Friday, September 17, 2010

A note on believing

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. -- Bertrand Russell
The thing that confuses me the most about most religions is the idea of "faith", the idea that one should believe in something without having (enough) evidence for it. Even more puzzling are those who tries to convince others of their God by telling them to "believe". If you step back for a moment, it becomes quite humourous, actually. Just imagine:
Person A: Believe in my God!
Person B: Ok.
What I'm really confused about is this: what does it actually mean for Person B to say "Ok, I've decided to believe in God"? Or rather -- does it actually mean anything? Do we really get to choose what sounds reasonable in our minds? Isn't what we end up believing based on the evidence that we have (i.e. our experiences) and how we interpret those? Thus to change our opinion on something, we could (a) bring out new evidence that we haven't considered, or (b) refine our methods of reasoning about those evidences.

I'm really curious about this -- do you think you can decide what you believe to be true? I don't think I can. Sure I can lie to myself, and I'm perfectly capable of pretend to believe in something. I can want to believe something, and notice myself biasing the evidence towards it. But deep down, I'd still know that it's wrong, that perhaps there's not (yet) enough evidence. This knowing is much stronger than the pretend-belief, and my hypothesis is that we all have this compass inside of us that knows how plausible things actually are.

Of course, I might be wrong.

End of Entry