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Lexilogio

Belief

Our lives are made up of many different beliefs, based on different things.

For example:
belief that we will wake up the next day (based on experience)
belief that a colleague will do what we asked (if they are reliable)
belief that the news will appear on our TV at 6pm


But changing a belief can be difficult, and traumatic. Sometimes its a belief we hadn't even considered to be a "belief" -

So have you ever changed a belief? And why?
Shaker

Nothing springs to mind ...


That said, I think the really pertinent issue is: what does belief actually mean? What's the definition of the word?

This is what seems to be the perennially thorny issue, because no two people seem to use the word in the same way.
Ketty

Re: Belief

Lexilogio wrote:
So have you ever changed a belief? And why?


I once believed a particular person was a bit of a snooty, dictatorial individual, then I forced myself to spend time with them, and found I was wrong: it was a facade, and a mask for their lack of confidence and insecurity.

Lexi, your examples - I'm not sure I believe I'll wake up tomorrow, but I hope I will because I've still got loads to do.  I hope a work colleague would be helpful, but I've been around long enough to know that folks don't always react the way we expect they will, due to all sorts of circumstances.  Often I'll believe Corrie will be on TV on a Wednesday, only to discover they've replaced it with blimmin' football!
Shaker

Whenever the word belief crops up I instantly think of David Hume and the problem of induction associated with his name.

Inductive reasoning draws a broad and general - even a universal - point from isolated, specific and concrete examples. The standard example is the sun rising tomorrow: we've all seen the sun come up and we all know that the sun has risen over the horizon every day for as long there has been a human observer to see it. From that we can extrapolate that the sun has 'risen' over the horizon for as long as there has been a horizon - that's the say, as long as there as been an Earth - for it to do so, even before there was anybody around to see it.

Are we justified in therefore believing that the sun will also rise tomorrow morning? It's tomorrow morning and hasn't happened yet, so we can't claim it as an item of knowledge. It's a belief. Like everyone else I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow: but are we right to do so?
Lexilogio

One of the issues when a disaster happens - and the World Trade Centre was a good example of this - is that people intrinsically believed that wouldn't happen. They believed a plane wouldn't fly into one of the skyscrapers of New York. So when it did, that information took a long time to assimilate. It wasn't just the death toll which upset - but being suddenly forced to change a belief.
Jim

I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.
Shaker

Jim wrote:
I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.

... which as far as I can see is itself only another belief.
Shaker

Lexilogio wrote:
One of the issues when a disaster happens - and the World Trade Centre was a good example of this - is that people intrinsically believed that wouldn't happen. They believed a plane wouldn't fly into one of the skyscrapers of New York. So when it did, that information took a long time to assimilate. It wasn't just the death toll which upset - but being suddenly forced to change a belief.


People who invest heavily in a belief (which almost always means a heavy emotional rather than an intellectual investment) almost always react very badly indeed when anything occurs which appears to contradict that belief. They either deny that the contradictory event has ever happened at all, or, if this can't be sustained, they go into total psychic meltdown.
Lexilogio

Shaker wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
One of the issues when a disaster happens - and the World Trade Centre was a good example of this - is that people intrinsically believed that wouldn't happen. They believed a plane wouldn't fly into one of the skyscrapers of New York. So when it did, that information took a long time to assimilate. It wasn't just the death toll which upset - but being suddenly forced to change a belief.


People who invest heavily in a belief (which almost always means a heavy emotional rather than an intellectual investment) almost always react very badly indeed when anything occurs which appears to contradict that belief. They either deny that the contradictory event has ever happened at all, or, if this can't be sustained, they go into total psychic meltdown.


Is it the emotional investment - or the links created from the belief to the rest of the values and moral framework of a person. The more links - the harder it is to accept a change in the belief system.

Many will rather bend the new information to fit, or only slightly amend the original belief.

The subject matter I was thinking of when I posted this was gay marriage, as it seems to be something people are changing their minds on.
Ketty

Jim wrote:
I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.




Why didn't I think of that one: the most obvious, and the one which had most impact on my life!?
bnabernard

Who's this going round teaching that the sun rises ?  

bernard (hug)
Lexilogio

Ketty wrote:
Jim wrote:
I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.




Why didn't I think of that one: the most obvious, and the one which had most impact on my life!?


It is remarkable when someone goes from non belief - to belief. Its a significant event.
trentvoyager

Lexilogio wrote:
Ketty wrote:
Jim wrote:
I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.




Why didn't I think of that one: the most obvious, and the one which had most impact on my life!?


It is remarkable when someone goes from non belief - to belief. Its a significant event.


And Vicky Versa, of course.  
Powwow

Who's Vicky? lol
IvyOwl

trentvoyager wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
Ketty wrote:
Jim wrote:
I once had a complete, unshakable belief that there was no God.
.....didn't last when it came up against the unstoppable presence of Christ.




