Beliefs and Feelings
Where do our beliefs come from? How about our feelings? I don't mean our senses, like touch, smell and so on. I mean feelings that are stimulated by something seemingly outside ourself, and cause a reaction inside of us.
Does our belief system have any effect on our feelings? For the sake of argument, that is, for the purpose of this research, I am going to assume that there is a connection. I don't mean that I am going to try to prove that there is, as if this was a scientific exploration which is only successful if a positive conclusion is found. That would defeat my purpose, which is to try and get a little closer to the truth. I have to start somewhere, so I'll start from yes and work toward no. (Maybe next time I'll start from no and work toward yes.)
Beliefs, it seems to me, start with a newborn baby nestled snugly in his or her mother's arms; Or left whining with many other isolated newborns in a glassed-in room. I can't say for sure, nor can I tell you which of these scenarios (if not another altogether) I was born into. But I should think that the snuggled baby would most likely feel secure, protected and loved; While the other left alone screaming for attention would feel abandoned, frightened, and left to fend for himself.
That's the feelings; and it would seem to me those feelings would very likely develop into a belief, which would be difficult to alter.
As evidence of this, I think of a child who has not been loved, or at least has never felt loved, will fight against anyone who claims they do love them, And if this is true with a child, how much more so would it be with an adult?
And it's not only children. I have heard of many abused dogs (in particular) and other animals that have reacted in the same way. They either show great fear, or overt violence toward their new "master."
As a child we hear, "This group of people are all bad," or "God is only in this church," or "There is no God," or "You're no good and you never will be any good," or "You're a fine and wonderful child. You're going to turn out to be a great success in life."
The above, very likely, we will first hear from our parents, Then, in later life, we hear it from our teachers. And to a child, both of these "peoples" we are supposed to impress and please. How better to accomplish this than to agree with them, and prove them correct?
Then come peers and friends to please and appease; who have their own, and often contrary set of rules and opinions to "inflict."
Then bosses, and perhaps sergeants (if in the military), then spouses and in-laws, etc, etc.
It seems to me that with all these inputs, it allows very little freedom for anyone to interject a real opinion of their own.
However, should a person, especially a youth, break away and form their own set of standards and beliefs, the chances are they will be very careful not to appear to deviate from the others in the group that have broken away before them ("Just us four ((hundred, thousand, whatever)) and no more.")
But are opinions and beliefs the same? Is one affected by the other?
Well, if you asked my opinion, about anything, chances are I would tell you something that was only at head level, and I wouldn't be attached to it very strongly one way or the other.
But if you asked me what I believe, it's very likely I will be set for an argument if you disagreed.
So I guess that opinion and belief are two different things, or, maybe the same thing, but at different levels.
So why would I get so up tight if someone disagreed with my beliefs?
Well, let's first look at the difference between "I believe it is going to rain," and "I believe that you're a liar."
The first, if it's going to rain, is really only an opinion. It comes from the head. Even if your favorite weatherperson, or your arthritic elbow is what you are basing your "belief" on. It evokes no particular feeling (there's our third element) in either the one making the statement, nor the one being spoken to.
But, the second statement, "I believe you are a liar," is going to evoke much feelings in the one spoken to.
One problem with such a situation is, feeling (emotion) is created in the wrong person, that is for the purpose of this study at least. The one stating their belief is not the one who is having the emotions. And unless there is evidence, even if only supposed evidence, for the statement, it really is no more than an opinion.
Even a statement like, "I believe the Russians are going to drop bombs on us next week, and I'm scared" are still not much more than opinions even though the one saying it has much feelings about it. But yet, it is a belief, just not to the level of belief that I am considering in this search.
[Keep in mind that I am just thinking out loud. This is not a dissertation on some finding of mine, but a thought process. So if it (and it does) ramble, that's because my mind is arguing with itself.]
