How Much Does it Matter?
How Much Does it Matter?
It seems to matter a LOT to people to have specific beliefs that are their own that they would literally fight for and do fight for- like on the Jerry Springer Show. How much does what I believe really matter- not just to me, but to everyone. In fact, how much does it matter to have beliefs, if they are just my hopeful opinions about life? Is there a difference between what I think and what I believe? Is one in my head and the other in my heart or soul? Is it a matter of magnitude- If I think something is true, that is somehow a lower order of magnitude than if I believe it…?
It feels like we are making a bigger deal out of our individual beliefs more than we use to. Like they are more important and that everyone should have one or two, or even a bunch- a bunch of beliefs- makes one more sophisticated than having only a few.
It’s funny, because people don’t seem too worried if they are alone in their beliefs, almost as though internal verification is enough for a belief and that there is no reason for consensus, group think or even commonality. “My personal belief” is all it takes for someone to have confidence that something is true. Is something true whether or not I belief it to be, or is it true because I believe it to be?
For those who know- this is epistemology- “how I know (believe) what I know (believe)” and is a whole realm of thought- in which we are all engaged (whether we believe it or not!) Historically, there have been a couple of presuppositions about how someone knows something, that don’t seem to matter much now:
Communal thought– that I know what I know because I am part of a group of people who all know the same thing and we reinforce our knowledge in how we behave together.
Authoritative knowledge– I know someone who knows and I asked her and now I know- the realm of “expertise” where someone has put in the hard work and time to be an expert that others can trust to pass on certain knowledge.
But these don’t seem to matter much now. I don’t know why, but I think it comes at a great cost. If what I believe really only matters to me, then there is really no problem if I am right or wrong- except that we act on our beliefs and our actions do affect others in a way for which we are responsible (or should be). So if I really believe something is true, but it is not and I act on my (now) wrong belief and it has a negative impact on someone else- then I am wrong and have done wrong.
See, we need a way to gauge our beliefs, even the really personal ones, because, whether we like it or not, we are together in life and community and our beliefs are not isolated preferences and opinions. We are being shaped and formed by each other and are individually part of the communal shape and form, which implies some kind of accountability for what is going on in our heads, or hearts, or souls, or wherever we “believe.”
I believe (?) it matters more than we think (believe) it matters- I think, believe- KNOW. What do you think…
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Mountain Park Church
40 McNary Parkway Lake Oswego, OR 97035