Why didn't I think of that one: the most obvious, and the one which had most impact on my life!?


It is remarkable when someone goes from non belief - to belief. Its a significant event.


And Vicky Versa, of course.  


I was about to say the same thing!
Ketty

IvyOwl wrote:
trentvoyager wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:

It is remarkable when someone goes from non belief - to belief. Its a significant event.


And Vicky Versa, of course.


I was about to say the same thing!


TV and Ivy, in light of your responses, and returning to Lexi's opening question:

Lexilogio wrote:

So have you ever changed a belief? And why?


I'm interested to know if this means you previously had a Christian faith?
trentvoyager

Code:
I'm interested to know if this means you previously had a Christian faith?



I don't know whether I had a religious belief at any time is that relevant.

It is just as an atheist (altho a cuddly, smiley one - as opposed to a baby-munching one   ) I feel relieved that yet another person has had the scales fall from their eyes (and yes I'm aware of where that phrase originated from).

I was sent to Sunday school at the age of 9 or 10 for a couple of years - I think more to get me out of the way for a couple of hours on a Sunday than anything else - but nothing stuck or made much sense. Whether that was down to my intransigence at being forced to go there - or down to the lack of any real educational ability of the vicar I can't remember/don't know.

I do know that I have never had a faith as described by some on here - who say that God has spoken to them, moved them, etc. It would be dishonest of me to then claim I was religious - I just don't get it. As such- and allied to the fact that religions grew out of particular communities all over the world and seem, culturally, to be reflections of those communities, I can't see how any of them are more or less true than the others.

Religion has always struck me as one of humanity's "coping mechanisms" - it helps us to deal with the great unknown that confronts us all sooner or later - to me, it appears useful to some - but I can't kid myself into believing in it.
Shaker

Same here.

As one of my heroes, John Stuart Mill, said of himself, he never lost a a faith because there was never any faith to lose in the first place. There was never any religious input at home of any kind whatsoever, and the minimal bit that came through primary school (assemblies, hymns, harvest festivals and the like) was seen by everybody as a dull and meaningless chore. I suspect that extended to a great many of the teaching staff, let alone the kids.

Like most schools, my secondary school openly flouted the law by never having daily assemblies.
Powwow

"...never having daily assemblies."
Well that explains the problem.
Shaker

pow wow wrote:
"...never having daily assemblies."
Well that explains the problem.

What problem is that exactly?
northernstar

Shaker wrote:
Same here.

As one of my heroes, John Stuart Mill, said of himself, he never lost a a faith because there was never any faith to lose in the first place. There was never any religious input at home of any kind whatsoever, and the minimal bit that came through primary school (assemblies, hymns, harvest festivals and the like) was seen by everybody as a dull and meaningless chore. I suspect that extended to a great many of the teaching staff, let alone the kids.

Like most schools, my secondary school openly flouted the law by never having daily assemblies.



Same here, my dad was ostensibly Roman Catholic, in name only, my mum was C.of E. and I went to a C. of E. primary school as it just happened to be the nearest. Religion wasn't spoken about in my home, went to Sunday school once, hated it, never went again. I suppose I was an atheist, even at that tender age. Had to go church while at boarding school, it was that or doing jobs!
Shaker

northernstar wrote:
Same here, my dad was ostensibly Roman Catholic, in name only, my mum was C.of E. and I went to a C. of E. primary school as it just happened to be the nearest.


It's the 'in name only' bit that always annoys me. A grown adult making a decision to adhere to a specific religious tradition - no problem with that. Obviously I think they're mistaken, but everyone and anyone has a perfect right to do that and that's an important right. Unlike some people, I don't believe that a belief in a god is a conscious choice: I don't think faith is voluntaristic and can be conjured up by an act of will. Either you find the idea of a god plausible or you don't, and that's not in anybody's capacity to force at will. Belonging to a particular religion and a specific denomination within that religion, however - that to my mind is a choice.

So far so good. What I find obnoxious is the idea that a person can be counted as belonging to a particular religion without their explicit consent or any kind of knowledge of the religion on their part or any belief. You see it at its worst when people refer to an infant as a Catholic child or a Muslim child or whatever* - it's quite absurd, and as Richard Dawkins has pointed out at length, it's only religion where this is given a free pass: refer to a five year-old as a socialist child or a conservative child and quite rightly everybody would think it the height of lunacy. It's also at work in people who put a particular religion down on official forms and suchlike out of lazy habit, with absolutely no thought behind it. Elsewhere on the forum today I've mentioned that I've seen this in my own family with the last census. I also had it done to me without my knowledge (not maliciously but again, out of sheer non-thinking habit) at the previous census. It's things such as this which artificially and wrongly inflate the statistics and give the impression that there are more believers than there really are.

