Two Types of Believers, Rought Draft

Belief

Is belief a matter of choice? This is a central question to me lately. Faith, is a matter of choice, dogma is a matter of choice, but when considering belief, the idea is a bit murkier.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary the definition of belief is:

belief |biˈlēf|
noun
1 an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists
• something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction


By this definition, belief is most certainly a matter of choice. Strangely, for me it mostly certainly is not. I am incapable of believing in things which I find logically impossible. My belief system, in short, is not guided by opinion or emotion, but by fact, knowledge, and experience. This position is perhaps the cornerstone of my personal and ever evolving philosophy.

If I were asked to position all of humanity into two groups, I would respond that people could easily be (superficially) separated into two categories: dogmatists, and rationalists.

An dogmatist says:
I believe that
or
I don't believe that
Because
...it does (or does not) feel right
...it does (or does not) fit with my other beliefs
...I do or (do not) like it
...it is (or is not) convenient

A rationalist says:
I believe that
or
I don't believe that
because:
...of evidence
...of known truth

The dogmatist says:
"Everything happens for a reason."
The rationalist says"
"Everything happens because of a reason.

Put more simply,
The dogmatist says:
"This is the truth because I believe it"
The rationalist says"
"This is the truth, so I will believe it."

The two groups, as you have likely already guessed, have irreconcilable differences about the nature of knowledge, existence, life and morality. To the dogmatist, a belief is a matter of choice, of convenience. To the rationalist, it is not.

Truth

There is a rarely discussed difference between belief and truth.

Beliefs are those things which we hold in our minds to be true.

Truth are those things which are actually true.

Belief ≠ Truth
Faith ≠ Truth
Truth = Truth (and nothing else does)

A man does not have the ability to alter or create truth. A man can discover truth, misrepresent truth, ignore or deny truth, lie against truth, but not, under any circumstances can a man alter the foundational workings of the universe. Man at his greatest can make truth work for him, but he can not create it.

Truth is inanimate, static, and indifferent to the supposed power of belief: rational, dogmatic, or otherwise. Truth is not a living entity, it has no feelings and makes no exceptions.

Consequence

No matter what you believe, if a moving train hits you, truth will over-ride fantasy.

To form a belief is an action, and every action produces a result. That is to say, all actions have consequences, positive or negative.

A man can choose to be a dogmatic, building an ever more unstable and unsustainable belief system. He can pile layers of half truth, intellectual dishonest, and outright lies, onto a foundation of falsehood. This is his right and I would not take it from him. But, I most certainly would be remiss if I did not remind him of this:

Those who build a belief system based on the avoidance or invention of truth will be those who are the most unprepared to deal with truth when confronted by it. (The emotional turmoil this creates is very real, and difficult to control.) Conversely, those who build a belief system based on the discovery and acceptance of truth have nothing to fear from the nature of reality.

A false belief is an avoidance of truth which leaves a man unprepared for the inevitable consequences.

Knowingly or unknowingly embracing a false belief is the avoidance of reality. The consequences for such can be dire.

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