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Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide. ~ Guatama Buddha

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.


What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they'd never believe you? ~ Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, in Déjà Vu (2006 film)
  • Rei: You misunderstood from the very beginning. You just believed what you wanted to believe.
  • He who wishes to learn must believe.
    • Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations, ch. 2.2: 165b.
    • Translation from Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love (1986). San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, p. 13.
  • Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?
    No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.
    One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?"
    "Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."
    • Isaac Asimov (1997) The Roving Mind. Prometheus Books. p. 349
  • There are three kinds of objects of belief. Some are always believed and never understood, such as all history, which runs through temporal and human acts. Others must be understood to be believed, such as all human reasonings. Thirdly, there are those which must be believed first and understood later, like divine matters.
  • Do you believe in fairies?...If you believe, clap your hands! Don't let Tinker die.
  • Whenever a child says "I don't believe in fairies" there's a little fairy somewhere that falls right down dead.
  • And what is meant by believing in Christ but just going with trusting and loving hearts, and committing to His love and power ourselves, our souls, and all that concerns us for time and eternity!
  • Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it … or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
    • Attributed to Buddha in Life (March 7, 1955), p. 102. Reported in unverified in his writings in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989). (This is a summary of the Kalama Sutta attributed to Buddha.)
  • Ideo credendum quod incredibile.
    • It is believable because unbelievable.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Quoting Tertullian.
  • For fools are stubborn in their way,
    As coins are harden'd by th' allay;
    And obstinacy's ne'er so stiff
    As when 'tis in a wrong belief.
  • Scripture points out this difference between believers and unbelievers; the latter, as old slaves of their incurable perversity, cannot endure the rod; but the former, like children of noble birth, profit by repentance and correction.
    • John Calvin Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, pg. 57
  • No iron chain, or outward force of any kind, could ever compel the soul of man to believe or to disbelieve: it is his own indefeasible light, that judgment of his; he will reign and believe there by the grace of God alone!
  • Believe, and if thy belief be right, that insight which gradually transmutes faith into knowledge will be the reward of that belief.
  • He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend, must have a very long head, or a very short creed.
  • Doctor: They wanna overthrow the human race and destroy it. Do you believe me?
Rose Tyler: No.
The Doctor: But you're still listening.
  • I would rather work with five people who really believe in what they are doing rather than five hundred who can't see the point.
  • People want to believe in something-even if they know it is false.
  • I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
    • Stephen Fry, in his "Trefusis Blasphemes" radio broadcast, as published in Paperweight (1993).
  • He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.
  • Did I dream this belief
    Or did I believe this dream?
    Now I will find relief
    I grieve
  • What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse. Not being open about it doesn't make it go away. And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn't there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.
  • Where knowledge suffices, we have no need of belief; but where knowledge does not prove its virtue or appears insufficient, we should not dispute the rights of belief.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, letter to J. D. Falk (January 25, 1813), in Werke, Briefe und Gespräche (Zurich: Artemis-Ausgabe, 1949), Vol. 22, p. 680.
  • I always divide people into two groups. Those who live by what they know to be a lie, and those who live by what they believe, falsely, to be the truth.
  • The Savage interrupted him. "But isn't it natural to feel there's a God?"
"You might as well ask if it's natural to do up one's trousers with zippers," said the Controller sarcastically. "You remind me of another of those old fellows called Bradley. He defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons–that's philosophy. People believe in God because they've been conditioned to.
    • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, ch. 17
  • Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
    • William James, in "Is Life Worth Living?" The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897).
  • Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.
  • Believing something to be true is a complicated affair. It may consist in taking something to be true, pure and simple; or it may consist in believing, but not knowing, something to be true—that is, entertaining doubts about its truth. In the former case the difference between belief and knowledge may not arise. It does in the latter.
  • Raiden: I'll decide for myself what to believe and what to pass on!
Colonel: But is that even your own idea?
Rose: Or something Snake told you?
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 written by Hideo Kojima and Tomokazu Fukushima
  • To succeed, we must first believe that we can.
    • Michael Korda, as quoted in Marketing Construction Services (2000) by Paul Pryor, p. 14.
  • Uatu the Watcher: Remember X-51. The inhabitants of Earth are not born to logic. It must be learned. And many reject it. There are many beliefs as to why earth's inhabitants have mutated.
Machine Man Really?
Uatu the Watcher: Yes X-51. I don't need eyes to know what mankind is thinking anymore. I don't need to see to know what they must think about the mutation of the world.
Machine Man: What do you think they believe?