I suppose that what I am considering as belief, is a statement of belief that I make. I will use as a for instance Merl Haggard's song "You're Walking On The Fightin' Side Of Me." In that song he is saying that his belief is that no one in this country should run down this country. And I am supposing that he fought in the war to preserve this country, therefore he has an emotional attachment to it, and his own belief. And he won't allow any opinion to disagree with his belief.
Another example might be regarding religion, or something similar -- like a "bigoted" belief similar to my own regarding the education system, and the sciences.
(By the way, a "Bigot" is anyone with an obstinate and intolerant attitude against anything, not just a group of people.)
In other words, the belief is Deep-Seated, which means to me it's hard to root out. It's in the emotions (feelings), a part of the person; as much so as is their name, maybe even more so.
And when a belief is that strong, there is usually a cause for it. And here I have to separate the superficial cause from the real one. I described some (what I consider at this time) real ones above. I can think of superficial ones that evoke an emotion also, like for no other reason than the person is being disagreed with. I have talked about growing up with such a person (elsewhere), and find that same tendency welling up in me when I am disagreed with.
The song, "I Believe" is a good example. In that song many beliefs are expressed. All these beliefs point to the writer's greatest belief, which, in this case, is that God exists. What it actually is saying, it seems to me, is that all the preliminary beliefs are really just reasons that the writer believes; and even says so by the final line, which is, "That is why, I believe."
So, what I have so far, is that Belief is deeper than opinion, it is a part of an individual, and it is attached to the emotions. If you disagree with someone's deep-seated belief, you stir up deep feelings. So beliefs are attached to feelings.
"That is why, I believe." When someone has a reason to believe, when a person has experienced something that they know is real, you can argue with then until you are red in the face, and all they will do is grin at you. You can present every logical and scientific reason in existence to them, and it will bring forth no emotion.
That is because they Know!
Knowledge, then, is beyond belief. It is deeper than belief. Like opinion is in the head, and belief is in the feelings, knowledge that comes from one's own experience is in the..... In the what?
I don't know what it is in. Several things come to mind, like soul and spirit, but they are just guesses. Anyway, it is something beyond, or outside of our feelings.
As evidence of this, I use myself, and of all people, my father. I have had certain experiences that seem far-fetched; that if you were to tell me that you had them (and if I hadn't), than I would greatly doubt your sanity. But if you were to doubt me, and say so vehemently, then I would just grin at you.
And so did my father. There were some things he didn't argue about, instead, he just grinned. And when he did, I always doubted my own position.
So, what is the difference? Knowledge and belief, where do they come from that makes such a difference?
It seems that knowledge, as used in this context, is derived from my own experience. So then, how does it differ from belief? Doesn't belief come from my own experience?
Back to the babies mentioned at the beginning (the birth of this piece. A bit of an attempt at humor). The babies, the children, the students, the spouses, etc; they all had their opinions, which became beliefs, from experiential sources. The baby crying alone was having an experience, as was the baby nestled in it's mother's arms, and their beliefs were being formed at that moment.
The employee was developing a belief about his boss from his own experience. And so on.
And no matter what you might say to any of them, they will continue to believe the same - because they have experienced it. They know it.
But the chances are their beliefs about such things as God, the Bible, Buddha, and other such things that they learn from others, without experiencing themself, will just remain somewhere between opinion and deep-seated belief.
Even the Bible seems to support this. The Bible says we should believe. That we should have faith. I think of the Twelve Apostles. They walked with Jesus, they even performed miracles. But at the Crucifixion, they ran and hid, and stayed hidden until Pentecost, where they were gathered together. They had "Faith," that is they "Believed;" But something happened at Pentecost (or at least there abouts), because those same disciples became bold, and were willing and ready to give their own life for their "Belief." It's as if they went beyond "Belief,"and "Faith" - and now "Know."
This search has begun to take on a new twist. It seems that I have run out of arguments and have started preaching. So, for further study, that is, if you want to find out where I go from here, check out the BIBLE section (not Opinions).