Reality and our image of it¶
“Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it.” – Philip K. Dick in I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon
The sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary. – inspired from Wikipedia
It seems that Zen philosophy uses the word “truth” for what I call “reality”, and “reality” for what I call world view. At least Brian Thompson says (in this blog entry): “What we refer to as reality is actually an entirely subjective experience, one that’s different for each of us–as in, what’s real for me isn’t real to you. It’s a matter of personal perception. The world I live within differs vastly from yours.” I do not foster this usage of the word “reality”.
In other words, to believe means to know that you don’t know the answer to some question and –despite of this– to choose one of them. In that case you can say that you are convinced of this answer.
When you tell me that you know the answer, then we cannot enter into dialogue because you believe that there is no question and that my doubt is invalid. We can enrich each other and grow towards a consensus only if you “repent”, i.e. you open your heart to the possibility of doubt.
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.
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.
Don’t trust your convictions¶
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”.
Don’t say “I know” when you mean “I believe”¶
Don’t mix up “to know” and “to believe”.
- to believe¶
To assume correctness of a statement without claiming to have a proof.
- to know¶
To assume that a statement is correct and proven and needs no further investigation.
When you say to your wife “I know that this car is too expensive for us”, it actually just means that you don’t want her to investigate further.
I don’t like when somebody tells me “I know that we must raise the wages in educational sector” because it indicates that he isn’t open to the idea that there might be more important sectors where we must raise the wages.
When somebody tells me “I know that God exists”, then he doesn’t mean they have a proof for it; it just means he decided to not doubt about it.
We can say “We know that Earth is a planet in a solar system” because during the last centuries humanity has reached a kind of scientific consensus about this question. The question is being answered by science, at its current state of art. But it might turn out, in some far future, that human science of the 21st century completely ignored certain aspects of reality regarding planets and solar systems.
To believe is more than to assume. Assuming something is just an intellectual choice that doesn’t cause any serious change in your world view. Believing something has an influence on your world view, which influences your real life decisions and choices. To believe in God is more than to assume he exists. Believing in God is a conscious decision to educate and to train myself so that I trust in God. To believe is a lifelong learning process.