N.T. Wright arguing historically for the resurrection of Jesus.

The Arrogance of Belief.

– Written 24th August 2009



I cannot stand it when people say that it is arrogant to think that your beliefs are better than someone else’s. These people must not understand the meaning of the word ‘believe’.

Encased in the very nature of the action of believing something is the necessity that you think it is the truth. In fact, to believe something, and to think it is the truth, are exactly synonymous.

Therefore, unless you think that falsehood is better than truth, you must think that your belief is better than something you think to be false. Because truth is more right than falsehood.

The moment you think that someone else’s belief is better than yours, is paradoxical, because at that moment, you now believe this other person’s belief. That is how belief works; you believe the thing that you think is the best thing to believe. You do not believe something, and then out of some separate idea that you are better than everyone else, draw the conclusion that your beliefs must therefore also be better than other people’s. There is a mix up of causes here. The thought that a belief is good causes your acquisition of it, not the other way round.

Similarly, the moment you believe someone’s belief that is incompatible with yours is equal to yours is just as ridiculous. If a shirt is either red or yellow, and one person believes it to be yellow, the other person believes it to be red, only one of them can be right. That’s just the way it is. In the same way, if one person believes God exists, and the other that there is no God, only one of them can be right. God cannot exist and not exist simultaneously. Clearly. And because of that, the person who’s belief turns out to be right has the better belief because you can only merit a belief based on its level of truth. Contradictory beliefs simply cannot be equal. One MUST be better than the other. And because of that anyone believing anything must believe that their belief is better than anything that is incompatible with it. Otherwise they simply don’t believe it.