Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Would you believe someone claiming not to believe?

2 April 2016


Would you believe someone who claims that (s)he does not believe? This is the question that came to my mind after reading a most interesting article by the British Psychology Society (BPS). I am inclined to say “No”. But why? Is believing the human default and not believing the exception??

The BPS article highlights several studies. In a 2012 US study, nearly one in two atheists and agnostics reported having experienced discrimination at work, in the family and elsewhere. Another 2006 US study that asked respondents to imagine their children marrying people from different social groups found that participants were most disapproving of the idea of their child marrying an atheist. A 2015 British study has found that many people’s distrust of atheists seems to be deeply held, and what’s more, even many atheists seem to have an instinctual distrust of other atheists. 

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, I consider myself as a (religious) believer. It is impossible for me to explain the perfection of our Universe in any other way. Please also see my 11 June 2015 blog on the “perfect Universe versus the eternal inflation theory (4)”. It is also noteworthy that scientific findings relating to ancient human cultures always showed evidence of religion. As far as Science is aware of, there has never been a human culture without Religion. Irony at its best.

In my 31 March 2016 blog, I stated that beliefs and opinions are in the domain of known unknowns: we known that we do not (yet) know but we believe anyway. My concept of the 7 Belief systems identifies Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth. It is hard to believe anyone claiming that (s)he does not believe in any – or all – of these 7 Belief systems. Where does this distrust come from?

Somehow I think and feel that believing is essential to human nature. The degree of our individual beliefs may vary significantly and can be positive or negative but can never be zero. Having no beliefs equals having no opinions. And what is the likelihood of someone having no opinion about Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth?? Hence, we believe that anyone who claims not to believe is either a liar or just (temporarily) disappointed (eg, Love). A permanent lack of beliefs (and opinions) makes someone unbelievable.

During many centuries, we have learned that discussions about some of the 7 Belief systems (eg, Politics, Religion) are an excellent tool for creating human conflict. Avoiding such discussions does not imply that people do not have beliefs or opinions. They just prefer to keep them private.

I think and feel that we would prefer people contesting our beliefs rather than claiming not to have an opinion or belief. A (strong) negative view somehow reflects a (deep) disappointment to earlier held beliefs. Ultimately, Love and Hate are just each other’s reciproke. 

I suppose that we view anyone claiming not to have beliefs or opinions as being without emotion and even identity. Identity enables prediction about (future) behaviour. Having no identity is a compelling reason for mistrust.

Neil Diamond – I’m a Believer (1966) – artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I thought love was only true in fairy tales

Meant for someone else but not for me.

Love was out to get me

That’s the way it seemed.

Disappointment haunted all my dreams.

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer

Not a trace of doubt in my mind.


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