“Difference Between Believing and Knowing

Presenter: Dick Stetler – June 2021

     *Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

    “In courts of law the phrase I believe has no standing. Never a witness gives testimony but that the person is cautioned thus, “Tell us what you know, not what you believe.”

    In theology, belief has always been regarded as more important than that which your senses say is so.  Almost without exception belief is legacy, an importation – something borrowed, an echo, and often an echo of an echo.

    The Creed of the Future will begin, I know, not I believe.  And this creed will not be forced upon the people.  It will carry with it no coercion, no blackmail, no promise of an eternal life of idleness and ease if you accept it, and no threat of hell if you don’t. It will have no paid professional priesthood, claiming honors, rebates and exemptions, nor will it hold estates free from taxation.  It will not organize itself into a system, marry itself to the State, and call on the police for support. It will be reasonable, so in the line of self-preservation that no sane man or woman will reject it, and when we really begin to live it, we will cease to talk about it.

    As a suggestion and first rough draft, I submit this – I KNOW: That I am here in a world where nothing is permanent but change.  And that in degree, I myself can change the form of things and influence a few people; and that I am influenced by these and other people; and that I am influenced by the example and by the work of others who are no longer alive.

    I know that the work I do will in degree influence people who may live after my life has changed into other forms; that certain attitudes of mind and habit of action on my part will add to the peace, happiness, and well-being of other people.  I know that a different thought and action on my part will bring pain and discord to others; and that I would secure reasonable happiness for myself, I must give out good will to others; that to better my own condition, I must practice mutuality.

    I know that health is necessary to engage in effective work; that I am largely ruled by habit, that habit is a form of exercise; that up to a certain point, exercise means increased strength or ease in effort.  I know that all life is the expression of spirit; that my spirit influences my body, and my body influences my spirit; that the universe to me is very beautiful, and everything and everybody in it is good and beautiful, when my body and my spirit are in a harmonious mood.

    I know that my thoughts are hopeful and helpful unless I am filled with fear, and that to eliminate fear my life must be dedicated to useful work – work in which I forget myself; that fresh air in abundance and moderate, systematic exercise in the open air are the part of having wisdom, and that I cannot afford, for my own sake, to be resentful nor quick to take offense.

    I know that happiness is not possible without moderation and equanimity that turn all discords into harmony if people will be kind and patient, and that the reward which life holds out for work is not idleness nor rest, nor immunity from work, but increased capacity, greater difficulties, and more inner-homework to do to continue growing.”

    *Elbert Hubbard was a creative, informed philosopher and a prolific writer who lived in East Aurora, New York. He trained young men in many crafts that would help them to find work that was useful and gratifying.  His words above came from his book, Health & Wealth in his essay The Things We Know.