Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What to believe?

Recently, I have had various conversations with individuals who come from a variety of different worldviews from Atheism to Wicca.  I always have questions concerning how these individuals justify their belief system.  Many times, their views are based on relativism and after asking questions, they too have questions of why they are holding to their particular view.  I would like to offer three points that are necessary in order to justify and defend a belief system.

A few comments are necessary concerning relativism.  Relativism holds that universal truth does not exit.  Either what should be true is determined by the individual or the culture.  In either case, the number of different belief systems are going to be incredibly huge.  When talking of cultural relativism, the person or group in power gets to decide the so called true beliefs of the community.  In the end, relativism is self defeating, because it makes an ultimate truth claim as to how things are, while at the same time denying the existence of objective truth.

For any belief system to be valid, it must withstand scrutiny over time and still be able to stand.  In other words, if any belief system crumbles under the scrutiny then it lacks a foundation that must be in place for it to be accepted as true.  What are the points that justify a belief system?

   1.  There must be a foundation - Without a foundation the structure of any belief system will falter.  If the belief system fails to answer any question, then it must be discarded.  There is no way for a belief system to withstand scrutiny without a foundation.  The foundation would represent the basic structure of what the belief system is based on.  The foundation includes the big answers for the  particular belief system and the general principles by which the system is supported.

   2.  It must be able to withstand testing - Any belief system that is put out there must be able to come through rigorous testing.  The testing of a belief system is necessary to see if the foundation of the structure is solid.  Most belief systems, with testing can be shown for what they are.

   3.  It must correspond to reality -  Simply put, any belief system that does not correspond to way things really are should be completely discounted.  Correspondence deals with the heart of any belief system, for it drives the issue of truth.  If truth is not present, then there is no way to defend a belief system.  There are many avenues of correspondence that are necessary for any belief system to be considered valid. 

       A.)  Does the system correspond with science?  Are there scientific inconsistencies in the belief
              system?  If so, the system cannot be justified.
       B.)  Does the belief system correspond with logic/reason?  If the system is not able to be
              explained by way of reason, then the system is flawed. 
       C.)  Is the system historically accurate?  If a system cannot be shown historically viable, then
              major problems exist with the system.  For some belief systems history does come into play.
       D.)  Does the system make sense of good and evil?  There must be an answer to the objective
              nature of good and evil.
       E.)  How does the belief system address freewill? 
       F.)  Related to (A), how does the system address human consciousness?

Any belief system that fails to address or hold up to the three above questions must be considered invalid.  Ultimately, truth is what any belief system is after.  If no foundation exist, truth cannot exist.  Testing will show how any belief system holds up.  And, finally, any belief system that is considered to be valid, absolutely must correspond to reality.   Point one and two are both closely tied to point three.  Arguments will exist between individuals of different belief systems, but the three points listed will provide a framework to sift through the multitude of belief systems that exist. 

Will individuals disagree on how their system addresses the three points?  Absolutly!  Therefore, it is important to dialogue and continue to ask questions.  It is an arrogant position to claim that you have it all figured out.  There will always be questions on a variety of issues, but an honest peson interested in truth must be willing to defend their personal belief system.  Likewise, the honest person must be willing to change if it can be shown that his/her belief system is invalid.

  • Click here to see an excellent article called, "Six Characteristics Which Make Up A Good Worldview" by Rob Lundburg

1 comment:

Jacob A. Allee said...

Oh you're one of those "truth corresponds to reality guys." I swear how do you live with that? lol