Monday, August 18, 2014


"Choosing not to believe is like choosing to boycott the AAA"

The above was said by a Christian, not that all Christians believe that statement is truthful, or that only Christians believe that statement is truthful. Belief is not a personal choice. It is not something you can just turn on and off, at a whim. Not believing something is true, is not the same as believing something is true but just not wanting anything to do with it.

At the most basic level, we form beliefs based on our senses (e.g. we see something that looks like a rock, and our sense of sight makes us believe we're looking at a rock). Although our senses can be fooled, they are the first in line at forcing belief upon us. People, generally, then consider their senses the best way to justify a belief (e.g. if we have any doubt, as to what we're looking at, we'll try to touch it, to make sure it's really there). If we think our belief has been fully justified by our sensory testing, then we think we know something...we think we know that something is a rock.

Things start to fall apart when we are trying to figure out something we haven't experienced previously, or something we've just become noticeably aware of, and curious about. If we can't fully explain a something, or our senses can't really grasp the entirety of the situation, we may make guesses as to what it is, or how it does what it does, etc (e.g. our feet, for the most part, are always flat on the ground...and, say we haven't noticed the curvature on the horizon, and we haven't figured out that's the Earth's shadow on the we believe the Earth is flat...even think we know the Earth is flat).

At the next level, we rely on the senses of others (e.g. someone describes seeing a rock, and, maybe depending on how honest we think that person is, we'll believe they saw a rock). Maybe, however, it will require them to describe what they saw in incredible detail, or describe numerous ways in which they tested what they saw, before we come to believe that someone saw a rock. 

This is how we pass on our knowledge and beliefs to others. Some people put a lot more weight on how honest they think the person describing "reality" is, than they do on any descriptions or testing. We see this in everyday life, with children believing almost anything their parents tell them, until they learn the truth for themselves. Until that time, when enough evidence convinces them otherwise, they will continue to believe what has been told to them by people they deem trustworthy. Other people will put a lot more weight on the methods of testing, and even require multiple forms of testing, and/or multiple people doing the testing, before believing something is true.

Whatever it takes, to believe, or unbelieve, something is true, it is most definitely not a personal choice. Between reading this, and the next full moon, choose to believe the moon is a cube. Tell yourself, every minute of every day, that the moon is a cube. Every time you close your eyes, try to picture a cube moon. Then, on the next full moon, look at the moon. Can you honestly say you believe the moon is a cube? Can you actually choose to believe something, or is belief forced upon you?

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