Joshua 24:21-22 "And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him."
In the above often quoted passage we are told of a decision made by
I have spoken before on the underlying rationale for our beliefs. In some cases we see what we consider, either consciously or unconsciously, as sufficient evidence to instill a certain belief in our minds. This we might generally describe as objective truth, truth for which there is compelling evidence.
In many other cases we simply decide to believe something, again either consciously or more likely subconsciously. This is what could be deemed subjective truth, that which is true for one but not generally for all.
The motivation behind these belief decisions are many. Often, we inherit beliefs by way of our cultural setting. Our forbearers believed certain things and taught those as true. Over time those beliefs have become engrained in the resulting culture and are passed on from generation to generation without much further evaluation. They seem true, so they are unchallenged.
In other examples we come to accept and believe a premise because it is comforting to us personally. These beliefs are different from the culturally derived ones because they may not be so widely accepted, even in the same cultural setting. The fact that this belief feels good and right to me does not mean it affects another person in the same positive way. In general, beliefs of this type are those that tend to elevate my status in relationship to others and which therefore are ego enhancing. It is easy to see why certain beliefs would be very intoxicating if they make me feel better about myself, either by inflating my worth or denying the worth of others.
In like manner, certain belief decisions are made because they carry a personal benefit. If a belief or contention aids in my gaining or maintaining advantage over others, economically, politically, or religiously, that belief will be compelling. Again it is difficult not to embrace and act upon a belief or contention that so serves self interest. The very ideas of success through competition, self reliance, and independence point to the necessity of seeking personal advantage wherever possible. No one succeeds in that environment by hesitating to do so.
Though some may argue with my observations above about many beliefs being no more than a decision to believe, I suspect most would ultimately agree upon sufficient reflection. Yet many of us, and I include myself, treat our beliefs as if they are all objective ones, i.e. essentially indisputably true for everyone. In that mode of thinking, we rather routinely consign those who hold opposing views as deluded, confoundedly stupid, or malevolently intentioned. We observe this attitude toward others in reaction to divergent opinions on every subject imaginable. Either you think like me and agree with me or you are not fit to be with me, in this world, this country, this state, this church, or whatever.
This brand of thinking consigns us all to eternal arrogance and animosity, sapping our emotions and creating an underlying disunity which the ruthless and unprincipled among us exploit continuously to their personal advantage. By allowing such divisive and unsubstantiated thinking to prevail, we allow ourselves to become manipulated and enslaved. In this way we can wreak our own destruction and feel completely enlightened and perfectly righteous in doing so.