Belief Mechanisms & Unintended Consequences

Greetings –
For anyone that responded to my Belief Mechanisms post yesterday, I wanted to let you know that I removed that post because it had some unintended consequences between bloggers that I’m fond of – for reasons entirely disconnected with the topic of this post.

So I’m REPOSTING the conversation and I will include everyone’s thoughtful responses at the bottom of this post because I don’t want to lose those well thought out thoughts from other readers.

Please feel free to join in the conversation – I’m hoping Soul Walker will respond to the comments made as he is a Philosopher. I loves me a little philosophical discourse.

…and here we go ~

Soul Walker:

I am particularly fond of belief mechanisms.

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:


Soul Walker:

First, an observation:

People do not have direct control over their beliefs.

Second, a question:

Can the mechanism of belief be described in a meaningful way?

Third, a point, or a possible beginning:

The “unfounded” supports the explainable. In other words: there is a connection between faith and knowledge and it has to do with belief. This faith is not necessarily at all religious.

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

I’m compelled to comment – not because I’m agreeing or disagreeing but because I’m curious.

Why do people not have direct control over their beliefs? I would think that is one thing I can control – what I chose to believe in (with the understanding that despite believing or not believing it doesn’t change the state of that thing I believe in – so if I believe in fairies – that in and of itself has nothing to do with the truth of if they exist).

How do you define ‘knowledge’? I can have faith that fairies will save me from a clown on fire (haha) even if I have no knowledge that fairies exist but I have belief that they do.

I think faith/belief tends to exist regardless of any kind of knowledge if one’s belief/faith is based on a truth.

Soul Walker:

If you can choose to believe something then do so right now. This is a challenge. Choose to believe something you do not currently believe. Perhaps you could decide right this moment to believe that the earth is actually flat and hexagonal in nature. Let me know how that goes.

So let us proceed…

For Soul Walker – AHHHHH! I cannot force myself to believe something I know to be disproved (i.e. flat world)… I can say it out loud and in my head – but my brain knows that it’s not jiving with what it already believes and knows to be untrue (flat world).  I can tell myself anything but if I have to be so conscious of that ‘belief’, it’s obvious that I do not actually believe it.

Are you going to respond with SEE! SEE!  you couldn’t CONTROL that you believed it? Because I would say, I believe things all day long – or at least the version of them that I perceive; if they are true or not – that’s different story.  And then I’d say –Oh Wait– I see what you mean about no direct control over what I believe – I believe things all day long without being so conscious about ‘believing’.  However, what about when you change what you believe (maybe became aware of another version) – in that case, I’d say you made a direct and conscious decision to change your belief.

Ha ha – I don’t even need another person – I can just argue with myself…

Ok  – Can mechanism of belief be described in a meaningful way

How do you know there is a mechanism? Why does there have to be an underlying universal-ness about believing?  The more basic question might be why do we believe, correct?  I guess you could not believe or disbelieve – just accept whatever you perceive and just change the truths as they conflict with whatever it is you believe to be true.  But I don’t think a typical brain could do that. Which makes me feel that belief is a survival mechanism possibly… if you didn’t believe basic things – you could never move forward. If you disbelieved everything you couldn’t even move because you couldn’t even trust that ground is solid, or air is breathable or legs can hold your body up etc.

I have to ponder the last point or possible beginning


To your post: one thing seems relatively clear to me, and that is that people are able to reject, that is not believe, anything, even facts, if it does not suit their faith/belief. If you just believe something to be a certain way, though you don’t know, you’re usually able to alter your belief when you eat the facts… like I said in a post the other day:
I have many believes,
for not much is certain,
but belief I have:

Why did I add this? It’s a mystery.

A gripping life

I think a lot of things funnel into any one belief. We each work with a schema which is comprised of our background, life experience, genetic makeup, faith, social encounters, education, hopes and dreams, instinct, etc.
Let’s use the topic of GHOSTS. Do I believe? Yes, even though I’ve never seen one. I believe based on my personal schema. More things point to yes than no, the scale tips. So I believe. If my schema was different I might not believe.
Does this make sense?

