This website is my private project. You can contribute by giving your feedback.

Reality and our image of it

My strongest conviction is: don’t trust any conviction.

belief

An opinion you believe to be true.

conviction

A belief you are reluctant to discuss about.

I can have communication issues with people who fail to understand the difference between reality and their convictions.

“Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it.” – Philip K. Dick in I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

reality

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

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.

Human laws should grant freedom of religion because 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

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”.2

Don’t say “I know” when you mean “I believe”

Don’t mix up “to know” and “to believe”.

to know

To assume correctness of a statement because it is scientifically proven.

to believe

To assume correctness of a statement despite the lack of scientific evidence.

“I believe in this” means “I know that I don’t know whether it’s true, but I do as if it was.”

You can say “I know that my leg is hurting” or “I know that Earth is a planet in a solar system” or “I know that this car is too expensive for me” because these statements can be verified using some variant of the scientific method.

But you cannot (validly) say “I know that we must raise the wages in educational sector” or “I know that God exists” because these statements cannot be verified using scientific method.

Both expressions have in common that you rely on what you know or believe.

Neither to know nor to believe exclude the possibility that your statement is wrong. We now know that Earth is a planet in a solar system because science, at its current state of art, confirms it. 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.

Refusing to differentiate between knowing and believing can lead to idolatry, which is “always an attempt to establish certainty where it is both unwarranted and unearned”1.

To believe is more than to assume. Assuming something is just an intellectual activity 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.

Footnotes

1

Idolatry and Abortion by Vance Morgan on Patheos, 2020-02-02).

2

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