Belief

It is as wise to moderate our belief as our desires.

All belief that does not render us more happy, more free, more loving, more active, more calm, is, I fear, an erroneous and superstitious belief.

It is not true that a man can believe or disbelieve what he will. But it is certain that an active desire to find any proposition true will unconsciously tend to that result, by dismissing importunate suggestions which run counter to the belief, and welcoming those which favor it. The psychological law, that we only see what interests us, and only assimilate what is adapted to our condition, causes the mind to select its evidence.

With most people, doubt about one thing is simply blind belief in another.

The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth.

The man who strives to educate himself - and no one else can educate him - must win a certain victory over his own nature. He must learn to smile at his dear idols, analyze his every prejudice, scrap if necessary his fondest and most consoling belief, question his presuppositions, and take his chances with the truth.

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.

That belief which inspires a man to higher life, which moves him to trample down his besetting sins, to help his weaker brother, to rise into communion with God, is to him a Divine voice.

The man of belief is necessarily a dependent man... He does not belong to himself, but to the author of the idea he believes... At every step, one has to wrestle for truth; one has to surrender to it almost everything to which the heart, to which our love, our trust in life clings otherwise. That requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service...faith makes blessed: consequently, it lies.

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

The belief that youth is the happiest time of life is founded on a fallacy. The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, and we grow happier as we grow older.

To believe is to be happy; to doubt is to be wretched. To believe is to be strong. Doubt cramps energy. Belief is power. Only so far as a man believes strongly, mightily, can he act cheerfully, or do any thing that is worth the doing.

To believe is to be strong. Doubt cramps energy. Belief is power.

Belief in a Divine mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race.

Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry... Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster.

Martyrdom has always been a proof of intensity, never the correctness of a belief.

The principal reason for sex deification is loss of belief in God. Once men lose God, they lose the purpose of life; and when the purpose of living is forgotten, the universe becomes meaningless. Man then tries to forget his emptiness in the intensity of a momentary experience.

What we think of ourselves makes a difference in our lives, and belief in immortality gives us the highest values of ourselves. When we so believe, we achieve proportions greater than mere matter.

The pious sectarian is proud because he is confident of his right of possession in God. The man of devotion is meek because he is conscious of God’s right of love over his life and soul. The object of our possession becomes smaller than ourselves, and without acknowledging it in so many words the bigoted sectarian has an implicit belief that God can be kept secured for certain individuals in a cage which is of their own make. In a similar manner the primitive races of men believe that their ceremonials have a magic influence upon their deities.

If choosing freely for oneself is the highest value, the free choice to wear red socks is as valuable as the free choice to murder one’s father or sacrifice oneself for one’s friend. Such a belief is ridiculous.