Belief

Belief is the attitude we have whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as the truth.[1]

In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to personal attitudes associated with true or false ideas and concepts. However, "belief" does not require active introspection and circumspection. For example, we never ponder whether or not the sun will rise. We simply assume the Sun will rise. Since "belief" is an important aspect of mundane life, according to Eric Schwitzgebel in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a related question asks: "how a physical organism can have beliefs?"[2]

In the context of Ancient Greek thought, two related concepts were identified with regards to the concept of belief: pistis and doxa. Simplified, we may say that pistis refers to "trust" and "confidence", while doxa refers to "opinion" and "acceptance". The English word "orthodoxy" derives from doxa. Jonathan Leicester suggests that belief has the purpose of guiding action rather than indicating truth.[3]

As a psychological phenomenon

Mainstream psychology and related disciplines have traditionally treated belief as if it were the simplest form of mental representation and therefore one of the building blocks of conscious thought. Philosophers have tended to be more abstract in their analysis, and much of the work examining the viability of the belief concept stems from philosophical analysis.

The concept of belief presumes a subject (the believer) and an object of belief (the proposition). So, like other propositional attitudes, belief implies the existence of mental states and intentionality, both of which are hotly debated topics in the philosophy of mind, whose foundations and relation to brain states are still controversial.

Beliefs are sometimes divided into core beliefs (that are actively thought about) and dispositional beliefs (that may be ascribed to someone who has not thought about the issue). For example, if asked "do you believe tigers wear pink pajamas?" a person might answer that they do not, despite the fact they may never have thought about this situation before.[4]

This has important implications for understanding the neuropsychology and neuroscience of belief. If the concept of belief is incoherent, then any attempt to find the underlying neural processes that support it will fail.

Philosopher Lynne Rudder Baker has outlined four main contemporary approaches to belief in her controversial book Saving Belief:[5]

  • Our common-sense understanding of belief is correct – Sometimes called the "mental sentence theory," in this conception, beliefs exist as coherent entities, and the way we talk about them in everyday life is a valid basis for scientific endeavour. Jerry Fodor is one of the principal defenders of this point of view.
  • Our common-sense understanding of belief may not be entirely correct, but it is close enough to make some useful predictions – This view argues that we will eventually reject the idea of belief as we know it now, but that there may be a correlation between what we take to be a belief when someone says "I believe that snow is white" and how a future theory of psychology will explain this behaviour. Most notably, philosopher Stephen Stich has argued for this particular understanding of belief.
  • Our common-sense understanding of belief is entirely wrong and will be completely superseded by a radically different theory that will have no use for the concept of belief as we know it – Known as eliminativism, this view (most notably proposed by Paul and Patricia Churchland) argues that the concept of belief is like obsolete theories of times past such as the four humours theory of medicine, or the phlogiston theory of combustion. In these cases science hasn't provided us with a more detailed account of these theories, but completely rejected them as valid scientific concepts to be replaced by entirely different accounts. The Churchlands argue that our common-sense concept of belief is similar in that as we discover more about neuroscience and the brain, the inevitable conclusion will be to reject the belief hypothesis in its entirety.
  • Our common-sense understanding of belief is entirely wrong; however, treating people, animals, and even computers as if they had beliefs is often a successful strategy – The major proponents of this view, Daniel Dennett and Lynne Rudder Baker, are both eliminativists in that they hold that beliefs are not a scientifically valid concept, but they don't go as far as rejecting the concept of belief as a predictive device. Dennett gives the example of playing a computer at chess. While few people would agree that the computer held beliefs, treating the computer as if it did (e.g. that the computer believes that taking the opposition's queen will give it a considerable advantage) is likely to be a successful and predictive strategy. In this understanding of belief, named by Dennett the intentional stance, belief-based explanations of mind and behaviour are at a different level of explanation and are not reducible to those based on fundamental neuroscience, although both may be explanatory at their own level.

Strategic approaches make a distinction between rules, norms and beliefs as follows: (1) Rules. Explicit regulative processes such as policies, laws, inspection routines, or incentives. Rules function as a coercive regulator of behavior and are dependent upon the imposing entity's ability to enforce them. (2) Norms. Regulative mechanisms accepted by the social collective. Norms are enforced by normative mechanisms within the organization and are not strictly dependent upon law or regulation. (3) Beliefs. The collective perception of fundamental truths governing behavior. The adherence to accepted and shared beliefs by members of a social system will likely persist and be difficult to change over time. Strong beliefs about determinant factors (i.e., security, survival, or honor) are likely to cause a social entity or group to accept rules and norms.[6]

Knowledge and epistemology

Classical definition of Kno
A Venn/Euler diagram which grants that truth and well-justified belief may be distinguished and that their intersection is knowledge

Epistemology is concerned with delineating the boundary between justified belief and opinion,[7] and involved generally with a theoretical philosophical study of knowledge. The primary problem in epistemology is to understand exactly what is needed in order for us to have knowledge. In a notion derived from Plato's dialogue Theaetetus, where the epistemology of Socrates (Platon) most clearly departs from that of the sophists, who at the time of Plato seem to have defined knowledge as what is here expressed as "justified true belief". The tendency to translate from belief (here: doxa – common opinion) to knowledge (here: episteme), which Plato (e.g. Socrates of the dialogue) utterly dismisses, results from failing to distinguish a dispositive belief (gr. 'doxa', not 'pistis') from knowledge (episteme) when the opinion is regarded true (here: orthé), in terms of right, and juristically so (according to the premises of the dialogue), which was the task of the rhetors to prove. Plato dismisses this possibility of an affirmative relation between belief (i.e. opinion) and knowledge even when the one who opines grounds his belief on the rule, and is able to add justification (gr. logos: reasonable and necessarily plausible assertions/evidence/guidance) to it.[8]

Plato has been credited for the "justified true belief" theory of knowledge, even though Plato in the Theaetetus (dialogue) elegantly dismisses it, and even posits this argument of Socrates as a cause for his death penalty. Among American epistemologists, Gettier (1963)[9] and Goldman (1967),[10] have questioned the "justified true belief" definition, and challenged the "sophists" of their time.

