Belief and Certainty

Both the faithful and the atheists need to keep in mind the difference between belief and certainty. It is possible to believe there is a God or that no deity exists, but this is not the same as being certain. There is much about the origin and scope of the universe that we may never know for certain. I have no problem with any religion as long as it remains about belief rather than absolute certainty. Belief is compatible with respect and tolerance for other beliefs. Certainty is an arrogance that leads to intolerance, disrespect and, all too often, terror and war.

–Ray Sachs, Newsweek: Letters

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One Comment on “Belief and Certainty”

  1. William Sackinger Says:

    This passage serves to define, in the author’s terms, the meaning of the two words “belief” and “certainty”. I prefer to have rather broader definitions of the two words, so that “belief” can include “I believe, with a high probability of being correct, that….” and also it can include “I am totally certain that….is the case”. On the other hand, I also subscribe to the implication that “certainty” can include respect and tolerance for other beliefs. For, after all, the evidence which one person has, which leads him to be “certain”, is generally not totally available to other persons, and indeed the essence of the process of formation of beliefs and certitude is the intellectual process of information acquisition, judgement about the relationships of the information, judgement about the accuracy of the information, and then the drawing of certain conclusions. With regard to arrogance, intolerance, disrespect, terrorism, war, and I would add, anger, it is my opinion that such behavior should NOT be called appropriate or good, although I do tolerate it……