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Thread: What would the world be like?

  1. #1

    Default What would the world be like?

    People live and die according to their beliefs. Wars are fought over beliefs. It seems beliefs have the utmost importance in our lives yet they exist only in our imaginations.

    Beliefs are things we take to be true without any real knowledge that they are true. They are shaped by our perspective, our temperament, and our experiences, and they take the place of knowledge in our minds. With so many people having so many different beliefs it seems obvious that they all can't be right, but it's possible they are all wrong. It seems likely to me that most of the beliefs held by people throughout the world are wrong. This makes me somewhat suspect of my own beliefs since I am just another face in the herd.

    I am contemplating eliminating all my unnecessary beliefs and wondering if any beliefs are actually necessary. What would the world be like if people lived more through their direct experience and less through their beliefs?

  2. #2

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    To the individual there's no difference between a fact and a belief. If I believe that I am holding a pen in my left hand then, as far as my brain is concerned, that's a fact. I wouldn't believe something that I didn't think was a fact.

    In truth, there is very little that we can be certain about. Facts are unknowable to us, except perhaps the fact that we must exist, as described by Descartes' Cogito ("I think, therefore I am").

    Other than that, everything is a belief.

    Personally, I cannot begin to comprehend why some people seem to pluck beliefs out of thin air (e.g. beliefs in untestable supernatural events, such as religions and other superstitions)... But, for the individual concerned, their beliefs are facts. If you ask a religious person why they believe in invisible magical gods, they don't say that they're unnecessary beliefs that they just made up one day or copied from someone else for no reason; they believe that there is material evidence that proves their claims. People who are unsure whether there is material evidence would be agnostics or atheists. Religious people claim to have special knowledge that other people don't have.

    So... I don't think it is possible to separate out necessary and unnecessary beliefs. Why would anyone have a belief that they knew was unnecessary? An unnecessary belief is something for which you have no reason to believe.

    And why would anyone believe something without also believing that that belief is justified? That would be like believing in something that you aren't sure whether to believe in... it just doesn't make sense.

  3. #3

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    Well I can assure you that if everyone had the same beliefs, let's use religion for example, that there are NO gods or deities at all and the whole world was atheist, well there could be no way to still prove that we would be right. In that realm, I BELIEVE that humans are never meant to really know the truth. By your logic, it could be that every belief is wrong. I don't know and I don't think any of us will ever know. If there are no beliefs then life could get a little boring. But like I said, I don't exactly know for sure.

  4. #4

    Smile



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I am contemplating eliminating all my unnecessary beliefs and wondering if any beliefs are actually necessary.
    What unnecessary beliefs do you have? How can you choose what you believe anyway?

    I couldn't choose to believe that I have three arms because... well... I don't believe that I do! My beliefs are just the things that I think are facts.

    If you're just going to drop beliefs like that, then... surely that's because you don't believe them! I mean... are you saying that you believe things that you don't believe...? How is that possible?

    (Sorry... am I repeating myself...? Am I making any sense at all?!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by paciloverbaby3 View Post
    Well I can assure you that if everyone had the same beliefs, let's use religion for example, that there are NO gods or deities at all and the whole world was atheist, well there could be no way to still prove that we would be right. In that realm, I BELIEVE that humans are never meant to really know the truth. By your logic, it could be that every belief is wrong.
    Well, it's not really my logic, it's Descartes'. (But you're right about the unknowability of atheism!)

    Anyway, logically speaking the only belief that I can know to be true is that I exist. Everything else is just a best guess.

    Are you familiar with the "brain in a vat" hypothesis?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_in_a_vat


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Anyway, logically speaking the only belief that I can know to be true is that I exist. Everything else is just a best guess.

    Are you familiar with the "brain in a vat" hypothesis?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_in_a_vat

    I am not but it is interesting I was about to reference to The Matrix about us even existing and it seems that you beat me to it. Haha. But I will look into the hypothesis you recommended when I get time, and when I'm ready for some brain twisting logic.
    Last edited by BinkyBoi; 18-Oct-2013 at 22:51.