Justified true belief

Justified true belief is a definition of knowledge that gained approval during the Enlightenment, 'justified' standing in contrast to 'revealed'. There have been attempts to trace it back to Plato and his dialogues.[11] The concept of justified true belief states that in order to know that a given proposition is true, one must not only believe the relevant true proposition, but also have justification for doing so. In more formal terms, an agent knows that a proposition is true if and only if:

  1. is true
  2. believes that is true, and
  3. is justified in believing that is true

This theory of knowledge suffered a significant setback with the discovery of Gettier problems, situations in which the above conditions were seemingly met but that many philosophers disagree that anything is known.[12] Robert Nozick suggested a clarification of "justification" which he believed eliminates the problem: the justification has to be such that were the justification false, the knowledge would be false. Bernecker and Dretske (2000) argue that "no epistemologist since Gettier has seriously and successfully defended the traditional view."[13]:3 On the other hand, Paul Boghossian argues that the Justified True Belief account is the "standard, widely accepted" definition of knowledge.[14]

Formation

Ripples of influence
We are influenced by many factors that ripple through our minds as our beliefs form, evolve, and may eventually change

Psychologists study belief formation and the relationship between beliefs and actions. Three models of belief formation and change have been proposed:

The conditional inference process

When people are asked to estimate the likelihood that a statement is true, they search their memory for information that has implications for the validity of this statement. Once this information has been identified, they estimate a) the likelihood that the statement would be true if the information were true, and b) the likelihood that the statement would be true if the information were false. If their estimates for these two probabilities differ, people average them, weighting each by the likelihood that the information is true and false (respectively). Thus, information bears directly on beliefs of another, related statement.[15]

Linear models of belief formation

Unlike the previous model, this one takes into consideration the possibility of multiple factors influencing belief formation. Using regression procedures, this model predicts belief formation on the basis of several different pieces of information, with weights assigned to each piece on the basis of their relative importance.[15]

Information processing models of belief formation and change

These models address the fact that the responses people have to belief-relevant information is unlikely to be predicted from the objective basis of the information that they can recall at the time their beliefs are reported. Instead, these responses reflect the number and meaning of the thoughts that people have about the message at the time that they encounter it.[15]

Some influences on people's belief formation include:

  • Internalization of beliefs during childhood, which can form and shape our beliefs in different domains. Albert Einstein is often quoted as having said that "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." Political beliefs depend most strongly on the political beliefs most common in the community where we live.[16] Most individuals believe the religion they were taught in childhood.[17]
  • Charismatic leaders can form and/or modify beliefs (even if those beliefs fly in the face of all previous beliefs).[18] Is belief voluntary? Rational individuals need to reconcile their direct reality with any said belief; therefore, if belief is not present or possible, it reflects the fact that contradictions were necessarily overcome using cognitive dissonance.
  • Advertising can form or change beliefs through repetition, shock, and association with images of sex, love, beauty, and other strong positive emotions.[19] Contrary to intuition, a delay, known as the sleeper effect, instead of immediate succession may increase an advertisement's ability to persuade viewer's beliefs if a discounting cue is present.[20]
  • Physical trauma, especially to the head, can radically alter a person's beliefs.[21]

However, even educated people, well aware of the process by which beliefs form, still strongly cling to their beliefs, and act on those beliefs even against their own self-interest. In Anna Rowley's book, Leadership Therapy, she states "You want your beliefs to change. It's proof that you are keeping your eyes open, living fully, and welcoming everything that the world and people around you can teach you." This means that peoples' beliefs should evolve as they gain new experiences.[22]

Belief revision

An extensive amount of scientific research and philosophical discussion exists around the modification of beliefs, which is commonly referred to as belief revision. Generally speaking, the process of belief revision entails the believer weighing the set of truths and/or evidence, and the dominance of a set of truths or evidence on an alternative to a held belief can lead to revision. One process of belief revision is Bayesian updating and is often referenced for its mathematical basis and conceptual simplicity. However, such a process may not be representative for individuals whose beliefs are not easily characterized as probabilistic.

There are several techniques for individuals or groups to change the beliefs of others; these methods generally fall under the umbrella of persuasion. Persuasion can take on more specific forms such as consciousness raising when considered in an activist or political context. Belief modification may also occur as a result of the experience of outcomes. Because goals are based, in part on beliefs, the success or failure at a particular goal may contribute to modification of beliefs that supported the original goal.

Whether or not belief modification actually occurs is dependent not only on the extent of truths or evidence for the alternative belief, but also characteristics outside the specific truths or evidence. This includes, but is not limited to: the source characteristics of the message, such as credibility; social pressures; the anticipated consequences of a modification; or the ability of the individual or group to act on the modification. Therefore, individuals seeking to achieve belief modification in themselves or others need to consider all possible forms of resistance to belief revision.

Partial

Without qualification, "belief" normally implies a lack of doubt, especially insofar as it is a designation of a life stance. In practical everyday use however, belief is normally partial and retractable with varying degrees of certainty.

A copious literature exists in multiple disciplines to accommodate this reality. In mathematics probability, fuzzy logic, fuzzy set theory, and other topics are largely directed to this.

Prediction

Different psychological models have tried to predict people's beliefs and some of them try to estimate the exact probabilities of beliefs. For example, Robert Wyer developed a model of subjective probabilities.[23][24] When people rate the likelihood of a certain statement (e.g., "It will rain tomorrow"), this rating can be seen as a subjective probability value. The subjective probability model posits that these subjective probabilities follow the same rules as objective probabilities. For example, the law of total probability might be applied to predict a subjective probability value. Wyer found that this model produces relatively accurate predictions for probabilities of single events and for changes in these probabilities, but that the probabilities of several beliefs linked by "and" or "or" do not follow the model as well.[23][24]

Epistemological belief compared to religious belief

Historically belief-in belonged in the realm of religious thought, belief-that instead belonged to epistemological considerations.[25]

Belief-in

To "believe in" someone or something is a distinct concept from "believing-that." There are at least these types of belief-in:[26]

  • Commendatory / Faith – we may make an expression of 'faith' in respect of some performance by an agent X, when without prejudice to the truth value of the factual outcome or even confidence in X otherwise, we expect that specific performance. In particular self-confidence or faith in one's self is this kind of belief.
  • Existential claim – to claim belief in the existence of an entity or phenomenon in a general way with the implied need to justify its claim to existence. It is often used when the entity is not real, or its existence is in doubt. "He believes in witches and ghosts" or "many children believe in Santa Claus" or "I believe in a deity" are typical examples.[27] The linguistic form is distinct from the assertion of the truth of a proposition since verification is either considered impossible/irrelevant or a counterfactual situation is assumed.

