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    Thread: What is a belief?

    1. #1
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      What is a belief?

      Belief is a weird word to me, and one I'm sort of done using, at least the way many people define the word. I am led to believe many things, based upon my experiences. But I don't really believe them. Belief seems to imply that it's part of my identity, or that I have to make up my mind about everything.

      For me it's more about action, I could care less about what I believe. I'm only interested in what actions I am led to commit. I mean sure, I may justify an action by explaining my beliefs, but they seem easily discarded after the action was performed. I don't see much use in shaping my view of reality around my beliefs. I don't see much use in shaping reality at all, honestly. It sort of happens whether or not I think anything in particular about it. Why worry about it unless there's a decision to be made? Why associate yourself with it?
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      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    2. #2
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      Belief implies that you already made a decision.

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      'Belief' is tricky to define because there are a few different definitions going around. One that is incorrect is almost synonymous with 'faith', that being that a belief is something which you think is true but don't have sufficient reason to believe it. ie. "I believe that God exists," "I believe that there are no coincidences." This is obviously wrong since, if you've spoken English fluently for a good portion of your life, you can tell that this is not what the word is used for in general cases. I think this particular mistaken definition arises because some people do often use the phrase "I believe that ..." interchangeably with "I have faith that ...".

      The definition I currently hold is that a belief is anything you think to be true. It can be anything from believing that ghosts exist to believing that you've read a certain book. It has nothing to do with the reason why you believe it. But it can be difficult to define what 'thinking something to be true' means.

      Nor does it have anything to do with how sure you are of it. With any proposition, a person will either believe it to be true or not. There isn't any grey area. That's why I'd label so-called 'agnostics' as 'atheists'. If you haven't decided whether something is true or not, then you don't believe it to be true. We can assign probabilities to things, but our brains do not work in that way. We either behave completely as though something is true or we don't. I agree somewhat that whether someone believes in something will have a lot to do with their actions. It isn't defined by actions, but actions (or a lack of them) are really good indicators. Someone might claim they believe something, or don't believe something, but their actions will often indicate whether they really don't or do believe it on a subconscious level.
      Last edited by Dianeva; 10-27-2012 at 01:39 AM.

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      A belief is the absence of knowledge concerning the issue that you believe in. It also includes a judgement you made; if you believe in something that's because you either regard it as more likely than other alternative beliefs or favourable to believe in.
      Saying there is no alien life in the universe is like dipping a cup in the ocean and saying there are no whales.

    5. #5
      Xei
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      A belief is something you think to be true.

      :/
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      Quote Originally Posted by Warheit View Post
      Belief implies that you already made a decision.
      You're confusing belief with faith.

    7. #7
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      remember that guy who had used hypnosis to make warts drop-off his patients?

      Then he saw a surgeons patient coverd in warts. and asked the surgeon,

      "Why don't you use hypnosis?"

      The surgeon turned to him with a pitying look and said,

      "Why don't you"?

      The young nieve doctor followed the surgeons advice and began treating the Surgeons wart-ridden patient and all the warts dropped-off.

      Shock-horror (!!!)

      It was not worts but a totally incurable, congenital condition. (???)

      It made World News in its day. And parents brought the children with this rare, incurable, congenital condition to the young Doctor.

      but none got cured.

      The young doctor knew why.

      He said that he knew he could cure warts with hypnotism. YES

      but now he knew this was not warts but a rare, incurable, congenital condition.

      here is the link:

      ***

      "Placebo: Cracking the Code" - YouTube

      ***(52:38) 35,279 views

      The amazing story of what Belief did, starts at The 40 minute mark.

      (40:00)***

      Doctor Albert Mason*

      One day I was about to give an anesthetic and the case was wheeled in and the boy, he was a young man of 15,he was covered in millions of warts.

      The surgeon had been trying to graft skin from the boys chest which didn't have warts, onto his hands.And he was, kind-of disgusted because he had, really, made the boys hands a bit worse.

      So, I said to the surgeon being, (me) being young and rather cocky, that um*

      "Why don't you treat him with hypnotism?"

      (cos I though this was warts)

      (4:40) And the surgeon looked at me, pityingly*

      (4:44) and said

      "Why don't you?"

      and walked out of the theater.*

      (...)

