I know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
I know that dogs bark and cats meow.
But when I talk about God, I use the word, believe, because I don’t know whether God really exists or not.
It took me more than 50 years for me to realize that when I said, “I believe,” I was also admitting, “I don’t know.”
Then how can I say that other religions are wrong when I don’t know for sure that my God exists?
John says, I believe in God. Tom says, I don’t believe in God. Who is right? John or Tom? Nobody came back from death to report on his finding. We really don’t know. John can be right and Tom can be wrong. Or Tom can be right and John can be wrong. Only God knows. We just believe.
Thus when I say, “I believe,” I am admitting, “I don’t know.” When I say, “I don’t believe,” I am also admitting, “I don’t know.”
Since believing and not knowing go hand in hand, I don’t want to be critical of and ridicule the faith of other people. I am a Christian. Kim is a Buddhist. Moniem is Muslim. I wish Kim well. I wish Moneim well. I hope that their faiths will help them to lead happy, healthy, and responsible lives as I hope the same for myself.
But what happens when one equates believingwith knowing?
Henry says, “I know that God of Jesus Christ is the only true God.” Moniem says, “I know that God of Mohammad is the only true God.” Who is right? Henry or Moniem? We can either say both Henry and Moniem are men of great faith or both of them are self-righteous.
There is a danger when one turns believing into knowing. It breeds self-righteousness, and self-righteousness leads to discord. Discord can lead to fighting, torture or killing. Pharisees crucified Jesus because they were sure their faith was the right one. They equated their faith – believing – with knowing.
When it comes to religion, we are dealing with the unknown. Because it is unknown, we believe. If we understand that believing and not knowing gohand in hand, we become humble and respect other’s religion as we respect our own.