Tuesday, February 25, 2020

During the last days and weeks I had contact with people who suffered from divorce, violence, solitude. These sufferings had a common cause, individualism, which is a wide-spread attitude in Estonia.

Another observation is that those who are skeptical against religion, are actually revolting against the same thing as I. When they explain me why they are against church or religion, I can only confirm: Yes, neither do I want a church or religion as they describe it. How the hell does it come that so many people have a wrong image about what I consider the most important topic of my life? If it’s our job as Christians to explain the Good News to all people, I am afraid that we don’t do our job very well!

I can feel irritated and offended when my dialog partner does not differentiate between conviction and belief. Please let me explain this.

If there is one thing I am convinced of, then this: Don’t trust your convictions. You can consider this as a corollary of Joachim Ringelnatz’s statement “Nothing is sure, and even this isn’t”.1

conviction

Something you are convinced of.

belief

Something you believe in.

So what’s the difference? Believing means to know that you don’t know the answer to some faith question and –despite of this– to choose one of them. Being convinced means to believe that there is no question.

This difference is important because two opposing convictions start war when they meet, while two opposing beliefs enrich each other when they meet.

We won’t have peace on earth as long as our leaders and institutions don’t learn to see the difference. This is why we need to cultivate our faith if we want to live in peace on this planet.

Human laws should grant freedom of religion. This is why faith cannot be regulated by human laws.

On the other hand, when a nation refuses to consider religious activities as part of their culture (and to finance them accordingly from their cultural budget), their population cannot learn to publicly talk about faith questions. Refusing to cultivate faith leads to general lack of spiritual competence.

I saw that the two Wikipedia articles Belief and Faith seem to live in separate worlds. I added Faith to the “Series on Certainty”. Also I saw that Wikipedia has no article about the word conviction in the meaning of the German word Überzeugung.

Another fun side note is that Germans have only word “Glaube” for the words “belief” and “faith”. Wikipedia “fixes” this by having two articles “Glauben” and “Glaube” (which linguistically is nonsense). For me faith is the individual set of beliefs of a human.

en

de

et

fr

faith

Glaube

usk

foi

belief

Glaube

uskumus

croyance

conviction

Überzeugung

veendumus

conviction

Footnotes

1

German author and cabaret artist Joachim Ringelnatz wrote “Sicher ist, dass nichts sicher ist. Selbst das nicht!” (source)