Why Do You Believe?

blue_question

Borrowing again from a Finding Truth discussion, I thought this comment (by “portal001,” aka Ryan) was rather provocative. How would you answer?

I think these are valuable questions whether or not a person holds theist or atheist beliefs.

  1. If everyone else you knew turned away and stopped believing what you believed, would you still believe?
  2. Furthermore, if some of these same people treated you differently, harshly, and excluded you because of your convictions, would you still believe?

I think a person’s answer says something of why they believe.

In other words, is your belief based on social support and/or group reinforcement? Is your belief strong enough to withstand rejection?

I would go further and ask:

  1. Do you base your belief on what other people say or on your own reading and research?
  2. Is your belief centered in your “gut” or is it merely a convenience?
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9 thoughts on “Why Do You Believe?

  1. Hi Nan, you invited me to look elsewhere on your blog, so here I am! 🙂

    I don’t think we can isolate these questions into a clear either/or yes/no type answers. We all believe all sorts of things for logical, psychological, emotional and historical reasons, and we don’t always understand our own motives. But I will have a go ….

    “If everyone else you knew turned away and stopped believing what you believed, would you still believe?”
    I think so. My faith is more based on my own reading and praying than on attending church.

    “if some of these same people treated you differently, harshly, and excluded you because of your convictions, would you still believe?”
    It has happened on occasions, though not too harshly, and it made no difference. But then, I am a bit of a heretic!

    “Do you base your belief on what other people say or on your own reading and research?”
    Both. It doesn’t matter what the source is, truth is still truth, and that is what I base my judgment on.

    “Is your belief centered in your “gut” or is it merely a convenience?”
    Neither really, certainly not “convenience” – I can’t imagine how living as a christian would be convenient. My belief is primarily centred in my head I think.

    I’ll be interested to see what other answers you get. Best wishes.

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    • Thanks for your answers, unkleE.

      I’m curious about your last answer where you say you “can’t imagine how living as a christian would be convenient.” Are you saying it’s difficult? And why?

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  2. As a christian, I am supposed to be living my life in the service of a cause greater than myself. That means I sometimes do things that I don’t want to do, and don’t do things I want to do. I think that’s a major factor in people not wanting to follow Jesus – it certainly was for me. It is not “convenient” to do that, and sometimes “difficult” (in a way) though it is fulfilling.

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  3. I have friends who believe, others who don’t, so I think at least I am not being influenced by either and following my own convictions. There are days when I ask, “why do I believe” followed by days of asking, “why do I doubt?”.
    Whatever faith I have is my own decision and based on my own experience and perceptions. But I think the implication suggested by the questions is that if you only believe from the basis of a communal groupthink then you really don’t believe in anything at all, except the value of being part of the tribe, to which I agree.

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  4. Thanks “u-s” for stopping by. I agree with you about the tribal connection — and would go one step further by saying this is probably the biggest reason many people do believe.

    Yet I can’t help but wonder whether even those with the strongest faith would continue if one day they found themselves ostracized for their belief. Some say there were those in the first century that were martyred for their belief. Are modern believers that committed?

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  5. Call me Ann if that is easier, my blog name isn’t convenient to respond to, lol.
    I think my grandparents would have died for their faith. My generation? Most believe only because they have been taught to profess belief. I see few modern believers that I would consider committed to the faith they claim and think that many believe as insurance against hell.

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  6. Totally agree with your last statement … “Ann.” 🙂

    I do think, however, that if asked, many believers would deny this and then proceed to provide various reasons why they are totally committed to their faith. But when push comes to shove, we all fear death. And what better solution to subdue this fear than to believe in a “heavenly” afterlife?

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  7. If everyone else you knew turned away and stopped believing what you believed, would you still believe?
    Furthermore, if some of these same people treated you differently, harshly, and excluded you because of your convictions, would you still believe?

    I’m going to hazard a “yes” to both of these.

    For a few of the years while I was a Christian, I held some ultra-conservative beliefs, based on my (arguably shallow) research, which were not shared by any other Christians I knew personally. This created a separation between me and them, which caused me considerable grief. Still, I stuck to my guns.

    I’m glad that I was able to re-research and reason my way out of that pigeonhole when I did. (Mind you, this was well before I even considered the possibility that the whole thing might be false.)

    Do you base your belief on what other people say or on your own reading and research?
    Is your belief centered in your “gut” or is it merely a convenience?

    1. A mix, I suppose? I like to think it’s primarily the latter, but of course every source in research is someone saying something, so…?

    2. I’d say my (new-found, tentative) lack of belief is centered in “my head”.

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    • I feel the first question is a difficult one for Christians. Their first response would most likely be “Yes!” However, when considering the second part, I think some might need to look a little deeper. As far as non-believers, in this nation (and in Muslim countries as well), I think most of them are already treated differently.

      On the second question, I tend to agree with you that it’s primarily the latter for most Christians. Changes in belief don’t seem to come until the reading and research are actively pursued.

      Thanks for stopping by and including your perspectives.

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