Anyone who has ever set foot in my home knows that I am far from the most organized person you will ever meet. This is not out of choice, I love organization and prefer it, but I am lazy and choose the sloth of disorganization to the discipline of neatness. Maybe someday I’ll get better at this, but I’m not holding my breath.

On the other hand, I have had to (just due to the nature of the large volume of crap stored in my noggin) organize my brain and how I view the world, just to keep from going barking mad. So, a little view of the way things go on inside my head.

I have three piles of crap up there (I didn’t say the crap was organized, just the way I arrange it is) and each has it’s own unique foundation. The number of the piles is three, and three are the number of the piles.

1: Faith.
I have faith that the Universe has a creator, and the Creator’s plans whatever they may be are outside of my ability to comprehend.
This is the foundation and most of the substance of my faith, and it is the very model of the KISS principle. Keep it simple, stupid.

2: Knowledge
I know some things for certain because they can be easily proven. The foundation of these things is “Natural Law.” A sample of this is Newton’s laws of motion:

Newton’s laws of motion (Sir I. Newton)
Newton’s first law of motion
A body continues in its state of constant velocity (which may be zero) unless it is acted upon by an external force.
Newton’s second law of motion
For unbalanced force acting on a body, the acceleration produced is proportional to the force impressed; the constant of proportionality is the inertial mass of the body.
Newton’s third law of motion
In a system where no external forces are present, every action force is always opposed by an equal and opposite reaction force.


Natural law is the sum of the way things act as we can determine from direct observation. There are times when what is thought of as natural laws change; these times are few and far between, these days, and the older we get as a species the better is our understanding of natural law, and the harder the concrete sets that encases them.
Knowledge exists outside my ability to understand it; I don’t know how a TV works, but I know that it does, and I do not have to understand it for it to work, and that brings me to

3: Trust
I “trust” certain things, and “trust” is different than faith. This is a distinction few people understand, and I will try to illuminate it.

I trust that the laws of physics will remain the same at least for long enough for me to get a decent night’s sleep without being sucked into the Rift.
I trust that the car I drive was manufactured with reasonable enough competence that it will get me to work tomorrow.
I trust these things because it takes too long to independently verify them, though they could be independently verified. I can dismantle my car and make sure it’s OK, but it’s not worth the effort. I could do the same with my TV or Computer, if I had the knowledge, but I don’t need to, I have adequate trust in the people who manufacture those things to trust that they will work and not microwave my brain or sell my credit card information to the Hungarian Militia. If I “believed” my car was reliable, without regularly reasessing it’s reliability, I would, at one point, end up on the side of the road with a broken car screaming “I don’t believe this happened to me!” basing your life on blind belief instead of carefully monitored trust will always leave you stranded.

I trust the machinations of science, up to a point. I trust that the folks at the hadron collider would not ignite our atmosphere and turn the Earth into a sun. I trust that the medical profession will do (at least at present) the correct procedures for my knee surgery, or whatever. This trust is less firm than my trust in other things, and all trust is like this. I do not trust the “Science” involved in Global Warming, because I have independently verified the mistruths in it, and have observed others verification of those same mistruths. So trust is for things that can be known but the effort of everyone knowing is not productive. And you must choose who you trust, and you must test the trust you have regularly, lest it become belief. There are those who would correctly claim that “science” is not being done in all circumstances, and this also becomes an issue of trust; which “Scientists” do you pay attention to? Classically, the “Center for Science in the Public Interest” is neither good science, nor often remotely in the public interest. Each person must decide who is and who is not trustworthy, and you must revisit that process regularly, with an open mind, to see if someone you once thought of as truthworthy has become untrustworthy.

The three components can exist on their own, and do so independently of any tangible connection to one another, but the intangible connections that I have made myself and that I am discovering always make everything more interesting.

Now: Belief.
Steve Martin believes a lot of things, and proves a point for me. Belief used to be a word which was largely synonymous with “Faith”, but its use has changed, as has it’s root meaning, and not for the better.

In our Church we recite the Nicene Creed. It’s a good document but for it’s consistent use of the term “believe”, because used in this day and age “belief” has lost all of the meaning it once had. You could substitute “I have faith” for “I believe” in the creed, but it would still not be as clear as it could be.

Because Belief, as it is used, has become evil.

It is evil because people with no faith have adopted “Belief” as a sacred shield against judgment. “I believe in global warming” or “I believe that Islam is a peaceful religion” or “I believe that the Church has killed millions” are all facile and demonstrably ignorant statements, but we must “Tolerate” those opinions because those people “believe” them. “Belief” has become an inviolable reason to enforce the will of the ignorant on everyone.

Basically, Belief demands three things: A lack of ability to substantiate the basis for the belief, a personal moral imperative, and an unwillingness to even examine any other facts in evidence.

