Beliefs are not inherently good or bad. The beliefs will not hurt or improve your life. It is only when your beliefs draw you away from reality that they can harm. If you believe that someone is trying to hurt you when they are trying to help you, your beliefs are harming your quality of life. When we base our beliefs on solid evidence and sound reasoning, they are still at the level of an educated guess. What you believe about reality will hinder your view of it. We can interpret our observations in various ways. If you observe something with preconceived notions, you only perceive that with which you agree. You are observing the scene as a biased witness. Your beliefs are clouding your judgment. Reality does not change based on your beliefs, but your beliefs should change based on reality.
Beliefs should never be permanent. Having core beliefs that you carry with you for years will only shelter you from reality. We should only have temporary beliefs based on information available. If you believe something based on little information, your beliefs are nothing more than a guess. If we stop gathering information contradictory to our beliefs, we do not believe in reality. A belief is a temporary opinion that should grow until it becomes knowledge. If the belief is not strong enough to last through the gaining of knowledge, it should stop being believed.
Beliefs can be opinions that other people told you to believe. You usually believe in what your parents believe when you are young. Over time, you may develop justifications for these beliefs, but your original beliefs were from other people. You do not brush your teeth because you believe in brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth because you know what will happen if you do not. We gather beliefs and opinions from those you choose to observe. The more narrow the group you observe, the more narrow your view of reality.
“I believe it so it’s not lying.” This is one of the big problems with beliefs. Anyone can believe anything. We do not require the beliefs to be factual or accurate. When we express something that we believe to others, they must determine how much of what we say is true. If the other people do not know better, they may take other people’s statements as factual and not opinions. If you believe something based on unproven information or the beliefs of others, you are lying to anyone to whom you express your beliefs as factual.
Accepting that your beliefs could be wrong is accepting reality. Questioning your beliefs is crucial to turning your beliefs into knowledge. Scientists have beliefs or a hypothesis they test to prove their hypothesis true, false, or somewhere in between. If we continue to believe an unproven hypothesis would not be scientific. Scientists today would still believe that the sun rotates around the earth. Beliefs either correspond with reality or they deviate from it. The more your beliefs deviate from reality, the less you will accept reality.
Depending on who you are talking to, you can change what you reveal about your beliefs. When you only selectively reveal your beliefs to certain people, you are showing a lack of confidence in your beliefs. When I was first discovering that I was an atheist, I hid my atheism until I knew that whoever I was talking to was not religious. I believed that God did not exist, just as they believed God existed. My belief was a judgment of the other person, just as I worried that they would judge me. I eventually realized that we were judging each other based on our own beliefs. When you are confident in your beliefs, someone else’s beliefs will not affect how you treat them.
Believing something does not make it real or unreal. We should only have temporary beliefs based on the information available to you at any one time. We do not believe that a fire will burn us; we know that fire will burn us. If you believe fire will not burn you, it will prove your beliefs wrong. We can not easily prove most beliefs correct or incorrect. Fire’s effect on skin is a simple piece of knowledge that we can know. If you have a belief about a group of people, you declare your belief true about every member of the group. If you knew something factual about every member, it would not be a belief. We can prove your beliefs real or unreal, but your beliefs were only a temporary step to gaining knowledge.