(About a 3 minute read)
The next time someone gives you directions, take a moment to notice how you feel about them both before and after you have taken them and discovered for yourself they got you where you wanted to go.
Did your feelings change a little bit? My own feelings change. Not much, but still perceptibly change. Near as I can figure, that’s the difference between my believing that something is true and my accepting that something is true. It’s the difference between my conscious mind believing something, and my whole mind — including my subconscious — believing something is true.
I have a friend who is in the habit of saying, “I believe you, Paul”. I have known him for at least a decade, and I have yet to see evidence he has believed me even once about anything!
It seems to be a truth of human nature that only a child can hear something and swallow it whole without reason, thought, or evidence. Only a child or perhaps a willfully stupid adult.
In both cases, you are dealing with a childish respect for authority. Most of us grow out of a childish respect for authority over the course of our adolescence and young adulthood as our brains become fully wired. I think it is significant in this regard that the last part of our brains to become fully developed are our powers of foresight. Foresight seems to play a significant role in genuine skeptical thinking — as opposed to mere denialism.
(Blessed are the willfully stupid for they are beloved of politicians, pundits, preachers, and con artists — and the way things are going, it looks like they will inherit the earth. The internet is allowing them to live in their information bubbles where they seldom encounter a truly dissenting opinion. The willfully stupid are like mushrooms. They thrive in the dark and in BS.)
To the extent someone is — intellectually speaking — an adult, they are incapable of believing something on all levels of their mind without reason, thought, or evidence. They are no more capable of believing without reason, thought, or evidence than they are capable of convincing themselves they have hiked up Barr Trail to the summit of Tava Mountain merely by running their finger along a map of the Trail.
A truth we do not in some way or another discover for ourselves is true, is a truth that in some way or another remains uncertain to us.