Why do you believe that?

Years ago, someone was arguing about religion with me. I didn’t believe his point and his argument didn’t change my views, however, my ideas and opinions about religion did change that day.  It wasn’t his argument that changed me, it was his challenge after he was finished that made me reevaluate all my conviction. He simply said, “Why do you believe what you believe?”

I took a long hard look at myself and my beliefs that day. I understood that I was unmovable in my religious beliefs and that it was like my feet were in cement, unable to budge. My problem was trying to figure out why. My convictions were all based on information told to me. None of them were based on experiments. None of them were truths I figured out through trial and error. All of my beliefs on religion were based on things that were told to me by people that I either trusted or loved. My foundation of beliefs was based upon their foundations. I was only “sure” because they were “sure”.

This is not a very good way to make important decisions and plans for your life. A person should not take these ideas as facts no matter the persuasion applied by the presenter. You must search for facts to validate these positions and if you cannot clearly prove them as true, you must remain open to ideas of the contrary. If you don’t do this with your beliefs, you risk building real truths upon untruths. Here is an example of that.

Suppose you believe to be a fact that God created the world in 1 day. (you cannot do an experiment to prove or disprove this idea.) You can then say that the Earth must be spinning at the same rate now as it was then. One spin equals one day so it must not be able to change. Since we now know that the Earth is slowing down, we must acknowledge that one or both of the facts above must be wrong. You now should see that you cannot build facts onto an unprovable idea as if they were all facts.

Are some of your beliefs based on untested ideas? Do you believe things wholeheartedly that really can’t be proved? That’s fine, but you cannot build facts upon them and pronounce that they must be true.

Let us admit that you cannot be against guns because God will protect us. You are basing a real fact, that we need protection, onto an untestable belief, that we can leave it up to God. What about if you believe something just because your parents and your friends believe it to be true. Can you disregard facts presented to you that prove you wrong based on things you assume your friends must know that you don’t know or understand? Hopefully the answer is no. Or, do you instead decide that you don’t know why or how your friends and family know these thing to be true, but they must be right and you can then disregard any facts to the contrary. That would be unwise.

Everyone should always be willing to listen to facts in order to adjust their viewpoint especially when your belief is based on anything other than facts.