I believe it’s getting late and I am toast after reading all this. But I believe I like toast. Which is easy to do because I Do really like toast. But people change their beliefs all the time. Some even before breakfast:

“There is no use trying; one can’t believe impossible things.” (Alice)

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Queen

Vicki Wright

I can choose to believe. I can choose to believe someone when they tell me something… or I can choose not to believe. If my boyfriend tells me he is not cheating on me – I can choose to believe him or not – (or perhaps until proven otherwise.) Or even if proven otherwise, I may choose to go into denial….. or not. ……or I could base my belief on whether he has lied before or is a known liar but …..oops, a tangent that leads even further in to a whole other topic!

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
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88 Responses to Belief Mechanisms & Unintended Consequences

  1. TAE says:

    I’m sad! Somehow this (second) post, didn’t who up in my reader…at least not as a new one, and hence I didn’t notice that you had to re-post it… I guess the title was xactly the same? WordPress is so forgiving.

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      Oh Crap – I’m sorry!! The title was slightly different. Please feel free to read the LONG RAMBLING list of comments and join in.

      I’ve never taken a post down before – so I might have done something wacky that confused myself and WordPress – but it’s free, so I can hardly complain! Glad you found your way back TAE.

      • TAE says:

        We should have a convo/thread about comment moderation some time…what do you “owe” your readers, what’s ok to take down, do you have to wait for things to escalate and so on, and how to tell the censored people, why they’ve been censored etc. But I digress, sorry.

        • It was kind of a wacko situation – on many different levels. I actually felt better taking it down – for a variety of reasons.
          But I like the idea of a converstion – I think I owe it to myself to have a post that I don’t have bad feelings about – and I did for a number of reasons (totally unrelated to the topic).

          For my own learning curve – I have to remember this is not Facebook – where back and forth should go on – I have to learn to comment (on other’s sites) but not continuing to comment – especially if I go ‘off topic’. I can see where it would be disruptive. I have a tendency to want to reply to a reply – and it’s appropriate in my own blog but maybe not so much when I’m participating in another’s blog. And that’s really hard for me. I like converstaion – but the rules/social etiquette (sp) are different in this venue – it’s all good – and I don’t mind a lot of conversation (topical or not) on my blog as long is it’s respectful.

        • TAE says:

          Yeah, I very much get where you’re coming from. My last two posts (one on my more “professional” blog that I just started, and one on my primary blog) have had comments that made me cringe for very different reasons. In both cases it was people who I know personally, so I didn’t want to just take it down (though the second one was tough, it was political and borderline personal, but I have a lot of respect for the poster).
          But I’ll leave it at that here.
          What did you take away from the conversation about belief/believes? Any epiphanies you’d like to share? Or is that going to be your next blog post? 😀

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          Ephiphanies? I think what I took away from the conversation is that there are so many ways to interpret basic questions and much defining and agreement on terms must be agreed upon. But all the comments made for good conversation and that people immediately react to the notion of control and belief. I’m interested in why we must believe and if it is a mechanism to move us thru our world. So our conversation had many venues in which to flow – and it did.

          I have tried to steer clear of politics (I love poltics but I don’t have the energy to argue with people about it – most people are not going to have their mind changed and I like to debate without offense). And I don’t understand why anyone would come to someone’s blog and rip them –
          In the cyberworld, people seem to forget about respect and just say whatever they feel regardless of the consequences. But for the most part – in my space at least, I’ve not had that issue. I don’t think I really post about things that cause kerfuffle. Not b/c I’m a wimp but because that’s not the intent of my space. I might have to read that post you talk of – b/c whilst I don’t want to cause kerfuffle, I am curious about when it occurs….

        • TAE says:

          Ha…same here. I would pay to read that exchange that you deleted…Politics and all the other evils out there are the things that bother me the most, and so I write about them. Often, not always.
          My “luck” was that the commenter didn’t hit the reply button, but just typed in a regular comment. That way the person it was directed to probably won’t ever see it and respond. So I took the time and responded…
          But I now have moderation on for everybody.

        • That is one thing I don’t want to have to do – moderate! If I’ve been following a conversation – I’m apt to return to blog even if I don’t get notification of a repsonse to a particular comment. I’m nosy 🙂

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          Settle down there, Soul Walker –

  2. Soul Walker says:

    So what is a belief? In my own words I would say a belief is a proposition I hold true.

  3. Soul Walker says:

    The replies to replies are getting so thin they have turned into strange verse.

