I’ve written about this before. But there is a whole lot to gain by continually reminding myself of what a fact is, vs what a belief is. Especially with regard to political and religious areas of my life.
Once I began to really examine the nature of facts, and how we know things to be true, I saw the complexity of all these things that I commonly took for granted. Fact, knowledge, truth and belief are extremely common words, but I never really took the time to sort out what they actually meant. These things are the basis of all logic and critical thinking, but I found that most “critical thinkers” rarely take the time to fully examine them.
And L Ron Hubbard, a guy who proclaimed that “the reactive mind is just a FACT!” and who created a subject that he called “the study of knowledge”, was a guy who was completely out to lunch on these subjects. I believe that it is vital for anyone who ever got themselves involved in Scientology to really study these concepts in depth, and to sort them out for yourself.
If there really is any “recovery” to having been in Scientology, I believe that sorting these ideas out is the basis of it.
So, because most of us have a past in Scientology, I’ll get all scientological on your asses, and use a dictionary to begin:
1. something that actually exists; reality; truth:
Your fears have no basis in fact.
2. something known to exist or to have happened:
Space travel is now a fact.
3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true:
Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened:
The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
1. something believed; an opinion or conviction, not necessarily based on facts
a belief that the earth is flat.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof:
a statement unworthy of belief.
3. confidence; faith; trust:
a child’s belief in his parents.
4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith:
the Christian belief.
These two definitions would make it seem like facts were somehow superior to beliefs. But that would be a short-sighted view of the essential nature of belief in the life of a human being. If you consider that the statement “The sun will rise tomorrow” is not a fact, but a belief, then you will see where I’m headed here.
The thought “The sun will rise tomorrow” is one of those beliefs that illuminates the nature of our own existence as mortals. Yes, you can use science to check the status and location of the sun all night to extrapolate these facts and give yourself a high probability belief that the sun will rise tomorrow. But this thought that you have as a human being, upon which so many other thoughts and plans and hopes and dreams of yours rests, is not a fact.
It is a belief.
Thus, as human beings – from the time we wake up in the morning till the time we go to bed at night – we operate primarily on belief.
So facts are not superior to beliefs. Facts are just something we should use to tether us to a planet, lest we fly off into space with our beliefs.
The skill of being able to identify a fact, and then to question and to test the quality of the evidence which establishes it as a fact, is a skill as important as testing where to put your foot next while scaling the face of a cliff. As any Ex-Scientologist knows, mistakes made with this skill can be fatal.
So facts are important, but so are beliefs.
Let’s say that it was a fact that you had an accident while driving when you were drunk. And that the primary reason for the accident was that your brain was too impaired with alcohol to make the right move with your car to avoid it.
The beliefs you accumulate around these facts can determine the quality of the rest of your life. The fact comes and goes. But the beliefs tethered to them stay. So when you look at it this way, as a human being, beliefs might actually be superior to facts.
Facts are rocks. They lay there, existing without question.
But your beliefs about facts make up your whole life.
I think that one of the reasons for the political turmoil happening in the United States right now is that people recognize that their religious beliefs are beliefs, but they think that their political beliefs are not beliefs, but facts.
This is basically a confusion on the nature of beliefs vs facts. There CAN be facts in politics. And it is vital to identify them. But it is also just as vital to identify beliefs in politics, as well.
Like I said, it is continually valuable to me to remind myself what a fact is, vs what a belief is.