^Reminds me of this post of mine
Why do we believe in things? While this process varies from person to person, you must agree that it generally involves a process of perceiving and interpreting external evidence through our own internal filters, emotions, knowledge, experiences, and judgments. The matter is not as simple as “choosing” to believe or disbelieve.
So, for example, if we take your example of Socrates, most of us in the Western world will have been exposed to at least some sort of evidence regarding his existence. When we hear his name, perhaps it conjures up images of busts carved in marble of his figure or perhaps we are familiar with excerpts of quotations attributed to him. Those more interested in the subject may be able to quote pieces from Plato and Aristotle that lend credence to the idea that he actually existed. Given this evidence, as shallow as it may be, most of us do not have a problem interpreting it to mean that someone named Socrates did in fact exist and that he did in fact contribute to his field what the history books say he contributed.
It’s not difficult to believe that.
Now, those of us familiar with the historical figure of Socrates know that most of the information we have regarding his life comes to us through third-party sources. So, suppose an archeologist were to emerge today claiming to have found the exact spot of Socrates’s home and the very utensils he used to feed and groom himself. Many in the field of study would be rightfully and healthily skeptical. Now, let’s say that our said archeologist produces a toothbrush, a plate, and a silver fork that all have “Property of Socrates” engraved on them.
Provided that the dates, characteristics, and locations all made sense, some people may be persuaded to believe the authenticity of his claims. Others may remain skeptical. Either way, it would be silly to punish or reward the general public for believing or disbelieving the claim that Socrates’ house had been found.
After the toothbrush discovery, let’s say that a Greek politician claimed to have extracted DNA from the alleged “Socrates toothbrush” that matched his own, and that he was 100% certain that he was a direct descendent of Socrates. We would probably argue that the presence of reasonable doubt had increased significantly here, and while the politician would be free to believe whatever he would, most of us would take his claims with a grain of salt—particularly when we consider what motives he might have for making such a claim.
Now, let’s say further that someone was then to assert that Socrates was also a messenger of Vishnu, and that the Angel Moroni brought him revelations that had been preserved on eternally sacred, dried brontosaurus skins. Further, they claim, Socrates used to travel to Manhattan in a single night on a winged crocodile who galloped at the speed of light, and that he would lead the Native Americans in prayer at the site of the Empire State Building.
At this point, some may say that a very strong element of reasonable doubt had been introduced into the Socrates narrative. For anyone to suggest that the act of merely doubting the story should warrant torture would be absurd.
“But Vishnu is able to do all things!” Some may protest, “Of course he could carry Socrates across the ocean in a single night on a winged Alligator! (Or was it a crocodile?)
But as hard as you might try, it is highly unlikely that you yourself, Ahmed, would ever be able to really believe it. If it became law that you had to believe that, you still wouldn’t. If people threatened you with eternal torture for not believing it, you still wouldn’t. You simply would not be able to choose to believe something that your internal processes find unbelievable. Indeed, anyone who would torture you ETERNALLY or reward you ETERNALLY for not being able to believe such a tale could never be considered just or merciful.
@OP: These guys are really grasping at straws. If this is really
indicative of the way his mind works, as opposed to just another scheme aimed at keeping his crabs down in his bucket, then it’s really sad.