The “Belief” Deception

Most of us, as human beings, tend to feel very strongly about those beliefs that we hold dear. In most places, those strong feelings center on religious faith, sometimes on the family, sometimes on political or social beliefs, and to a lesser degree on other matters, at least for most people, from what I’ve observed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with believing in something strongly, even passionately, but most of human history is replete with violence seemingly triggered by those passionate beliefs. Why do I say “seemingly”? Because, in the overwhelming majority of instances, those seeking power and dominance use those beliefs in causes against others in order to bolster their own position and power.

Henry VIII’s split with Rome and the Catholic faith, and his creation of the Church of England, had little to do with the vast majority of tenets of the Catholic Church, but everything to do with his desire to divorce his queen and remarry in order to have a son to inherit the crown – surely an issue of power and dominance.

Luther’s ninety-five theses nailed to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparked the Protestant Reformation, which was initially far more about reforming abuses of power in the Catholic Church than about changing fundamental beliefs in God and Christ.

The split in Islam, between Shia and Sunni, arose essentially over the issue of who should lead the faith after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 A.D. While other issues separating the two have arisen, the split was basically about power and dominance, and it remains the same today.

While Ireland has seen a long history of Protestant/Catholic conflict and animosity, that conflict is far more rooted in power than doctrine, since the vast majority of those in power in Ireland after the end of the Williamite War in 1691 were, prior to the Irish Revolution of 1916, members of the Protestant Ascendency. After the partition of Ireland and the end of most hostilities in the Republic of Ireland in 1923, the Protestants retained economic and social control in Northern Ireland, and that conflict continued almost unabated until the agreement of 1998, although hostilities still simmer, largely because of economic and political inequalities.

The American Revolution, for all the talk of freedom, was about who controlled the resources and the economy of the then thirteen colonies and about British restrictions on trade and manufactures.

The Taliban and ISIS, while they claim to be Islamic, seem to be far more interested in power and control than in any of the more peaceful aspects of Islam. And certainly, the Crusades were far more about power and plunder than religion, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary.

This desire for control, and wanting to have government force people who are different to “do things my way” remains a disturbing aspect of politics in the United States, and elsewhere.

No matter what anyone may say in religious terms about the abortion/anti-abortion conflict in the U.S., that conflict is purely and simply about who has control of a woman’s body – the woman or an outsider, whether that outsider is either a religious belief, her husband, or the government. All the rationalizing and reasoning, all the saying why, doesn’t change that basic fact. It’s about control. So is the issue of who can marry whom.

Yet government has to have laws, and enforce them, or there will be chaos. As a number of politicians and sages have noted, liberty also requires order. Order requires popular support. So any law that enslaves or unnecessarily controls a significant percentage of the population eventually creates unrest and often violence. This rather obvious truth tends to be ignored by those who use beliefs to obtain or maintain power over others.

As far as laws or practices being unnecessarily controlling, there’s a simple question that can resolve many of those questions. Does the law in practice physically or economically harm certain groups of people? It would seem to me, simple man that I am, that believing in a different god or the same god in a different way harms no one. Taking up a gun to force that belief does so.

The bottom line is whether beliefs are used for self-motivation and guidance or whether they’re used to force beliefs on others – or to harm or kill those who believe differently.

Beware those who trumpet beliefs while brandishing laws or weapons and ask who will gain control of what – and how.

6 thoughts on “The “Belief” Deception”

  1. Sam says:

    I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on abortion. I’m not actively opposed to it but I can understand why some people are and I don’t think it’s always about dominance and power. I’m sure it often perhaps even mostly is but I don’t think it always is.

    I think many people genuinely feel that a foetus is actually a child and feel just as horrified at the thought of that child being terminated as they would if the same was done to a baby outside of the womb.

    A man could genuinely feel like his child was being murdered.

    For me taking the morning after pill when pregnancy is at the stage of just being a zygote or a clump of cells is not a big deal. However the further along in the development of the foetus the more uneasy I get with abortion and I think there is a significant grey area where I’m no longer sure about the morality of abortion.

    All that said I don’t intend to impose my will on others or pass judgment so I would never vote for a politician with an anti-abortion platform. It’s just that I can see why people feel strongly on both sides of the issue.

    1. Daze says:

      “A man could genuinely feel like his child was being murdered.”

      Just another belief to kill for. Far too many men have ‘genuinely felt’ that if they can’t have their children after a break-up, then the mother can’t have them either, and used that feeling to justify killing them. And all the other ones that LEM mentions and many more. That’s the point: ‘genuinely feeling’ that anyone who doesn’t believe the same is you is better off dead because they’re going to hell anyway doesn’t justify acting on that feeling/belief.

    2. invah says:

      >A man could genuinely feel like his child was being murdered.

      Except that we know this isn’t true. Even though anti-abortion rhetoric and logic is generally founded on this premise, the majority of anti-abortionists do not ACT as though a child is being murdered. Those who do, who murder abortion doctors, are either condemned or *quietly* celebrated. And the immediate target is generally the abortion providers, not the women themselves. People don’t kidnap a woman and hold her hostage to prevent her “murdering” the unborn child.

      Anti-abortionists focus on policy, propaganda, and coercive “pregnancy planning” clinics precisely because they do NOT believe that a child is being murdered.

      They do believe that abortion is wrong. They do believe it is a kind of murder. They do not actually believe a fetus is a child, even though they believe they believe that.

  2. invah says:

    >in the overwhelming majority of instances, those seeking power and dominance use those beliefs in causes against others in order to bolster their own position and power

    I would also add that they seek to enforce their model of “reality” in reality, which effectively forces their template of the social contract on others.

    In my experience, people who seek to do so often genuinely, sincerely believe they are acting from moral perspective independent of their ‘own position and power’, that seeking position and power is simply to further morality and righteousness.

    Though there are absolutely those who operate from a calculating, amoral, power-seeking paradigm, there are many who are engaging in cognitive distortions to justify and rationalize their actions to themselves.

  3. darcherd says:

    Definitions:
    Belief – Something you do not believe
    Fact – Something you do believe

    1. invah says:

      Cognitive distortion: Thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately

      Cognitive dissonance: Founded on the assumption that individuals seek consistency between their expectations and their reality. Because of this, people engage in a process called dissonance reduction to bring their cognitions and actions in line with one another. The more that the elements are personally valued, the greater the magnitude of the dissonant relationship.

      Belief disconfirmation paradigm: Dissonance is felt when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one’s belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.

      Cognitive bias: A systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.

      Rationalization: A defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable – or even admirable and superior – by plausible means.

      Introspection illusion: Where people wrongly think they have direct insight into the origins of their mental states and beliefs, while treating others’ introspections as unreliable.

      Wishful thinking: The formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality, or reality. It is a product of resolving conflicts between belief and desire.

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