Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Believe

Humans have the power to believe. Is there anything else in the world that believes things? Dirt doesn’t believe anything. Plants don’t believe. Animals don’t believe. Animals have instincts and they can be conditioned, but they do not believe (as best as we can know).

Humans believe things. It is an amazing reality. It would be nice to say that we humans believe things based on evidence, but we don’t in general. We want to say that we are objective and given the same evidence on this or that each of us would come to the same belief about this or that. It hardly ever (never fully) happens. Instead, we disagree and do it a lot.

We’ve developed systems and methods and disciplines in order to help us come to a common belief, but these systems fail and these methods are flawed. Religion has sought to form correct beliefs, but it has had a difficult time succeeding in bringing us all toward one belief. Science has made efforts to create systematic ways of making observations we could come closer to believing the same, but the great experts all critique each other’s results and methods and even integrity at times.

No, neither religion nor science has determined beliefs for all humans. 

It is an amazing thing that humans can choose to believe something even when the evidence points in another direction. It seems reckless and dangerous that such a situation could exist.

You can believe whatever you want to. So…

How will go about deciding what to believe?

What is your threshold of evidence to move you into belief?

Who could say a word and your belief would change?

Which comes first evidence or belief?

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Do you come to believe things in the same way?

These are not small questions. You have a power in this universe that is rare. Not only that, it is full of consequence. No belief goes unnoticed. Belief ripples. And amazingly, you cannot not belief. Even someone claiming to be agnostic on any topic believes something, even if it is in their own uncertainty. Having the ability to know what you believe and why is one of the greatest privileges and powers in the universe. 

What will you do with your power?

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