The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Some Thoughts on Belief

with 2 comments

One of my best friends came for dinner on her way to the Rainbow Gathering in Philadelphia. Although I consider myself to be a fairly open minded person, I had a hard time not rolling my eyes at some of her ideas, but I also noticed her boyfriend’s self restraint after me or my wife expressed some of our convictions. In the end we managed to have a good time, but I am sure that my friend did the same thing my wife and I did on the way back from our reunion, that is, we had a long conversation about the points we could have made, had we not been constrained by social niceties.

I am not interested in talking about the issues that were brought up over our dinner conversation, I am sure most of you can imagine how things went. We talked about the virtues of a vegan diet as compared to a local natural one. We even dabbled in homeopathy, and vaccinations, and capitalism. Being that my wife and I were not on our way to the Rainbow Gathering, most readers should be able to figure out where we stood. What interested me about this conversation, other than the pleasure of my good friend’s company, was that I couldn’t believe in some of the things she and her boyfriend believed. In some cases it wasn’t that I even had an opposite belief, it simply was that I could not get my brain to even consider their ideas.

I am fascinated by the things people see as real, and enjoy being confronted with different world views, because they force me to consider parts of the big picture that I never though about before. Emergence theory, for instance, was a new concept when I read about it for the first time, and it changed my life forever, but some ideas are behind me. It is as if I’ve gone past a point of no return, and nothing short of concrete evidence will let me consider them. It is not that I’ve found a substitute belief. When I quit believing in Santa, for instance, I did not have to find an alternative, I just let him go.

The more I learn about the world, the less I believe in things. I have also had to let go of certainty, rather, my mind just looks at things, and measures how plausible they are. In some cases, those things fall into the very implausible category, and no amount of faith or good will can force me to suspend disbelief, evidence, in the other hand, can persuade me very quickly, and leave me free to abandon old ideas as quickly as I let go of Santa.

You won’t find me at a Rainbow Gathering any time soon, maybe not ever, but I can appreciate the existential search people in the fringe are going through. It makes for an interesting exchange and it gave us something to talk about as we shared our table. I always learn from all people, even when my brain is wired differently.

Is there anything you can’t believe no matter how much you may want to believe in it? Do you make concessions to people who believe differently in order to maintain harmony? Are there any beliefs you are unwilling to let go? If so, why?

Note: A Rainbow Gathering is a reunion of individuals with similar values, who participate in an outdoor celebration. They hold hippie, countercultural, and bohemian attitudes. Although I respect other people’s ideologies, some of their views are very different form mine. They are not necessarily associated with the LGBT movement, which I support.


Written by Hector

July 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Posted in thoughts

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Hector, I understand completely. I’m constantly making nice with my family regarding religion, politics and our many conflicting beliefs.
    It’s just easier and friendlier to smile and nod when it comes to the people that you care about. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind to argue over who’s right. Most people are stedfast in their thinking and no amount of information is going to change that.


    July 5, 2010 at 2:42 am

    • I’m curious about the line between simple disagreement and actual animosity. In the case of my friends we mainly disagree, but there are some issues, I feel, are beyond simple opinions. What do you think? How do we recognize those? How do we pick our battles?


      July 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

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