Belief-that

Economic belief

Economic beliefs are beliefs which are reasonably and necessarily contrary to the tenet of rational choice or instrumental rationality.[28]

Studies of the Austrian tradition of the economic thought, in the context of analysis of the influence and subsequent degree of change resulting from existing economic knowledge and belief, has contributed the most to the subsequent holistic collective analysis.[29]

Delusion

Insofar as the truth of belief is expressed in sentential and propositional form we are using the sense of belief-that rather than belief-in. Delusion arises when the truth value of the form is clearly nil.[30][31][32]

Delusions are defined as beliefs in psychiatric diagnostic criteria[33] (for example in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Psychiatrist and historian G.E. Berrios has challenged the view that delusions are genuine beliefs and instead labels them as "empty speech acts," where affected persons are motivated to express false or bizarre belief statements due to an underlying psychological disturbance. However, the majority of mental health professionals and researchers treat delusions as if they were genuine beliefs.

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass the White Queen says, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." This is often quoted in mockery of the common ability of people to entertain beliefs contrary to fact.

Religious belief

Religion collage updated

Religious belief refers to attitudes towards mythological, supernatural, or spiritual aspects of a religion.[34] Religious belief is distinct from religious practice and from religious behaviours – with some believers not practicing religion and some practitioners not believing religion. Religious beliefs, deriving from ideas that are exclusive to religion, often relate to the existence, characteristics and worship of a deity or deities, to the idea of divine intervention in the universe and in human life, or to the deontological explanations for the values and practices centered on the teachings of a spiritual leader or of a spiritual group. In contrast to other belief systems, religious beliefs are usually codified.[35]

Forms

A popular view holds that different religions each have identifiable and exclusive sets of beliefs or creeds, but surveys of religious belief have often found that the official doctrine and descriptions of the beliefs offered by religious authorities do not always agree with the privately held beliefs of those who identify as members of a particular religion.[36] For a broad classification of the kinds of religious belief, see below.

Fundamentalism

First self-applied as a term to the conservative doctrine outlined by anti-modernist Protestants in the United States,[37] "fundamentalism" in religious terms denotes strict adherence to an interpretation of scriptures that are generally associated with theologically conservative positions or traditional understandings of the text and are distrustful of innovative readings, new revelation, or alternative interpretations. Religious fundamentalism has been identified in the media as being associated with fanatical or zealous political movements around the world that have used a strict adherence to a particular religious doctrine as a means to establish political identity and to enforce societal norms.

Orthodoxy

First used in the context of Early Christianity, the term "orthodoxy" relates to religious belief that closely follows the edicts, apologies, and hermeneutics of a prevailing religious authority. In the case of Early Christianity, this authority was the communion of bishops, and is often referred to by the term "Magisterium". The term orthodox was applied almost as an epithet to a group of Jewish believers who held to pre-Enlightenment understanding of Judaism – now known as Orthodox Judaism. The Eastern Orthodox Church of Christianity and the Catholic Church each consider themselves to be the true heir to Early Christian belief and practice. The antonym of "orthodox" is "heterodox", and those adhering to orthodoxy often accuse the heterodox of apostasy, schism, or heresy.

Modernism/reform

The Renaissance and later the Enlightenment in Europe exhibited varying degrees of religious tolerance and intolerance towards new and old religious ideas. The philosophes took particular exception to many of the more fantastical claims of religions and directly challenged religious authority and the prevailing beliefs associated with the established churches. In response to the liberalizing political and social movements, some religious groups attempted to integrate Enlightenment ideals of rationality, equality, and individual liberty into their belief systems, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Reform Judaism and Liberal Christianity offer two examples of such religious associations.

Universalism

Some believe that religion cannot be separated from other aspects of life, or believe that certain cultures did not or do not separate their religious activities from other activities in the same way that some people in modern Western cultures do.

Some anthropologists report cultures in which gods are involved in every aspect of life – if a cow goes dry, a god has caused this, and must be propitiated; when the sun rises in the morning, a god has caused this, and must be thanked. Even in modern Western cultures, many people see supernatural forces behind every event, as described by Carl Sagan in his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World.

People with such a worldview often regard the influence of Western culture as inimical. Others with this worldview resist the influence of science, and believe that science (or "so-called science") should be guided by religion. Still others with this worldview believe that all political decisions and laws should be guided by religion. This last belief, written into the constitutions of many Islamic nations, is shared by some fundamentalist Christians.

In addition, beliefs about the supernatural or metaphysical may not presuppose a difference between any such thing as nature and non-nature, nor between science and what most educated people believe. In the view of some historians, the pre-Socratic Athenians saw science, political tradition, culture and religion as not easily distinguishable, but as all part of the same body of knowledge and wisdom available to a community.

Approaches to the beliefs of others

Adherents of particular religions deal with the differing doctrines and practices espoused by other religions or by other religious denominations in a variety of ways.

Exclusivism

People with exclusivist beliefs typically explain other beliefs either as in error, or as corruptions or counterfeits of the true faith. This approach is a fairly consistent feature among smaller new religious movements that often rely on doctrine that claims a unique revelation by the founders or leaders, and considers it a matter of faith that the "correct" religion has a monopoly on truth. All three major Abrahamic monotheistic religions have passages in their holy scriptures that attest to the primacy of the scriptural testimony, and indeed monotheism itself is often vouched as an innovation characterized specifically by its explicit rejection of earlier polytheistic faiths.

Some exclusivist faiths incorporate a specific element of proselytization. This is a strongly-held belief in the Christian tradition which follows the doctrine of the Great Commission, and is less emphasized by the Islamic faith where the Quranic edict "There shall be no compulsion in religion" (2:256) is often quoted as a justification for toleration of alternative beliefs. The Jewish tradition does not actively seek out converts.

Exclusivism correlates with conservative, fundamentalist, and orthodox approaches of many religions, while pluralistic and syncretist approaches either explicitly downplay or reject the exclusivist tendencies within a religion.

Inclusivism

People with inclusivist beliefs recognize some truth in all faith systems, highlighting agreements and minimizing differences. This attitude is sometimes associated with Interfaith dialogue or with the Christian Ecumenical movement, though in principle such attempts at pluralism are not necessarily inclusivist and many actors in such interactions (for example, the Roman Catholic Church) still hold to exclusivist dogma while participating in inter-religious organizations.

Explicitly inclusivist religions include many that are associated with the New Age movement, as well as modern reinterpretations of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Bahá'í Faith considers it doctrine that there is truth in all faith-systems.