Uatu the Watcher: I believe the common, uneducated man would generally blame those whose genetic seeds had already been triggered for the change to Earth's populace. Citing the mutants, as they always have, for what happened to them.
Machine Man: But that theory is worse than the Skrull Burger theory. It's blind prejudice; as if your race could change...or be caught like the common cold. It's crazy.
Uatu the Watcher: Perhaps that is why this theory is probably the one most believed.
  • Earth X, appendix to ch. 2, script and story by Jim Krueger, story by Alex Ross
  • Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.
    • Peter Marshall, Senate chaplain, prayer offered at the opening of the session (April 18, 1947); reported in Prayers Offered by the Chaplain, the Rev. Peter Marshall, 1947–1948 (1949), p. 20, Senate Doc. 80–170.
  • Belief is a beautiful armor, but makes for the heaviest sword; like punching underwater, you never can hit who you're trying for.
  • Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
  • We believe, because we love.
    • John Henry Newman, "Love the Safeguard of Faith against Superstition" (preached on 21 May 1839), in Oxford University Sermons (London, 1880), p. 236.
  • Mello: The murder notebook. It's a Shinigami's notebook, and people who touch it are able to see the Shinigami.
Rester: I-impossible.
Gevanni: Who's going to believe that? A Shinigami...?
Near: [pauses] I believe him. What advantage is there for Mello in coming up with such a stupid story about a Shinigami really existing? If he were telling a lie, he would tell me a normal — more meaningful — lie. Therefore, the Shinigami exists.
  • Incrédules les plus crédules. Ils croient les miracles de Vespasien, pour ne pas croire ceux de Mose.
    • The incredulous are the most credulous. They believe the miracles of Vespasian that they may not believe those of Moses.
    • Blaise Pascal, Pensèes (1669), II, XVII. 120.
  • Jeffrey Goines: You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.
James Cole: Germs?
Jeffrey Goines: Uh-huh. Eighteenth century: no such thing, nada, nothing. No one ever imagined such a thing. No sane person. Along comes this doctor, uh, Semmelweis, Semmelweis. Semmelweis comes along. He's trying to convince people, other doctors mainly, that's there's these teeny tiny invisible bad things called germs that get into your body and make you sick. He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy? Crazy? Teeny, tiny, invisible? What do they call it? Uh-uh, germs? Huh? What? Now, up to the 20th century — last week, as a matter of fact, before I got dragged into this hellhole — I go in to order a burger at this fast-food joint, and the guy drops it on the floor. James, he picks it up, he wipes it off, he hands it to me like it's all OK. "What about the germs?" I say. He says "I don't believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps." Now he's crazy, right? See? Ah! Ah! There's no right, there's no wrong, there's only popular opinion. You... you... you believe in germs, right?
  • 12 Monkeys screenplay by David Peoples and Janet Peoples
  • If there is anything I have learned in my travels across the Planes, it is that many things may change the nature of a man. Whether regret, or love, or revenge or fear - whatever you believe can change the nature of a man, can. I've seen belief move cities, make men stave off death, and turn an evil hag's heart half-circle. This entire Fortress has been constructed from belief. Belief damned a woman, whose heart clung to the hope that another loved her when he did not. Once, it made a man seek immortality and achieve it. And it has made a posturing spirit think it is something more than a part of me.
  • If you believe in the sinfulness of the world, for instance, then you will search out from normal sense data those facts that confirm your belief. But beyond that, at other levels you also organize your mental world in such a way that attracts to yourself events that - again - will confirm your beliefs.
    • Jane Roberts, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, Session 833, Page 163.
  • To believe is to be happy; to doubt is to be wretched. To believe is to be strong. Doubt cramps energy. Belief is power. Only so far as a man believes strongly, mightily, can he act cheerfully, or do any thing that is worth the doing.
  • Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good ground for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
    • Bertrand Russell, in "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" in Unpopular Essays (1950).
  • Man is essentially a dreamer, wakened sometimes for a moment by some peculiarly obtrusive element in the outer world, but lapsing again quickly into the happy somnolence of imagination. Freud has shown how largely our dreams at night are the pictured fulfilment of our wishes; he has, with an equal measure of truth, said the same of day-dreams; and he might have included the day-dreams which we call beliefs.
  • Madame Web: Face front, true believer. We're going to find the real Mary Jane Watson.
Spider-Man: What?
Madame Web: It's been a long, hard journey and I think you're finally entitled to some happiness.
Spider-Man: Amen to that, dear lady. Amen to that.
  • A thing that nobody believes cannot be proved too often.
