Can you "choose" to believe in something? Really?
Seems to me that my religious friends and acquaintances have an emotional experience when they do religious things. They say they believe with their hearts, and I take them at their word.
Thing is, we can't control what emotions we experience. We can control how we behave, how we react to the emotions, but they happen at a non-conscious, non-rational level. It's like a preference in music or sexual attraction: it's not something you choose, it's something that happens below the level of cognitive volition.
I can look at an image of Jesus but I haven't a clue how I can force myself into believing that Jesus is divine. It's as if someone presented me with a pat of butter and said, "It's actually a gold ingot. All you have to do is believe that it's gold, and that's what it will be." Doesn't matter how much I get brainwashed, or how much I call it a gold ingot, it's still going to be butter and left uneaten, it's going to turn rancid after a while.
Have others had a different experience? Have you been able to consciously select your beliefs?