Dick Daley believes that Gun Control is the solution to Crime. He also believes that you should believe this too. He is surrounded by states in which easy availability of firearms and other means of self protection have cut the crime rate, but it doesn’t faze him.
Brak Obama believes we can tax&spend our way out of the troubles he helped cause. He believes you will believe this when he inserts it in you often enough. He has seen tax cuts and less government intervention work, but doesn’t care.
Nancy Pelosi believes that socialized medicine is the answer to all our health problems. She believes that you will ignore the fact that the legislation she rammed through in opposition to the will of the people will not affect her personal healthcare. She is aware of the harm she has done and did it intentionally.

Lots of people “believe” that the Church is evil because it does evil things. They will preach their hatred for the evil of the church to anyone who will listen, and are incapable of understanding the difference between “The Church” (here I’m speaking of Christian churches in general) which is incapable of any action at all, and the individuals who do that damage, who are NOT the church.

If there is an opinion that you hold near and dear, and you refuse to examine any evidence of any other opinion, you have a belief, and it is probably evil. Remember here that belief is different than faith, and here’s a test that will always work to help you determine which is which:

Faith is the relationship you have with your creator. You cannot qualify or quantify it, and you cannot experience it except through the way you interact with others. Faith can be contagious, that is to say, others can come to their own faith by observing yours, but it cannot be taught, or applied, or enforced.

Belief can be almost anything. You can believe that the world was created by the flying spaghetti monster, but that is, of course, ludicrous.

It is also possible to “believe” in God, and you can do what you can to get others to “Believe” in God too, but no matter how fervently they “believe”, that belief will never become faith. Belief has to be based on concepts that can be taught, and assembled together into a structure. Often enough, that structure is flimsy, and the first piece of logic to come along will often utterly destroy it. Atheists are often people who see others who “believe” without ever experiencing “Faith”, and cannot reconcile the “belief” they see with the real concept of “Faith”. Anti-theists have seen people who “believe” and see that their beliefs are based on a fabric of reason- a fabric woven fast and loose, and often badly, and disdain faith as a result, not knowing that the two are separate items. Thus anti-theists come to their own “beliefs” which utterly lack awareness of Faith.

The example I see most is the demonization of the church for some wrongdoing which is even across the population or even worse outside of the church. Pedophilia is the most egregious current example; pedophilia is far more common outside the clergy than in, but at every instance, people who “believe” will instantly pile on the church and paint all Christians with the same bloodstained brush, while simultaneously giving every other organization in which pedophilia is common a pass. Oh, they hate ALL pedophiles, but because the Church has pedophiles, ALL the members of the Church are evil. The NRA, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the ARRL, and the SEIU all have pedophiles, but in those organizations the pedophiles are bad while everyone else is OK.

This is a “belief”, and it cannot be shaken by facts. Beliefs are blind that way, most of them, and it is their blindness to the introduction of new information that makes them evil.

Witness the recent conversations between Tam and I over the use of snap caps.
You can believe, for instance, that dry-firing a modern revolver without a snap cap is perfectly OK, but belief will not make it OK. You can trust, based on empirical information that you gather yourself, or empirical information gathered by people you trust, that you can do so, and you will probably not be disappointed, especially if the information you gather is done so impartially and not with an eye toward proving a point. You can also trust that using a snap cap is better, and do so. Having differing levels of trust is common and not evil.

If I believed that using a snap cap was always necessary, and by one method or another attempted to coerce, force, or legislate others into doing as I believed, especially where no compelling evidence existed that I was correct, that would by definition be evil. If Tam believed that using a snap cap was never necessary, and by one method or another attempted to coerce, force, or legislate others into doing as she believed, especially where no compelling evidence existed that she was correct, that would by definition be evil.

In my case, I would have to find compelling evidence that all firing pins would eventually break if no snap caps were used. This evidence does not exist, as most firing pins are just fine after extensive dry firing. In her case, she would have to find compelling evidence that no firing pins ever broke, and that evidence does not exist because there is a wealth of data on firing pin breakage on just about every imaginable type of firearm.

Since compelling evidence one way or the other (and again, by compelling, I mean absolute) cannot be provided by either side of the debate, enforcement either way would be evil.

At this point, it is trust. Tam trusts her guns, and she has the empirical evidence to do so, that fulfills her personal description of reliability. I am far less trusting, so I place my trust in the use of snap caps. We have differing levels of trust, not differing levels of “belief”.

All of this is a discussion of- predominantly- semantics. And the semantics of the word “belief” have changed, as I said earlier. Words have meanings, and the meaning of this word is not what it should be, and it’s not good.

I trust that you will read this and I hope it will make you think. I do not feel that any of it should be enforced on anyone, and this is only my perspective on my world. I do know that all of the people I trust the most share most of these opinions, to a larger or lesser degree. I would like the “Excuse” of “belief” to go away, and be replaced by knowledge of what can be known, and valid trust in what cannot be known.

I’d like to be able to eat thirteen dilly bars a day and never gain an ounce, too, but I won’t hold my breath for that, either.