  4. Soul Walker says:

    Concerning Belief as a Survival Mechanism

    First, the question of why we believe is a question looking for a universal. Whether you use the word “mechanism” or not is not so important. Mechanism is, however, specific– and therefore easier for discussion. Asking why we believe, though is looking for a way to describe belief mechanisms.

    Second, there are always different levels and types of explanations for the same experiences. Describing belief as a survival mechanism is one level of explanation from one area of study. It is not necessarily even a philosophical explanation of belief (although it could be). Why might this be important you ask? Well, it is important because specialists tend to want to describe the entire world and themselves in view of their specialty (and I don’t necessarily find this objectionable). So a biologist might want to describe belief from a biological perspective, a sociologist from a sociological perspective, a theologian from a theological perspective, a single mom from a single mom’s perspective, etc…

    And of course, there is philosophy… which can be a little bit different or could be completely the same as all the other examples.

    So when a person asks could belief be a survival mechanism? It is important to first ask, what kind of answer does that question require? The standard (and not necessarily wrong) rule is to go to the appropriate expert (we are a culture of experts in many ways). So if the question is a question of Biology, we ask a biologist, if it is a question of history, we ask a historian (and so on and so forth).

    So what kind of question is yours? It is important to note that the same experience can be explained by the historian historically, the biologist biologically, the sociologist sociologically– and all of those explanations may be relevant and compatible as long as they are retained in their appropriate context.

    • But we are not talking about WHAT we believe (from the single mom’s perspective, from the biologist’s perspective) – but WHY we believe, right? Why do we need to believe things? What causes us to believe something? Or did I miss it?

      • Soul Walker says:

        The what’s are always examples to help us explore the why. I do not know, however, if need is something that I have really thought about. I have never met a person who did not believe things (so far) and so I have (as yet) not spent time considering if we “need” to believe things and if we do why it is appropriate to refer to it as a need. That is a very interesting slant.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          I wasn’t sure if my response that I put in showed up on your ‘alert’ radar – so I will repost it here b/c I know you’ll get it:

          What strikes me here is that in many of the examples it is basically one belief that seems to be central – douchbag boyfriend yes/no. That is just one belief to consider in the scope of all the other things that you’re believing without any kind of conscious control – I mean everything in this world is basically a belief – often a society concensus – that X is what it is. Most likely most all of us share a belief that this blog. I don’t think a conscious debate went thru my mind when I read my first one – if you know what I mean. So why can’t belief come to us in both manners? Some we don’t always have direct control over and some that we consciously shift. I think the stickler, at first, for me is the idea of ‘no control’ – but once I thought about belief in general, I could see where Soul Walker’s comment could be argued. Unless he meant something entirely different and I’m just spewing. That is entirely in the realm of possiblities.

          So that line of thought for me still leads me to believe (ha ha) that ONE of several possible mechanisms for belief can be described in a meaningful way – I think we do it because it is how we can survive in the world. You couldn’t do anything if everything was always a debate of it is believed or not. So I guess I go for Biology –

        • What’s interesting is to pose a question and have completely different interpretation of the basic question. My thoughts on this have instantly been the WHY we believe and what is the mechanism for it – What we believe is interesting as well – and I can see your point about perspective –
          But I’m curious – why do some people believe in God, why do some people do not and why are some are agnostic (myself in that group)?
          And do we consider ‘accept’ to be synonymous with ‘believe’? If, in this instance, yes – then I can see a ‘need’ to believe to maneuver around in the world.
          But again – I might have totally missed the point…which is not surprising..

        • Soul Walker says:

          You know this happens to me when people read my poetry all the time. I have come to appreciate it (though it took a while).

          I would not consider accept to be synonymous with believe. Believe is more specific. For example: you can provisionally accept point x for the sake of argument. This, however is not a belief.

        • True – I think instead of narrowing the basic questions we’ve started with – we’ve spun further and further away!

        • Soul Walker says:

          On the contrary, the discussion has helped to begin to define just what the questions actually are. This is sometimes more helpful than the answers (sometimes).

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          And what, pray tell, are the questions?

        • Soul Walker says:

          A few:

          What is belief?

          Do we need to understand whether or not people have a need to believe, if so, what does that mean?

          When asking why we believe, what type of answer are we looking for?

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          You go first –
          In HAIKU FORM~ just kidding..

