Life: Optimized (Chapter 2, page 2 of 4)


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Chapter 2

Belief (n)

1. The state or habit of mind of one who believes; faith, confidence, trust.

2. A conviction or persuasion of truth; intellectual assent.

3. The thing believed; specifically a tenet or body of tenets, doctrine, creed.

Believe (v)

1. To have faith or confidence in something.

2. To have convictions.

3. To think, to judge…to hold as true, to have as one’s conviction or opinion. (Belief, n.d.)

A belief is basically something we think is true. History has shown us that humanity as a whole has a stubborn tendency to want to prove that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

From prehistoric times, human beings have tried to explain various things in nature and to understand how and why everything came into being. Through stories and histories told from generation to generation, humans tried to categorize others, tried to develop a system of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for their society and tried to recommend appropriate consequences for actions. The people that heard these stories regarded them as true and passed them in turn to others in the form of myths and legends. Every culture has, or had, its own mythological system of explaining the universe, explaining human beings, and explaining nature. Over time, the principles in these stories were distilled into laws, creeds, and doctrines. These in turn prescribed rules for behavior.

We can see this in the Rosetta Stone, which depicts Babylonian law in detail. Jewish law is set forth in the Old Testament (particularly the Torah, or the Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible). Greek mythology gives us a good picture of Greek and Roman societal values. The Egyptians left a graphic depiction of their society structure, customs, values and functions in their elaborate tombs. Any interested person can research the picturesque stories of Native American tribes in a local library. The Norse myths are as stark and cold as the environment that spawned them, but they too define acceptable behavior to men and gods. Other ancient cultures, such as the Hittite, Abyssinian, Assyrian, Persian (now Turkey), Philistine, and Hindu have either vanished or blended with others to such an extent that the original societal customs have been lost. However, records of their existence and influence still remain. These belief systems also were an effort for human beings to understand themselves as individuals and as communities. People determined acceptable and unacceptable behaviors through observing the effects of actions and choices. What benefited the society was seen as good. What brought harm to the community or nation was seen as bad. The good/bad thing has been muddled as the legal systems have gotten more complex (and the attorneys more numerous), but the principle remains the same. Murder, theft, greed and relationship problems end up hurting all concerned on an individual and societal level. Therefore, they are seen as unacceptable by law and punishable under legal codes, either human or Divine.

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