I tremble at the thought of belief. To look past our opinions and passing thoughts and to explore our beliefs, the ones nestled deep in our hearts, is to see the hidden secrets forming our identity as human beings. To believe is to be human. We are becoming formed quite literally by what we believe. This is not say that we can be anything we want to be if only we “believe in ourselves.” I cannot become a professional basketball player, simply because I believe I am a pretty good athlete. Such dreams and fantasies are the substance of childhood wishes. Rather our beliefs shape us into the people we are. If we believe things that are not grounded in reality, then we become distorted human beings. Nevertheless, the capacity to believe is a universal human experience.
It is not only religious people who subscribe to certain beliefs. We work in vain when we attempt to divide people into two groups: believers and non-believers. Religious groups often employ the language of “non-believers” to describe those who do not subscribe to their specific moral/religious code. In doing so, they create a false category. There are no non-believers in the human family. We are all believers in the sense that we all live, move, and have our being in some kind of system of beliefs. We may not all believe the same things, certainly not. Many of the struggles within human society erupt when our alternative beliefs come into direct conflict with one another. History is full of stories of clashes between groups who vehemently disagree on issues of politics, religion, social norms, education, art, etc. None of us can rightly be called “non-believers” as if we believe nothing and doubt everything. Even those who are known primarily for expressing doubts are believers of one kind or another, because every doubt is based on an alternative belief ( See Tim Keller, The Reason for God).
While our beliefs may be expressed verbally leading too often to conflict when faced with a contradictory belief, they find their home in our hearts. To be a living, walking, feeling, loving, thinking person implies the presence of a certain set of deep-rooted, core beliefs. These beliefs define who we are. They give us a since of identity. Our beliefs order our values by establishing priorities in our lives. Our beliefs shape our worldview, that is how we view life, God, relationships, and reality. They guide our reasoning and ability to think, influence our decision-making, and dictate how we treat other people. And Christian belief, as summed up in the Apostle’s Creed, enters the conversation to challenge every other system of belief, which in turn challenges everything in our lives and in human relationships. This is why I tremble at the thought of belief.