* 'Jewish child' would be an exception here because all but alone amongst religious identities 'Jewish' can and frequently does refer to an ethnic cultural identity which can be, and frequently is, totally independent of religious belief. Judaism is the religion to which religious Jews adhere, but Jewishness isn't dependent on religious faith. Jewish atheist isn't a contradiction in terms in the way that Christian atheist still is, although over the long term I see that picture changing.
Lexilogio

But belonging to a religion is a choice people make, a way of describing themselves. I have friends who would describe themselves as Catholic - but I don't think they ever go to church. Some prefer a more solitary version of the religion, but with many, its more like a badge or tribal identity.
Shaker

Lexilogio wrote:
But belonging to a religion is a choice people make, a way of describing themselves. I have friends who would describe themselves as Catholic - but I don't think they ever go to church. Some prefer a more solitary version of the religion, but with many, its more like a badge or tribal identity.

Unquestionably true, but the whole issue of 'cultural Christianity' (or cultural Islam) is very much more vexed than is the case with Jewishness. Yiddishkeit (to use the Yiddish word for it) has for hundreds of years run parallel alongside Judaism-as-a-faith-tradition: often intertwined with it, often completely separate from it. There is a recognisable Jewish culture, predominantly Ashkenazi (i.e. stemming from the Jews of Russia and eastern Europe): a pretty concrete and definite Jewish humour; specific Jewish food; Jewish music; and so on and so forth. Jackie Mason is always billed as a Jewish comedian; gefilte fish (a bugger to make but scrummy!) Jewish food and what have you. These things may have had their roots in religious tradition but in themselves are entirely secular and are enjoyed worldwide by the most unbelieving of Jews. As yet I don't think there's a recognisably potentially secular equivalent in the Christian sphere and based on what I know of Islam I don't think it holds much amongst Muslims either.

I suspect the specialness of Jews in this regard has a lot to do with their history, which especially in the last 200-odd years has been one of diaspora and assimilation: Jews have had to settle in other countries and adapt and assimilate to alien cultures in ways that Christians and Muslims for the most part haven't.
Lexilogio

Shaker wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
But belonging to a religion is a choice people make, a way of describing themselves. I have friends who would describe themselves as Catholic - but I don't think they ever go to church. Some prefer a more solitary version of the religion, but with many, its more like a badge or tribal identity.

Unquestionably true, but the whole issue of 'cultural Christianity' (or cultural Islam) is very much more vexed than is the case with Jewishness. Yiddishkeit (to use the Yiddish word for it) has for hundreds of years run parallel alongside Judaism-as-a-faith-tradition: often intertwined with it, often completely separate from it. There is a recognisable Jewish culture, predominantly Ashkenazi (i.e. stemming from the Jews of Russia and eastern Europe): a pretty concrete and definite Jewish humour; specific Jewish food; Jewish music; and so on and so forth. Jackie Mason is always billed as a Jewish comedian; gefilte fish (a bugger to make but scrummy!) Jewish food and what have you. These things may have had their roots in religious tradition but in themselves are entirely secular and are enjoyed worldwide by the most unbelieving of Jews. As yet I don't think there's a recognisably potentially secular equivalent in the Christian sphere and based on what I know of Islam I don't think it holds much amongst Muslims either.

I suspect the specialness of Jews in this regard has a lot to do with their history, which especially in the last 200-odd years has been one of diaspora and assimilation: Jews have had to settle in other countries and adapt and assimilate to alien cultures in ways that Christians and Muslims for the most part haven't.


True. Although I wonder how much of that has been shaped by hundreds of years of persecution of Jews?
Shaker

Lexilogio wrote:
True. Although I wonder how much of that has been shaped by hundreds of years of persecution of Jews?

A very very great deal of it indeed, I think it's fair to say. If you have a history of thousands of years of persecution and endless harrassment from one country to another to another, and more hassle even where you end up settling down and to a certain extent assimilating, given enough time - which Jews certainly have had, historically - this is going to be reflected not only in the macaronic mish-mash of cuisine and language and so on but in humour and general outlook on life. A lot of these things - a certain sort of stoical, long-suffering, mildly depressed pessimism and fatalism and so forth* - are regarded as stereotypical Jewish cliches but there's no smoke without fire.

* Like the famous old gag:

Two men, strangers, seated side by side on a train. One is a smartly-dressed young man, the other an elderly Jew.

The old man moans, "Oy, am I thirsty."

A few minutes go by.

Again: "Oy, am I thirsty."

A few more minutes.

Again: "Oy, am I thirsty."

A few more minutes pass.

"Oy, am I thirsty."

The younger man decides that enough is enough and goes to the dining car, brings back a glass of water, gives it to the old man and says, "Here, drink this."

The old man drinks it and gives the young man profuse thanks. Then, after a few minutes of comfortable silence, the old man moans: "Oy, vas I thirsty."
Shaker

Still no word:

Shaker wrote:
"...never having daily assemblies."

pow wow wrote:
Well that explains the problem.

Shaker wrote:
What problem is that exactly?


Oh well. No surprises there.

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