My wife asked this the other day on Facebook. My response was too good not to share it here.
“If you are friends with someone but find out that they have different beliefs as far as religion goes, would you stop being friends with them? What if you really liked them? Would you view them differently or would it not change your views of them? Would you continue to love them and treat them the same?”
My reply was, “The conversation should get charged now… Reading through the comments, the main word popping out is “belief”. Let’s ask some questions. What is a belief? Dictionary.com states the definition of belief to be – 1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat. 2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. Oxford dictionary states the definition of belief to be – 1. Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction. 2. belief in) Trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
So, it is an opinion of something to be true that cannot be proven. Going with the Oxford definition it says belief in something is faith. According to these definitions faith is an opinion, trust, confidence in a truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. This sounds like apostle Paul’s definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1King James Version (KJV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
It appears that the apostle Paul, dictionary.com, and the Oxford dictionary are in agreement that Faith and belief both are things that are hoped for, evidence of things not seen, confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
Now when discussing things like this, one’s emotions tend to escalate. With heightened emotion, clarity of thinking goes down. Selling a car is all about getting your emotions heightened. Getting you to smell the new interior, feeling the leather wrapped steering wheel, if the salesperson is good, after building rapport, he will get you (by previously discovering your wants and needs) to take mental ownership of the vehicle through suggestion. By building value in it by showing the cars features and benefits, he gets you to say “yes”. (This is a science. If you can get the customer to say yes 5 times it is easier and easier to say yes.) If he has built rapport, performed a good investigation and met your wants and needs, gotten you to nod your head up and down in agreement to things as simple as “it is a pretty day outside isn’t it?” and most importantly heightened your emotions, there isn’t any negotiation as he draws a line and an x, hands you the pen and says sign right here.
As I write this I am reminded of almost every sermon I’ve ever heard. First off, you sing songs. Sometimes 3 sometimes 5 and if the Spirit is really moving, maybe you sing that good slow song one more time leading up to the sermon. After business is taken care of, the preacher gets up, he builds rapport, gets you to agree, laughing, nodding your head. Your emotions have been heightened, you are now more open to suggestion. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines suggestion as – a: the act or process of impressing something (as an idea, attitude, or desired action) upon the mind of another <suggestion in response to propaganda—Psychological Abstracts> b: the process by which a physical or mental state is influenced by a thought or idea <the power of suggestion>.
We are bombarded with well planned, scientifically backed research, highly financed campaigns for which suggestions are to be placed in our minds to shape the beliefs we hold to be true. For example, advertising for a Jeep Wrangler convinces you that if You own a Jeep Wrangler I am rugged and free. You will be blown away by what advertising experts refer to as the hell sell. Look it up. The Hell Sell – “Since its conception In the early 1960s, the subliminal selling strategy for Kent cigarettes has been based on a variaion of our top-secret Hell-Sell theory. To visually promise the viewer salvation from death, and loss of one’s very soul to the devil is an emotional hook that we’ve cast, over and over again, in varying forms for a variety of clients. Religious beliefs and feelings about death stir deeper emotions than the frequently used sexual strategies.” -http://www.whale.to/c/leaked_ad.html. My wife thought I was nuts when I’d mention stuff like the hell sell and subliminal sex in advertising. (I am a little nuts but because we judge our mental health to the majority.) 🙂
So, to sum it up, I want to point out that most people choose to not be friends with those of differing beliefs, especially core beliefs held so dear and sacred. It is very beneficial if you find yourself on the outside of the group to realize that it isn’t personal. “A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those that do not belong to it.” – Sigmond Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.
The whole clincher, the common denominator, the seperator, and what makes this all so absurd, is the thing that divides us is… belief. And what is belief? Something that CAN NOT be proven. Heaven, hell, an afterlife of any kind cannot be proven. Belief in an afterlife can, and has been believed since man has studied man. But an afterlife CAN NOT be proven. (This isn’t to say I don’t believe in an afterlife.) I am just pointing out, yet again, the absurdity of pushing away family members, friends, killing mass numbers of infidels or heretics (a perfect definition of an infidel or heretic is someone that doesn’t believe the same as you) by killing oneself because you believe (through suggestion) that you will be richly rewarded for doing so.
Again, it isn’t personal, we just do what we are programmed to do.”