  • Rufus: His only real beef with mankind is the shit that gets carried out in His name. Wars, bigotry, televangelism. The big one, though, is the fractioning of all of the religions. He said mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure on it.
Bethany: You’re saying having beliefs is a bad thing?
Rufus: I just think it’s better to have ideas. I mean, you can change an idea, changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it. The whole of existence is in jeopardy right now, because of the Catholic belief structure regarding this plenary indulgence bullshit. Bartleby and Loki, whether they know it or not, are exploiting that belief. And if they’re successful, you, me… ALL of this ends in a heartbeat, all over a belief.
  • For the heart, it needs to believe.
  • Take you up when you feeling down
    When you're sick he will come around
    Takes his cures from out the ground
    He's the one who can hypnotize
    And you'll never believe your eyes
    He can cause the dead to rise.
    • 10cc Erik Stewart and Graham Gouldman. Baron Samedi from the album Sheet Music
  • One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one's life has meaning, that one is needed in this world.
  • For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.
    • Franz Werfel, as quoted in Philippine Studies (1953) by Ateneo de Manila, p. 269; also in Everest: The Mountaineering History (2000) by Walt Unsworth, p. 100
  • I had never doubted my own abilities, but I was quite prepared to believe that "the world" would decline to recognize them.
  • Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.
  • There littleness was not; the least of things
    Seemed infinite; and there his spirit shaped
    Her prospects, nor did he believe,—He saw.
  • One solace yet remains for us who came
    Into this world in days when story lacked
    Severe research, that in our hearts we know
    How, for exciting youth's heroic flame,
    Assent is power, belief the soul of fact.
    • William Wordsworth, Memorials of a Tour in Italy (1837), IV ("story" refers to History).
  • I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine; enquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you…
    But your spiritual teachers caution you against enquiry — tell you not to read certain books; not to listen to certain people; to beware of profane learning; to submit your reason, and to receive their doctrines for truths. Such advice renders them suspicious counsellors. By their own creed you hold your reason from their God. Go! ask them why he gave it.
    • Frances Wright, A Course of Popular Lectures (1829), Lecture III : Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge.
  • What ardently we wish, we soon believe.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VII, Part II, line 1311.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 66-67.
  • Fere libenter homines id, quod volunt, credunt.
    • Men willingly believe what they wish.
    • Julius Caesar, Bellum Gallicum, III, 18.
  • There is no unbelief;
    Whoever plants a seed beneath the sod
    And waits to see it push away the clod,
    He trusts in God.
  • Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.
  • Credat Judæus Apella non ego.
    • The Jew Apella may believe this, not I.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 5. 100.
  • Better trust all and be deceived,
    And weep that trust, and that deceiving,
    Than doubt one heart that, if believed,
    Had blessed one's life with true believing.
  • O thou, whose days are yet all spring,
    Faith, blighted once, is past retrieving;
    Experience is a dumb, dead thing;
    The victory's in believing.
  • They believed—faith, I'm puzzled—I think I may call
    Their belief a believing in nothing at all,
    Or something of that sort; I know they all went
    For a general union of total dissent.
  • A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
  • Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know.
  • Tarde quæ credita lædunt credimus.
    • We are slow to believe what if believed would hurt our feelings.
    • Ovid, Heroides, II. 9.
  • And when religious sects ran mad,
    He held, in spite of all his learning,
    That if a man's belief is bad,
    It will not be improved by burning.
  • Do not believe what I tell you here any more than if it were some tale of a tub.
    • François Rabelais, Works, Book IV, Chapter XXXVIII. ("Tale of a Tub," title of a work of Swift's).
  • I have believed the best of every man,
    And find that to believe it is enough
    To make a bad man show him at his best,
    Or even a good man swing his lantern higher.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Begin by regarding every thing from a moral point of view, and you will end by believing in God.
  • The man who goes through life with an uncertain doctrine not knowing what he believes, what a poor, powerless creature he is! He goes around through the world as a man goes down through the street with a poor, wounded arm, forever dodging people he meets on the street for fear they may touch him.
  • If that impression does not remain on this intrepid and powerful people, into whose veins all nations pour their mingling blood, it will be our immense calamity. Public action, without it, will lose the dignity of consecration. Eloquence, without it, will miss what is loftiest, will give place to a careless and pulseless disquisition, or fall to the flatness of political slang. Life, without it, will lose its sacred and mystic charm. Society, without it, will fail of inspirations, and be drowned in an animalism whose rising tides will keep pace with its wealth.

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