Are beliefs sacred?


“Beliefs are sacred” is a phrase I hear often from those of religious persuasions. In the rebellious stage of my Atheism I sieged against this premise, denying its holy truism.

There is something deep, personal, and “core-to self” (help me with the word…) when it comes to beliefs. It isn’t to be questioned by others, but the self. Beliefs are the sole property of the self.

Unless, one opens oneself to debate.

For example, I believe in gravity. There are sound basis to my belief in this concept: science, witness accounts, and sensory experience has proved this true to me. I am NOT open to debate on this one and will not be jumping off of buildings no matter how hard someone tries to tell me I can fly.

That is a core belief. No debates. It is mine, and one of many I need to ground myself into sane reality.

We all have core beliefs. Strangely, some people place what appears to most as “nonessentials” in this core belief realm and guard it with fervor. There are two types of people who do I this: the outwardly appearing arrogant who are truly just guarding themselves from harm and thus protecting their staying in a sane reality. An example of this is believing one’s dead mother is still alive; or, let’s be fun with this, Elvis being alive. Obviously one places this as a core belief to guard on self from the pain of addressing reality. Other types of people fall into the realm of what we call “insane” or “mentally ill”. What a sour judgment to make on our fellow man! Surely, you may not believe there are flaming monkeys in the TV, but as not normal as that sounds it is the individual’s belief and until he/she is able to open oneself up to debate, it will stay in his/her core, protecting the inner self.

And on that point I digress. Although I could continue.

Penny for your thoughts? As poor as I am at the moment, I will gladly scrounge for one if you but ask me,


31 thoughts on “Are beliefs sacred?

  1. I think holding beliefs as sacred is problematic. It shuts down conversation and, in the process, education. We need to allow our beliefs to be questioned, and we need to allow those unwanted discussions to happen. Otherwise, how will we grow?

    • I agree with you and that is the stance I take.

      However, I do not believe it to be OK to force another person to questions their beliefs if they are not ready. Growth can only happen when is one is at a place where they can grow.

      Does that make sense? Was I clear on that point in my blog? I could’ve written so much more, but had to digress before it became too long. πŸ˜‰

  2. Truth is sacred. Belief is an attempt to project truths into a wider understanding. It is an intuitive hypothesis, as opposed to a scientific one. Holy books are sacred to widely accepted intuitive hypotheses. The beliefs become held as truth by followers and the hypothesis part becomes ignored. With belief seen as truth, it is considered sacred.

    If one considers “sacred” to mean “connected with God”, and “God” to mean “our creator” and “our creator” to refer to our current understanding of our origin, which is the “Big Bang”, they would hopefully find some awareness that their belief may not be as sacred as they thought.

    Unfortunately, many people are afraid to allow their hypotheses to be tested and will guard them adamantly – typically those who either benefit from them or are emotionally connected to them.

    • Fascinating response! I love it! And I agree wholeheartedly with the issue of guarded and untested hypotheses, this is much better wording than my discussion on beliefs. :-\ Hrm.. I guess I should have instead addressed sacredness!!

  3. So let’s get this started in the right direction — Nothing is sacred.

    Sacred: connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.

    There are no gods. Nothing is sacred, and there is little of our traditions which could be held up as deserving of special veneration.

    Truth is truth and it does not give a damn about your feelings. The universe is the universe and it too does not care for your feelings one bit.

    Everyone claims to have beliefs yet many cannot understand where morality comes from, go figure.

    You were right to point out that some times our imaginations protect us from the reality of what would be real pain. This is a malfunction of our brains. Our brains are between our ears to help us cope with reality, not run away from it.

    For something to be sacred there needs to be evidence that there are gods. If we are to treat any thoughts of a personal nature as venerated (great respect; reverence) then those thoughts are open to scrutiny. Veneration does not mean ‘free hall pass’ or anything even close to similar. This no more true than when we see a group claim the right of veneration for their personal beliefs in the same breath as they denigrate the personal beliefs of others. (just look what one sect says about another)

    If a belief is worthy of veneration and qualification as sacred then it will withstand the scrutiny of others and the reverence due the belief will be self evident. When respect has to be demanded then the respect is not deserved.

    There is nothing sacred on the playground no matter how many school yard bullies say there is. Saying something is true does not make it so.

    Nothing is sacred.

    • Wow. Love it. Thank you!! I have nothing more to say than that I accept the as above as a truthful contribution to the discussion at hand.

      However, Jasonjshaw above had an interesting unpacked definition of “sacred” that I can also agree on. Thoughts on that?

      • On confusing truth and belief: Truth is part of reality. Any belief that is true is not belief but truth. No part of reality is deserving of veneration above other parts of reality for that would denigrate or belittle some portion of reality. By whose value judgements are we to decide that some part of reality is less worthy or valuable than other parts?

        To venerate belief as part of reality is to elevate belief above what there is evidence to support. By definition, belief cannot have credible evidence, where belief is blindly accepting statements without evidence.

        Veneration of belief without evidence for the worthiness of such veneration is the same as belief and not part of reality. There is nothing sacred.

        Demanding reverence or respect for a belief is little more than pouting on the playground because you can’t be ‘special’ … Any belief you have that you feel is sacred should be so self evidently.

        I believe there is a huge 9 foot tall invisible purple toad that follows people everywhere they go writing down what happens. If you believe that this is not worthy of veneration then you must explain why the belief that a man god orchestrated his own cruel death to save others from the curse he put on them himself should be venerated. Having a belief on it’s own does not make it worthy.