      (the young doctor Mason did just that. A week later boy returned)

      Doctor Albert Mason*

      Well that's good, let's show Mr Moor, (the surgeon). So, we took the boy to the theater and Moor was operating at the time. We held up both the boys arms, one untreated the other untreated.

      And Moor looked, and his eyes became like saucers, and he handed his knife over to his assistant, and came out, and looked at this, and he said,

      Good God

      I said

      "I told you warts go"

      He said

      "Warts?"*This isn't warts,*

      he said

      this is*

      congenital ichthyosis erythmederma (of) brock*

      He was born with it. It's incurable.

      (What Albert Mason had done was impossible) (42:30)

    8. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jesus of Suburbia View Post
      You're confusing belief with faith.
      There are several different definitions of "belief", and "have faith in" is one of them. It is a legitimate definition. Churches that use the Nicene Creed (our statement of faith, of what are some of the core things we believe in) we say "We believe in God ..." That's how the Nicene Creed starts. You cannot say that is an incorrect definition of the word if it is used for centuries this way by at least one subgroup of people. This is a definition of "belief" - one of the definitions the word has. However, neither the Christian church nor atheists own this word. It is a common word used in English for many reasons with many meanings. And when an atheist says "I believe", for him or her it will not mean "I have faith in", but when a Christian uses this word, this is one of the meanings of belief, the way we use it.
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      You may say I'm a dreamer.
      But I'm not the only one
      - John Lennon

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by JoannaB View Post
      There are several different definitions of "belief", and "have faith in" is one of them. It is a legitimate definition. Churches that use the Nicene Creed (our statement of faith, of what are some of the core things we believe in) we say "We believe in God ..." That's how the Nicene Creed starts. You cannot say that is an incorrect definition of the word if it is used for centuries this way by at least one subgroup of people. This is a definition of "belief" - one of the definitions the word has. However, neither the Christian church nor atheists own this word. It is a common word used in English for many reasons with many meanings. And when an atheist says "I believe", for him or her it will not mean "I have faith in", but when a Christian uses this word, this is one of the meanings of belief, the way we use it.
      While arguing semantics with you for possibly hours on end sounds like a complete joy, I'd rather end with the fact that despite technically having similar definitions, the five letters F A I T H do not always represent the same thing every time, and the question is whether we're talking about the expectation of something to happen (eg; the doctor has faith that you'll recover within the next week) or a specific kind of belief that doesn't require definite proof, usually with some kind of reward for having it (eg; if you have faith that God exists you will get into Heaven, or to a child you might say that they don't understand the requirement of an education, but they have to have faith that it will benefit them eventually).

      This works for the six letters B E L I E F as well, eg; "I believe in life after death" is interchangeable with "I have faith in life after death", however "I believe in the keyboard at my fingertips" is not interchangeable with "I have faith in the keyboard at my fingertips" because faith is a specific type of belief rather than a belief in and of itself.

      Context is what matters, not just overlapping definitions and almost-synonyms. In the case of Warheit he was basically stating an equivalent of "all rectangles are squares, but not all squares are rectangles" where faith is always a type of belief (unless it's an expectation) while a belief is not necessarily a type of faith and is never an expectation.
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    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      Belief is a weird word to me, and one I'm sort of done using, at least the way many people define the word. I am led to believe many things, based upon my experiences. But I don't really believe them. Belief seems to imply that it's part of my identity, or that I have to make up my mind about everything.

      For me it's more about action, I could care less about what I believe. I'm only interested in what actions I am led to commit. I mean sure, I may justify an action by explaining my beliefs, but they seem easily discarded after the action was performed. I don't see much use in shaping my view of reality around my beliefs. I don't see much use in shaping reality at all, honestly. It sort of happens whether or not I think anything in particular about it. Why worry about it unless there's a decision to be made? Why associate yourself with it?
      Well

      I recon if we learned to believe or make-believe then real magic and miracles would happen.

      I know that it is the big big elephant-in-the-corner of the room. The big big obvious secret.

