I made a wholehearted effort to construct one, would be no less sincere, but I think we can all agree that there are no purple people on Mars. So where does that leave the God-believers? Again, please know I'm not trying to offend here, just a bit of my own musings. I would be interested if anybody wants to share their thoughts on the topic though.