The Sanctity of Belief

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Somewhere along  the lines in these United States, people got in their heads that beliefs are sacred.  “We shouldn’t make fun of other people’s beliefs”.  Yet, sure enough, if you get an unpopular belief in there, these same people will be making fun of it.  People who believe in aliens, who believe 9/11 was an inside job, who believe in all sorts of conspiracy theories, or that aliens exist, get ridiculed incessantly, or that there are multiple gods.  The problem is, when it comes to a belief in a widely accepted God, it’s sacred.  No you can’t make fun of that.  This is when the rules apply.  I contest, criticism of beliefs is exactly what is needed.

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When a believer is confronted with criticism, they might begin to shift their belief as knowledge.  Suddenly, as a defense mechanism, they “know” that god exists.  It’s no longer a claim that it is believed.  Well that’s when things get hairy and cognitive dissonance kicks in.  They begin willfully thinking that they believe God exists and know God exists at the same time.  This causes them great discomfort and while engaging in a discussion about this, you will see their emotional pain rise out of this, they will get upset, they begin to feel attacked.  These are all defense mechanisms for an ultimately inept way of thinking, conflating beliefs as knowledge.

1. Knowledge is not a belief

2. Beliefs are not knowledge

3. Religion, faith, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek Mythology, Jainism, Taosim, are beliefs, not knowledge.

4. I can believe anything I want, just because massive quantities of people believe the same thing, doesn’t give it anymore credibility, logically.  Yet people, not consciously, think it’s ok, I suspect.  I did.  This essentially, is a myopic thought process, which reeks of a logical fallacy, dubbed “Argumentum ad Populum”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

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Beliefs are in many ways not a good thing to have.  Faith on the other hand, is a lot like hope, we have faith that we will do good on a test, etc.  Faith, I would say, is a good thing to have, but lets not conflate it with a belief as well.  Belief’s in the context I am referring to, are thinking that something(s) are true, without knowing that they are true.  I content that there is nothing good that can come of this.  If you are right about your belief, you are lucky.  But why act before knowing?  Why believe you know, before you actually know? Take into account all things before hand.  Yes, probability is a factor, but know that you do not know and proceed accordingly.  Knowing that you do not know is half the battle many times.  It will not cause a need for defense mechanisms, or coping with what you thought was true, turns out to be wrong.

This is how belief’s ought to be criticized, to either solidify them, or knock them down.  If a belief can withstand criticism, then perhaps we will find merit in it.  If not, we will find nonsense, pain, and anguish, that come about as a result of defense mechanisms.  Beliefs are not sacred, anyone who things that is an enemy of rational thinking. an enemy of truth.  People believe all sorts of crazy things, yet we should  question them, criticize them, in a way that doesn’t hurt their ego, necessarily, however difficult that may be.  But in a way that helps people think, to help them understand.  When it comes to anything, don’t believe, just know that you do not know.

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One thought on “The Sanctity of Belief”

  1. The last paragraph is most meaningful to me. Someone once said “Right is right even if no one believes it and wrong is wrong even if everyone believes it.” The problem is we don’t KNOW what is right, we can only believe what is right. How do we KNOW that those people who committed suicide so they could fly away on Haley’s Comet aren’t out there somewhere? It is not something I would logically believe but they made their choice.
    For a while I tried to get all the info I could about the different religions to try to find one religion that had answers that made sense to me. The common thread with most of them seemed to be that Woman was subservient to Man. Um…, NO. I realized that I don’t need to have a religion. The world will keep spinning whether I believe in this God or that God or Gods. That gave me the freedom to just live my life as I saw fit. If I don’t criticize you for believing there were two people in a garden with a snake then don’t criticize me for believing that there is no puppetmaster controlling the universe.

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