What exactly do we mean when we say I Believe? Think of the last time you told someone that you believed them? Did you really? What exactly did you mean?
We conjure belief in situations when we are asked to accept without perhaps sufficient proof. Many call this a proclamation of faith, especially when reciting creeds and commitments to some religious institution or program. There is a part of us that longs to operate outside of our own experience and teachings by accepting information from others whom we deem trustworthy.
But is this enough? What about knowing something for ourselves? Why is it seemingly wrong to question that which we don't know? With complete knowing, we are not inclined to question the thing we claim to know, and it becomes almost background information. For example, most, if not all of us, never question if our beds are able to support us during our sleep. We gently lay or even jump on the bed without even entertaining the thought that it will move from its position or collapse under our weight. We just KNOW that the bed will be there: dependable, consistent and trustworthy.
Do you believe in God?
God, in this context refers simply to your own personal image, name and relationship to some higher being or beings that you believe to be responsible for your creation and the creation of your world. As unique as each of us are, our image, ideas and relationship with our God must also be unique. Even the belief that there is no God is being considered here as the emphasis is on belief.
Why not consider for a moment when you began to believe. Was it one moment in time when you had a face-to-face encounter with your Deity? Did you just believe as a result of being told time and time again that this is something you are to believe? Have you had direct experiences with your God, so indisputable that you treat your belief as a knowing? I unhesitatingly challenge you that you cannot answer yes to any of the questions! Denial is such a powerful emotion that it can trick one into thinking that their baseless acclamations are actually true. If you are firm in your yes, there is no need to read on as you are too blind to comprehend the remainder of this article.
Do I hear the snicker of you who do NOT believe in a God? As I stated before, you are not exempt from this examination of belief. Why don't you believe in some supreme Deity? Can you convincingly stated that all of your experiences are within you complete understanding? Is it that what you cannot explain can be found in some textbook near or far away? Do you believe that humanity has all the answers regarding who we are and from whence we come? Lastly, do you believe that all believers are out of their minds? If you can answer yes to all of these questions above then I respectfully suggest that you too are guilty of living in a casing, oblivious to anything that is not directly fed to you by the spoons of others you hold in high esteem. None of the spoon holders are infallible yet you believe what you receive.
Belief kills and belief cures..... This is a popular saying in Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean. No doubt this has been handed down to us by the ancients. If we closely examine this, then belief is highly subjective. If a belief is absolute, then there is no room for differences of opinion. Belief will either kill or cure. I suggest therefore that belief is the subjective reality of the believer. If you have a belief relating to God, then it must be subject to your experience. I do not think that one's belief should be subject to criticism or judgments from others. That would clearly be a fruitless and aimless exercise. We should be freely allowed to have our own ideas (whether cultivated by others or by ourselves). We can even argue about our views with friends and family and enjoy the banter that it should be.
Can someone please explain, therefore, the reason why nations fight against each other due to differences in religious beliefs? What absolute nonsense! It cannot be that wars have been fought throughout the ages simply because of inevitably subjective views of a God? There must be other underlying reasons or I daresay we as humankind are not as intelligent and modern as we know ourselves to be. While the ears of the conspiracy theorist may perk up at this time, why not examine on a smaller scale, instances when you have argued over your own beliefs. What was your motivation? I suggest that any such argument is based mainly on satisfying the egotistical desire to be correct. This is understandable as we have all passed through educational systems where being correct i.e. regurgitating some changeable view in a textbook, is rewarded with a letter of the alphabet and shiny statues. We are well trained in this regard, so it is no wonder that we find some merit in having an argument based on subjective perceptions.
Do you KNOW God? Do you jump or lay quietly in your knowledge as you would the bed you will sleep on tonight without question? Would you, without question, jump from a building and fly if the messengers of your God told you that this was required of you? Do you walk in the valley of the shadows of death without fear because you KNOW that your God is with you? Do you know that you were magnificently formed and no matter what you may do in this life; your God loves every cell of your body?
If you cannot answer yes to all of the questions above, then you do not KNOW God. You only believe in God.
Think for a moment; if belief was forever erased from our lives, as if it never existed, how many ideologies and thought patterns would be disrupted? Mindboggling!
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Tina S Mowatt is a freelance contributor with MNI Alive