Saturday, January 5, 2008

Believe In

People often use the phrasal verb "believe in" when they ask you questions about gods or certain scientific theories. I think this phrase causes a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. It's probably best to avoid using it.

Off the top of my head I can think of three meanings for “I believe in X”. (Later while browsing at a bookstore I checked a big fat unabridged dictionary and my initial guesses below proved to be mostly correct.) Here they are:

1. I think X exists.
2. I have a trust or confidence in X. (eg. I believe in America! Of course the person isn’t saying America exists, or I believe in you honey, said to a spouse or child.)
3. I approve of X. (Usually used in the negative. Eg. I don’t believe in watching TV.)

Depending on the meaning intended by someone asking a question using "believe in" quite different answers are appropriate.


Travis Morgan said...

Are you saying you don't believe in believing in? Just kidding! :)

J. K. Jones said...

In my Bible, “believe in” means to trust, to rely upon, or to know about. It caries a certainty. I have good reasons for “believing in” Christ.

I do see the need to define the term, however, and I often avoid it for the same reasons you state.

I’m glad I had the chance to visit you again,

J. K. Jones