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Belief: The 800 lb. Gorilla

December 20, 2011

In our modern age, “belief” is often poo-pooed.  We live in the age of reason and if it can’t be proven it isn’t true.  Well, reason is a spindly spider monkey and belief is an 800 lb. gorilla and will beat reason every time.

“Belief” is heavily studied, but remains a mystery to science, which should be no surprise.  Can MS Word analyze Windows?  Of course not.

What we believe serves as our operating system; our soul-deep worldview.  It may be hard-wired in our brains, shaped by our childhoods, or downloaded by God.

Before going on, let me define belief by first contrasting it with reason.  Reason is learned, conscious thought.  It floats in our awareness.  When not being “used,” reason is stored on the shelf of our memory.  As impressive as the conscious mind is, the subconscious dwarfs it.  Belief swims in the vast ocean of the subconscious like great leviathans.

Beliefs are those things we accept without proof; the great theorems of our life.  A list would be nice; things like “I believe in God,” “Justice matters,” “We are alone,” “Take what you can get.” A list would be nice, but the subconscious doesn’t use language.  “Do I believe in God” is just a barnacle on the whale that is belief.  Feeling, motive, emotion more raw than we ever consciously experience constitute that behemoth.  Mere reason has no hope to move that beast, confined as reason is to language.

If, and I say “if,” belief can be change by anything other than the Holy Spirit, it will be enduring events and circumstances that cross the emotional, physical spectrum.

Now, belief can be denied for a time.  We can force ourselves to conform to a course antithetical to our beliefs, but the strain will show and eventually it will collapse.

Take smoking, for example.  All smokers know it causes cancer and that the particular cancer and other lung diseases it causes are horrendous.  Those smokers who cannot quit have a conflicting belief, or more accurately, smoking is an expression of a larger belief.  Addiction can be broken, but belief is too big to break.  If the burning weed is connected to a belief about security or independence, or rebellion, or some other driving belief, it’s a habit that won’t be kicked until the belief is changed.

Note the power of sanctification.  Sanctification is an assault on aberrant beliefs.  To be a Christian is to have God realign our beliefs and conform our actions to right beliefs.  Reading the Bible is an important action because it helps us understand sanctification and express our beliefs.

Sometimes, when our Christian brothers fall back into sin and set on a destructive course, that is God’s love rooting deeper into aberrant beliefs to more thoroughly change it to a right belief.  Yes, morn the grieving brother, but exult in the knowledge that God is working a deeper, more lasting change.

I suspect repeated, persistent images and words over long periods of time (or shorter lengths if the images are sufficiently strong) can wear away right beliefs and strengthen wrong beliefs.  Which is why we are told to guard our hearts (Bible speak for subconscious).

How are you managing your beliefs?

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