  6. #6

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    When I was a kid, I had this belief that if I stepped on a crack, I'd break my mothers back, so I tried it, because she had punished me for something insignificant. Sure enough, that afternoon, she stepped on one of my roller skates, did a somersault and broke her back. Intrigued, I tried it again, but this time I said my best friend's mother's name when I stepped on the sidewalk crack. Several hours the sad news came. His mom had tripped over their cat, breaking her back.

    I was exhilarated. I ran across our sidewalk like someone possessed, yelling out the names of mothers of every kid in school who had ever bullied me. The collected carnage was not only overwhelming to a small town, but made the AP storyline of the day. One mother was t-boned by a milk truck while out driving to the market. Another had a large albatross fall out of the sky, landing on her and breaking her back. Another was viciously attacked by a bear while in a petting zoo.

    So yes, belief systems are very important, especially the weird ones, especially around Halloween. Black cats crossing your path? You're doomed. I had a friend who walked under a ladder, and the Goodyear blimp crashed down, right on top of him and the ladder. Worse, the ladder pierced the skin of the blimp, and the helium made everyone talk like a chipmunk for days. No one was taken seriously, no matter what they said.

    Belief systems make the gears of society run smoothly, and more importantly, safely. Take them away, disbelieve, and all hell breaks loose. You'll see. You'll all see!!!!!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    What would the world be like if people lived more through their direct experience and less through their beliefs?
    all-out war.
    most belief systems, if not all, rely on individuals' belief in the authority of those who dictate the beliefs.
    because that's the case, beliefs are more about power over others than anything else, and it's certainly not confined to spiritual matters.
    'time' is one of the easiest to debunk as our [mass] concept of it is pretty well documented as a recent invention for a particular purpose. but that concept of [a linear, mechanical] standardized time also ties in contemporary beliefs in the worthiness of linearity and mechanical logic and in how such are applied across society.
    if you were to say, "i don't believe in time", it's a challenge to not just to a concept, but a whole way of thinking and living and, crucially, the authority behind that.

  8. #8

    Smile



    Quote Originally Posted by paciloverbaby3 View Post
    I am not [familiar with the "Brain in a Vat" hypothesis] but it is interesting I was about to reference to The Matrix about us even existing and it seems that you beat me to it. Haha. But I will look into the hypothesis you recommended when I get time, and when I'm ready for some brain twisting logic.
    Well, if you're pressed for time, let me see if I can summarise it for you.


    1. Everything you know about external "reality" comes through your senses. (e.g. When you look at something, light hits the optic nerve at the back of your eye and transmits an electrical signal along the nerves to the brain. So everything your brain knows about the external world is as a result of the electrical signals it receives.)
    2. Imagine a world in which your brain is removed from your body, and a computer creates the electrical signals that normally would have come from your sense organs.
    3. As far as your brain is concerned, there is no way to tell whether your senses are an indication of a real world out there, or whether your perception of external reality is being simulated by a computer.
    4. Therefore, everything you know about external reality could (in theory) be completely false.
    5. But there's one thing that you can be certain of: that you have a perception of external reality. You don't know whether your perceptions are "real", but you do know that YOU ARE HAVING perceptions.
    6. It is impossible for you to have perceptions if you do not exist.
    7. Therefore, if you are thinking, you must be existing (even if you don't really know whether you exist in the way that your perceptions tell you).

    Remember that this computer could simulate false memories, so just because you remember thinking yesterday, it doesn't mean that you existed yesterday. The only thing you can be sure of is the present. If you are thinking now, you exist now.

    That's what "cogito ergo sum" means: "I think, therefore I am". Although it would probably be more correctly expressed as, "I am thinking, therefore I am".

    This is literally the only thing about which you can be absolutely sure. Everything else you "know" is really just a belief that you cannot definitively prove.

    Wow... that was a lot longer than I intended! Hope it helps... :-)

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    To the individual there's no difference between a fact and a belief.

