All beliefs are potentially dangerous
All beliefs are potentially dangerous.
Strange idea? Certainly not what most people are led to believe, as it were. But obvious if one thinks about it.
Sure we can get a good glimpse of the dangers of religious belief by looking at the daily news. Fanatical Muslims believe the west is evil. That belief based on one interpretation of their religion. A religion, by the way, that had been a model of a peaceful, tolerant and inclusive belief for much of its history.
We need only go back a short time to the many bloody and violent inquisitions of both the Protestants and Catholics to see what dangers those beliefs have the potential of unleashing on the world.
And why are these religions prone to having violent periods? Well the short answer is that heretics teach falsehoods and threaten the church. After all, heretical ideas cause decent and weaken the religion. The believer thinks they have the right model of life. Contradictory beliefs lead to actions based on those ideas, so those ideas must be stamped out so as to keep the religion pure and on track.
This is only an option when the religion holds power. The Christian churches only hung up their weapons when power was slowly taken from them in western democracies.
Some argue that these periods of terrorism are not what the bible teaches, so the religion is not to blame. Rather it is those who perverted the message and intent of the bible that are to blame.
That may be true, and the vast majority of Muslims say the same thing. But the fact that the books can be interpreted to demand violence make the belief in these religions potentially deadly for those who disagree with them.
Along with religion we know that belief in political systems can create conflict and violence. The debate between capitalism, communism, fascism, socialism, etc: can get very heated and end up in war. Why? Because each ideology threatens the others core values. Each convinced they are right; each having the desire that their core values spread and become universal.
But is that all? I said that all beliefs were potentially dangerous. We all know that religion and politics are subjects that cause fist fights, but why is any belief at all potentially dangerous? The answer is that all beliefs exclude. Because all beliefs declare that they are truth; and therefore they exclude other people’s contradictory beliefs.
Anything a person believes in; they act on. Each idea believed excludes those with other beliefs.
So it isn’t just the big things like politics and religion which are dangerous, but all beliefs; because exclusion causes conflict.
Now sure, belief that you look better in blue top than you do a white one probably won’t get you in too much trouble. But if because of that you decide to go to a job interview with the blue when you were advised to go white might cost you the job. The potential for problems in any belief is when it becomes a faith.
Faith gives the feeling of knowing what you believe is the absolute truth without giving the possibility of actually knowing that at all,
As i have said many times: belief is never required. A thing is true or not. No amount of belief either way changes that. A fact does not require belief; and the other option besides fact is speculation. If not a fact then it is speculation. Why on earth would one need to have faith in something speculative?
We are forced to act every day on speculative ideas. We know something will happen but we can’t be 100 percent certain what the result of our actions will ultimately be. So if we don’t know all the facts we have to try to form educated opinions based on what we do know. Regardless of how we act we will always potentially exclude someone and contradict their beliefs.
But opinions based on facts are easier to drop if other facts show our opinion was wrong. And knowing that you might be wrong as opposed to assuming you are right makes you a little less hasty and less inclined toward radical measures or jumping on the latest band wagon.
So in effect it is ideas themselves and our desire that they be true that is at the root of all problems because each idea contradicts someone else’s and excludes their idea from being true.
Even this essay contradicts and threatens the idea that faith is good, and potentially could cause conflicts, as it excludes that idea as being true. Yet the conclusion that faith/belief is by nature more prone to be used to do violence than not having faith and relying on facts and logic to govern our actions, seems to me an obvious logical fact.
While belief is bad, hope and desire are not. One can and should hope and desire without having any faith. Hope and desire for something better motivates us to go forward. But faith won’t be answer for a better future; logic will.