This I Believe

Robert - Chapal Hill, North Carolina
Entered on December 13, 2008

I don’t believe in belief, for many reasons. For one, many people throughout the centuries have been willing to kill each other because of their beliefs, primarily religious or political. When I was 25. for example, my best friend committed suicide because of a paranoid religious belief. This alone was be reason enough for me to identify the human propensity to believe things as one of the principal facets of our species’ insanity. “There you go,” some of you might say; “you obviously hold a belief that our species is insane;” but I don’t really hold this belief. I simply have observed our species as objectively and scientifically as possible, noting our centuries of destroying not only each other, but the Earth itself, the very home that we all depend on for our existence. Based on these facts, I have posited a theory that homo sapiens is an insane species. I am open to having this theory challenged, precisely because it isn’t a belief.

This brings us to the primary problem with belief. When you believe anything, it closes the door to objective inquiry. For centuries, for example, the Catholic Church enforced the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. That belief prevented inquiry into the possibility that maybe the Earth isn’t the center of the universe. Galileo and his telescope eventually provided some objective proof that challenged this belief. Under threat of death, Galileo recanted his “heretical theory,” but it was too late. The facts eventually won out.

Modern science, hopefully, has managed to escape the illness of belief. For example, one does not believe in string theory. Some scientists propose this theory. Then all scientists, including the ones who proposed it, begin to challenge it with research and inquiry. It might be said that this practice is based on a belief of sorts, a belief that there is no ultimate objective truth that the human mind can ever comprehend, and that at the core of everything there is an intrinsic great mystery. We can get closer and closer to the mysterious truth, but can never quite get there, because there will always be the distorting fact that we are there as the observer.

This is not to say that there is not a deep knowingness, a basic trust in the intrinsic intelligence in the life force that appears to be continuously creating the universe, including you and I. There is some level of faith in all this; but from another point of view, it is not a matter of belief at all. As I observe the life force within me as objectively as possible, there appears to be intelligence there. This is a theory that I posit. Until someone can prove otherwise, I accept this theory, as I do the theories of evolution, relativity and the like. When and if I’m proven wrong, the way I perceive the world will change.

It can also be said that my beliefs about belief are beliefs nonetheless. This is really just playing with words, but if it makes you feel better, then so be it. Let it be said that this I believe.