Where does belief come from?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by pointwithinacircle2, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    In my signature there is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. I have seen a similar set of ideas before in many differing forms. However these have always started with the idea of thoughts. In Freemasonry I have learned how to exercise some level of control over my thoughts. With some effort I have been able to replace some of my thoughts with others that more accurately reflect who I wish to become (instead of, for example, the sometimes petty thoughts that are more in line with who I used to be).

    However I had seldom reflected on the idea that my beliefs are the origin of my thoughts, or effect that a change belief might have on my thoughts. I understand the idea that I can act with Charity even when I feel angry, because I can do what is right even when I do not feel like doing what is right. But my beliefs are the things that I believe are true. I also know that it possible for ones beliefs to change. But I am not sure how I can change them. How does one discard what they believe and install a new belief?

    It seems to me that if our thoughts come from our beliefs, then our beliefs are the most important thing is our lives. If I do not learn to curate my beliefs, my beliefs are will be determined whatever I have been exposed to (intentionally or accidentally) in my life. Sometimes I have chosen my beliefs. As a boy I chose the beliefs of my church. As a man I chose the beliefs of Freemasonry. But along the way I also seem to have picked a lot of beliefs which do not serve me well. Perhaps I have just reached a new level in my life where I once again need to grow in order to feel comfortable. I am curious what others have done when they reached the point where they desired to discard beliefs but have difficulty letting them go.
     
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  2. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >my beliefs are will be determined whatever I have been exposed to (intentionally or accidentally) in my life

    When I started to study economics at university I went through perhaps 6 months when I would start to act and then pause to consider what assumptions I was making. And I was surprised almost daily at the stupid things I believed - mostly as taught.

    The experience was a psychological version of physical free fall. Eventually my fall slowed down but I am not sure it ever stopped.
     
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  3. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Simply find a new truth or discover a truth to be false.
     
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  4. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >I had seldom reflected on the idea that my beliefs are the origin of my thoughts

    It is probably more correct to say that beliefs are a filter on thoughts. If so, beliefs are a form of mind control.

    Beliefs simplify life. We do not need to evaluate many situations because our beliefs have already provided the approved understanding.
     
  5. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    Going off of this idea, for me, personally, my beliefs always need to be based on something I personally find to be logically true. How does one change beliefs? For me, it's a matter of find a reason why. What was wrong with the old belief? Is there evidence to support a new belief?

    You mentioned charity, so let's use that. Let's say a man grew up his whole life being uncharitable. He was selfish, believing that he had to look out for number one at the expense of all others; self-preservation to the point of self-advancement was of supreme importance. Later in life, something has happened or the thought has occurred to him to challenge this belief (that's the first step, challenging it). He must ask himself why he feels the way he does (which we've already established) as well as asking himself what merits other beliefs on the subject hold. Selfish sense of satisfaction one gets from being charitable. The fear of divine judgement. The belief of interconnectedness of all beings and therefore charity being the same as selfishness. You name it. Some he will likely disagree with, others might ring true, or at least true enough to further explore and contemplate. Eventually, if he is true to himself, he will evaluate all viewpoints (that he can come up with while continuing to remain open to new ones in the future) and decide which one he sides with. Certainly, an argument could be made for any one of them.

    Although, now that I think about it, I guess the question of how we choose our beliefs comes back around. How does one choose between one argument or another? Two men can hear the same argument and side with the opposing points of view. The ability for this to happen comes from free will (at least, I believe it does), but what causes that will to come down on one side or the other?

    I have my opinion on that too, but I think we're getting off track.
     
  6. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    The more I think about the question in the title, the less I know about it. Beliefs are mysterious.

    The more I think about the Gandhi quote, the more I remember it as a description of "strength of heart". Thoughts lead to decisions. Decisions lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits lead to emotions. Emotions motivate us. Our motivations determine our character.

    The process might take a couple of years from thought to character. So think now about how you want to be in two years. Start now.

    People like to say they don't control their emotions. That becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I prefer to understand that it's a lot of work but I have to the strength of heart to do it on many topics.
     
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  7. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I originally wrote a long post about emotions being like a spiritual sense, like that of hearing that is passively sensed and how the reaction is the only part that can be controlled, but I've had to step back from that idea.
    The emotion of anger is what got me thinking. There are plenty of things in our daily lives that evoke anger. The coworker who threw you under a bus at work, the guy who cut you off in traffic, your significant other who left the milk on the counter and it spoiled. Naturally, I can control my reactions to all of these, but the question comes up, is it possible to train oneself to not get mad in the first place? I know from personal experience, I've gotten MUCH better at reducing anger in my life, but is letting it go almost instantly the same thing as not feeling it in the first place?
    Now that's something I'll need to think about.
     
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  8. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >People like to say they don't control their emotions.

    What about controlling their thoughts?

    If we do not control our thoughts, do we have limited choice in what we believe?
     
  9. Howard Giang

    Howard Giang Registered User

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    For me, belief is based on experience like what you are been taught from or exposed to or indoctrinated with.
    In a way, stronger argument does convince one to believe what is the truth, so I think belief does change if there is enough convincing evidence to agree with.
     
  10. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >belief does change if there is enough convincing evidence to agree with.

    That might be a bit hopeful.

