Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Belief and Unbelief

I was prompted to write this post after i received a reply to my carefree tweet. In the back of my mind, I knew i had it coming (that's why I added the smiley at the last second), but i still sent the tweet. And so here it goes...

Earlier today, I frivolously tweeted that "I respect all beliefs, even unbelief" in which what I had in mind was the loose definition of "belief" as somewhat similar to an "opinion". For example, the context in which I say "i believe there is life on other planets". So i think that someone who "does not believe" in the existence of extra-terrestrial life is entitled to his or her own "belief" or opinion. And i respect that belief, even if it does not agree with my own belief. That was what i meant in my tweet, no offense intended.

But the trouble is, i used the word "belief" instead of "opinion" in my tweet. And for that, it deserves much thought, careful examination, and reflection, especially when "respect" is in the same sentence as "belief".

In the course of writing this post, I came to the conclusion that "belief" is a deeply loaded word where often, when people hear it, what comes to mind is Religion, Christianity, Islam and all the others. So I should expect some reaction from unbelievers if they are grouped together with those who believe in the existence of God, and vise-versa. Atheists do not believe in the existence of god. In that context, Christianity and Islam is under the umbrella of "belief", but Atheism is outside any form of "belief".

Belief and unbelief is as distinctively separate as how light is from dark, how "yes" is distinctively opposite from "no". The non-existence of god is as equally possible as the existence of God. Thus, believing and not believing in God are opposites but equally valid points of view. With neither one under the scope of the other.

To say that "unbelief" is under or within "belief" may be offensive, and perhaps disrespectful to some who feel strongly about it. And thus, I apologize for that statement that seemed to put unbelief as a form of belief. Needless to say, my apology is also for some believers who perhaps were offended by me throwing non-believers in their camp.

Of course, i need to explore a case similar to "zero and one" (binary bits) or "left and right" (chirality) where both states together are described by one word for the purpose of study. In the same manner, is there a 'non-loaded' word that simply includes both "belief in the existence of God" and "unbelief in the existence of god"?

I hope that a word must exist to describe both states where it doesn't evoke strong emotions. Worldview? Whatever it is, i need that word so i can describe what i mean by "belief and unbelief" in my context without running into trouble on twitter or anywhere else.

Oh boy, I just love twitter. It compels me to write. And when i write, it forces me to think!

Well, at least that's what i think!

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