Knowledge arises from belief

It’s really just something I realized this evening. It sounds trivial, to some, controversial, to others. I am not saying that every belief brings knowledge. Only if you can test a belief it will give you knowledge. What is important about this is that belief is what you have first.

This, of course, calls into question whether I am a true atheist. I don’t believe in god. Can I know whether god exists or not if I don’t believe? I chose to believe that God doesn’t exist. But can I test that? If dying is the only way to test that, how am I going to share the result(s)? I am like Shrödinger’s Cat, in a way. Instead of dying or not, when inspected, I need to die to find the truth.

Well, I’m literally not dying to know. I’ll save that attitude for when my time is at hand. For now, I’m just betting my hypothetical soul on my atheist conviction. Maybe that’s the answer: I will bet on the non-existence of God, so, I am an atheist proper.

11 thoughts on “Knowledge arises from belief

      1. I’m referring to Pascal’s Wager. Basically, bet against God and you’re right you’re rewarded with nothingness. Bet against God and you’re wrong and you’re infinitely punished. In the post, you said you were betting against God, as if to say ‘I’m confident enough in God’s non-existence to risk eternal damnation.’ Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if that’s technically calling a bluff or not. I’m not a gambler myself.

      2. well, I am, occasionally, a gambler. I hear God doesn’t like that at all. But more to the point: in order to bluff, a person must have some kind of knowledge, of which he is concealing possession or content, and misdirect an opponent’s attention and/or attitude in order for him to win. Does he have a royal flush? Is that gun loaded? So, technically, it’s really just a wager, like in horse racing, since Pascal couldn’t claim that sort of knowledge

      3. True, he isn’t claiming to know the outcome. I probably should’ve used a different gambling metaphor. Maybe you’re just confident enough in the outcome to take him up on the wager?

    1. Dan has taken the only clever comment I planned to leave here as Pascal is one of the few philosophers I have read in the (translated) original :-).
      Dawkins mentions it, too, and wonders about a God who might reward faked belief as you can only pretend you believe but you cannot bring yourself to really believe if you don’t. He calls Pascal’s proposal cowardly bet-hedging and thinks that God – if he exists – should actually value real courage which is daring to doubt and not to believe.

  1. What about all the knowledge that we have without conscious awareness, and so presumably without belief, for example, language? We learn our native tongue long before we have any conscious beliefs about it.

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