    If I demonstrate with evidence that the other person has believed in stupid things and done stupid things to other people for the last 30 years. Will that person rejoice in the knowledge of their past stupidity or will they resent being told that their life has been worse than wasted?

    Most seem to choose resentment and they reject the convincing evidence. The answer is wrong so there must be something wrong with the evidence!
     
  11. Howard Giang

    Howard Giang Registered User

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    I don’t disagree with you regarding rejecting convincing evidence. Most people reject evidence because they don’t agree with.
    Tell you a little about my family’s religion background. My Dad was brought up as a Taoist, and Mom is a Buhddist. My Dad later baptized as a Christian. His friends were able to convince him to seek salvation through the scriptures from the Bible, but he lacks attending church, so his furneral was conveniently Buhddist from my Mother’s temple. I am still a Taoist, but I gave my Mom a Buhddist furneral even though I can give her a Taoist furneral, but I decided not to out of convenient. I was exposed to my Dad’s Bible study, but I was too lazy to read so many chapters and verses. As I got older, I experienced mystical events, unexplained dream interpretation that very true. I learned a little bit from many religions. There were a moment in time I began to doubt God. I wasn’t an atheist. I seeked to prove God not through physical existence but rather through spiritual. I tested a scenario to prove the purpose of God. Today, I concluded that there is a God though a predictable of an unexplained outcomes. When an atheist couldn’t see God physically with his own eyes, he concluded that his eyes don’t lie. However, when I asked him to touch an electrical wire, he refused to touch because he said he can see electrical current to know the electrical wire is hot with high voltage current. I have to say that I don’t have to see an electrical current in order to know it is there.
     
  12. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Same here!
     
  13. Bro Book

    Bro Book Registered User

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    My instructor use to reply with the phrase "thought comes from not knowing" whenever I would say " I think " using that, I would say that " beliefs come from what we think we know "

    Sent from my RCT6973W43 using My Freemasonry mobile app
     
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  14. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >beliefs come from what we think we know

    It may be better to consider that beliefs are programmed thought patterns.

    Programmed thought patterns save a lot of time when choosing e.g. which brand of frozen food to buy.

    They are also built-in biases, e.g. towards or against particular skin colors or religions.

    At this point we may see that beliefs are an excellent means for controlling behavior of populations and therefore particularly valuable to groups wishing to gain and use power.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  15. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    The real question for me is - Why do we "think we know"? This calls into question what it means to know something. This being New Years Day there are all sorts of New Years Resolutions out there. Perhaps we will resolve to forgive someone. This doesn't mean that we no longer "know" why we were angry; it means that we have decided to attach a different emotional state to the memory. This is not a condition where we don't remember anymore, it is a state where we allow the memory to take on a new and different meaning.
    Yes, but what programs our thought patterns? While chance and happenstance (and even the purposeful actions of others) can attempt to shape our beliefs, we will either accept or reject these patterns. Perhaps the degree to which we accept that which happens around us as true depends on something, something internal to our Self. We don't decide to forgive (for example) by accident. It is a purposeful act. Perhaps we find some reason outside ourselves to forgive, some new knowledge or understanding for example. But even lacking outside motivation it is possible to simply decide to forgive by an act of Will.

    This leads me to the conclusion that it is possible to create our beliefs by using the Will to form our thoughts and feelings.
     
  16. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Because we have yet to encounter contrary evidence-stimulus.
    Either external or internal input that provokes us toward new or re-enforcing programming.
    Define "Will"...
     
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  17. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >what programs our thought patterns?

    Very few humans claim to control their thoughts, this means that programming of thoughts may occur by outside entities.

    Obvious examples are parents and teachers, and some pets are quite good at training their owners. As well, history is full of people that heard voices in their heads, so there may well be training of human thought patterns by non-humans. Some non-humans may speak so quietly that the target human does not even hear a voice, but accepts the outside thought as its own.

    Then there is the use of technology to pattern human thoughts, by groups and individuals.

    A key skill therefore is learning to distinguish an incoming thought from a home-grown thought.
     
  18. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >it is possible to create our beliefs by using the Will to form our thoughts

    Quite so and this is seen in humans that choose to follow some new diet, fashion or practice. The beliefs last as long as the will continues to be strong. Sometimes the reality being experienced will erode the will and the belief/faith will be lost.
     
  19. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Define "program".
    Is experience programming?
    These referred to biases are not built it; they are built up. There's a HUGE difference.
    Equally, at this point we can see that beliefs are also a means of freeing up the behaviors of populations and therefore particularly valuable to groups wanting to gain and use there individual powers for the good of themselves and all involved.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  20. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Epistomology is the field of philosophy that deals with the limits of knowledge. That's related to but not the same thing as where beliefs come from.

    General semantics - All knowledge is provisional.

    Karl Popper made a lot of progress in the field during the previous century. On the time scale of philosophy that has hardly even made it to recent news.

    Those are about establishing accuracy. Among the seven liberal arts and sciences accuracy is addressed mostly by logic and arithmetic (which seems to mean all fields of mathematics including geometry, algebra, calculus).

    Maybe that leads me to think that the portion of belief called faith is about what is good and what I want to be true in some broader sense than measurable accuracy.

    There's another factor of epistemology that I consider interesting. Human reasoning is limited and flawed. Our intuitions and perceptions are wrong at times. Parlor magic finds and exploits these errors as tricks, but so do sophistry, politics and so on.
     
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