        • Soul Walker says:

          Why some people believe in God and some do not? I think initially it has to do with other established beliefs. The complicated web of interlocking beliefs makes for a long and windy road. But tracing it is not necessarily going to lead you to the answer you really want (though it might). I think it would help to try and give (for yourself) several different kinds of explanations for that question. Perhaps psychological, biological, and philosophical.

        • God is too wide a topic – let’s get more narrow and go back to the first statement about beief being something that we have direct control over. Please answer – Mine was the wishy-washy answer – some yes, some no –

        • Soul Walker says:

          I don’t think (in the english language) that the word belief describes something you have direct control over. You can indirectly influence your beliefs… but that is not the same as having direct control over them.

          We have other words for things you can control with more ease. Opinions, for instance, are related but downgraded in relation to beliefs. Sometimes the many many shades of english make things easier; sometimes they make things much much harder.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          We need a roundtable, a whiteboard, an erase marker, the definitions and hours in which to debate!

          Belief still has not been defined – we say it’s not acceptence or opinion. SO what is the difference btwn “I believe the floor is hard” and “I accept the floor is hard?”

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          fine – blackboard and chalk. I was going to argue about the statement of english shades being hard or not but my brain may have ‘the stupid’….

        • Soul Walker says:

          I love boards for these types of discussions… if I can’t have chalk I like the clear ones.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          Use your imagination

        • Soul Walker says:

          For those with time and inclination:

          Always a resource I find valuable even when if I disagree with an entry.

      • Soul Walker says:

        As to What causes us to believe something… this I have considered (and make no mistake, I feel as though I have at best begun to understand the question after years of study, discussion, and meditation.

  5. runningonsober says:

    It’s your blog my dear, you can delete and repost and detour all you like, as can anyone. “Your blog, your rules.” Some “rules” (in the general, not specific, sense) I don’t care for, at least as I believe them to be, based on my current (ever fluctuating) perceptions, and just like a song on a radio, I can always change the station. But maybe the next day something happens and I end up liking that song instead- maybe I’ll like that song you posted that reminded me of “Madness” for example. This all seems really out there, but to tie it up nice and pretty with a bow- my reality and beliefs consist of my thoughts and perceptions and analysis of presented or withheld evidence. My thoughts and experiences are ever changing, thus my beliefs are ever changing. And sometimes my thinking is distorted, so I may believe whole-heartedly in “impossible things.”

    My brain can rationalize anything with enough work and time. I can make myself believe anything, because in any parallel universe, it may be so.

    And I forgot in my toasted (tired, not drunk) state last night to source the original quote. It is from “Alice Through the Looking Glass” written by the brilliantly wacky Lewis Carroll.

    I haven’t read it, but this book looked rather interesting:

    Have a great day Denise. 🙂

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      You are awesome ROS!

      I think we are always chaning beliefs – but it’s interesting about the things we just believe without any thought vs things we consciously believe. And I do see where Soul Walker was going (I think) with his statements. I think there is no absolute – it is just ever changing. Somethings voluntary and some involuntary.

      I’ll check out the book ~ thanks! You are so well read.

      • Soul Walker says:

        The way you perceive the world changes as you process (often “unintentionally” –I hate to use words like “subconscious” and “unconscious” because I do not have a strong psychology background and I don’t want to misuse the words) information.

        In the bad boyfriend example we can imagine her beliefs changing as she processes new information. New information can become new beliefs. And beliefs exist in an interlocking web with each other so that no belief exists in a vacuum. All of our beliefs have the potential to affect our other beliefs.

        So let us say she already has caught him cheating. This is a piece of information (and keep in mind processing information can take time). She still believes it is not in her best interest to dump him (and maybe still verbally says that he is “not all bad” or some such thing). Let’s say next, that she gets a new piece of information: let’s say she (through a whole different set of experiences) gets the idea that she is valuable and important in and of herself without a significant other. Now if this second piece of information is processed and becomes a belief it will change how she perceives her boyfriend’s cheating.

        So there is the potential for new information to be processed and become something a lot more significant (to the individual person): a belief. And every new belief may or may not affect all of your other beliefs. And this can happen in degrees or as a “wholesale upturning of a world.”

  6. Brigitte says:

    Wow, there’s some deep stuff here, I’m late to the party and how did I not know your name was Denise? I always call you Ruta. Anyway I believe in many intangible “things” — ghosts, spirits, a Higher Power, there’s a rhyme and reason to things, magic, miracles. Some of these things were derived from my upbringing, others from I’ve picked up along the way. I’m like that little girl in Miracle on 24th Street when I have doubts and I’m feeling bad — I just try to repeat like a mantra, “I believe, I believe, I believe….”

