Might this formula, or a most sophisticated version of it, actually determine what we believe to be true?
Belief is the acceptance of something as true, or thinking that something could be true. There are two distinct notions of belief: belief in ‘something’ and belief that ‘something…’. Belief in implies that we can believe in the existence, truth, or value of something, or believe in something that we think is or should be. Belief can involve both fact or fiction and can be a fantasy or desire. Belief without question is the realm of the lazy. It is easier to simply declare that a belief is true. But to argue the point and demand it to be accepted as truth without evidence is a mistake. It really shouldn’t matter how many times something is said to a person, if he decides not to believe in this evidence then everything will remain a worthless statement, backed up by untruthful ‘evidence’. Believing that something exists and being certain that something exists or is true are two very different things.
The former exists only within the mind and thoughts of the person, it’s a conviction formed by the person, or by someone else, which states a certain matter of fact to which this person agrees and is happy by believing this is true. On the other hand, certainty consists basically on factual proof and physical evidence, this evidence is what actually changes mere belief into a proven fact. If this evidence is not present then this cannot become a fact and its state as a thought or personal feeling still remains. I don’t believe the number of times “someone” tells me “something” should make any difference, if I don’t believe or don’t want to believe that this is true then no matter how many times this is repeated I will not be convinced.
Yes, it is true that by the action of repeating something a person is trying to emphasize his or her point and make people believe that he or she is right but this does not mean that I’ll change what I think just because someone is trying to drill this idea into my head. If someone tells me God doesn’t exist for the simple fact that we can’t see him, I’d argue back by saying that although we can’t see oxygen we know it’s there for if it wasn’t we couldn’t live, we can’t see the ozone layer but we know it’s there, we can’t see the Earth’s molten core yet we KNOW it’s there, how come we know this? We must simply believe what we’re told don’t we? Then why argue about something we cannot see yet, deep within us, know it’s true?
Belief, on the other hand, is free thought – it can be fact or fiction; it is often fantasy or desire. Belief without inquiry is the domain of the indolent. It is easier to simply assert that a belief is true. But to argue the point and demand acceptance without evidence is useless and erroneous hope. Yet belief is a more precious existence to human beings, “reality is a momentary dream, but a dream is a reality for an eternity”.
Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive his neighbor and Jesus says that he must forgive “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22), does he actually mean we must only forgive 490 times and then we can be rancorous? No, he uses this number to symbolize a huge amount of times, in the same way the “three times” is but a symbol used to depict a certainly large number of times, the producer of this quote only means to stress that if he repeats something to you then it must be true, though it might not be the case, just like in the God example mentioned earlier.
Would the person who tells me a fact or statement affect whether I believe in this statement? Yes, it should. As different people have different thoughts they believe in different truths, for example, some believe that the world came into being only a few thousands of years ago as they say the bible states (creational scientists), others may argue that the world came into being several millennia ago (most geologists argue this), yet no one is able to decide what the universal belief is.
In order to see if this “truth” is real then the source should be unbiased in order for the information to be untainted. The source should also be trustworthy, if someone with a reputation as a liar tells someone something then that person is most likely to doubt what the source states, but if the source is trust worthy and has a good reputation then someone is more likely to believe him. Likewise, if someone with a good knowledge of a subject would be more believed in, compared to a person who has almost no knowledge about that particular subject.
Despite the fact that I could believe something depending on the number of times something is being told to me I’m more dependent on the trust I have on the source and on the actual thing I’m being forced to believe and whether or not this is actually relevant, because if I’m told something I don’t care about, such as the rise and fall of stocks for an “X” company if I haven’t got anything invested in this company.
In both examples the number of times something is said wouldn’t matter, for it would never matter the number of times the liar and the ignorant said something nobody is likely to believe them, likewise, if anyone with a bad reputation was to inform me of something then it’s less likely that whatever they say or how many times they say it then me believing it will be less probable .
Though others argue that after a certain number of times of being told something a person would finally acknowledge this as a truth I argue back by adding that this acceptance is nothing but becoming bored of being told something over and over again just to get that person to shut up and leave you alone. Another important thing to take into account is the fact that if many people tell you the same thing then you would probably end up believing it is true.
The “truth” someone is telling me also inflicts an important role in how much and how fast do I accept and believe in this truth. If someone tells a person there are exactly 3,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe then the other person is likely to believe him, yet still with some doubts, if he is later told that there are actually 2, 985, 724, 930, 613 stars in the universe then the person is also likely to believe this because s/he has no way of proving this right or wrong. If, on the other hand, someone tells him that the bench he’s about to sit on has still got wet paint then the person would have to touch it to believe it, why? Because this time the person is actually able to prove whether this statement is true or false therefore wants to base his belief in personal experience and not in what someone tells him, this proves that the ability to believe in something sometimes depends on actual personal experience.
I conclude that there are many different factors to take into account when deciding what to believe and what not to believe. After taking good consideration of these factors then I could actually determine whether or not to believe in this “truth” I’m being told. Respect is essential if our diverse society is to remain peaceful. The “true believers” of this world should note that belief, no matter how long-held, reverent, sincere, or popular, may never be fairly declared true unless it is in complete agreement with nature. For nature, and nature alone, is the arbiter of truth