I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Believe versus Believe in

In what do you believe? This question is asking about in what things do you trust? To what things are you faithful? Answers for me would be democracy, my marriage, Jesus Christ.

It is a linguistic curiosity that believe can also mean you sort of know something. Who had the best record in baseball this year? I believe it was the Cubs. When we use believe to refer to a fact, a single condition that is or is not true, it means less than know.

Of course, fact play a part in moving us to believe in a world view like that listed in the first paragraph as well. Marriage is easiest. I have billions of tiny observations and experiences that have caused me to love my wife and think that she loves me. I submit that there is no single fact that if thought true, but found to be false would mean that I no longer believed in my marriage. Many facts could change things so that I no longer believed in my marriage, but it would be more profound than learning that a single fact was not true.

Is there any single fact that could shake my faith in Jesus Christ? Is there any single fact that would cause me to no longer believe in Jesus Christ?

It seems like there should not be any such fact that could undo my faith, right?

5 comments:

Matt Dick said...

Are you allowed to sub-contract out parts of our email conversation?

This is interesting. Is there any single authority so intrinsic to your faith that its revelation as a fraud would cause you to lose faith...?

What if Paul was found to be a fraud? If some letter from Paul indicated his other writings were all cynical attempts to create a doomsday cult so he could raise funds for his own wealth generation, say.

What if you found something similar from your father from within the last two years? Obviously I'm going out to absurdist lengths to find a single fact so large.

What about one of your children dying in an arbitrary way?

JimII said...

Well, for example I think that Scientology may be based on an incomplete work of fiction or background for fiction. It would seem if you were a Scientologist and you found out that was the case it would be one fact that could destroy your religion.

Matt Dick said...

So let's contemplate the possibility that Mark's gospel really *is* just a brilliant midrash. Is this not exactly what you just proposed about scientology?

JimII said...

I don't think so. Midrash is intended to contain spiritual truths. Midrash is an extension of the faith tradition. I think.

Matt Dick said...

So a midrash based on a fictional character is different than what?

Your distinction here is finding out that Mark lied, but with the intention of conveying an important message is different from finding out LRon Hubbard lied to advance an agenda of power or money?

Okay, I can buy those as different. I don't know why at that stage Mark is a more reliable messenger of eternal truth, but I can see them as feeling different to the inheritors of each packaged wisdom.