We are often expected to accept something as true even without evidence. We are inundated by people with much conviction yet absent any corroboration — of this we remain skeptics. In these instances we rely on our experiences and expertise to validate the truth. We seek affirmation. We consider what is likely, what has high probability. The source of information, too, influences our final result. Through a logical process we determine a level of acceptance on a continuum running from fact to falsehood. We form an opinion about where to place our level of confidence, yet we're never entirely certain. This process is how we form our beliefs.
"I don't want to be a believer, I want to be somebody who, as far as possible, understands and knows things. Believing things leaves me a little bit unsatisfied. If I find myself believing something I want to test the belief. How do I find out how valid this is, how true this is?"
-Brian Eno - British producer & composer
To obtain understanding requires more. Our conclusion is based on data rather than opinion. The facts support the case. We comprehend a topic at a higher level, we feel informed, knowledgeable — so much so that we may take the facts for granted. Our understanding raises our level of intelligence. We recognize and can articulate the significance of this learning. We perpetuate and sustain it by sharing it with others, we teach and mentor.
Beliefs give us a direction, understanding gives us conviction. If we can find evidence for a belief, it is no longer faith, it is understanding.
See the whole series by using the Paradox Pairs Index