Posted: June 11, 2013 in religion, world view

Not to long ago I read a paper by c s Lewis “The obstinacy in belief.” An ongoing discussion with Kirk about universalism, penal substitution, etc, etc, etc brings it to mind. The gist of it is that if we believe something on what we think is good evidence or reason we hold on to it strongly despite what might seem better evidence to the contrary. The stronger the evidence for our beliefs (whether true or not) the harder to overcome them. I.e. if,our belief,is a 6 then it may take a 9 or 10 to get us to consider changing whereas if our belief is a 2 it may only take a 2.1 to change our mind.

This really comes into play with different religions or world views. An atheist who thinks he is appealing to reason may continue to hold his position no matter what, or a theist may let his presuppositions blind him to almost anything.

IF our belief is based on an experience without reason it is probably only held as strongly as the experience is reinforced. For instance a teenager is caught up in his youth group with all his friends but it is experience without reason, then off to college and a new stronger experience and atheist or agnostic authority and reasons. His old belief is a 2 and his new belief is a 2.1, his next belief is probably a 2.11 or whatever his next girlfriend believes (as good a reason as he had in youth group except the sex is better now, hence the .11 improvement)

If we really believe, we should be open to the evidence wherever it leads. If we believe in a God who has revealed himself we should not be afraid. natural revelation and special revelation should not be in conflict and if they seem that way we need to reconcile the difference.

the question is how strongly and why do you believe what you believe.

  1. chicagoja says:

    Belief is the bane of human evolution; something akin to Einstein’s saying that the only thing that got in the way of his learning was education. Most brain activity takes place in the subconscious
    mind where new information is processed through the rose-colored lens of one’s existing belief systems. I believe you said that belief, to survive, needs to be reinforced though experience and reason. Actually it doesn’t necessarily need either. Take religion for example. Religion is mostly the result of cultural indoctrination (e.g. how many Christians are there in Saudi Arabia and how many Jews are there in China?). Once a belief is firmly embedded in one’s mind, it can be very difficult to change because some beliefs have strong psychological roots. Therefore, reason is not required. That’s why parents have kidnapped their kids away from cult groups and then had to do what amounts to reverse brain-washing to get them back to normal and their old self. A true seeker of the truth should only operate according to the motto of Socrates which was, “I know one thing; that I know nothing.” Anything else only restricts learning. As a seeker of the truth myself, my journey began with a 5 year girl asking me (as her Sunday school teacher) why the Bible says that we have to seek the truth. It doesn’t seem like much of a question but it took over 30 years for me to answer and it started me down the road of self-discovery. Hope you have a nice trip.

    • jleefeldman says:

      Belief (active trust) is necessary for every aspect of life. Without belief we would just react to stimuli. Our beliefs do come from experience and reason. The reason for most beliefs if from authority, we believe what someone told us either in person Ina book or thru the media.
      As far as religion is concerned in a homogenous society like Saudi Arabia or china where the government ( authority) controls education and media you would expect to see just what you do see. I believe most Muslims are cultural and have loosely held beliefs that just don’t go challenged, the same is true for non religious people in China and other places. In a pluralistic society like the USA beliefs change all the time. Just look at the polling industry and how opinions change. The reason for the swings is that people have loosely held beliefs without good reasons.
      My point was that if you have what you believe are good reasons for your beliefs it is harder to change your mind even with better evidence against them.

    • jleefeldman says:

      We believe (place active trust in) all sorts of things and life would be impossible if we did not. A lot of believe is based on authority, we trust the source, without investigating ourselves.

      Sent from my iPad

      On Jun 19, 2013, at 4:36 PM, “Jleefeldman’s Blog”

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