A response to 2 comments yesterday:
First one - "if someone comes and says "I don't believe and hence, by definition, I can't believe", it would be better to have a more extensive explanation."
Second one - "You can't mandate belief. That's a psychological fact."
In lieu of the extensive explanation the first comment asked for (sorry, I have a day job) here are 4 reasons why the above opinion (stated as a fact) is highly debatable:
1) Doxastic Voluntarism – Simply put, who says belief is not a function of will? The fact that some people claim as a “fact” otherwise only reveals their ignorance of hundreds of years of scholarship by numerous philosophers who think otherwise. Google the term.
2) Even if you assert belief is involuntary, all that assertion establishes is that environment, education, etc. impacts upon belief. Who is to say that the commandment of emunah does not charge us with creating an environment (e.g. havai goleh l’makom torah, etc.) which will be conducive to creating the proper beliefs?
3) Belief is ingrained in human nature and it takes an act of will to counter it. Isn’t it remarkable that belief in a deity cuts across cultural, geographical, historical boundaries? Is it perhaps part of the human condition which the atheist must make a deliberate decision to ignore? If so, belief is the effort to not succumb to the temptation to deny what we inherently feel to be true and instead to affirm the natural state of faith.
4) Belief is not an emotional or psychological state but is a philosophical proposition that can be proven based on reason. Arguing that one cannot mandate belief is like arguing that one cannot mandate belief that 2+2=4. True, but unless there is an assumption of reason, all human discourse collapses.
I imagine there are other arguments that I missed, but this should be enough. Each of these arguments has flaws, but taken together they make a powerful case that a command of belief is not illogical or unreasonable, not something that “can’t” be done, as was stated. The agnostic/atheist blogs always try the same routine – state arguments as facts, present philosophical points that have been disputed for centuries as great discoveries and settled arguments, etc. Along those lines, the counter-arguments to this post will be along the lines of disputing one of the 4 approaches above because of some similar “fact” which is really an opinion in disguise, trying to knock off one of the 4 arguments and presenting that as demolishing all of them, arguing that none of this proves Judaism (correct, but the topic is not Judaism, the topic is belief), saying that the counter-arguments are equally reasonable (just because a counter-argument is out there doesn’t mean these arguments “can’t” be made, which was the original point stated), and finally, donning the mantle of nevuah to ask if G-d really wants this or that type of belief, which begs the question. Just wanted to go through the run down in advance to save myself time later.