Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ten Things to Know about Belief

1. Beliefs must never be inviolable and should always be defeasible otherwise they could not be held as meaningful to us. If they are not defeasible then they are not beliefs, but rather dogmas.

2. Beliefs are not the total sum of anyone given identity, since the correctness of character is not dependent on the correctness or incorrectness of beliefs. 
There is no link between holding a true belief and being a good person, or vice versa.   

3. The due criticism of our beliefs is the ONLY way to test them and hold them up to scrutiny to see if they are true or not. Some beliefs ARE better than others.

4. Upon discovering a belief to be false or erroneous, logically fallacious, or discrepant it is not a crime to point this out. It would be a crime not to.

5. People have the right to hold to false, erroneous, and or discrepant beliefs insofar as they are aware that when superior beliefs arise their outmoded beliefs will likely be challenged. If one is offended by this, then it is clear their priority is not the soundness of their beliefs but the demand that you respect their beliefs, even without valid reasons, simply so they can feel like their beliefs are worthwhile--without having to do the work of proving them one way or another. To this type of person I only have this to say: I don't care about your beliefs--whether they may be true or not, because, apparently, neither do you.

6. Superior beliefs are those which can demonstrate the soundness of their claims and thereby stand the test of scrutiny. The law of parsimony suggests that beliefs must be revised and amended or simply abandoned when superior beliefs are discovered. Not to do so would only seek to sew greater confusion as to which beliefs are valid and which of those are invalid.

7.  
 It does not logically follow that one must be intolerant because they disagree with a belief, nor does it mean they are attacking you if they question or criticize your beliefs. At most, you simply have come to an impasse and realize there is no getting around your difference of opinion. There is no reason to call the other "intolerant" because they do not automatically take your side or believe exactly as you do. True tolerance towards others comes in excepting that not all beliefs are the same, not all beliefs are equal, and assuredly, not all beliefs are deserving of respect.  There is no reason one should be offended if someone completely destroys their belief in something, rather, they should be shocked that they had held such a belief at all and look to find a better replacement--it is through this laborious process that we can correct and improve our beliefs!

8. The quality of a belief is usually not an indicator, or reflective, of the quality of one's character. However, beliefs when acted upon can often times induce the wrong kinds of behavior when those beliefs are, in point of fact, wrong. Which places a greater emphasis on the necessity to test one's beliefs.

9. Even the smartest minds who have ever lived have often entertained false beliefs. Luckily, we can learn from their mistakes so that our beliefs will be that much better and more refined. Intelligence is not always a good indicator of the quality of belief a person will hold.

10. Respect for one's beliefs doesn't come because you believe something, since believing in and of itself is not a virtue, but if you want respect for your beliefs then they have to be something more than what you merely feel inclined to believe. Only then can a belief be deserving of respect. Those who demand respect for their beliefs have confused dogma for beliefs, and so cannot possibly know the value of a true belief.


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Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist