Belief and belief systems

Doug Wilson (2009)

“I believe things will work out”. Why would someone say this? Is it true? Can it be backed up with any evidence? When a person says something like this a couple of things may be going on behind the scenes. It’s a statement of belief. It could be said that it’s a belief based on observing historic evidence. That the person says it because, so far, everything has been seen to work out. I guess that depends on what we mean by work out. Maybe we need to narrow the statement down some. Let’s use – I believe everything will work out for the best. Now we can say the person has observed things working out for the best – so far. Then it’s assumed that, like the sun rising tomorrow, it’s believed because it’s most likely. Is there any other reasons for believing that everything will work out?

What is a belief? Why do we have them? One reason, is because we like the belief. It’s the more comforting option. I’ve spent a lot of time examining my beliefs to see if there is any basis for having them – or if I just passively absorbed them. Knowing what I do about the way we get our information, I recognize that I could have beliefs with no evidence to support them. How could we come to believe something that isn’t real? Why would we believe it?

Many beliefs are a result of fear. One of the basic instincts of the human being is the need for security. A lack, or perceived lack, of security results in fear. How could fear effect our belief mechanism? How would fear create the conditions for an unwarranted belief?

For starters it may be as simple as a reactionary thought process. A lot of people don’t like scary. Some people don’t like going to the doctor because they might get bad news. The doctor could tell them they were terminally ill. I understand not wanting to be terminally ill. It’s scary. If we were terminally ill it might be easier to simply suffer whatever physical discomfort rather than have to think about it inevitability of dying. So a lot of people will intentionally avoid bad news or any possible scary realities.

I’ve hesitated to call someone who may tell me something I don’t want to hear. Now days I want to get it over with so I call asap and move forward…

So what is it we’re afraid of that causes so many unfounded beliefs? It’s more helpful here to deal with security as a whole than to break it down into ones individual ideas about security. Some people might see security as food and shelter… Family and relationships. Some might see it as a bank account of sufficient size to last ten years if they were to lose their job. So lets just say that security is at the bottom of this belief issue and everyone can examine their own individual thoughts and fears.