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GoatLord

Belief versus absolute truth

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Some people say they "believe" that such-and-such statement is true while others say they "know" such-and-such statement is true. Is either any more valid than the other? Do you feel more confident in a concept if you "know" it to be true, true as the sky being blue or gravity pinning us to Earth? Or is more efficient to merely have "beliefs," which can change over time as you mature? Then again, the two seem to converge, because if one believes in something strongly enough, then they believe that idea to be absolute, unquestionably true.

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Our confidence ranges from 0% to 100%, and once it crosses a certain threshold, maybe it's 98%, that's when we say we "know" something. So for those occasions when you "know" something with 99% certainty and end up being wrong, I don't think it's a big deal.

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As long as you don't observe it, it can be in either quantum state. So, don't care too much about it.

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If you wanted to start a topic titled: "Faith versus absolute truth," we would have a much clearer debate. Both belief and truth can be supported by evidence, and both are fallible. You can't build faith on evidence, because it's a belief built with a lack of evidence. Truth requires evidence, even if it can be proven wrong at a later time.

Truth and belief are not mutually exclusive, however, truth and faith are.

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I dunno about that. I "believe" in the big bang theory, for instance, because it is an established fact that galaxies are moving away from one another, and further back you go in the past, the closer they are to one another. That's undeniable. But I don't actually "know" that it's true, because our technological limitations prevent us from confirming it one way or the other.

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Nothing is certain. Its impossible to know anything, to know the truth, to know that you are alive... It doesnt matter, because you believe it. Belief is like the ultimate truth, only it likes to stab you in the back alot.

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I'm not sure that I understand the question of whether one is any more valid than the other, but there are a number of interesting relationships between knowledge and belief. On the one hand, if we restrict the objects of knowledge and belief to propositions (which might either be true or false), it seems plausible to suppose that knowledge entails belief - If you know that P, then you believe that P - but not vice versa (you can believe that P without knowing that P, even if P is true). Moreover, there's a dominant tradition within epistemology that maintains that knowledge just is belief of a certain sort - that is, belief that meets certain other conditions (e.g. belief that is both justified and true), although there are some famous putative counterexamples that put pressure on this idea.

Another potential condition on knowledge - suggested by some in this thread - is that to know that P, you must be certain that P. This idea has also been influential in epistemology, although it is (on the whole) rejected today. If certainty is understood as immunity to something like Descartes method of doubt, then it turns out that there are very few propositions that we can know with certainty, and so (on this view) very few propositions that we know. We're potentially confined to propositions concerning our own (and no one else's) personal existence (Descartes cogito), and also perhaps concerning our own subjective states (e.g. how things are with us, experientially).

Another notable distinction here is between a priori and a posterori knowledge - the latter being knowledge that we acquire on the basis of confirmation through experience (so, things we come to know through observation or experiment), and the latter being knowledge that we acquire without undertaking such procedures. E.g., I can know with certainty that every bachelor is an unmarried man, without having to go out into the world and checking - this kind of knowledge is analytic, insofar as it concerns relationships between things that we can discover simply through reflecting on our concepts for those things (other examples include: the knowledge that every red thing is coloured, the knowledge that 2 + 2 = 4). There's a significant question of whether there is any a priori knowledge that is more substantive than these trivial conceptual truths (Kant thought so).

Anyway, big topic.

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To believe in something is to be blindly faithful to it. To know something is to not consider any uncertainty about the object.

Do neither, and just keep an open mind.

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I'll state right off the bat that I don't think there is such a thing as absolute truth. I mean, even if we came across an absolute truth, we wouldn't have the tools to identify it and differentiate it from any other knowledge.

As for belief... Not a big fan of that, either. To me, belief implies absolute certainty in your hypothesis, and as I said, I don't think we can know anything 100% for certain, so the concept just seems flawed to me. On the flip side of the coin, to know something to me means to have reached a conclusion to the best of your abilities based on your senses and other available information.

Ironically enough, to me, knowing something does not imply 100% certainty. For instance, when I was younger, based on what I'd read and pictures I'd seen, I "knew" the Earth was spherical. As I got older, however, I found out it slightly bulged in the middle as a result of its rotation. To me, that's an important distinction. Because I "knew" and didn't "believe," I was able to revise my concept of the Earth based on new information. I'm not saying we have to be wishy-washy about everything, but I think it's important that no matter what the subject, one should always be willing to at least consider new information.

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