Pluralism

People with pluralist beliefs make no distinction between faith systems, viewing each one as valid within a particular culture. Examples include:

  • Extracts from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh Holy Scriptures), "There is only the One Supreme Lord God; there is no other at all" (Pannaa 45). "By His Power the Vedas and the Puranas exist, and the Holy Scriptures of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. By His Power all deliberations exist." (Pannaa 464). "Some call Him, 'Ram, Ram', and some call Him, 'Khudaa-i'. Some serve Him as 'Gusain', others as 'Allaah'. ||1|| He is the Cause of causes, the Generous Lord. He showers His Grace and Mercy upon us amen." (Pannaa 885).

Syncretism

People with syncretistic views blend the views of a variety of different religions or traditional beliefs into a unique fusion which suits their particular experiences and contexts (see eclecticism). Unitarian Universalism exemplifies a syncretistic faith.

Adherence

Typical reasons for adherence to religion include the following:

  • Some see belief in a deity as necessary for moral behavior.[38]
  • Many people regard religious practices as serene, beautiful, and conducive to religious experiences, which in turn support religious beliefs.[39]
  • Organized religions promote a sense of community among their followers, and the moral and cultural common ground of these communities makes them attractive to people with similar values.[40] Indeed, while religious beliefs and practices are usually connected, some individuals with substantially secular beliefs still participate in religious practices for cultural reasons.[41]
  • Each religion asserts that it is a means by which its adherents may come into closer contact with the Divine, with Truth, and with spiritual power. They all promise to free adherents from spiritual bondage, and to bring them into spiritual freedom. It naturally follows that a religion which can free its adherents from deception, sin, and spiritual death will have significant mental-health benefits. Abraham Maslow's research after World War II showed that Holocaust survivors tended to be those who held strong religious beliefs (not necessarily temple attendance, etc.), suggesting that belief helped people cope in extreme circumstances. Humanistic psychology went on to investigate how religious or spiritual identity may have correlations with longer lifespan and better health. The study found that humans may particularly need religious ideas to serve various emotional needs such as the need to feel loved, the need to belong to homogeneous groups, the need for understandable explanations and the need for a guarantee of ultimate justice. Other factors may involve sense of purpose, sense of identity, or a sense of contact with the divine. See also Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, detailing his experience with the importance of religion in surviving the Holocaust. Critics assert that the very fact that religion was the primary selector for research subjects may have introduced a bias, and that the fact that all subjects were Holocaust survivors may also have had an effect. According to Larson et al. (2000), "[m]ore longitudinal research with better multidimensional measures will help further clarify the roles of these [religious] factors and whether they are beneficial or harmful."[42]

Psychologist James Alcock also summarizes a number of apparent benefits which reinforce religious belief. These include prayer appearing to account for successful resolution of problems, "a bulwark against existential anxiety and fear of annihilation," an increased sense of control, companionship with one's deity, a source of self-significance, and group identity.[43]

Apostasy

Typical reasons for rejection of religion include:

  • Some people regard certain fundamental doctrines of some religions as illogical, contrary to experience, or unsupported by sufficient evidence; such people may reject one or more religions for those reasons.[44] Even some believers may have difficulty accepting particular religious assertions or doctrines. Some people believe the body of evidence available to humans to be insufficient to justify certain religious beliefs. They may thus disagree with religious interpretations of ethics and human purpose, or with various creation myths. This reason has perhaps been aggravated by the protestations and empases of some fundamentalist Christians.
  • Some religions include beliefs that certain groups of people are inferior or sinful and deserve contempt, persecution, or even death, and that non-believers will be punished for their unbelief in an after-life.[45] Adherents to a religion may feel antipathy to unbelievers. Numerous examples exist of people of one religion or sect using religion as an excuse to murder people with different religious beliefs. To mention just a few
    • the slaughter of the Huguenots by French Catholics in the sixteenth century
    • Hindus and Muslims killing each other when Pakistan separated from India in 1947
    • the persecution and killing of Shiite Muslims by Sunni Muslims in Iraq
    • the murder of Protestants by Catholics and vice versa in Ireland (both of these examples in the late twentieth century)
    • the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that continues as of 2018 – According to some critics of religion, such beliefs can encourage completely unnecessary conflicts and in some cases even wars. Many atheists believe that, because of this, religion is incompatible with world peace, freedom, civil rights, equality, and good government. On the other hand, most religions perceive atheism as a threat and will vigorously and even violently defend themselves against religious sterilization, making the attempt to remove public religious practices a source of strife.[46]
  • Some people may be unable to accept the values that a specific religion promotes and will therefore not join that religion. They may also be unable to accept the proposition that those who do not believe will go to hell or be damned, especially if said nonbelievers are close to the person.
  • The maintenance of life and the achievement of self-esteem require of a person the fullest exercise of reason—but morality (people are taught) rests on and requires faith.[47]

Belief systems

A belief system is a set of mutually supportive beliefs. The beliefs of any such system can be classified as religious, philosophical, political, ideological, or a combination of these. Philosopher Jonathan Glover says that beliefs are always part of a belief system, and that tenanted belief systems are difficult for the tenants to completely revise or reject.[48][49]

Perspectives

A collective belief is referred to when people speak of what "we" believe when this is not simply elliptical for what "we all" believe.[50]

Sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote of collective beliefs and proposed that they, like all "social facts", "inhered in" social groups as opposed to individual persons. Durkheim's discussion of collective belief, though suggestive, is relatively obscure.[51]

Philosopher Margaret Gilbert (1942- ) has offered a related account in terms of the joint commitment of a number of persons to accept a certain belief as a body. According to this account, individuals who together collectively believe something need not personally believe it themselves. Gilbert's work on the topic has stimulated a developing literature among philosophers. One question that has arisen is whether and how philosophical accounts of belief in general need to be sensitive to the possibility of collective belief.

Snipa
Philosopher Jonathan Glover warns that belief systems are like whole boats in the water; it is extremely difficult to alter them all at once (for example, it may be too stressful, or people may maintain their biases without realizing it).[48]

Jonathan Glover (1941- ) believes that he and other philosophers ought to play some role in starting dialogues between people with deeply-held, opposing beliefs, especially if there is risk of violence. Glover also believes that philosophy can offer insights about beliefs that would be relevant to such dialogue.

