Whenever I’ve asked someone, “What do you believe in?”, I’ve almost always received an answer that runs along religious lines. They’ll either tell me about their current denomination, their birth religion, their lack of either (agnostics) or their rejection of the whole lot of them (atheists).
When I explain to them that I wasn’t asking about those kinds of beliefs, they look puzzled. “What other kinds of beliefs are there?” is the gist of the questions I get back.I have an unfinished list of answers, too numerous to count, but here are a few examples that I have used:
- Do you believe in the kindness of strangers?
- Do you believe you have the right to be wrong or incorrect without punishment? (I’m strictly referring to personal matters, not legal matters)
- Do you believe in fidelity?
- Do you believe that if the traffic light is green in the direction that you are driving that all the other traffic at the intersection will obey their respective signal?
- Do you believe everything you read? What about everything you see?
- Do you believe that quantum physicists have really discovered particles that blink in and out of existence or that particles can be in two places at the same time? (Hint: the quantum physicists do).
- Do you believe that someone you don’t know very well can phone you simply to talk, to develop the relationship, and not to want anything from you more than that?
I believe that I’ve at least pointed your attention in the direction I intended. (wry smile)
Underneath many of our daily activities and choices, there seems to be a multitude of beliefs that are shaping, pulling, influencing the very nature of our experiences. What we believe forms the filters through which and by which we create our reality.
This is true even in science. A scientific theory or hypothesis is a hunch, an idea or a belief about something followed by experiments designed to prove or disprove whatever object or explanation was proposed. Whether proven or disproven, the scientific method always leads to additional questions or further beliefs, which, in turn, are put to the test through experimentation. This has come to be called progress. Scientists believe that something exists or would be a valid explanation for a phenomenon and then they construct an experiment to measure or confirm their belief. As I stated, even if the initial belief is disproven, the experiments still lead to refining and developing additional beliefs. “Scientists now believe that they have discovered…(fill in the blank)…a new planet, a new cure, a better explanation…” The whole process of science is rooted in the belief that physical reality exists and that it is capable of being reduced to a form of understanding by our brain.
There is no way of confirming that belief.
Here’s what I can confirm, humans share beliefs. We express them, adopt them, adapt them and then manifest them collectively. We do this so often and so pervasively that it passes almost without notice.
It would serve us better to take more notice of our underpinning beliefs.
There is much to be said about the power of belief.
What we actually believe in matters a great deal.
In times like these, I believe it is wiser for us to turn towards one another than it is for us to turn on one another.
What do you believe in?