    In truth, there is very little that we can be certain about. Facts are unknowable to us, except perhaps the fact that we must exist, as described by Descartes' Cogito ("I think, therefore I am").

    Other than that, everything is a belief.

    Personally, I cannot begin to comprehend why some people seem to pluck beliefs out of thin air ...

    And why would anyone believe something without also believing that that belief is justified?


    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    What unnecessary beliefs do you have? How can you choose what you believe anyway?

    Are you familiar with the "brain in a vat" hypothesis?


    Quote Originally Posted by paciloverbaby3 View Post
    ... I BELIEVE that humans are never meant to really know the truth.

    By your logic, it could be that every belief is wrong.

    If there are no beliefs then life could get a little boring.
    Sooner or later anyone who seriously thinks about such things realizes that what we perceive as reality could be just an illusion. Maybe we are just brains in a vat, or dreaming, and what we perceive as real is just illusion. If that's the case, though, this illusion is my reality and I have no need to hold any belief about it concerning whether or not it is real. If there comes a time when reality is exposed as an illusion I will have to deal with it at that time. Until then any belief about it is unnecessary.

    I would like to look at the idea that every thought we have is a belief. I would define "reality" to mean "the universe at this moment". I seems to me that we only exist in this moment but that most of our thoughts and consequent actions are geared to some future event such as going to the fridge to get a beer, or going to work and expecting a paycheck at the end of the week. All of these activities imply a belief that the future will mimic similar events we've experienced in the past, so the thoughts behind them could be termed "beliefs". But these aren't the kinds of beliefs I refer to when I think about eliminating beliefs. To me, these are just bits of knowledge, or facts, that I operate on in my reality. Here I am using the term "fact" in the same sense as "statement of fact" which is a statement that is not necessarily true but which can be determined to be true or false.

    The beliefs I refer to are those which, as Tiny puts it, are pulled out of thin air, although this isn't quite accurate. They are second hand beliefs from religious, philosophic, or scientific sources. There are so many differing beliefs out there that the possibility of my having the correct ones are slim. Any belief I have, then, about the presence or absence of god is bound to be wrong. Any belief I have about the nature of the universe is also bound to be wrong. So why have any beliefs?

    This doesn't mean I intend to go through life as a vegetable. Eliminating beliefs could be a challanging and refreshing approach to life. Is it possible that knowledge is more important than beliefs and that it is attainable? Who knows? Of course, this could just be one of those beliefs you have to watch out for.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    When I was a kid, I had this belief that if I stepped on a crack, I'd break my mothers back, so I tried it, because she had punished me for something insignificant. Sure enough, that afternoon, she stepped on one of my roller skates, did a somersault and broke her back.
    Lol!! (no offense, ma)


    Quote Originally Posted by ade View Post
    all-out war.
    most belief systems, if not all, rely on individuals' belief in the authority of those who dictate the beliefs.
    because that's the case, beliefs are more about power over others than anything else, and it's certainly not confined to spiritual matters.
    'time' is one of the easiest to debunk as our [mass] concept of it is pretty well documented as a recent invention for a particular purpose. but that concept of [a linear, mechanical] standardized time also ties in contemporary beliefs in the worthiness of linearity and mechanical logic and in how such are applied across society.
    if you were to say, "i don't believe in time", it's a challenge to not just to a concept, but a whole way of thinking and living and, crucially, the authority behind that.
    I don't know that there would be all out war if we stopped randomly believing in "belief systems". I tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Part of my pleasure comes from the pleasure of others. How can anyone be truly happy if everyone else is miserable? To that end I am willing to support a social structure complete with authority figures. It could be said at this point that what I am doing is acting on my beliefs, so it would be hard to differentiate between these beliefs and the ones I claim I want to get rid of. Agreed. But the concept you bring up of a belief system is where I would draw the line. Trying to base actions more on observation and experience rather than a belief in something entirely beyond my range of knowledge is the approach I'm looking at.

    To say "I don't believe in time" is in itself a belief. I understand time well enough to function effectively in my reality, and I realize that I do not fully understand the nature of time, so I see no need to have some particular belief about time.

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