    • This party defies time – so you’re never late! I don’t use Denise on my blog – so that would be why you wouldn’t have known (but I might refer to myself as Denise in some older posts). My alter ego is Rutabaga – it is how I’m known amongst people.

      I don’t believe of disbelieve and nothing surprises me. I’m open to most things and pretty wishy-washy about having firm opinions that this is no X or there is a Y. But I love philosophy and discourse.

      Part of me was secretly hoping you were my long lost friend from Shoreham NY, Brigitte Hannigan 🙂 – – but I think she was a Bridgette –

  7. unfetteredbs says:

    I need to unscramble my brain with more coffee to understand any of this conversation… great conversation you have going on. Too much for my tiny brain. I need to rumminate

  8. Le Clown says:

    Awesome… And you should know that you will be added to my blogroll in November. It’s overdue.
    Le Clown

  9. I wondered what happened… I read this last night but I was half asleep and the last thing I read was about Runningonsober being toast and some super great quotes. I went back to contribute this morning and it was gone!!! I was confused. I see you removed Le Clown’s non-contributing to the conversation. So anyway!!! I’m on the fence. I think both perspectives are pretty interesting, and I think that all of us probably subscribe to one version or another depending on the subject matter. I think for some people’s eyes can be opened and beliefs can be changed. I think for others just challenging their belief system- whether it’s a political discussion or one of faith- can be earth shattering for them. They can’t handle it. And then when you apply it to real daily life kind of things like Vicki did in her comment… it’s easy to see how people might WANT to believe something, even though the perspective has changed. Her comment actually put a pretty good logical spin on the whole discussion for me. One of my very dearest friends has spent the last year involved with a total dirtbag. He cheats. She caught him cheating!!! More than once. But she REFUSES to believe that he’s loser scum. Does she know better? Yes. Is her belief fundamentally screwed up? Totally. I think she COULD change it, she just chooses not to. So in that respect— I really thnk it IS a choice. Some people just can’t handle truth on any level and they’d much rather float through lala land. So that’s my 42 cents.

    • I love your 42 cents – throw in a brownie sprinkle bite and you got yourself a FAN FOREVER.
      I think there are definite things we are consciously believing – like all the examples given so far (including my own) – but I also can see the logic of all the things we accept/believe that we just do because it would be crippling if we consciously had to judge belief/disbelief for every instance that we encounter.

    • Soul Walker says:

      Your 42 cents is priceless. It may be more like forty-two million dollars. This would be a perfect example for a discussion on what a schema is… however, we really do not need to use that word (although I am fond of it).

      If the belief in question is: is my boyfriend a scumbag douche whore of an overgrown child, then it would appear that your friend believes the answer is no. However, this may not actually be the case. She may actually believe he is being a bad boyfriend, but believe other (mistaken) things that keep her with him (and make her say things that she doesn’t actually believe). For instance (and keep in mind I do not know your friend at all and I mean no disrespect to anyone– I am just using this as an example) she may believe that she does not deserve to have a good boyfriend (or be happy, etc…). This belief could very easily manifest itself in her not breaking up with him and always looking for positive things to say about him. So she may actually believe that he is terrible for her, but may present as though she did not believe that because of other (perhaps more foundational) beliefs.

  10. Going back to my brilliant comment… if your schema changes at any point then your belief can change. But I’d say Soul Walker is essentially right. Unless your schema supports your belief, you can’t make yourself believe. You might WANT TO BELIEVE in fairies but that’s not the same thing as believing.

    • And it was brilliant – there is no doubt about that! I think we spend a lot of time WANTING to believe – and convincing ourselves despite evidence to the contrary or no evidence at all. And bonus points for using “Schema” – I love that word. If you can fit in ‘paradigm’ – you win.

      • Soul Walker says:

        I am not the host… but I would dock serious points for anyone misusing the term ‘paradigm.’ It could, of course, be relevant to this discussion, but fancy words have a way of getting in the way of discovery… especially when people are unfamiliar with them. (please not, however, that I love terms of art, or “fancy words” as I have described them. They have one serious benefit in discussion– they rarely have been watered down and they often have a narrower band of usage already)

        • Soul Walker – you get to be the guest replier for this series of comments – but you did out yourself as a ‘philosopher’ because only a philosopher would have reacted to the word ‘paradigm’ in the way you have. Like all my philosophy teachers have in the past…it just riles you lot up, eh?

