Here's a great letter to the editor that I came across in the May 9, 2015 issue of New Scientist.
From Ray Norris
According to Graham Lawton, "Beliefs, more than anything else, are what make us human" (4 April, p 28). I guess I'm not human, then, since I decided as a geeky astrophysics student many years ago to live in an evidence-based world in which beliefs are replaced by working hypotheses.
At least, I think I did, unless somebody produces strong evidence to the contrary. Once you renounce beliefs, life seems very straightforward, and totally self-consistent. I don't believe in global warming, but I think there's strong evidence to support it. I don't believe in the scientific method, but it seems to work remarkably well, so far. I don't believe in god, but wouldn't it be awesome if somebody produced evidence for a god? (I invite gods to try their hand at this).
A world without rigid intolerant belief is probably a gentler, kinder, more fault-tolerant world, with less persecution of those who don't share our beliefs. Whether you have (irrational) beliefs or (evidence-based) working hypotheses probably makes little difference to daily life, but an enormous difference to the way you view the world. I am always aware of the possibility that anything I say, including this sentence, is wrong.
Racism, sexism and all the other nasty-isms could probably not survive without belief. Unless I believe I'm superior to you, it's very difficult to justify killing you, or discriminating against you.
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, Australia