Monday, December 31, 2007

Belief vs. Idea


  1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.

  2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.

  3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.

  4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.



  1. any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.

  2. a thought, conception, or notion: That is an excellent idea.

  3. an impression: He gave me a general idea of how he plans to run the department.

  4. an opinion, view, or belief: His ideas on raising children are certainly strange.

  5. a plan of action; an intention: the idea of becoming an engineer.

  6. a groundless supposition; fantasy.

  7. Philosophy.

    1. a concept developed by the mind.

    2. a conception of what is desirable or ought to be; ideal.

    3. (initial capital letter) Platonism. Also called form. an archetype or pattern of which the individual objects in any natural class are imperfect copies and from which they derive their being.

    4. Kantianism. idea of pure reason.


I have come across a strong following of the concept presented in the movie Dogma. While Dogma is a funny movie, it certainly shouldn't be used as a source for a theology or philosophy. It's a comedy. It's meant to humorous.

If you haven't seen the movie, the concept presented in the movie is as follows. You shouldn't have a belief. People will kill over a belief. You should instead have a good idea. That sounds good. You shouldn't kill people. Initially, I have no issue over this concept.

The problem lies in this following I've encounter. If you use the word belief, they call you a dogmatic bigot who is completely inflexible. I find that rather amusing but at the same time insulting. Their issue is over my use of the word belief. I don't call for the murder or death of someone over the difference of a belief. In fact, my belief states that murder is bad, evil even. I think they missed the point of this concept. Make sure you don't tell them that's their belief. You will really make them mad then. Even though this is their opinion or conviction. It's textbook example of a belief.

Let's step away from people behind the concept and focus on the alleged dichotomy. There is not one. I assure you. Idea even uses the word belief in one definitions. They are basically the same thing. Idea is more abstract and less rigid. There has also been a lot philosophical discussion on the subject. I have read quite a bit of it. I wouldn't fashion myself as a philosopher or expert by any means, but I do have my foot in the proverbial door. I actually wrote one of my English papers in college on defining idea. That was a blunder. Most of the class was just their for the credit and had little interest in philosophy, and the class revolved around the peer review. They were quite bored when doing my review. You write for your target audience. I should of written about something more interesting. However, this isn't the kind of idea that is being discussed here. It isn't the metaphysical idea. This isn't the metaphysical versus physical dichotomy. This idea is a person's personal opinion, which is also known as a belief. Given the context, there is no difference.

We've looked at the meanings of the words. Now, let's look at it historically. English didn't even exist when people starting killing each other over their beliefs. The word difference would probably not translate the way people might think. So how can you have a dichotomy of idea vs. belief? I can look up the words in Latin and Greek, but I am not a language expert. I couldn't tell you much about how they were used. Fides is Latin for belief/faith/etc. Informatio is Latin for concept/idea.

So let's try to remember that Dogma is a comedy. An angel of death is name Loki after all. Loki is the mythological god of mischief. Let's not even get started on last scion bit. I am not offended by it. It's a satire. It's meant to amuse. I am frustrated by people who take the movie's facts over the Bible and the historic faith.

As a last note, I called it a concept not a belief. It's certainly not a philosophy in itself. It didn't make since to call it a belief or an idea, because that would be even more confusing. I find it ironic that the people who call me inflexible wish to squabble over the use of a word with a similar definition. It's even identical in the context used.

Blog Awareness

My wife has brought to my attention that I am being linked by other bloggers. While I should consider this a good thing, this means I will have to give more time to my blog. I better get to posting. Thanks for the attention! :)