A week or two ago I watched The Theory of Everything for the first time. This movie (which by the way is the saddest thing ever), documents the early life of famed physicist Stephen Hawking, but is more a heartbreaking love story about the relationship between him and his first wife, Jane Wilde. It was heart wrenching to see Hawking's demise and to imagine what it would be like to be in Jane's shoes, watching the person you love suffer from a debilitating and degenerative disease.
Something Hawking's character said about halfway through the film stuck with me, as it had been something I had been thinking about lately. It was this: "What one believes in irrelevant in physics". (I have no idea if Hawking himself actually ever said this or if was just a line in the movie.)
I have been thinking a lot lately about what one believes and how much our beliefs shape our reality. That is to say, what we believe creates our world and our reality, but may not actually be reality. Am I talking in riddles or does this make sense to you!?
As humans with incredibly evolved grey matter, we have the luxury of taking in information from external sources, and then choosing what pieces to retain, what pieces to reject and what pieces to shape to fit the unique network of ideas we have constructed inside those brains of ours. Unlike lesser evolved animals who simply intake information and process it exactly as is, we color what comes in. Which is why people hold such vastly varied and different beliefs on so many things.
But, I think what we often forget to realize is that just because we believe something doesn't make it true. Or untrue for that matter. Some things simply exist whether we believe in them or not. Heck for centuries people believed the Earth was flat, or that the Universe revolved around our little blue planet (Narcissistic much?!), but just because everyone on the planet held these beliefs at one point didn't make them so.
It kind of makes you think, doesn't it? If the entirety of the human race has held false beliefs at one time or another, how many of yours may be faulty?
I know personally, many of my beliefs (about myself, the world, about others) have changed over time, and continue to change as I grow, read, learn, and explore things out of my comfort zone. This is not to say I'm a weak willed person (quite the contrary, in fact I can be QUITE stubborn) and I do have strong opinions and values, but as I've gotten older I've come to see some beliefs I held as a younger person were simply all in my head.
I'm not trying to break down any of your beliefs, but I think it's important to go through life with an open mind, and a knowing that the reality we create in our own minds is not always representative of the reality in the outside world. I think its worthwhile to challenge our own beliefs and question why and how we came to the conclusions we did. If a man like Stephen Hawking can continually push boundaries against all odds, surely each one of us can too!
Have you ever changed a belief over time?
What made you do so?