Is there a difference between knowing and believing?
I often say the best way to get an answer is to ask a question. When we look at the vast amount of information that is present and then consider how much of that information do we each either have access to, have experienced or even just heard of, our actual knowledge base begins to become relatively small.
There are so many sources of information; books, television and print media, mentors, friends, clergy and just BEING, to name a few.. When we attain it, it becomes knowledge. The practical application of that knowledge can be considered wisdom. When we are acutely aware in our Life Experience, we will see that everyone and everything is our teacher. In our grasping that concept, we would do well to start considering each of our sources of information and their sources as well as their intent in providing us with that information.
Just because we know something doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right, wrong, true or false. It is the same with a belief. Some of the sources of our beliefs are from persons we never met whom lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. So if you were present when that information was first divulged, would you have readily accepted that information? When you receive information now from someone you know or have heard of, do you just accept it or are you skeptical or possibly endeavor in some research? In some cases, what would make you accept something from some source you have never seen while rejecting it from a source that you know? Being a contemporary in the age of information you are using to base your beliefs on can be a challenge either to accept or reject particularly if we do not research the sources.
What is a belief? Is it synonymous with a fact? One way to look at a belief is that it is an opinion of a person or group of persons based on their perspective of gathered information. A fact is information that even when observed from different points of view can be determined as true from all sides. Beliefs can be based on facts but are rarely facts themselves but rather information that is used to bolster or validate our opinion or point of view. This is where the questioning of our beliefs can become a beginning of a learning process; because sometimes we have to unlearn what we know and believe in order to gain new perspectives.
When we seek to understand first our own reasons for having certain beliefs, then understanding that there are over 7 billion persons on this planet with varying beliefs, we can then also begin to look at what another person believes not as a point of contention or division but as another way to see things. Not right or wrong, just different; and that’s OK.