What’s the difference between knowing and believing?

There is a huge difference between something you “know” and something you “believe”…

If you know something, you hold a thought that you can verify as true… something you can see, feel, smell or otherwise verify.  So, I know that I’m sitting in my chair, that my cat is sleeping over there, that it’s Saturday (because the calendar says so) etc..

I believe things like ‘the world is going to get better’ or ‘my students will do well in my class’ etc…

Notice the difference – for knowledge, it’s about certain things.  Belief is about something you hope will / is true.  Notice the difference — hope…

This is an important factor in the practice of religion.  Much of religion starts with asking the believer to act on faith — usually faith that God exists… which is what makes them a believer vs. a knower.


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One response to “What’s the difference between knowing and believing?

  1. JC Davis

    Since we’re in the religious vein here…

    I engage this debate all the time in the context of religion. I invoke science and evidence and religious believers are quick to point out that science doesn’t know everything – and to their justification there is room for their god. My response is that I am comfortable *not knowing* something – that the fact that something is unknowable or inexplicable is just fine with me, and I don’t need to conjure something to fill the void.

    I don’t dispute room for their god(s), for people are free to believe what they wish to believe. I personally believe in knowing, and gaps just inspire me to reach deeper into knowledge, even if I know these gaps will never be filled. The quest is my purpose.

    I only believe in what I know and what is knowable: the rest is just hope and wishful thinking.

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