Were we born to believe?


This is a controversial question and not one that necessarily implies a Super Natural intervention, but I am curious about your opinion.

Many of you I would hope is aware of the fact that living our lives requires a lot of faith. I am not a philosopher or know the whole panoramic overview on what all needs to be understood with this (hence my inquiry), but I do notice an extreme degree of attention being focused on the matter of epistemologically catering to the need to 'believe' what we accept to be true.

If this were not the case, we would never fly to Hawaii because, who knows, it might not be there anymore! Our senses limit our ability to see that far, but we are certain that it is still there. We would never reach down to pet our cat because this would assume that he still likes us when really, he might not! It takes the belief that he does, just as it takes the belief that Hawaii still exists. . . catch my drift? Clearly, we go beyond the truth determined to us by our senses everyday and everything we do and discover requires belief (any suggestions against this claim would be gladly appreciated!). Because of this situation, I must ask, assuming for this instance that existentialism is dead, could meaning be measured in life by the fact of believing as the object? Could it be as simple as that?

It is a stretch, I know. I only aim for perspective and your opinion.

If everything requires for us to believe then we live in a world that means much more than to just simply exist; what if we were born to believe?

Thank you for reading!


Posted 2014-03-26T22:06:32.390

Reputation: 115

Question was closed 2014-04-29T22:40:24.847


"It takes a busload of faith to get by." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBIlehYpdwk

– user4894 – 2014-03-26T22:22:22.370

haha user... Ava, these topics are a little beyond me, but I like the way your phrased your questions. I hope others will help answer them if they're on topic. – Hunan Rostomyan – 2014-03-26T22:24:39.963

Just commenting is supportive! And thank you, I appreciate that(: – Ava – 2014-03-26T22:27:19.267

Mere believing doesn't sound any more meaningful to me than mere existence. That said, the need to believe and the need to find meaning seem (to me) to have a similar root. Unrelated: even though we do in fact take an awful lot on faith, from this alone we cannot say that this is something we are "born to [do]" rather than something we are born to transcend, or something completely unrelated to the purpose of our birth (should such a thing exist). – Lucas – 2014-03-26T23:36:10.493

Thank you for sharing your opinion! I will ponder on this! – Ava – 2014-03-26T23:46:51.570

When you use the phrase "existentialism is dead" what do you mean by existentialism? The term has a meaning in popular reference that is not the exactly the same as its technical philosophical usage. Depending on the usage I think your question will either turn out to be too broad or deeply interesting. – virmaior – 2014-03-28T00:33:28.993

Existentialism basically exempts itself from the idea of essence-existence precedes essence.So in the term I covered with my question, by saying,"assuming for this instance that existentialism is dead" I was implying for us to consider again the chance of 'meaning' as it relate to life (faith/believing) by opening that door of discussion. The verification principle where truth is verified by experience does not account for say, the things we can't observe:protons, DNA molecules, center of stars etc.We can't justify the essential claims of science that is so cherished, we believe despite this. – Ava – 2014-03-28T00:54:26.360



Living our lives requires very little faith these days. Life just isn't that dangerous. Sensory input is reliable. Life expectancies reach into the 8th decade. Cats provide feedback about whether they like to be petted, and if you make a mistake the consequences are minor (maybe a scratch). Airplane crash statistics are readily available, as are the ingredients of your food, whether your unborn baby has a genetic defect, and astoundingly much else.

The only little bit of faith we require to function normally is that we are not victims of Descartes' evil demon. That is, it is not the case that all our perceptions are an illusion which will be whisked away from under us at some point.

So I don't think your premise is correct. Deciding to investigate a hypothesis does not require any faith. You can instead, for instance, calculate that it is not easy to reject that hypothesis, and collect more data that may invalidate it or further recommend it.

We seem to like to add a lot more faith as a species beyond this, but then we have a surplus of knowledge and certainty these days as opposed to most of our written and evolutionary history, so it's not too surprising that we might reach for faith in cases which aren't really needed any more. (Kind of like inflammation--with modern medicine and lifestyles it's almost always an excessive response to injury.)

Rex Kerr

Posted 2014-03-26T22:06:32.390

Reputation: 15 388

"Living our lives requires very little faith these days." -- Respectfully disagree. You're driving your car. You trust that the other drivers aren't going to hit you, shoot you, cause you to hit someone else. You wake up in the morning. You trust that the power company and the water company are doing their thing correctly and supplying you with utilities. Your kid gets sick, you trust that the doctor and the entire medical system will work. We are so incredibly interdependent these days that you must have faith in the basic sanity of everyone else. With little evidence, I might add. – user4894 – 2014-03-28T21:15:19.860

@user4894 - How many times have you had drivers apparently try to hit you, shoot you, or cause you to hit someone else? How many times have they had an opportunity to, but not? Why is this not evidence? Why do you need faith in anything more than the comprehensibility of experience (i.e. "I am not a nihilist")? – Rex Kerr – 2014-03-28T22:11:53.283

You have blind faith in people. That was exactly my point. You call it evidence. That's where we disagree. [Meta: Why doesn't my '@Rex Kerr' show up?] – user4894 – 2014-03-28T23:51:59.757

@user4894: Many power company and water company published their reliability statistics; I trust that they do not lie on their published reports. I trust that the government or an independent watchdog would notice if there are any significant unexplained discrepancies between those published reports and their actual reliability. Another evidence of their reliability is my own experience that they had continuously supplied for the past few years with minimal problems. All these are good reasons on which to build trust. – Lie Ryan – 2014-03-29T00:05:01.120

@user4894 - It is not blind. I do not walk through walls because I have learned from experience that I cannot. I do walk through doors because I have learned from experience that I can. I learned this long before I knew enough about atomic orbitals and electrostatics to understand why. Expecting other drivers not to try to hit you is using exactly the same sort of reasoning. It is no more faith and no more blind than my blind faith that I can walk through doors but not walls. The only faith required, as I stated before, is that the Evil Demon's not tricking us (i.e. induction works). – Rex Kerr – 2014-03-29T00:27:48.430

@user4894 - Open doors, of course. I also do not try to walk through closed doors, as from experience I have learned that those have wall-like properties. – Rex Kerr – 2014-03-29T00:28:43.813

@Lie Ryan Are you joking? In San Bruno, California, Pacific Gas and Electric blew up a residential neighborhood, destroying 50 houses and killing eight people. Turns out they'd been deliberately falsifying their inspection records for years. They expect to face criminal charges from the Federal government. Their government "watchdog," the California Public Utilities Commission, is a rubber stamp for PG&E's criminality. Utility companies nationwide are widely know for fraudulent neglect of their infrastructure. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/pge-federal-criminal-charges-gas-blast-23090913

– user4894 – 2014-03-29T02:01:00.350

@user4894: You're being irrelevant. It's your own fault if you misplace trust on companies and watchdogs that hadn't shown to deserve it, the incident didn't invalidate my argument at all but merely strengthened it. In any case, accidents are going to happen no matter what you do to prevent it, it is a part of living in an imperfect world (a.k.a. the real world), you just have to weigh in whether the risks are worth it. The point is that since these risks are independently quantifiable, if you don't have good reasons to trust the company, you don't need to put faith on their claims. – Lie Ryan – 2014-03-29T08:20:42.013

@user4894: Likewise, if you don't have good reasons to trust your government or the watchdogs, then don't trust them. The risks of governments and watchdogs lying or making mistakes is always there but you can quantify these risks, and decide whether or not to build trust with them. You can make an informed decision whether to trust or not to trust them based on your risk assessments, there is no need to put faith on the table. – Lie Ryan – 2014-03-29T08:51:48.407