      ***

      Show Boat (1936) - Part 2/16: "Make Believe" - YouTube

      ***(4:49) 67,693 views

      Make Believe lyrics
      from Showboat

      Only make believe I love you,
      Only make believe that you love me.
      Others find peace of mind in pretending,
      Couldn't you?
      Couldn't I?
      Couldn't we?
      Make believe our lips are blending
      In a phantom kiss, or two, or three.
      Might as well make believe I love you,
      For to tell the truth I do

      Your pardon I pray
      'Twas too much to say
      The words that betray my heart.

      We only pretend
      You do not offend
      In playing a lover's part.
      The game of just supposing
      Is the sweetest game I know.
      Our dreams are more romantic
      Than the world we see.

      And if the things we dream about
      Don't happen to be so,
      That's just an unimportant technicality.

      Though the cold and brutal fact is
      You and I have never met,
      We need not mind convention's P's and Q's
      If we put our thoughts in practice
      We can banish all regret
      Imagining most anything we choose.

      Only make believe I love you,
      Only make believe that you love me.
      Others find peace of mind in pretending,
      Couldn't you?
      Couldn't I?
      Couldn't we?
      Make believe our lips are blending
      In a phantom kiss, or two, or three.
      Might as well make believe I love you,
      For to tell the truth I do

      from the show-more

      One of three film versions of the classic Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein stage musical, this Universal production is*

      considered the best of the three by film critics and enthusiasts alike.*

      Premiering at Washington's National Theatre in the winter of 1927, the original stage show went on to continue its out-of-

      town tryout in a series of East Coast cities before finally making its Broadway debut at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 27*

      December, 1927. The original Broadway production was a huge success, playing over 500 performances. The show then embarked*

      on a nation-wide tour after it completed its Broadway run in 1929.
      I wanna say more .....

    11. #11
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      Belief is something that you think is true?

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      I would define belief as: "An idea that an individual holds since he/she thinks it's true (whether they thought of it or not) and which the person has developed feelings to it." That's why when you "touch" people's beliefs in a conversation they react with emotions.

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      Simply put a belief is just something you think is true. I believe I will be eating dinner in the next half hour. If you are talking about a more faith based idea of believing, then it is basically the same thing. You think something is true. The only difference is that when people use it to mean faith stuff it often holds the connotation that the person is believing it for stupid reason, or blindly believing it with no reasons.

    14. #14
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      @Alric: Unfortunately faith is also seen as a virtue - I don't have a link, but remember the numbers quite well - there was a poll on if Americans would vote for somebody, who is otherwise perfectly suited, if s/he were - a woman, a coloured person: over 90% (hurrah!) - a homosexual: bit under 80% (bit hurrah) - an atheist: 49 % WTF??!
      Officially not to be a person of faith is akin to political suicide in America!

      Being an atheist and being an agnostic is not mutually exclusive - one is about what I do and don't believe - the other is about what I can be sure of:

      I do not believe in god(s).
      +
      I am aware of the fact, that my experience of reality is relative and I know, that I can't possibly be sure of anything whatsoever, except that I am - including the god concept.

      What do I mean?
      I could imagine for example - without twisting my understanding of reality - that we are only a simulation in some advanced beings' computational arrangements.
      And to denominate the ones running the simulation as gods would make sense then.
      While I find such a scenario highly unlikely - it is important to state it in principle.


      Being both doesn't mean at all, that I can't engage in atheist activism - trying to convince others, to drop their beliefs in gods.

    15. #15
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      Beliefs define us as humans, maybe.

      They are an expression of our capabilities...observation, memory, intellect, language.

      They can shape our behavior in ways that might not even seem intentional.

      Although they might not always be based in fact, beliefs can affect situations the same as truths can if taken seriously enough. To make things even more complex, even the beliefs of others impact us...whether we like it or not.

      I am inclined to say that although the results aren't always positive, they aren't always negative either.

      For example, I could believe in something wonderful so much, that I could go out and do wonderful things. Or, I could believe in something despicable so much, that I could go out and do despicable things. Beliefs can fill philosophy books, create art, and invent new technologies, and they can fill morgues, wreak havoc, and destroy all manner of things.

      There are all kinds of choices to be made, and I think maybe beliefs validate people in a sense that (good or bad) they imply some form of purpose and direction. Without them, some people seem to feel really uncomfortable.
      Last edited by acatalephobic; 04-06-2014 at 08:08 AM. Reason: oops
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