Season: 7 Episode: 098
Everyone believes in things for reasons that have nothing to do with truth. I can relate to this because I was raised in church and for a time, I only believed because I was raised to believe that way. What happens when what we believe is not rooted in truth? We’ll talk about that today and why you should know the reason for what you believe.
“Everyone can explain what they believe. It’s a lot harder to explain why they believe it.”
“If what you believe is not rooted in truth, it will be shaken.”
“Our beliefs will be tested.”
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. Today we are going to talk about what you believe and whether your beliefs are built on the foundation of truth. You might be thinking “Yes, Shanda .. of course my beliefs are true or I wouldn’t believe them!”
But wait. Hear me out and I can guarantee you will learn something from this that you can ether apply to your life or pass on to others.
Before we get into that, I want to let you know I have new t-shirts in my online store. One of my favorites is the salty shirt and the other one is the “Hanging with the Giants” shirt because it lists a few of my favorites. Check that out at shandafulbright.com/store.
And finally, it’s been a while since I’ve asked, but if you enjoy the podcast and have not given it a 5 star rating and/or a review on itunes, I would so appreciate it if you would as that is the way the podcast gets into the earbuds of others.
Today we are talking about why you believe what you believe.
James Sire was a Christian author and he broke down the four main reasons people believe what they do. So what you believe will fall into one of these categories.
I am going to be as honest and transparent as I can and tell you where I fell within these categories and where I fall now. Because it has changed, and there’s a big reason for this.
I also obtained this information from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist by Dr Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. As some of you may know, I went to the CIA training and had to present on a portion of the book and curriculum and I chose to answer Does Truth Exist.
While I was studying, I found it fascinating to learn that James Sire found the 4 main reasons people base their beliefs on. And that’s what I want to share with you today.
As many of you know, we live in a post Christian, post truth culture.
People don’t even want the truth. They want what feels good. Many people are driven by emotion. But emotion alone will not hold you when doubt creeps in. Emotion, influencers, and anything but truth will not stand when your world is being rocked.
And that’s also another reason we need to know what we believe and why we believe it.
So here’s what we’re going to talk about today:
- The four reasons Sire identifies in why people believe what they do.
- Why is it important to know WHY we believe what we do?
- How do the laws of logic keep you grounded in reality?
Don’t let the fact that I’m going to talk about logic freak you out. We’re going to discuss the basic laws and I’m going to give you a wonderful resource for learning this at the end of this episode.
James Sire identifies four reasons people believe what they do
Now remember, the reasons point to WHY we believe what we do … not whether or not what we believe is grounded in truth. Because some people don’t believe based on truth or evidence.
Our purpose of evaluating Sire’s reasons is to figure out why you believe what you do. How do you know if what you believe is true? And by beliefs I mean beliefs about anything. How do you know truth exists? Why do you believe the Bible is the word of God? Why do you believe the Bible is inerrant?
Is it because you were raised to believe it?
Is it because you were born into Christianity?
Those are good things .. being raised in church and born into a home with Christians … but you still have to now WHY you believe.
This will help you understand the foundation of your beliefs, and it will also help you identify the basis for others beliefs.
The first reason Sire gives is Sociological reasons.
This means you believe what you do because your influence is family, friends, society, culture. For example, a lot of people go to church because grandma went to church. They claim Christianity because grandma did.
If you look at the stats of Americans who claim Christianity, you will see we are at 65% of the population claiming to be Christian. However, and I’ve talked about this before, we can easily look around and see the only reason we get that stat is because people CLAIM to be Christian.
America was founded on biblical principles such as that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. We claim Christianity because that’s what we’ve always done. It’s the religion of the nation (for now, God help us).
But in the middle eastern countries, the religion of those nations is Islam. They are influenced by their families, culture, friends and society to follow Islam.
I can honestly say that sociological reasons is THE reason I claimed Christianity as I grew up. My mom took me to church every Sunday and told me God existed.
But there came a day when I had to decide to follow God for myself or not.
One of the questions that made me stop and really evaluate why I believed what I did was when someone asked, “How do you know what YOU believe is true? Everyone thinks what they believe is true.”
I had no idea how to answer that question. The basis for my answer at that point in time was because I was raised that way … sociological reasons.
But don’t be fooled. Sociological reasons don’t have to have anything to do with truth. It just means you don’t know or care if it’s true. Grandma prayed so you will too.
The next reason Sire gives is psychological reasons.
Psychological reasons are reasons people believe based on comfort, peace of mind, meaning, purpose, hope and identity. Again, it may have nothing to do with truth because truth doesn’t matter when it comes to believing for psychological reasons.
