From the statements above, are there any that you choose to believe? Do you profess these beliefs as fact? What tools do you use to convince others? Are the things you believe really true? How do you know?
There are several reasons why an individual may choose to adopt a belief. One very general motivation is comfort. To not know is uncomfortable. Believing is the closest we can come to knowing, without knowing. Yet, the difference between believing and knowing is so vast that one must approach belief with excruciating caution, and thus sacrifice the goal of comfort. A sub-heading under comfort is identity. It hurts to be surrounded by those who believe while being undecided or unbelieving. One can instantly go from a state of isolation to a state of kinship simply by adopting a belief.
Some of us are belief impared, and not ashamed of it. I, personally, am so skeptical that I look upon common skepticism with great suspicion. Common skepticism can easily decay into a belief system itself. So when a so-called skeptic says: "Jesus didn't walk on water.", I say: "How do you know?". I choose not to have a belief on the matter. Of course, the term "belief" can be used much more loosely to describe a mindframe that is, although not rigid, extremely confident of various concepts. For instance, I believe that this padded chair is not going to give out under me. I'm very relaxed in this chair right now. If it does give out, if it sends me smashing onto the barely carpeted concrete floor, I will feel only slight pangs of guilt for having been so presumptuous. There is a way to gauge the absurdity of a belief. Figure out whether the belief is based on experience or rumor. I have experience with my chair, so I trust it. I was not around in the days of Jesus, so I don't live my life under the assumption that he walked on water, or even that he existed. There are (I freely admit) flaws in this mode of operation, not the least of which is that it doesn't account for situations such as this: I believe, in fact, live by the rumor that ramming your car into a brick building at 100 mph can have a negative effect on your health, and the working condition of the car. Of course, I do doubt that rumor but I am not going to put it to the ultimate test.
All matters of history are matters of rumor. Well documented history is well spun rumor. My main working tool for this point is to say that you weren't there, and I wasn't there; that is the difference between history and personal experience. In the case where a third party claims to have been there and has his version of the truth, there is the matter of that person's sincerity and competence. In cases where a person claims to have attended an event in a previous life, things become even more complicated.
I want to make clear that this personal method of thinking I am sharing with you is not an insensitivity to any particular version of history. I can never, in good conscience, ignore claims of wrong doing, cover-up, or suppressed history. I'm just saying, when it comes down to it, it's next to impossible to convince me, either way, on any issue. That is not to say that I wouldn't give one side of an issue the benefit of the doubt. There are even undecided issues that I take action on, though always with the greatest of caution.
Views of history are potentially as subjective as any other kind of opinion, and, ultimately as unverifiable. How verifiable are the following opinions?
It seems that just about everyone who presents his version of history is obnoxiously certain about it. In fact, every time I hear a new reworking of history, I am a faithful convert for at least 10 seconds, but never more than 30. History should not be based on enthusiasm. I choose not to believe your version of history, and I choose not to believe your opponent's version of history. But I do tend to debate the points of the ones that I think are being most ignored.
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