Glover suggests that beliefs have to be considered holistically, and that no belief exists in isolation in the mind of the believer. Each belief always implicates and relates to other beliefs.[48] Glover provides the example of a patient with an illness who returns to a doctor, but the doctor says that the prescribed medicine is not working. At that point, the patient has a great deal of flexibility in choosing what beliefs to keep or reject: the patient could believe that the doctor is incompetent, that the doctor's assistants made a mistake, that the patient's own body is unique in some unexpected way, that Western medicine is ineffective, or even that Western science is entirely unable to discover truths about ailments.[48]

Glover maintains that any person can continue to hold any belief if they would really like to[48] (for example, with help from ad hoc hypotheses). One belief can be held fixed, and other beliefs will be altered around it. Glover warns that some beliefs may not be entirely explicitly believed (for example, some people may not realize they have racist belief-systems adopted from their environment as a child). Glover believes that people tend to first realize that beliefs can change, and may be contingent on their upbringing, around age 12 or 15.[48]

Glover emphasizes that beliefs are difficult to change. He says that one may try to rebuild one's beliefs on more secure foundations (axioms), like building a new house, but warns that this may not be possible. Glover offers the example of René Descartes, saying: "[Descartes] starts off with the characteristic beliefs of a 17th-century Frenchman; he then junks the lot, he rebuilds the system, and somehow it looks a lot like the beliefs of a 17th-century Frenchman." To Glover, belief systems are not like houses but are instead like boats. As Glover puts it: "Maybe the whole thing needs rebuilding, but inevitably at any point you have to keep enough of it intact to keep floating."[48]

Glover's final message is that if people talk about their beliefs, they may find more deep, relevant, philosophical ways in which they disagree (e.g., less obvious beliefs, or more-deeply-held beliefs). Glover thinks that people often manage to find agreements and consensus through philosophy. He says that at the very least, if people do not convert each other, they will hold their own beliefs more openmindedly and will be less likely to go to war over conflicting beliefs.[48][52]

