I’m not going to address free will here; although, I could add that to this equation. However, I won’t. My concern is this: you cannot change your beliefs like you change your clothes. I’m not saying people don’t change their beliefs; because, they obviously do. However, people can’t just change their minds without good reason. People cannot just simply choose a belief system in order to make someone else happy, or because, it would be really nice for a belief to be true.
Some people truly believe in a deity, but they have their reasons. Deep down they feel that their belief is correct. Their faith makes sense to them, and they have experiences that confirm their beliefs to them. (Of course, I’m not claiming their experiences are good evidence for a deity.) They may have been indoctrinated as well. Unless something happens to them whether internal or external, they will maintain their belief. In order for disbelief to occur, faith in a deity has to stop making sense, and their has to be a realization that maybe their experiences are not what they thought they were. Likewise, an atheist cannot believe in a deity , even if they wanted to. Until a deity makes more sense, an atheist cannot truly believe.
Doubt is real. It’s a voice deep in the mind, that is echoing what makes sense to an individual. In some cases, people use a double think to stick with their belief in a deity. People will tell themselves they are going through a phase. People seek pastoral counseling, in order to be further indoctrinated. Some people accept the doubt as a part of faith, which has never made much sense to me. (I don’t believe in God right now, but hey, I’m Christian.) A person’s doubt might be telling them that they’re unsure about a deity or that they are an atheist. However if people aren’t exploring their doubt and revaluating what make sense to them , then they are just lying to themselves. A person can confess that they believe in a deity all they want, but that doesn’t make it true. Deep down no matter what a person tries to do to themselves, they know the what their true convictions really are.
My point is this: no more self deception. There is nothing reprehensible about being unsure about a current belief, or even deciding it’s not true. However, we all need to ask questions on our own, in our own good time. Look at both sides and decide. Don’t be ashamed of doubt. Don’t attempt to self-deceive. It won’t work. The doubt will not go away, if the belief doesn’t make sense anymore. Forced belief isn’t true belief. It’s time to stop playing pretend.