What does "Believe in" mean?

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  1. iantoPF profile image77
    iantoPFposted 13 years ago

    I keep hearing and reading this phrase and I must confess it doesn't make sense to me. I know what "Believe" means and I know what "in" means. It's when the two words are put together I don't understand.
    Phrases like "Do you believe in God?" or; "I believe in Jesus." or even "Do you believe in evolution?"
    The phrases seem to make no sense.
    I have asked this question many times usually in face to face discussion. I have never got a reasonable answer so perhaps this forum could supply one.

    1. Cagsil profile image77
      Cagsilposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You seem to be hoping for too much from this forum thread to get any sort of real answer, but I'll give you my insight to the understanding, and only hope you understand.

      It's part of the Human's way of thinking. By right the question shouldn't have the word "in" as a part of the conversation. It should not even be in the same sentence.

      Example: Do you believe God? Or Do you believe Evolution?

      The only reason people choose to use the word 'in' is because they are trying to add more value. God and/or Evolution cannot have added value. "GOD" is not real and "Evolution" is a science theory proven to exist, but limited of understanding by most. Many people get the idea that Evolution isn't real or doesn't exist as per what science says, because then those who do understand it, who have to abandon their supposed faith in GOD, because then Life would have more meaning than paying homage to a false idol.

      However you look at it- the word "in" is wrongly used in the sentences you've posed in this thread.

      I hope I helped.

    2. AEvans profile image74
      AEvansposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      What "in" means come inside and accept me for who I am, just my opinion.smile

  2. Leelin profile image60
    Leelinposted 13 years ago

    If you "believe in" something I think (believe) it means you think that is the most likely scenario, and no matter how many people believe in something, it doesn't make that something any more likely to be true.
    Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one!
    I too have my opinions, but I don't mind if someone disagrees with me.

  3. Valerie F profile image60
    Valerie Fposted 13 years ago

    Those words mean different things in the different contexts you present. To believe in (to trust or have confidence in) God is not the same as to believe in (to form an opinion in favor of)the theory of evolution.

    Both require the academic kind of belief that God could exist or that evolution could be the best account for how life got to be the way it is. But to believe in God goes a bit farther than merely believing God exists. I believe that liars and other unreliable people exist, for example, but I do not believe in them- that is to say that I have no faith, no confidence in them.

  4. pay2cEM profile image79
    pay2cEMposted 13 years ago

    I think I understand your confusion , and I kinda agree with you.  FOr example, if someone were to ask me if I believe in Santa Clause, I could take this several different ways.  Are you asking me if I believe that Santa actually EXISTS?  Are you asking me if I give credence to the moral/ethical implications of what the Santa story stands for?  Are you asking if I believe there's a guy in a red suit passing out candy canes at the mall?  What, precisely, is it that you want to know.  Clarify your question.  I think you can probably ask any question you want a specific answer without starting it, Do you believe IN..."

  5. Will Apse profile image88
    Will Apseposted 13 years ago

    If this was France a hundred people would tell you at length what any piece of grammar meant. They would tell you why and when that particular form of speech evolved. Then finish up with an impassioned defense of the beauty of the language and the need to defend it from corruption by the forces of evil (mainly anyone who doesn't speak French).

    The English language just blunders along in the hands of the semi-literate. It was created by barbarians and will be preserved by barbarians.

    In other words, in our great democratic times 'believe in' means whatever you want it to mean.

  6. fatfist profile image75
    fatfistposted 13 years ago

    All theists "lack belief" in a god - they KNOW there is a god!

  7. kess profile image59
    kessposted 13 years ago

    To "believe in" something you are merely trusting it to perform your expectation.

    Whether it be God, a man, system, a thing.

  8. ddsurfsca profile image72
    ddsurfscaposted 13 years ago

    believe in--to rely or trust in something or someone you cannot prove or see--to have faith

  9. Mekenzie profile image78
    Mekenzieposted 13 years ago

    Good Day Fine Sir!  Believing IN God or Jesus is not just believing that they exist or existed.  A true (believing in someone) means you trust their intentions and know that they speak the truth. You believe in who they are ... when they speak - you believe it.

    So take that concept and apply it to believing IN God or Jesus.  God said He spoke the Heaven's and the Earth into existence.  He said He created YOU.  God said He loves you.  The Bible (God's Word) says Jesus died for YOU. 

    You can believe that is what the Bible says (because you have picked up a Bible and read it) without ever believing IN God or Jesus.  Does that make sense?

