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The need to believe

July 18, 2006

Humans need to believe in something. Why else would people all over the world, more or less independently, organize themselves in churches and invent angels, demons and gods? This need to believe is probably a try to tell oneself, that there’s more to life than what obviuosly happens between birth and death. That when you die, you won’t just decompose and disappear, but get the chance to move on into a different reality (heaven, nirvana, valhalla, …). Isn’t this what religions and the search for the meaning of life are all about? But so far, these are only hopes and fears, no solid proofs exist that death isn’t just when you body stops to function and the lights go out. The catch is, of course, that there’s also no proof for the opposite. And so we choose the possibility that gods exist, and follow their teachings, just in case.

Another possible reason why we tend to need to believe in supernatural beings is that if there are no angels to watch over us and no gods who listen to our prayers, then we have to care for everything ourselves. No help from above. If you want to achieve a goal, your only choice is hard work and trust in your own abilities. Doesn’t sound very reassuring, right? Better hope that the god you’ve been told about by the grown-ups as a child exists and lends a helping hand, and all you have to do is submit a prayer. Why are we so unsure of ourselves? What’s the benefit of giving away the power of determination and fulfilling our dreams with our own hands? The only answer I can think of is that then we’d realize, that we alone are responsible for our lives, no destiny and noone else is to blame for our faults, and this is a truth too bitter to accept.


From → Belief, Philosophy

  1. We as humans are full of faults, and one of them is not admitting them 🙂 At least when were adults. When we’re little there’s less of this ‘are YOU trying to teach ME something?’ attitude that many adults seem to phase into. We’ve donated so much time educating ourselves and learned work skills, and we never get any credit for it. However much our skills and experience grows, praise is scarce; it’s simply expected of us.

    If there was just a goal that you could reach – where you could say you were fully trained, and what’s expected of you was fixed, so that you could be sure to meet that expectation – things would be fine. But that’s only true for some professions.

    So how do we lift ourselves, muster the energy to become more skillful, without throwing our hand up in digust and saying ‘enough is enough’?

    Well, that’s what I want to learn.

    ps. thanks for reading my blog, but there’s no need to paste this entire post – it got cut off anyway. I got here simply by clicking the comment posters name (yours) 🙂

  2. Recieveing praise from others often depends on whether they can appreciate your word *at that moment*, and not only on how much skill and dedication you’ve put into it. It’s like selling lipsticks to men, most of the time they won’t be interested, no matter how well you’ve done the work.

    Much of the value of a work lies in the difficulties that had to be overcome to reach the final result, but only someone who has been through the same and understands the ins-and-outs of a task will be able to appreciate this work fully. Take the “Black Square” by Malewich as example. For those who’ve never drawn themselves it’s just a simple square, nothing special at all. But an experienced painter will understand how much skill is required to create something like it. Or some music that carries you away, and the next guy would just wish to stop “that noise”.

    We’ve all our own perspectives on everything, colored by our experiences and individuality, and finding somebody who shares our views is rather a lucky coincidence than the normal case. And for this reason, the only person that will always understand how much skill and time you’ve put into something, and your best-qualified judge, is you. If others also understand and value this work, then it’s of course more gratifying, but if they don’t, well, maybe they just have a sick child at home, lost money or a simple headache, that occupies them more at this moment. But when you yorself know how well you did, that you’ve given your best, overcome lazyness, then this is recongintion that is as reliable and true as possible. That’s, at least, my view of this problem.

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