“What make you think you have the correct belief?” asked one of my youth, as we fell into discussing the objectivity of moral values and duties. He was convinced that everything is a matter of perspective and opinions. He believed that my belief could be right to me, but wrong to him. And surprisingly we are all at the same time correct.
“ My belief is correct because it passes belief tests. And I believe yours does not” I answered.
A belief, or an opinion can be put on trial and tested for its truthfulness. There by-and-large four belief test: test of reason; test of outer experience; test of inner experience; and test of practice.
Test of Reason:
Does a belief pass the scrutiny of logical reasoning? If a belief has logical contradicting ideas, then that belief is necessarily false. The law of non-contradiction states that p, cannot be both q and not-q at the same time and sense. Example: I did not write this sentence in English language.
Test of Outer Experience:
A belief needs to pass the test of what we know about the world and ourselves. Example: A belief that suffering and death is illusory is false, because our knowledge of ourselves tells another story.
Test of Inner Experience:
Does a belief align with our inner experience? Examples: the knowledge of self-awareness. I am a being that experiences grieve, guilt, hope, love, sorrow, joy et cetera. I am not a robot that believes what an alien installed me to believe.
Test of Practice:
Ronald Nash argued that life is the laboratory of our beliefs. Can one, holding a certain belief, live consistently with what she believes?
Practical test example: When you find a person who holds a belief that stealing is not wrong, try to steal something from her and see if she would live consistently to her belief.
So, what make you think you have the correct belief? Well, test it and see if it passes these tests.
Article inspired by: Evaluating A Worldview, Life’s Ultimate Questions. An Introduction to Philosophy – Ronald H. Nash