Why do you believe what you believe? Are your beliefs established on sound basis? How do you decide what to believe?

Let's do a fun exercise together. Answer "true" or "false" for each statement below, and then explain why you believe it is true or false. Go ahead:

1) The sun will rise tomorrow.

2) The Earth is round.

3) I will experience a safe flight the next time I travel by plane.

4) Only one true God exists, and He created everything.

Done? Great; me, too. Now let's go over our answers. Here's how mine look:

1) True, because the sun has been rising every day ever since we know.

2) True, because before I lost my eyesight, I had seen photos of our Earth, and also saw Earth captured on film shown on television shows. All the images I had seen showed that our Earth is round.

3) True, because traveling by plane has been proven to be generally safe.

4) True, because we have evidences of the existence of the one and only true God who created all.

Do you see a common thread running through your responses? Knowing and understanding this common thread will help us understand why we believe what we believe. So what's this common thread?

This common thread is faith and reason. Indeed, the two elements that many believe to be incompatible and conflicting are actually supporting each other, playing a very vital role in our daily lives.


First, let's look at faith. "Faith" has several definitions, but in the general belief system, a mixture of two kinds of faith is usually implied:
1) Trust or confidence in something or someone that is generally established on sound basis
2) Belief without any sound basis

While much of our faith should be built on sound basis (i.e., facts or evidences), we can exercise a healthy dose of faith that isn't supported by evidence. For example, as life is never a 100% guarantee, any belief that involves the future requires a certain amount of such faith. Whenever we get into a car, we have faith that we will arrive at our destination safely. This faith is of the two kinds: trust based on evidences (traveling by cars is proven to be generally safe), and faith not based on evidence (we can't see into the future, so we can never be 100% certain that our ride will be absolutely safe).

But the faith that is entirely a faith based on evidences is belief in the only true God, Jehovah, contrary to the popular notion that belief in God is a blind faith. Faith in God is "assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1, WEB.) This faith is like a "title deed," a legal document you have that proves that you will certainly own what you don't see yet.


Next, let's look at reason. Knowing and understanding why you believe what you believe is done through reason. During the reasoning stage, we think over the evidences or lack thereof that either support or discredit what we are to believe or not to believe. Without analyzing our reasons for belief, our belief would become a blind faith--believing in something "just because." Rumors, for example, are blind faith--any kind of notions (from the everyday to the religious) that are passed on from one person to another without supporting evidences.

Belief without reason can often be destructive or even dangerous. One harmful result of religious blind faith comes to mind: a while back, a woman fatally shot her son because she wanted to send him to heaven. Hence, it's vital that we gather the facts before choosing to believe in something.

Going back to our exercise...

How do we see the faith and reason elements in our answers in the exercise we did? Well, let's review our answers again, and study their "faith" and "reason" components:

1) We believe that the sun will rise tomorrow because that's just what it has been doing for as long as we know. The faith part of this belief is believing that the sun will rise tomorrow even though we cannot see into the future. The reason part of this belief is that we are basing our belief on what has evidently happened every day before (reason established on sound basis).

2) We believe the Earth is round (faith) because we've seen actual images of it (reason based on evidences).

3) We believe that we will most likely have a safe flight (faith) based on time-proven reliability and safety of planes (reason).

4) We believe in the only true God (faith) because this belief is based on facts and undeniable evidences, one of which is the Bible (reason). a) Archeologists and historians have proven the Bible's historicity, finding many evidences of the people, places, and events described in the Bible. b) The Bible is scientifically sound, stating certain scientific facts thousands of years before scientists actually proved them, and the Bible's accounts do not contradict any scientific facts. c) The Bible is accurately prophetic, having fulfilled hundreds of prophecies exactly as they were foretold hundreds and thousands of years before the events actually took place.

Here, we can sensibly conclude that in order for a belief to be valid and stand firmly, it needs both faith and reason. Because if we take away the reason parts (establishing beliefs on sound basis) from the four examples in our exercise, our beliefs would have no foundation upon which to stand, and it would do little to convince people of our beliefs. Don't believe me? Well, then see for yourself just how our beliefs would look in the following scenarios:

1) "I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow because I just believe it will." (Pretend that you somehow don't know that the sun has been rising every day.)

2) "I don't believe the Earth is round because it looks and feels flat to me."

3) "I believe my next flight will be unsafe because I just have a strange feeling."

4) "I don't believe in God because I don't see Him. I won't believe in something I can't see."

As you can see, the above beliefs are weak because they either go against the facts or have no sound basis to support them. How convincing would they be if you were to share these beliefs with someone?

In closing, faith and reason should be an integral part of our beliefs. Often, our faith is a blend of supported and unsupported faith, with the exception of faith in Jehovah, which is a faith entirely founded on sound basis. Without reason, our beliefs become merely blind faith. Before believing or disregarding something, we first must examine our reasons for doing so, and our reasons should be established on sound basis.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Jehovah God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honor) graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet; author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to twenty-two, and an editor of one; and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. http://www.shirleycheng.com

Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at http://www.shirleycheng.com and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.