Just because we feel accepted, loved or have a peace because Buddha tells us to meditate, it doesn’t mean that what we believe is true or has any foundation of truth.
This can be a hard one because it ushers in a lot of emotion. To believe something because it gives you peace is almost worth believing in. To believe you are a man trapped in a woman’s body is easy to believe when you feel that it helps with your identity. But is true? And better yet, do you care whether or not it’s true or just that it feels good to believe it?
This is where we are in society today. People believe because of the emotional appeal. That’s just another way to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. And by the way, appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy.
An appeal to emotion is for the purpose of getting someone to believe something by provoking their emotions.
And they are successful when emotions take away your ability to reason.
That’s one of the reasons you hear people saying, “Love your neighbor” for everything under the sun these days. Or, “Jesus would have worn a mask” to convince people to do what they want.
And if this is the influence in which we believe what we do, this falls under the psychological category.
The third reason is based on religion.
This has to do with the influence of scripture, pastor/priest, guru, rabbi, church. Now, obviously your church and pastor are supposed to influence what you believe. However, this has to do with believing just because someone says it’s true, not necessarily because you know it’s true.
I could also have fit into this category growing up because I was raised in church. God was in every part of my life and that’s why I don’t know an exact date as to when I gave my heart to God. I can say that God, by the Holy Spirit, confronted my lack of belief when I was 17.
I had to decide if I was going to come to know this God I heard about my entire life, or if I was going to go on pretending to believe in a God I really didn’t know.
That didn’t feel right to me. It was fake.
This is why when someone asked me why I was so convinced I had the truth, I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know because I wasn’t convinced.
We see examples of this all throughout scripture, specifically in the NT where Jesus confronts the Pharisees over their interpretation of the law. They believed peoples illnesses were because they or their parents sinned. They believed Jesus had a demon because He healed people on the Sabbath, yet they kept the law by circumcising others even if the 8th day for circumcision fell on the Sabbath.
The Jews were very religious and believed what they did for religious purposes but they completely missed the entire point because they did not understand nor know why they believed the law nor the OT prophecies. However, they searched the Scriptures because in them they thought they had life.
We have to be careful what we base our beliefs on. Why do we believe what we do? Does it matter?
We’ll talk about that soon, but before we do, let’s get to the fourth reason James Sire gives for why people believe what they do.
He said people believe what they do based on philosophical reasons
These are beliefs based on consistency, coherence, completeness and Sire says this is the best explanation for all of the evidence given.
He says this isn’t philosophy based on the classical sense of the word: finding truth through truth, logic, evidence and science.
This is why, again, I love Christian apologetics because it incorporates all of these. And for some reason, the church does not get into apologetics and they should. Otherwise, many run the risk of believing in what they don’t truly know.
The book goes on to say that Sire’s Socratic approach helps people realize three things:
- Something is only worth believing in if it points to the truth. But that brings me to the realization that some people don’t give a rip about the truth. They just want what feels good.
Apathy toward truth is dangerous but that’s the time we’re living in. How do we get people to love truth? They have to understand it has consequences .
2) Many beliefs people hold today are not based on evidence. They literally don’t have any ground for their beliefs. That’s why you should always ask people questions when they make their truth claims. That is the first way to poke a hole in what they believe.
3) And finally, if you really want to know the truth, you must be willing to lay aside any subjective preferences in order to truly evaluate the facts and the evidence to ensure you know what you believe and why you believe it.
Why is it important to know WHY you believe what you do?
In short, because what you believe matters. What you believe determines the direction you take, the choices you make, and how you live.
What we believe doesn’t only effect the here and now, it effects eternity. So, in reality, what we believe has consequences.
What we believe should be based on truth.
When I was questioned about what I believe, I didn’t know why it was true. I only knew that I believed it because I was told to by my parents who raised me in church.
When things get hard and we question our purpose in life or when we don’t feel close to God, what we believe better be rooted in truth or we will be shaken.
A great illustration of this is in Matthew 7:24-27. It says, “24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Here we have two men with two similar issues.
Both men built houses. Both men experienced circumstances that rocked their structures. But what built on is what kept them when their world was rocked.
You can equate house here to their lives. To what they believed. The problem wasn’t found in the structure, but in the foundation. Because if the foundation is not solid, the structure is going to collapse anyway.
So Jesus took them back to the foundation of their lives and said the man who not only heard Jesus’ words but acted on them is the one who built his house on the rock.
Many people think because they believe something in their heads that’s enough, but it’s obvious through this verse that Jesus takes what we believe further than that. In fact, he says it’s not enough to only take in His words, we must act on them in order for our lives to be built on a solid foundation.