        A stroll through the insane asylum will show you that believing in gods does nothing useful.

        There is nothing sacred.

      • Hm.

        This may be where we part in agreement, which is fine and OK. πŸ™‚ We all still contribute to understanding by conversing, I feel.

        Although I agree with much of what you said, epistemologically I see too much of a difference between evidence and proof. Even if evidence gets us to a 95% assuredness, and yes we can safely live our lives with the comfort of that assuredness, there still remains the 5% which I will personally always be open to finding.

        I do not have a problem with living gnostically, but that is there choice and not the path I choose to take. I can not live my life thinking I know something, when in reality I am 95% certain and rounding up and continuing on pragmatically as if it was 100% proven, because odds are in my favor.

        Hope any of that makes sense, but feel free to correct me if it doesn’t, please. πŸ™‚

      • nikeyo,
        Yes it make sense… if you will tell me that you’re not sure that every rock you will kick with bare foot will not hurt you.

        If indeed we live in a simulation we are trapped in it. Without evidence it does not exist. Possibility does not equate to probability.

      • Every is a strong truth statement. Tiny unjadded rocks don’t hurt if my feet are callous or strong enough to take it. πŸ˜‰ I did not deny to fact of proofs, only that there are many that are not 100%s that many hold are.

        I’m a numbers person, if you can’t tell, also. πŸ˜‰

      • The argument is about 100% truth… I only offer a view of reality. If you choose to change the rock size you change the argument. If belief is only small rocks, is it really what it is claimed to be?

      • Nah, I just crave truth. So when you say words like “every” and “rocks,” my logical mind needs full understanding before answering.

        Cause I’m a nit-picky little twat like that, I know. πŸ˜‰

      • Interesting. Proof of that which is defined as unprovable? Evidence is proof, lack of evidence is proof in the same manner. While it is fair to say that because there is not proof yet it does not make a truth… but how long does one wait for proof before deciding?

        How long do you wait at the alter before deciding there is no marriage today? What is the proof of a negative? What does that look like? At what point does saying there is no evidence look exactly like saying that is is not true?

        We do not know that Thor is a false god. It is still possible that Thor is a god. Still, I think you don’t belive that Thor exists.

      • Ah… To respond to this requires both science and math. When I work with the words “proof” and “evidence”, those are the fields through which I work with them. Not existentially.

        But in short, to answer the ” how long does one wait…”: it matters not to me to answer. My journey towards understanding is my own, and I am still seeking every day. πŸ™‚ But yours is also yours and I am happy to hear it and learn what I can.

        I’d believe in Thor over zombie Jesus any day. Ha!

      • I believe in none of them. Absence of evidence _is_ evidence of absence. Truth has this annoying mannerism of showing up all the time. It does not show up with gods. Belief in gods requires that you stop believing in rocks.

      • Then that is where we must part, respectfully, in our individual epistemic choices. We do not seem to agree and I am happy enough agreeing to disagree, and keeping my mind open.

  4. Liverpool Football Club are sacred but you can bash the crap out of manchester united…no problem. ( note the small letters for lessor football clubs)
    This is called Freedom and if you don’t support Liverpool you will be going to Football Hell…with Alex Ferguson. EeeK!

    Funny how utterly ridiculous it sounds when put like this, doesn’t it?….and yet… πŸ˜‰

    • Yes. Funny and ridiculous. Joy of life is we’re entitled to find it funny (get lots of kicks outta it…), and they’re entitled to be…that… if they want.

      Me, I try to live in peace. If one is open to persuasion, I share my thoughts. If not: live and let die.


  5. I like the thought that one has to open themselves up to different ideas. This hit home as I would not have been able to accept evolution if I had stayed protected within my prior “sacred” beliefs.

    • It hit home the same for me when I wrote it. I do not like the concept of the opposite, as you say, protected within sacred beliefs. I respect one’s desires to stay there, but I do not condone it.

      Since discussing this with other bloggers, I still don’t know if they are sacred or not. Considering I held my prior beliefs sacred, and the wisdom of others brought it toppling down… geesh I just don’t know. If it’s a difficult thought process to tackle.

      Just my thoughts, upon your thoughts… ultimately: thank you for the comment and thoughts! Upon thoughts…. Good stuff.

    • I can’t help but find it odd when people say that they would not have believed in evolution had they remained religious. I came from a religious household, but nobody said anything about creationism or science. My school taught us evolution and nobody suggested that we should learn otherwise. It wasn’t until I was in college when I learned that my parents didn’t believe in evolution. That was shortly after I learned about creationism for the first time. Now I’m amazed at the battles that surround science and religion in schools.

      • This whole phenomena of this dislike between creationist and evolutionists is what got me interested in evolution as I wanted to understand why people were so against evolution. One of the most interesting things from my studies is that both creationism and evolution suggest that we had one set of parents. This single thought should eliminate racism and the word racism should be removed from the dictionary. I want people to thing about this. This is a common thread that should help bring the two extremes closer together. However back to what we were saying that people have to be willing to open up there minds.

      • Unfortunately anyone who wants to hate will find a way to justify it. And people interpret things differently. What one person gets out of a book might not have been what the author intended. For example, there are people who believe that Darwin was a racist because of the word ‘races’ in On the Origin of Species.

  6. This idea that people will find a way to justify their hate is the conclusion that I am coming to because with two large groups pushing forward that we had one set of parents and there is one species of humans, then who is promoting all the bigotry?

    Yes, some people may believe that Darwin was a racist but I don’t thing that was the case. I think he understood that we were all brothers and sisters.

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