People start forming their belief systems by adopting ideas from the society they grow up in. As human beings become adults, oftentimes they come across new information that may contradict what was previously believed as truth. At this point, some people will either accept the new information and reevaluate their worldview or simply reject it. Even fewer will try to somehow fit the new information into their present belief system. Even though everyone has a wide variety of beliefs, many have never considered learning how a person forms a belief or what constitutes a belief. First, people have to understand that beliefs are our adopted concepts of how we perceive reality. A belief about reality is not reality itself. Second, beliefs influence how people interact with each other, or understand the world. And third, once established, beliefs are accepted as facts and are rarely subject to scrutiny.
People adjust the reality they live in to fit their beliefs. In other words, people accept or reject data to conform their beliefs, which means people do not perceive reality objectively. Therefore, it is essential to research and inquire about your personal beliefs in order to gain fresh knowledge about yourself and the world around you.
The first step is to realize that there is a huge difference between belief and knowledge. Belief is the state of mind in which a person accepts something to be true without evidence. On the other hand, knowledge is an awareness or understanding of something, such as facts, data or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by discovering and learning.
The second step is to constantly reevaluate beliefs and replace them with newly gained information based on facts or knowledge based on experience. Information and knowledge based on facts will expand understanding of the subject matter, while maintained beliefs have the potential to prohibit further understanding.
As belief progresses toward faith and dogma, the problems escalate and become more apparent. We can see this both in religions and political ideologies, especially those that contain scripts which honor war, intolerance, slavery and superstitions. For example, religious inquisitions, "holy" wars, and slavery.
Why does religious belief create such monstrous atrocities? Because religion compresses the minutiae of life into terms of belief, faith, and absolutes, without need for reason or comprehension. Religion puts reality, morality, love, happiness and desire in a supernatural realm incomprehensible to the mind of man.
The problem is that most parents teach children at a very young age to believe in abstract ideas such as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and gods. Parents do not understand the restrictions that those seemingly innocent beliefs may cause. Thus our society is prepared to not only accept beliefs, but to honor and even fight for them. If, instead, people taught their children about beliefs and how they can pollute the mind and the dangers they can produce, society would have little need for censoring ideas. Without believers, the violence and fantasy described by their fictions could only represent what they truly are - just fictions.
Faith and belief represent a form of mental activity that produces an unnecessary and dangerously false sense of trust and wrongful information, which is thinking coupled with the feeling of truth. Particularly at its most benign level, faith and belief can act as barriers to further understanding. History has shown that faith and belief have always served as triggers for violence and destruction. In other words, faith constantly promotes ignorance in humanity.
In conclusion, replacing belief with analytic thought based on experience and evidence will provide means to eliminate intolerance and dangerous superstitious ideas. Even though the omnipresent distractions of life get in the way, people should still try to become more conscientious individuals and not let their personal beliefs and prejudices influence their decisions.
Author of "The Amusing Bible"
Arthur Tovmasyan is a manager for a Fortune 500 Company. Tovmasyan grew up in Armenia and attained a bachelor's degree in world economy, finance and credit from Yerevan University of Economy and Law. He resides in Los Angeles, California.
"The Amusing Bible"
By Arthur Tovmasyan