Are you a believer? Evidence and Faith

The other day, I very seriously got asked ‘if I was a believer’. I didn’t know what to answer because I assumed that this person wanted to know if I was catholic. I remained silent for a couple of seconds and then decided to answer the question itself and drop the ‘what does she actually want to know’ thought.

‘Yes, I am. I am a believer’. I knew I believed in at least some things that I couldn’t prove and I believe in things that can be proved. So.. yes was the valid answer to her question.

The rest of the conversation was pretty boring, but I came to wonder in the following days if anyone at all could sincerely answer no to this question. We all have a belief system right?

I got curious to know more about what makes us reject or believe some information. Why do we sometimes change our mind, we sometimes accept that we used to know less and were wrong about something, even faith-based information. And some other times we dismiss as inadequate, unacceptable, or even false some evidence based facts.

higher-brain-function

The judgment kicks in so fast. ‘This is unworthy of serious consideration.’ ‘That I can come to recognize as valid or true.’

How do we build our belief system? How can one experience reinforce what we believe in and  then the next experience breaks down everything we thought we knew? Why do we get to love our belief system more than our own lives even?  And to which extent does the ego comes into play?

Here is some information, let’s see how much we can take in…

Belief systems are the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of “reality”.  Every human being has a belief system that they utilize, and it is through this mechanism that we individually, “make sense” of the world around us.

There are two forms such belief systems can take;  evidence-based or faith-based.  

Science is used to build an evidence-based belief system, under the premise that the world is ultimately understandable through observation, experiment, and prediction.  The key element of science, is recognition that humans possess individual beliefs, and consequently are capable of introducing bias in their interpretation of the world.  As a result, science attempts to mitigate against such bias by requiring strict definitions of terms and conditions, as well as demanding that any evidence be capable of independent verification by others.  This ensures that accepted results have been subjected to trials that may also be subject to bias, but by strict adherence to procedure, such biases will cancel each other out and produce conclusions that are largely objective.

Faith-based belief systems are mental constructs that lack evidence.  This isn’t to disparage them or to diminish their value, but rather to define an important difference.  In short, a faith-based belief system is unequivocally based on the lack of evidence or evidence which may be impossible to collect.

I think we all follow until now, here comes the interesting part.

Using these descriptions it is easy to consider faith-based beliefs as somehow lesser in value, but this would be incorrect.  We tend to draw these conclusions, because regardless of what we individually believe, we are all convinced that our particular beliefs are the correct ones.  It is this fascination with being “correct” that leads to such discrepancies. Therefore, we tend to defend our particular belief systems vigorously as being the only means by which one can experience “truth” or “reality”.

However, it is important to note that not all beliefs are subject to verification and that this is precisely where these two forms of belief may often collide.  

If we consider religion as a faith-based belief system, to many, science is viewed as demanding an atheistic perspective, but this is also incorrect, since science has nothing to say regarding such a belief.  Science only requires that the world be explainable according to the “rules” that have been discovered regarding its behavior.  Therefore, any postulate that suggests something that operates outside those rules is uniformly rejected as being unscientific.  

One cannot introduce faith into an evidence-based system any more than one can demand evidence of a faith-based system. (…) Link below to the entire article by G.Adam for Science 2.0.

Evidence-based knowledge would answer how’s and faith-based knowledge answers why’s?

What only 2 boxes to think in?

Do we have to make our pick between evidence and faith? Between being a casual and meaningless product of evolution, or a spiritual being having a physical experience on this earth? Could we embrace both without creating a belief conflict? If we pick one, does it mean we diminish the value of other options? If I choose, it must be because its better, more true than the rest, if not THE TRUTH, right? And wait, If I believe in nothing, is it still a belief?

there are some great philosophy books (ref below) that will sum up and explain much better than me how humans dealt with evidence vs faith questions since… basically ever.

I think we could define (our) different belief systems as different spheres of knowledge.

Should we then agree to disagree? And will my ego be happy with the answer below?

Spoiler: our egos are not going to like this. Because we feel right, and we have it ‘figured out’, suddenly arises the urge to push our beliefs onto others. We have all been there. We want to change other people’s beliefs.. and we often have good intentions!

‘change is not usually fast and dramatic’

When someone (or an entire community) believes in some cute, funny or silly superstition, like about never passing under a ladder or opening an umbrella inside a house, you might smile, agree, sigh or roll your eyes, but will you take offense? My sister used to believe as a little child that the world was in black and white before she was born, because of the pictures and old movies. How cute is that?

But when it comes to values we seem to have a really hard time. My grandmother told me she was taught as a little girl to never look into a man’s eyes, that she would otherwise become pregnant. I mean seriously? and still I was ok because it was ‘back in the days’. But let’s say, if a man tells me now that it is ok to raise a hand on his wife, that he believes she deserves it sometimes. Do we not have the right to push our feminist beliefs onto others? What about racism, sexism, speciesism homophobia, and all discriminations and injustices? Standing up for our rights or for other beings rights is based on moral and ethics. You see what I am getting at…

watch this video

Levni Yilmaz: Tales of Mere existence: Change

The thing is that you can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue in their thoughts or actions.

But there must be something I can do (ego talking)… hahaha. Some collected informations on the topic that became beliefs of mine. (Totally pushing them onto you now, you are free to stop reading though, and thanks for still being reading at all btw). Accepting that change is not gonna happen to the pace we want it at (faster or slower for some). That you never know how people will react to the information you provide or the example you set.  Avoid victimisation it serves no one’s agenda. We will always have new experiences that will make our belief system evolve, so let’s be humble, what you think is true or right today may be different tomorrow. Expect the unexpected, new information doesn’t always come from crazy unforeseen events, it may come from repeating the same single thing over and over.

So does the change come from the outside or the inside?

Evidence and faith-based information working hand in hand to give us an answer.

If an egg is broken by an outside force life ends. If it is broken by an inside force life starts. 

Final quote and video.

Nothing Human can be Alien to me – Terence (3rd century)

Maya Angelou – I am Human

xx

louise

Links

article Science 2.0: http://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/science_faith_and_belief_systems-82211

A History of philosophy. l’étonnement philosophique, Jeanne Hersch, Folio, 1993.

Levni Yilmaz: Tales of Mere existence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdC0AlnEE68

Maya Angelou – I am Human: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePodNjrVSsk

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