Why is that?
Because knowledge without understanding prevents us from walking in wisdom. That means what we believe about God is influenced, not by truth, but from a sociological, psychological, ore religious influence.
And that will lead to us building our lives on a foundation that is unstable to answer the hard questions of, “How do you know what you believe is true?”
And if we don’t know how to answer that question, when life gets hard and we doubt God, we won’t be able to go back to the evidence of why His word is truth and why we have built our lives around it.
That’s when we will be rocked. The solid foundation of truth is what our beliefs should be built on because what we believe will be tested.
I know this because I was raised in church and what I believed was tested. It still is at times. And because I know the truth, I can go back to that when I am shaken and the truth always holds up and is able to remain in difficult times.
How do the laws of logic keep you grounded in reality?
Now, if you’re listening and you are about to turn off this episode because logic hurts your brain, I get it. I would turn off the podcast too if I didn’t know about logic.
But don’t do it. Trust me.
Here’s a little insight into my background .. I used to be a very simple mined person. When it comes to jokes, I still am. Give me a knock knock joke any day of the week and you’ll be one of my favorite people.
When I started studying apologetics, we talked a lot about reason and logic and logical and illogical fallacies and I realized that this was part of good thinking.
The basic laws of logic help us determine reality and live within the world God has designed.
God says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together.” The laws of logic are universal laws. Anytime you catch someone contradicting themselves, you are using the law of non-contradiction.
So I am going to go over the 3 basic laws of logic with you and I would encourage you to get the book “Introduction to Logic” by Jason Lisle. I’ll put that link in the show notes for you.
For those of you who want a deeper dive into logic, you can read “Come, let us Reason” by Norman Geisler. It’s a lot more academic and I read it but I literally had to go look up Youtube videos that explained syllogisms and things like that in a way that helped me better understand.
But the first law of logic is the law of non-contradiction. That means something cannot be both true at the same time and in the same manner. It also can’t both be false at the same time in the same manner.
For example, the sky cannot be both blue and not blue at the same time and in the same manner.
It cannot be both winter and summer in America at the same time and in the same manner.
When someone says to you there is no truth, they are violating the law of non-contradiction because they are claiming there is no truth while at the same time making a truth claim.
If there is no truth, is that statement true?
The law of non-contradiction is probably one of the most violated laws of logic because people do this every day. It takes practice identifying them, but if you get good at it, you can get anyones claim to fall apart if they’re doing this.
The second law of logic is the law of identity. This one states if A then A. For example, if biological evidence identifies male DNA, then male. The law of identity keeps us from playing the pronoun game.
In fact, if a teacher asks my boys their preferred pronouns, because they’ve been asked, my boys know to write, “I am a male” on their paper. They will not violate the law of identity and deny reality in order to enter into someone else’s delusion.
This is why we see logic and mind control becoming part of our culture. The law of identity helps us stay grounded in reality.
Finally, the third basic law is the law of the excluded middle. Logically, we would say if A or non-A. It’s closely related to the law of non-contradiction but it says a proposition either has its truth claim or it’s negation. There is no in-between. For example, it’s either raining or it’s not. There is no in-between.
Now what about something that’s relative … like chocolate ice cream. Maybe it’s true for me that I like chocolate ice cream but you like vanilla.
Isn’t this where absolute truth falls apart?
No. All truth claims are absolute. For example, it is absolutely true for all people at all times in all places that I like chocolate ice cream. It is also absolutely true for all people at all times in all places that you like vanilla.
Another example is that I may be in the same room as you and I’m cold. You may be in the same room and feel fine. Isn’t that relative, showing that truth isn’t absolute? No. Again, all truth is absolute. Because whether I’m cold or you’re not doesn’t change the fact that the temperature in the room is 72 degrees. Our response to the temperature may vary, but the temperature is set and absolute at that time in that place for all people in the room.
Sounds pretty simple, right? It only gets better as you study it more.
I know this episode was pretty deep today. Anytime we talk about logic and philosophy it can get a little deep because those things can cause us to work our brain. But this is part of loving God with all of our minds.
I feel like I’ve been talking about the mind a lot lately and to be honest, It’s not on purpose. I don’t always plan the topics but I do watch, listen and pray about the topics I share about and I feel this one is so needed in the church and in the culture today.
If you have any questions about this or any other topic I share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also speak at conferences and seminars to help teach, equip and train Christians in how to defend their faith and how to teach our kids to do the same.
If you ever want me to come to your church, let me know and we can plan something. So have a great week and I’ll catch you on the next one!