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October 24, 2010


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Wonderful, clear post; thanks for it.

Have you ever noticed that people convince themselves that something is true, though? That they, for example, tell a little white lie, and tell it so many times, embellishing on it, that eventually they come to believe it themselves?

I too was about to comment on people convincing themselves that something is true. This happens more often than we realize.

With many beliefs, there is a necessary antecedent: The desire to believe. If the desire to believe did not exist, I don't think most religions, conspiracy theories, etc., would ever take hold. The desire to believe is what tunes a person in more to one side of the discussion than another. For example, I enjoy debating 9/11 "Truthers." Like creationists, these people will ignore every argument and piece of evidence you can throw at them -- because, I believe, they have a desire to believe in a mysterious and scary shadow government or some such thing pulling the strings in the background, like Yahweh. They want to believe a narrative that's far more compelling and interesting than a handful of Saudi piss-ants with box cutters, fire, and gravity. Meanwhile, of course, they accuse me of ignoring their evidence, telling me that I must believe the "official account" because I want to convince myself that my government isn't lying to me. Of course, I don't believe that's why I believe what I believe, in part because I admittedly don't want to believe that's why I would believe such a thing!

Human beings are not Mr. Spocks who naturally weigh the evidence on both sides and come to a dispassionate, informed position, which they subsequently believe. (There probably aren't any religions or conspiracy theories on the planet Vulcan.) For most Earthlings, the desire to believe starts them off in one direction, and barring a mental "avalanche" -- to reference another recent post of yours -- that's the direction they end up going.

Thanks Brian for this wonderful article!
I met a couple of guys over at my university...they were from some Youth Christian movement.
They showed me some pictures, and asked me to choose the ones I thought represented my life, God and the spiritual journey I'd taken, and what I though about Christ being the savior etc.
I asked them this question: Believing in God and Christ means that I believe that this 'belief' will bring something positive in my life. By my own experience of Hinduism, Sikihism, Spiritual movements (RSSB) and a bit of Christianity, I don't think there's any truth value in believing in the first place. Infact it just creates a bias towards relating everything positive to the wonders of this 'belief'. I believe in myself, and humanity, and science that can explain me, my brain and my behaviors more accurately than anything else in the world.

I was expecting a nice discussion, but they didn't answer my question and quickly made an exit...I hope I didn't offend them.

Beliefs are what causes war, greed and insanity. Most people believe that beliefs are truth without really thinking about it and hence when you try to challenge those beliefs they get irritated. Beliefs are programs but people don't realize this. I think it takes some courage to look at yourself and your beliefs. But with effort you can be free of beliefs

Who are these PEOPLE? Where did they come from? I think they need to be punished.

They must be different from the TEXAS RANGERS... GO RANGERS!!!!!!

beliefs do not cause "war, greed and insanity"... people do.

it is people who make war and who act greedily or insanely. it is people who commit sinful actions and bad behavior, not beliefs. beliefs are merely ideas, not actions. action is karma.

there are many beliefs, in fact all sorts of beliefs. but it is action (karma) which is the cause of war. acting greedily is action. and insanity has various possible causes - usually that of brain chemistry and/or emotional immaturity or instability.

it is not beliefs which are the causes of war, greed, or insanity... it is simply bad actions, or selfishness, or neurological and emotional imbalances.

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