What Make You Think You Have the Correct Belief?

“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

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3 thoughts on “What Make You Think You Have the Correct Belief?

      • Test of Reason: The statement “There is no objective morality” appears to past the test of reason, since it is simply a single assertion, with no premise or conclusion.

        Test of Outer Experience: There is nothing about the real world that leads me to think there is objective morality. There is plenty of agreement about right vs. wrong, and plenty of agreement about what should and shouldn’t be done once there is agreement about desired outcomes. But no instruments have been devised to measure morality. (That’s not my argument for lack of objective morality, but a “morality measurement device” would be something that would cause this belief to fail the test of outer experience.)

        Test of Inner Experience: I have no reason to think my beliefs about right vs. wrong are independent of my life experiences so far, hence they are more likely to be subjective than objective.

        Test of Practice: Whether or not there is objective morality, I would not want someone to do something that I consider wrong in my opinion. If that person asked why I considered it wrong (stealing my laptop while we’re riding a train together, for instance), I would attempt to present an argument supporting my position (for example, following the Golden Rule, complying with existing laws and regulations, imagining what the world would be like if everyone did that, etc.). If that person is unconvinced with those types of arguments, I doubt he or she would be convinced if I told them it’s objectively wrong according to God.

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