Does it matter what you believe?


It had been a long day and the journey home on public transport just added to the length of it all. As I sat on the train waiting for the doors to close so that we could continue our journey a woman walked in and found a seat opposite mine. She was wearing a singlet top with just one word across the front of it …. believe.

Believe in what? The top didn’t say but it looked like some kind of sportswear so I was guessing something like, “believe in yourself” or “believe and you can achieve”.

I’m hoping that the woman knew what she was believing but I wonder if there is anything inherently worthy in the simple act of believing? Is the value of believing in having a belief of some kind or in the subject of that belief?

It’s not the first time I’ve seen the word ‘believe’ on its own as if it’s an end in itself. It seems to be considered that there is virtue in the simple act of belief but surely some beliefs are disturbing or even dangerous.

Is being sincere in some kind of belief enough or are some beliefs more helpful than others?

Sincerity in the belief that some races are better and more deserving than others doesn’t make racism any less abhorrent. Believing that you can ignore the needs of others while you climb the ‘ladder of success’ doesn’t make that belief right or respectable.

Belief on its own might give temporary comfort but belief that is backed up by truth is a great foundation on which to build. Don’t tell me you believe. Tell me what you believe.

I believe.

I believe in Jesus. The Jesus that walked this earth. Fully God. Fully man. I believe that those who take the time to fully investigate the Jesus of the Bible, rather than the Jesus of popular opinion, will find someone they can believe too.

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Faith of a child

children.jpgIs our belief in God begin at birth or is it something that we pick up from those around us as we grow older?

Are we born without a concept of God? Do we begin our lives as atheists who then need to be convinced that there’s something bigger than us in the cosmos?

Oxford University psychologist, Dr. Olivera Petrovich, a lecturer in psychology of religion, has been studying the development of spirituality in children. She recently conducted cross-cultural studies involving British and Japanese children to see if children from different cultures have a similar understanding on matters of spirituality.

She was surprised to find that results were very similar in Britain and Japan. In general she found that most children have an understanding that there is a creator God at work in our universe. Very interesting results indeed considering that as a culture, Japan discourages speculation into the metaphysical, so most children are not brought up hearing about God or spirituality.

You can read an interview with Olivera Petrovich about her research here.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed the research and looked at what impact such research should have on us.

You can hear our discussion by clicking play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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