“What Do You Believe?”

Last week, I wrote about who I am. Today, it’s about what I believe. A dictionary tells us that when we think something is true, we believe it. Among things I don’t believe exist are of few hundred thousand gods, a living Elvis, and good-tasting light beer.

what-i-believe1You might ask, “Ok, Bill, I understand what you do not believe. What do you believe?”

I want to answer, “Observe my behavior and you’ll know.” But I can’t. You can’t tell from my behavior what I believe. I have to tell us both. We all know the jokes about Southern Baptists drinking, Catholics and birth control, or Mormons and stimulants. The word dissonance comes to mind. At the extreme, celebrity hypocrisy is regular news.

Despite human disparity between belief and behavior, contemplating our beliefs often changes behavior (true to self, and all that). I need to answer this question for myself, but it’s not easy. I’ve heard that you are what you believe. That seems sensible, but human behavior is its own mystery.

what-i-believe4Atheists have no written creed, profession of faith, or official paradigm of beliefs. While some have written non-dogmatic manifestos (public declarations of policies and aims), there’s no agreement or authority to which anyone is bound. You could read dozens of books that provide hints about what some atheists may believe, but many are crap. When you see or hear words like atheists believe or atheists think, false generalizations often follow.

My jury’s out on some things because I don’t know the truth, have insufficient evidence, or I suspect superstition and confusion. The power of humans is awesome. The things people can do are amazing. Our nature interests me more than anything. Some things I would like to be true include karma (for you, not me), unconditional love, time travel, mysteries of the universe, and Mother Nature. If people can levitate—cool, and I want to bend spoons with my mind. I’m skeptical about all of that.

I certainly believe things. Here’s today’s list.

  • We live in one true reality. Psychologically, we each have our personal reality. The real world will remain mysterious.
  • People are basically good. But, we have two conflicting natures—a yin and yang, if you will.
  • Nature is marvelous. It’s the closest thing to a god there is.
  • Love conquers all and nature always wins. So love nature.
  • Human spirit is real. We are more than chemicals (awareness, consciousness, morality, emotion).
  • Morality is subjective. We usually know what the right thing is. We should do it because it is the right thing.what-i-believe3
  • It is not necessary to believe in god to be good. Many who do, are not. Many who do not, are.
  • As a plea to a god, prayer is useless. As a mechanism to raise the human spirit, it may be useful for believers. Meditation is a good, healthy thing to do for everyone.
  • All religious and spiritual writings were done by people. They were not inspired by any god.
  • Much scripture is nonsense. But it contains some wisdom and, like all literature, is valuable.
  • Capital punishment is illogical. I believe that in the USA we have executed innocent people.
  • Compassion is a good human trait. We’ll never have enough.
  • To love is to make yourself vulnerable (be sure it’s worth it).
  • Love is forever, even when minds forget it.
  • Passivism is not moral.
  • Music, art, and writing are important—so is learning.
  • Magic is usually good and always real. Eventually, it can be explained (thus, spoiled fun).
  • Everything is impossible, until we know how to do it.
  • Religion is not good for science or human freedom of thought, organized religion is worse. Today, Islam is the scariest of religions. Muslims must fix that.
  • All the good things done by people of religion could have been done by those same people without it, and in many cases better.
  • We’re all in this together. There is a joining and togetherness within humanity that I don’t understand. But it’s there.
  • When we die, we are physically dead. The living should celebrate life and love. I don’t know what happens to that spirit.
  • Life is unfair. We can’t change that, but we can improve it.

For your listening pleasure, two links to a little belly-rubbin’ music about love and I believe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RksFhgayhtY (Don Williams)

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=tom+t+hall&view=detail&mid=CA19A63D49165A99FE94CA19A63D49165A99FE94&FORM=VIRE (Tom T. Hall)

May your spirit bring love and compassion to everything you do. May our interactions be sincere, respectful, and caring. I hope that we all come to believe that humanity and nature are either all we have, or all we’ve been given, and we need to take care of both. May we love and care for one another with, or without, the help of a higher power.

That’s enough for today.

To choose your beliefs, look both ways.

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8 thoughts on ““What Do You Believe?”

  1. I too believe in love and compassion, but also allowing everyone to have their own beliefs as long as their beliefs do no harm. I believe we each walk our own path and meet our teachers and students along the way. I do believe in a higher collective power or spirit. I believe in worlds and realms beyond the physical one we inhabit – where some of that magic and mystery you talk about resides. Of course, it resides here too, within each of us….I believe we are more powerful than we know – but that’s a topic for another day.
    Thank you for another inspiring post.

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  2. James T. Kirk stood in front of one like the Great and Powerful Oz, a carnival trickster who was putting on an impressive light show. He said: “Uh, excuse me, but I have just one question. Why does ‘god’ need a starship?”
    That’s what’s called a rhetorical question. The answer: He doesn’t. The truth is that God doesn’t need anything from us. We, however, need a great deal from Him- starting with our very existence. The Bible says that all good gifts come down from the Father of Lights. (James 1:17)
    So is it true that all the good things religious people have done throughout history they could’ve done even better without religion? Not if God was the one who put them on this planet so that those things could be accomplished. Not if He was the one who made it possible to feel and understand compassion in the first place.

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  3. then again, why couldnt god have accomplished any or all of ‘those things’ himself? What is the point of a God if he requires humans to do his bidding? It starts to get a bit murky at this point, like a moebius strip on speed…if he doesnt need us, why bother having us around? And if we need a god, to make us feel better about ourselves, that could mean we made him up (sorta like a fairy tale) to do just that…

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  4. Been thinking about belief for a few days, now.

    I believe in myself.

    I believe in friendship, and love

    I believe that man is a herd animal, a social being, and therefore more at ease (for the most part) in crowds, gangs, collections.

    I believe that man is good–or bad–no matter who is running the heavens. It comes from the inside, not imposed on someone from the outside

    I believe in ESP, but in a very personal way. I also believe in that connection that happens between people.

    Dreams matter. Most of them are you trying to tell yourself something.

    When we pray, we are actually communing with ourselves. God gets the credit. When we meditate, we are actually communing with ourselves, but we get the credit.

    We have just one chance to get it right, and then we die. There is no return ticket, no
    do-over. Take what you need, leave the rest for someone else.

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  5. As a social nihilist, I’m probably not in many of your camps – “passivism” is how humans cope with capitalism, for example – and the non-substantiated concepts you have are also beyond my appreciation – as in, what’s beyond our physical selves? – but is good to see another human actively trying to grapple with the Big Questions that will always bedevil us.

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