The British philosopher Stephen Law (1960-) has described some belief systems (including belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, and alien abduction) as "claptrap" and said that such belief-systems can "draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap [...] if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again".[53]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Primmer, Justin (2018), "Belief", in Primmer, Justin (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab, retrieved 19 September 2008
  2. ^ Compare: [1] – "The 'mind-body problem', for example, so central to philosophy of mind, is in part the question of whether and how a purely physical organism can have beliefs." Retrieved 01 July 2016.
  3. ^ Primmer, Justin (2018). "The nature and purpose of belief". Journal of Mind and Behavior. 29 (3): 219–239. Retrieved 3 June 2018. The purpose of belief is to guide action, not to indicate truth.
  4. ^ Bell, V.; Halligan, P.W.; Ellis, H.D. (2006). "A Cognitive Neuroscience of Belief". In Halligan, Peter W.; Aylward, Mansel (eds.). The Power of Belief: Psychological Influence on Illness, Disability, and Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-853010-7.
  5. ^ Baker, Lynne Rudder (1989). Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-07320-0.
  6. ^ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army (2012). Information Operations. Joint Publication 3–13. Joint Doctrine Support Division, Suffolk, VA. p. 22.
  7. ^ Oxford Dictionaries – definition published by OUP [Retrieved 2015-08-09]
  8. ^ http://www.friesian.com/knowledg.htm – 2007, 2008 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D.
  9. ^ Gettier, E.L. (1963). "Is justified true belief knowledge?". Analysis. 23 (6): 121–123. doi:10.1093/analys/23.6.121. JSTOR 3326922.
  10. ^ Goldman, A.I. (1967). "A causal theory of knowing". The Journal of Philosophy. 64 (12): 357–372. doi:10.2307/2024268. JSTOR 2024268.
  11. ^ The received view holds it that Plato's theory presents knowledge as remembering eternal truths and justification reawakens memory, see Fine, G. (2003). "Introduction". Plato on Knowledge and Forms: Selected Essays. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-0-19-924558-1.
  12. ^ Chisholm, Roderick (1982). "Knowledge as Justified True Belief". The Foundations of Knowing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-1103-4.
  13. ^ Bernecker, Sven; Dretske, Fred (2000). Knowledge. Readings in contemporary epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-875261-5.
  14. ^ Paul Boghossian (2007), Fear of Knowledge: Against relativism and constructivism, Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, ISBN 978-0-19-923041-9, Chapter 2, p. 15.
  15. ^ a b c Wyer, R.S., & Albarracin, D. (2005). Belief formation, organization, and change: Cognitive and motivational influences. In D. Albarracin, B.T. Johnson, & M.P. Zanna, The Handbook of Attitudes (273–322). New Yor: Psychology Press.
  16. ^ Gelman, Andrew; Park, David; Shor, Boris; Bafumi, Joseph; Cortina, Jeronimo (2008). Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13927-2.
  17. ^ Argyle, Michael (1997). The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. London: Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-415-12330-3. Religion, in most cultures, is ascribed, not chosen.
  18. ^ Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-06-050591-2.
  19. ^ Kilbourne, Jane; Pipher, Mary (2000). Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel. Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-86600-0.
  20. ^ see Kumkale & Albarracin, 2004
  21. ^ Rothschild, Babette (2000). The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-70327-6.
  22. ^ Rowley, Anna (2007). Leadership Therapy: Inside the Mind of Microsoft. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4039-8403-6.
  23. ^ a b Wyer, R.S. (1970). "Quantitative prediction of belief and opinion change: A further test of a subjective probability model". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 16 (4): 559–570. doi:10.1037/h0030064.
  24. ^ a b Wyer, R.S.; Goldberg, L. (1970). "A probabilistic analysis of the relationships among beliefs and attitudes". Psychological Review. 77 (2): 100–120. doi:10.1037/h0028769.
  25. ^ Price, H.H. (1965). "Belief 'In' and Belief 'That'". Religious Studies. 1 (1): 5–27. doi:10.1017/S0034412500002304.
  26. ^ MacIntosh, J.J. (1994). "Belief-in Revisited: A Reply to Williams". Religious Studies. 30 (4): 487–503. doi:10.1017/S0034412500023131.
  27. ^ Macintosh, Jack. "Belief-in". The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-19-926479-7.
  28. ^ Peter Taylor-Gooby – Economic Beliefs and Social Policy Behaviour Economic and Social Research Council (Economic Beliefs and behaviour research programme) [Retrieved 2015-08-09]
  29. ^ R. Arena & A. Festré (1 January 2006). Knowledge, Beliefs and Economics. Edward Elgar Publishing 2006, 288 pages. ISBN 978-1-84720-153-9. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  30. ^ L. Bortolotti (2010). Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs. OUP Oxford 2010, 299 pages, International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry. ISBN 978-0-19-920616-2.
  31. ^ Tarski's Truth Definitions, LOTH Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  32. ^ Introduction to Logic and to the Methodology of the Deductive Sciences" Alfred Tarski Dover 1995/41, Ch. I, § 2 Expressions containing variables—sentential and designatory functions and Ch. II On the Sentential Calculus in its entirety
  33. ^ Delusions in the DSM 5 A blog by Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett
  34. ^ Unknown. "What does religious belief mean?". www.definitions.net. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  35. ^ Wittgenstein, Ludwig (2007). Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. University of California Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-520-25181-6.
  36. ^ Braithwaite, R.B. (1975). An empiricist's view of the nature of religious belief. Norwood Editions (Norwood, Pa.). ISBN 978-0-88305-955-5.
  37. ^ "The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth". 27 November 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  38. ^ Compare: "Roy Moore: 'We Have No Morality Without an Acknowledgment of God'". Christianity Today. 7 March 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  39. ^ Miller, David Ian (15 February 2005). "Finding My Religion: Steve Georgiou on his faith and mentor, minimalist poet Robert Lax". SFGate. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  40. ^ Repa, J. Theodore (18 October 1998). "Building Community: The Marriage of Religion and Education". Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  41. ^ Note for example the concept of a cultural Christian.
  42. ^ Larson, David B.; Susan S. Larson; Harold G. Koenig (October 2000). "Research Findings on Religious Commitment and Mental Health". Psychiatric Times. 17 (10). Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  43. ^ Alcock, James (2018). "The God Engine". Skeptical Inquirer. 42 (5): 32–38.
  44. ^ For example: Russell, Bertrand (1927). "Why I am Not a Christian". Archived from the original on 19 November 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  45. ^ For example, some Muslims believe that women are inferior to men. Some Christians share this belief. At the time of the American Civil War of 1861–1865, many Southerners used passages from the Bible to justify race-based slavery. Certain campaigners have used the Christian religion as a reason to persecute and to deny the rights of homosexuals, on the basis that the Christian biblical God disapproves of homosexuality, and by implication of homosexuals. Compare http://www.godhatesfags.com
  46. ^ Beauchamp, Philip (pseudonym of Jeremy Bentham) Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind, 1822, R. Carlile, London, at page 76: "Of all human antipathies, that which the believer in a God bears to the unbeliever is the fullest, the most unqualified, and the most universal"
  47. ^ Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. When a person rejects reason as their standard of judgment, only one alternative standard allegedly remains to them: feelings. A mystic is a person who treats feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feeling with knowledge. To practice the "virtue" of faith, one must (we are told) be willing to suspend one's sight and one's judgment; one must be willing to live with the unintelligible, with that which cannot be conceptualized or integrated into the rest of one's knowledge, and to induce a trance like illusion of understanding. One must allegedly be willing to repress one's critical faculty and hold it as one's guilt; one must be willing to drown any questions that rise in protest—to strangle any trust of reason convulsively seeking to assert its proper function as the protector of one's life and cognitive integrity. The presumed human need for self-esteem entails the need for a sense of control over reality—but no control is possible in a universe which, by one's own concession, contains the supernatural, the miraculous and the causeless, a universe in which one is at the mercy of ghosts and demons, in which one must deal, not with the unknown, but with the unknowable; no control is possible if a person proposes, but a ghost disposes; no control is possible if the universe is a haunted house. A person's life and self-esteem require that the object and concern of his or her consciousness be reality and this earth—but morality, people are taught, consists of scorning this earth and the world available to sensory perception, and of contemplating, instead, a "different" and "higher" reality, a realm inaccessible to reason and incommunicable in language, but attainable by revelation, by special dialectical processes, by that superior state of intellectual lucidity known to Zen-Buddhists as "No-Mind," or by death. A person's life and self-esteem require that this person take pride in their power to think, pride in their power to live—but morality, people are taught, holds pride, and specifically intellectual pride, as the gravest of sins. Virtue begins, people are taught, with humility: with the recognition of the helplessness, the smallness, the impotence of one's mind. A person's life and self-esteem purportedly require the person to be loyal to their values, loyal to their mind and its judgments, loyal to their life—but the essence of morality, people are taught, consists of self-sacrifice: the sacrifice of one's mind to some higher authority, and the sacrifice of one's values to whoever may claim to require it. A sacrifice, it is necessary to remember, means the surrender of a higher value in favor of a lower value or of a nonvalue. If one gives up that which one does not value in order to obtain that which one does value—or if one gives up a lesser value in order to obtain a greater one—this is not a sacrifice, but a gain. Remember further that all of a person's values allegedly exist in a hierarchy; people value some things more than others; and, to the extent that a person is rational, the hierarchical order of the person's values is rational: that is, the person values things in proportion to their importance in serving this person's life and well-being. That which is inimical to their life and well-being, that which is inimical to their nature and needs as a living being, the person disvalues. Conversely, one of the characteristics of mental illness is a distorted value structure; the neurotic does not value things according to their objective merit, in relation to the person's nature and needs; they frequently value the very things that will lead them to self-destruction. Judged by objective standards, they are engaged in a chronic process of self-sacrifice. But if sacrifice is a virtue, it is not the neurotic but the rational person who must be “cured”. They must learn to do violence to their own rational judgment—to reverse the order of their value hierarchy—to surrender that which their mind has chosen as the good—to turn against and invalidate their own consciousness.Waldau, Paul (2001). The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals (American Academy of Religion Books). Oxford University Press, US. ISBN 978-0-19-514571-7.
  48. ^ a b c d e f g h "Jonathan Glover on systems of belief", Philosophy Bites Podcast, Oct 9 2011
  49. ^ Elizabeth A. Minton, Lynn R. Khale (2014). Belief Systems, Religion, and Behavioral Economics. New York: Business Expert Press LLC. ISBN 978-1-60649-704-3.
  50. ^ Dancy, Jonathan (2016) [2014]. A Companion to Epistemology. Just the Facts101 (2 ed.). Content Technologies Inc. ISBN 9781478400028. Retrieved 30 April 2019. A collective belief is referred to when people speak of what 'we' believe when this is not simply elliptical for what 'we all' believe.
  51. ^ Dancy, Jonathan (2016) [2014]. A Companion to Epistemology. Just the Facts101 (2 ed.). Content Technologies Inc. ISBN 9781478400028. Retrieved 30 April 2019. Sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote of collective beliefs and proposed that they, like all 'social facts', 'inhered in' social groups as opposed to individual persons. Durkheim's discussion of collective belief, though suggestive, is relatively obscure.
  52. ^ 'Philosophy, Beliefs, and Conflict' , JonathanGlover.co.uk
  53. ^ New Scientist (magazine), 11 June 2011 A field guide to bullshit | New Scientist - "Intellectual black holes are belief systems that draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap. Belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions – these are examples of intellectual black holes. As you approach them, you need to be on your guard because if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again."

