Trust vs Fact

Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman, Secular Humanist: studied theology, social work, some philosophy, anthropology

This is a difficult question because seeing into another person’s mind is not possible, yet that is where beliefs reside. The best we can do is look at their behaviour, listen to their answers, evaluate their behaviour and answers in light of the bigger picture of their lives and reality as we see it. We can also share and compare observations.

Having done all of the above to the best of my ability, I still struggle to accept what seems to be the obvious conclusion. It seems that for many people, perhaps the majority of humanity, the word of a trusted authority—parents, teachers, sacred texts, preachers or other holy men and religious leaders, etc.—is the end all be all. They have not got the wherewithal necessary to dig for deeper evidence regarding this word of authority they have accepted. They cannot think deeply about abstract verbal matters such as stories and religious teachings. They know whose word they trust because their parents and friends and neighbours trust that person. “It worked for my grandparents,” is a legitimate slogan for such people. They do not need more support for their arguments or more evidence to prove them.

The tangible, the here-and-now, that which is available to the five senses, is what is meaningful to them and open to discussion. In my opinion, this is a major reason for so many rules regarding rituals, dress, and celebrations in every religion on earth I’ve ever studied. It makes the abstract real, brings it down to earth, into the realm of humans where the sacred can be handled, tasted, worn on the body, interacted with. But for some of us, the abstract reality of the larger universe and logic is more solid and meaningful than frivolous dress rehearsals with their emphasis on rules, ritual, song and dance.

The best model I have yet found to make sense of these opposing personalities is Myers-Briggs Personality Type (MBTI). MB divides human personalities into sixteen basic categories, with most using sensing for perception and a minority using intuition. The theory is complex, expansive, and deep. I can’t go into all of it here but will provide a few sources below in case you’re interested to pursue study. As an INTJ, I find myself drawn to the abstract that makes sense based on logical analysis. On the other hand, I find my ISFJ friends and relatives to be unable/unwilling to think deeply about these interests but to be very aware of how all their friends, relatives, and neighbours are doing, visiting those who are sick, helping wherever they can—stuff I am unable to do. In other words, talents are unequally distributed.

In addition to the above link here are more websites I trust on Myers-Briggs:

That should be enough to get you started if you are not already familiar with MB and Keirsey’s Temperaments. Not everyone agrees with them but for me this in depth understanding of the very different ways of being that exist among humans helps answer your question, which has also been my question.

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