Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Few Words on Belief

We call something a “faith” or a “belief” because we DON’T know. If I say that I “believe” something, it simply means that I have made a choice, and that I have to live with the consequences of that decision. It would be a bit kinder world if we could simply and without bias share our experiences, about beliefs that did or did not happen to work out for us.

Beliefs are a conceptual bridge between the known and the unknown – and some are more stable or useful than others. I suppose it’s an odd glitch in human nature, that the more stridently and intractably one expresses a belief, the more the public tends to accept it – leadership must not hesitate, or pause to consider complexity, probability, ambiguity, guile or even justice, least it be condemned as unsure or dishonest. Every cop, politician, doctor, clergyman, boss, huckster and con man knows this.

As an example – my wife used to run a mainframe computer. Whenever the power went out to the building, coworkers immediately asked her what happened – and when she didn’t magically know, they treated her with disrespect. They were all standing in the middle of the same building, surrounded by darkness. Just as an experiment, once when that happened, she answered that a drunk had taken out a light pole a couple of blocks away – something she couldn’t possibly have known – and that absurdity was accepted without question, because it was delivered with authority. My point is, all theological debate aside, most beliefs are pinioned to our unconscious responses to adamancy and hierarchy. Little progress and less peace will be made until we consider how we are wired psychologically and socially, before we cross swords over belief.