Further reading

External links

Agnosticism

Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist"The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the word agnostic in 1869, and said "It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe."

Earlier thinkers, however, had written works that promoted agnostic points of view, such as Sanjaya Belatthaputta, a 5th-century BCE Indian philosopher who expressed agnosticism about any afterlife; and Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher who expressed agnosticism about the existence of "the gods".Agnosticism is the doctrine or tenet of agnostics with regard to the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena or to knowledge of a First Cause or God, and is not a religion.

Animism

Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life") is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples, especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, "animism" is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples' "spiritual" or "supernatural" perspectives. The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to "animism" (or even "religion"); the term is an anthropological construct.

Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to an ancestral mode of experience common to indigenous peoples around the world, or to a full-fledged religion in its own right. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, who created it as "one of anthropology's earliest concepts, if not the first".Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world and that soul or spirit or sentience exists not only in humans, but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind and shadows. Animism may further attribute souls to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan and many contemporary Pagans).

Argumentum ad populum

In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for "argument to the people") is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition must be true because many or most people believe it, often concisely encapsulated as: "If many believe so, it is so."

This type of argument is known by several names, including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to democracy, appeal to popularity, argument by consensus, consensus fallacy, authority of the many, bandwagon fallacy, vox populi, and in Latin as argumentum ad numerum ("appeal to the number"), fickle crowd syndrome, and consensus gentium ("agreement of the clans"). It is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement and the bandwagon effect. The Chinese proverb "three men make a tiger" concerns the same idea.

This fallacy is similar in structure to certain other fallacies that involve a confusion between the justification of a belief and its widespread acceptance by a given group of people. When an argument uses the appeal to the beliefs of a group of experts, it takes on the form of an appeal to authority; if the appeal is to the beliefs of a group of respected elders or the members of one's community over a long period of time, then it takes on the form of an appeal to tradition.

One who commits this fallacy may assume that individuals commonly analyze and edit their beliefs and behaviors based on majority opinion. This is often not the case. (See conformity.)

The argumentum ad populum can be a valid argument in inductive logic; for example, a poll of a sizeable population may find that 100% prefer a certain brand of product over another. A cogent (strong) argument can then be made that the next person to be considered will also very likely prefer that brand (but not always 100% since there could be exceptions), and the poll is valid evidence of that claim. However, it is unsuitable as an argument for deductive reasoning as proof, for instance to say that the poll proves that the preferred brand is superior to the competition in its composition or that everyone prefers that brand to the other.

Atheism

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.The etymological root for the word atheism originated before the 5th century BCE from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god(s)". In antiquity. it had multiple uses as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society, those who were forsaken by the gods, or those who had no commitment to belief in the gods. The term denoted a social category created by orthodox religionists into which those who did not share their religious beliefs were placed. The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word atheist lived in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. The French Revolution, noted for its "unprecedented atheism," witnessed the first major political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human reason.Arguments for atheism range from philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include arguments that there is a lack of empirical evidence, the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and the argument from nonbelief. Nonbelievers contend that atheism is a more parsimonious position than theism and that everyone is born without beliefs in deities; therefore, they argue that the burden of proof lies not on the atheist to disprove the existence of gods but on the theist to provide a rationale for theism. Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies (e.g. secular humanism), there is no one ideology or code of conduct to which all atheists adhere.Since conceptions of atheism vary, accurate estimations of current numbers of atheists are difficult. According to global Win-Gallup International studies, 13% of respondents were "convinced atheists" in 2012, 11% were "convinced atheists" in 2015, and in 2017, 9% were "convinced atheists". However, other researchers have advised caution with WIN/Gallup figures since other surveys which have used the same wording for decades and have a bigger sample size have consistently reached lower figures. An older survey by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2004 recorded atheists as comprising 8% of the world's population. Other older estimates have indicated that atheists comprise 2% of the world's population, while the irreligious add a further 12%. According to these polls, Europe and East Asia are the regions with the highest rates of atheism. In 2015, 61% of people in China reported that they were atheists. The figures for a 2010 Eurobarometer survey in the European Union (EU) reported that 20% of the EU population claimed not to believe in "any sort of spirit, God or life force".

Bayesian network

A Bayesian network, Bayes network, belief network, decision network, Bayes(ian) model or probabilistic directed acyclic graphical model is a probabilistic graphical model (a type of statistical model) that represents a set of variables and their conditional dependencies via a directed acyclic graph (DAG). Bayesian networks are ideal for taking an event that occurred and predicting the likelihood that any one of several possible known causes was the contributing factor. For example, a Bayesian network could represent the probabilistic relationships between diseases and symptoms. Given symptoms, the network can be used to compute the probabilities of the presence of various diseases.

Efficient algorithms can perform inference and learning in Bayesian networks. Bayesian networks that model sequences of variables (e.g. speech signals or protein sequences) are called dynamic Bayesian networks. Generalizations of Bayesian networks that can represent and solve decision problems under uncertainty are called influence diagrams.

Christianity

Christianity is an Abrahamic Universal religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is the worlds largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers or 31.5% of the worlds populations.

Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism. It soon also attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, and the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, and also to Ethiopia, Transcaucasia, and some parts of Asia.

Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan (313). The First Council of Nicaea (325) established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire. By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms.

Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the Pope. Similarly, in 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, and other ecclesiological and theological disputes.Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization.Christianity is the largest religion in the world, with 2.3 billion adherents, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion), Protestantism (920 million), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million).

Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Despite a declining trend in membership in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with more than 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Nonetheless, the religion is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents.