  10. mega1 profile image68
    mega1posted 13 years ago

    To me "believe in" means having a sincere WISH for something to be true.  It presupposes that there can be no way of knowing for sure whether it is a true thing.  I can believe in you, even not knowing you, which means I sincerely wish you will live up to high standards.  la la la!

  11. iantoPF profile image77
    iantoPFposted 13 years ago

    Thank you all for some thoughtful replies.
    Unfortunately it would seem that Will Apse may have hit the nail on the head. His reply reminds me of a line in Alice in Wonderland. "When I use a word" said Humpty Dumpty haughtily, "It means precisely what I want it to mean. No more and no less."
    When I hear the statement used such as "Do you believe in God?"
    The person asking generally means 'Do you accept that the divine being I conceive of as God is the one true architect of the universe?'
    That seems to be what they are asking. The nature of the question seems unclear though.First because "Believe" means 'less than totally convinced' and 'in' refers to being inside that belief and that doesn't make any sense.
    As for the phrase meaning trust. That seems to come close also. For example; I can ezamine the evidence for evolution and examine the evidence for creation then decide which notion I will place my trust into. Having come to a conclusion the phrase "Believe in" would seem immature and contradictory.
    This is my confusion on the phrase and I am searching for understanding. It's taking a little more than I thought it would take.

    1. Mark Knowles profile image60
      Mark Knowlesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      This is actually an interesting question and I kept away to see what answers you got before throwing in my two penny worth.

      I asked a similar question the other day


      and got vague responses and I have come to this conclusion:

      The phrase "believe in" as opposed to "trust" is being currently bastardized because it is no longer acceptable to "believe in" something such as god without some sort of justification.

      So what we have is a lot of "believers in" who are arguing that they do not merely "believe in" but have some personal revelation and or experience that has proven to them that what they "believe in" is actually a rational decision based on empirical evidence - that only they can see. So they do not "believe in" they have trust in something that they have tested and measured.

      If you look through the thread I started in an attempt to discern what is wrong with "believing in" you will see nothing but arguments that no one "believes in," because it makes no sense to do so.

      Despite the fact that that is exactly what they do. wink

      Personally I think this is where a lot of the animosity between believers in and non believers in is coming from. I do not care one whit what you believe - but the moment you tell me this is a rational decision - and by extension -  my decision not to believe in is an irrational one - we have a conflict.

  12. profile image0
    A Texanposted 13 years ago

    "Believe in" the morning

    1. manlypoetryman profile image80
      manlypoetrymanposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      "Believe in" it's another new day lol cool !

  13. alexandriaruthk profile image63
    alexandriaruthkposted 13 years ago

    believe is just agreeing, faith is with action

  14. iantoPF profile image77
    iantoPFposted 13 years ago

    I'd like to make the point that this is not a frivolous question on my part.
    First because I have asked this question in conversations with many people of different faiths and the answers never really seem to address the problem. It's more than semantics. "Believe in" carries with it a lot of emotion from the people that use it, whether the subject be God, children, evolution or the calming effects of a cup of tea. Generally I have found that the people who ask with "Believe in" attached get upset and even angry when you do not agree with them.
    Secondly, I am an aspiring writer. What I do here and elsewhere is an attempt to learn and improve. Eventually I hope to publish books also. Most of my writing is in the area of the human search for the Divine and the Myths and legends associated with that. So the question of "What do you believe in?" is one that plagues my writing and because I do not truly understand I'm left puzzled by how I should respond.
    I look forward to gathering insights.

  15. ragnaworks profile image60
    ragnaworksposted 13 years ago

    I think that the word "believe" has a completely different meaning than the words "believe in". To "believe" someone or something means to decide that what they say is true. To "believe in" someone or something means to have trust, confidence, and/or faith in them. For instance, if I were to say "I believe Ted", that means that I have accepted what Ted is saying to be the truth. However, if I say "I believe in Ted", the meaning changes. I am now saying that I have confidence, trust, and/or faith in Ted. Also, if you "believe" that a person or entity exists, that does not necessarily mean you are on their side. However, "believing in" a person/entity does imply a sort of loyalty or following of them. If I say "I believe the sky exists", I am simply accepting that it does exist. It doesn't mean I am a follower of the sky, or have any kind of spiritual or emotional tie to it. But, if I say "I believe in the sky", then some sort of emotional or spiritual bond is being implied. That is my take on it.

    1. iantoPF profile image77
      iantoPFposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      On the basis of that excellent reply. I have just become your fan. Thank you.


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