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. 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:
- Home page contains links to profile for each of the sixteen types
- Originally, I read David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me (1st version published 1980s). He divides the sixteen types into four primary temperaments, described on the website. Site contains many links and quality info.
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.
Thanks for your valuable answer with useful sources.
[In somewhat broken English he expressed concern about the trust in science, and also logic as described by Aristotle. I responded at some length as follows below.]
Regarding “trust in science.” I don’t begin with trust, I begin with understanding how things work, how they are put together, what causes what. When I do this, what happens and why? As a child, I build a wall of wooden building blocks. I learn how to put them on top of each other in such a way that the wall doesn’t topple over. That, in my opinion, is science; it is knowing, understanding. You put the blocks just so upon each other for the best-balanced and most secure wall; that is logic. I am not speaking symbolically or theoretically. I am speaking about reality: it is logical to put the blocks just so (I don’t think I have to write a mathematical formula because I trust you know how to build a toy wall with wooden blocks) because any other way is not as strong. Knowing that is understanding how it works, it is science.
Maybe that’s too simple for the adult mind to grasp. We want to think science is looking through a powerful telescope or microscope, or using other sophisticated computer technology in the lab, observing things so tiny or so enormous our brains can’t fully fathom their existence. That is what professional scientists are studying in this century because normal-sized objects were studied in earlier centuries; much important and definitive work was done on categorizing and naming plants and animals in the 19th century. Men walked on the moon in the middle of the 20th century. All that’s left is the tiny and the enormous. But I maintain that for a child to learn the skill of building a wall with wooden building blocks can be a science of logic and understanding. You can feel and see when the blocks are sitting just right, and you know from experience (understanding) that this works.
That is not trust. It is a proven methodology. Scientists must in their reports write careful methodologies of how they did their research and studies. That is not faith and does not require faith to trust. It allows others to examine and critique the outcome. If what the scientist reports does not match reality, that scientist must answer for his/her report. Religion begs immunity from such scrutiny.
In fact, when we scrutinize religious beliefs and claims to that extent, we are often accused of not having enough faith, of being disrespectful.
Just so you know, I can’t figure out the “logic” of philosophy. I wanted to do a minor degree in philosophy. I took a few ethics and history of philosophy courses but because I couldn’t figure out the logic I had to give it up.