        • Soul Walker says:


          the correct use of terms of art does not upset me– in fact, it delights me. However, philosophy and serious discussion is not something that should be reserved for philosophers and academics. And if you do not know a fancy word that does not mean you cannot participate. And if you cannot explain your fancy word to someone that does not already know what it means then you obviously do not know what your fancy word means as well as you thought you did. This (and I’m not saying this has happened here at all) should tell you that it might be the wrong word and could therefore lead to confusion when everyone is seeking clarity.

        • Soul Walker – I love words – I love most all words (except the one’s that I specifically cite in

          I agree – we need to be clear about what we mean for ‘believe’ ‘faith’ ‘truth’ ‘knowledge’ etc.

          I suggest that no one ever feel shy about asking about a word’s meaning – it does not mean you are ‘dumb’ because you do not know – it means you are willing to learn something new. I am a word collector and a possible misuser of some words. I love words to enhance not obfuscate.

    • Soul Walker says:

      First, Kudos for using the word Schema correctly in context.

      Second, I agree with you. You may want to believe in many things (such as your boyfriend isn’t cheating on you, your parents are going to live another decade, the justice system in your country works and can be trusted, etc…) that you really do not believe at all. This is important because it brings up the question of where do my beliefs come from and do they have any basis in reality? Or you might ask, “how is a schema constructed?”

      • All these comments are likely to inspire other interesting questions –
        You might even ask “what is reality?” –

        • Soul Walker says:

          Ontology is sexy.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          hee hee – ok just got back – I’ll respond in a bit to your other post about belief mechanisms

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          What strikes me here is that in many of the examples it is basically one belief that seems to be central – douchbag boyfriend yes/no. That is just one belief to consider in the scope of all the other things that you’re believing without any kind of conscious control – I mean everything in this world is basically a belief – often a society concensus – that X is what it is. Most likely most all of us share a belief that this blog. I don’t think a conscious debate went thru my mind when I read my first one – if you know what I mean. So why can’t belief come to us in both manners? Some we don’t always have direct control over and some that we consciously shift. I think the stickler, at first, for me is the idea of ‘no control’ – but once I thought about belief in general, I could see where Soul Walker’s comment could be argued. Unless he meant something entirely different and I’m just spewing. That is entirely in the realm of possiblities.

          So that line of thought for me still leads me to believe (ha ha) that ONE of several possible mechanisms for belief can be described in a meaningful way – I think we do it because it is how we can survive in the world. You couldn’t do anything if everything was always a debate of it is believed or not. So I guess I go for Biology –

  11. I love all the comments – Everyone makes a valid point – even the tangent points (my favorite kinds!). The Queen quote from ROS illustrates my thoughts about not really believing of disbelieving any given situation – just accepting whatever is going on regardless of how possible or impossible it is.
    But i’m curious if Soul Walker is talking about general belief – the things we just accept all day long without really ‘thinking’ if we accept/reject them as beliefs or truths. However, truths is different from belief… Oi – we could be here forever with this discussion 🙂

    • Soul Walker says:

      The desire for understanding our world and ourselves often makes demands on language that are above and beyond the demands we make on our language (english in this particular discussion) in everyday usage.

      This makes your question about my intentions in using the word belief (am I talking about general belief) most relevant. While it can be sometimes annoying and frustrating to parse out words it really is essential to most chains of reasoning. Fortunately the act of defining terms very specifically often teaches us so much that even if we feel we do not arrive at a conclusion for the original question we still have learned enough to make the whole experience worth while.

    • Soul Walker says:

      I also love all the comments. They are great comments for discussion. Well done commenters!

      • runningonsober says:

        I think it very kind of you both to comment on all of the comments. From a reader’s perspective, this has all been quite fun. I feel like we’re all being validated, educated, engaged with, encouraged and challenged. So I thank-you both for this very intriguing dialogue!

        Though I confess, I will need to re-read it a few times when I am better rested.

        • Soul Walker says:

          You are very welcome. As a philosopher and a poet I can assure you that I whole-heartedly support re-reading as an activity in life.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          I would have to concur – but I’m not a poet or a philosopher…

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