Belief

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(expanding; might need to split off "degree of belief" section to own article? -- have to stop in middle; more to come...)
(more expansion/polishing; rem {stub} even though article isn't anywhere near finshed -- just not really a stub anymore)
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'''Belief''', in simplest terms, is what the [[mind]] accepts as [[true]]. One can believe something to be true without having [[knowledge]] that it is true. Also, one can believe something to varying degrees of certainty (see also [[Probability]]).
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'''Belief''', in simplest terms, is the acceptance by the [[mind]] of something as [[true]]. '''A belief''' (countable noun) is something which is believed. One can believe something to be true without having [[knowledge]] that it is true. Also, one can believe something to varying degrees of certainty (see also [[Probability]]).
  
==Degree of belief==
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==Degrees of belief==
  
 
Common phrases describing ones own degree of belief:
 
Common phrases describing ones own degree of belief:
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==Belief vs. faith==
 
==Belief vs. faith==
  
Believing something without evidence (or in the face of contradictory evidence) is often called ''[[faith]]''. "Belief" does not always imply "faith," as one can believe something based on evidence or other rational reasons (e.g., logical arguments).
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''[[Faith]]'' is sometimes defined as belief without evidence, or in the face of contradictory evidence. Clearly, "belief" does not always imply "faith," as one can believe something based on evidence or for other rational reasons (e.g., logical arguments). For example, one does not need to have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, since the [[fact]] that the sun rises every day is supported by a lifetime of personal experience, thousands of years worth of recorded observations, and a scientific model of the earth's rotation on an axis.
  
For example, one does not need to have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, since the [[fact]] that the sun rises every day is supported by a lifetime of personal experience, thousands of years worth of recorded observation, and a scientific model of the earth's rotation on its axis.
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===Belief in===
  
==Belief ''in'' something==
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However, the definition of "faith" given above is usually not what religious people mean when they use the word: to them, having faith is closer to "trusting" than simply "believing" (see the [[Faith]] article for more information). The phrase "'''belief in'''" is sometimes used to imply this element of trust. For example, when [[Christian]]s say they "believe in" [[God]], they usually don't simply mean that they believe he exists, but that they believe he loves them, has a plan for their lives, will see them through hard times, etc. For this reason, when Christians ask what atheists "believe in", or whether an atheist "believes in" [[evolution]] or the [[big bang]], the best response is likely to include an explanation of the difference between belief and faith.
  
Having '''''belief in''''' something is different from simply having a ''belief''.
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==Believer==
  
==Believers==
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Calling someone a '''believer''' often connotes belief in a god, especially the Christian God (in the U.S., anyway). Sometimes, though, the belief is related to other supernatural or unsupported claims, such as ESP or alien abduction.
 
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Calling someone a '''believer''' usually connotes belief in a god, especially the [[Christian]] God (in the U.S., anyway). Sometimes the belief is related to other claims, such as ESP or alien abduction.
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{{stub}}
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[[Category:Epistemology]]
 
[[Category:Epistemology]]

Revision as of 19:44, 20 May 2007

Belief, in simplest terms, is the acceptance by the mind of something as true. A belief (countable noun) is something which is believed. One can believe something to be true without having knowledge that it is true. Also, one can believe something to varying degrees of certainty (see also Probability).

Contents

Degrees of belief

Common phrases describing ones own degree of belief:

  • I know that
  • I believe that
  • I think that
  • I feel that
  • I [would] guess that
  • I [would] bet/wager that
  • I [would] like to think/believe that
  • I have no reason to doubt that
  • I have no reason not to believe/think that

Common phrases describing the degree of believability of a statement of fact:

  • It is true
  • It is certainly true
  • It is surely true
  • It is almost certainly/surely true
  • It is most likely true
  • It is likely true
  • It is probably true
  • It is possibly true
  • It is perhaps true
  • It may be true
  • It might be true
  • It should be true
  • It can/could be true

In addition, most of the above statements could be negated in two different ways, giving rise to different connotations. For example, "It is not likely [to be] true" is different from "It is likely not [to be] true".

Belief vs. faith

Faith is sometimes defined as belief without evidence, or in the face of contradictory evidence. Clearly, "belief" does not always imply "faith," as one can believe something based on evidence or for other rational reasons (e.g., logical arguments). For example, one does not need to have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, since the fact that the sun rises every day is supported by a lifetime of personal experience, thousands of years worth of recorded observations, and a scientific model of the earth's rotation on an axis.

Belief in

However, the definition of "faith" given above is usually not what religious people mean when they use the word: to them, having faith is closer to "trusting" than simply "believing" (see the Faith article for more information). The phrase "belief in" is sometimes used to imply this element of trust. For example, when Christians say they "believe in" God, they usually don't simply mean that they believe he exists, but that they believe he loves them, has a plan for their lives, will see them through hard times, etc. For this reason, when Christians ask what atheists "believe in", or whether an atheist "believes in" evolution or the big bang, the best response is likely to include an explanation of the difference between belief and faith.

Believer

Calling someone a believer often connotes belief in a god, especially the Christian God (in the U.S., anyway). Sometimes, though, the belief is related to other supernatural or unsupported claims, such as ESP or alien abduction.

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