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for desired outcomes, emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs. Confirmation bias is of particular current interest because of the increasing polarisation between left-wing and right-wing political viewpoints, and the gullible acceptance of the current rapid spread of fake news.People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

A series of psychological experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people's conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way. However, even scientists and intelligent people can be prone to confirmation bias.Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in political and organizational contexts.

Conspiracy theory

A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a pejorative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence. Conspiracy theories resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning: both evidence against the conspiracy and an absence of evidence for it, are re-interpreted as evidence of its truth, and the conspiracy becomes a matter of faith rather than proof.On a psychological level, conspiracist ideation -- belief in conspiracy theories -- can be harmful or pathological, and is highly correlated with paranoia. Conspiracy theories once limited to fringe audiences have become commonplace in mass media, emerging as a cultural phenomenon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Creed

A creed (also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith) is a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.

The earliest creed in Christianity, "Jesus is Lord", originated in the writings of Saint Paul. One of the most widely used creeds in Christianity is the Nicene Creed, first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea. It was based on Christian understanding of the Canonical Gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament. Affirmation of this creed, which describes the Trinity, is generally taken as a fundamental test of orthodoxy for most Christian denominations. The Apostles' Creed is also broadly accepted. Some Christian denominations and other groups have rejected the authority of those creeds.

Muslims declare the shahada, or testimony: "I bear witness that there is no god but (the One) God (Allah), and I bear witness that Muhammad is God's messenger."Whether Judaism is creedal has been a point of some controversy. Although some say Judaism is noncreedal in nature, others say it recognizes a single creed, the Shema Yisrael, which begins: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."

Delusion

A delusion is a firm and fixed belief based on inadequate grounds not amenable to rational argument or evidence to contrary, not in sync with regional, cultural and educational background. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or some other misleading effects of perception.

They have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both general physical and mental) and are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

Epistemology

Epistemology ( (listen); from Greek, Modern ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning 'knowledge', and -logy) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.

Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification. Epistemology addresses such questions as: "What makes justified beliefs justified?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?", and fundamentally "How do we know that we know?"

Faith

Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief.

Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant,

while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence.

Iman (concept)

Iman (إِيمَان ʾīmān, lit. faith or belief) in Islamic theology denotes a believer's faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islam. Its most simple definition is the belief in the six articles of faith, known as arkān al-īmān.

The term iman has been delineated in both the Quran and hadith. According to the Quran, iman must be accompanied by righteous deeds and the two together are necessary for entry into Paradise. In the hadith, iman in addition to Islam and ihsan form the three dimensions of the Islamic religion.

There exists a debate both within and outside Islam on the link between faith and reason in religion, and the relative importance of either. Several scholars contend that faith and reason spring from the same source and hence must be harmonious.

Irreligion

Irreligion (adjective form: non-religious or irreligious) is the absence, indifference to, rejection of, or hostility towards religion.Irreligion may include some forms of theism, depending on the religious context it is defined against; for example, in 18th-century Europe, the epitome of irreligion was deism, while in contemporary East Asia the shared term meaning "irreligion" or "no religion" (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō Korean pron. Mukyo), with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves, implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) and not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao and Japanese Shinto (both meaning "ways of gods").According to the Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated. By 2060, according to their projections, the number of unaffiliated will increase by over 35 million, but the percentage will decrease to 13% because the total population will grow faster.According to cross-cultural studies, secularism is expected to decline throughout the 21st century since religion and fertility are positively related, while secularism and fertility are negatively related.

Paranormal

Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation.Proposals regarding the paranormal are different from scientific hypotheses or speculations extrapolated from scientific evidence because scientific ideas are grounded in empirical observations and experimental data gained through the scientific method. In contrast, those who argue for the existence of the paranormal explicitly do not base their arguments on empirical evidence but rather on anecdote, testimony, and suspicion. Notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to telepathy, extrasensory perception, spiritualism and the pseudosciences of ghost hunting, cryptozoology, and ufology.

Sunni Islam

Sunni Islam () is the largest denomination of Islam, followed by 75-90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word sunnah, referring to the behaviour of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims arose from a disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and subsequently acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions.According to Sunni traditions, Muhammad did not clearly designate a successor and the Muslim community acted according to his sunnah in electing his father-in-law Abu Bakr as the first caliph. This contrasts with the Shia view, which holds that Muhammad announced his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor, most notably at Ghadir Khumm. Political tensions between Sunnis and Shias continued with varying intensity throughout Islamic history and have been exacerbated in recent times by ethnic conflicts and the rise of Wahhabism.The adherents of Sunni Islam are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah ("the people of the sunnah and the community") or ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its doctrines and practices are sometimes called Sunnism, while adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, Sunnites and Ahlus Sunnah. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as "orthodox Islam", though some scholars view this translation as inappropriate.The Quran, together with hadith (especially those collected in Kutub al-Sittah) and binding juristic consensus form the basis of all traditional jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. Sharia rulings are derived from these basic sources, in conjunction with analogical reasoning, consideration of public welfare and juristic discretion, using the principles of jurisprudence developed by the traditional legal schools.

In matters of creed, the Sunni tradition upholds the six pillars of iman (faith) and comprises the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools of rationalistic theology as well as the textualist school known as traditionalist theology.

Superstition

Superstition is a pejorative term for any belief or practice that is considered irrational or supernatural: for example, if it arises from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy, and certain spiritual beings, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events. The word superstition is often used to refer to a religion not practiced by the majority of a given society regardless of whether the prevailing religion contains alleged superstitions.

Due to the pejorative implications of the term, items referred to in common parlance as superstition are commonly referred to as folk belief in folkloristics.

Theism

Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of the Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism (also referred to as classical theism) – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.Atheism is commonly understood as rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism, i.e. the rejection of belief in God or gods. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism.

Urban legend

An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend is a modern genre of folklore rooted in local popular culture, usually comprising fictional stories that are often presented as true, with macabre or humorous elements. These legends can be used for entertainment purposes, as well as semi-serious explanations for seemingly-mysterious events, such as disappearances and strange objects.

Urban legends can be spread by any media, including newspapers, e-mail and social media. Some urban legends have passed through the years with only minor changes to suit regional variations. More recent legends tend to reflect modern circumstances (such as the common legend of a person being ambushed and anesthetized, only to later wake up and realize they are now missing a kidney that was supposedly surgically removed for transplantation).

Urban legends are commonly told and used in folklore and tend to play on the fears and emotions of people. They can also be used to contribute to the fears of society, creating anxiety and even adding to the prejudice of a society.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.