What separates belief from fact?

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Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"All your examples are in

"All your examples are in areas irrelevant to atheism."
Again changing subject. we were talking about the difference between fact and belief. They are different not like you claimed.
Admit you were wrong so we can proceed.

You are admitting to me that you lost the argument completely in this manner.

"But anyway, it is possible to think you have an internet connection when you don't."
I know for a fact that i have internet because I'm watching my net card(yes have a gadget on my desktop)

"Move on to facts about the origin of life."
What no reply on the atheism being fact based?
cat cut your tongue?

"Obviously you did not observe the origin of life. so what scientific facts do you have about the origin of life?"
If a theistic god had anything to do with it, he did a huge bloody mess where 99% of the species we know about went extinct in the process.
Some divine plan ha?
Talking about mass murder, your theistic god is unchangeable in that regard.
It is a huge comfort that there is no reason to believe in his existence.
Thank goodness, for that.

The origin of life is still an unknown for the most part, and it is OK to say we do not know yet.

"Personally I believe in evolution. I take it as a fact"
yea, you are wrong.
It is not a fact, evolution is a fact(since it is observed) but how life originated we simply do not know.
Evolution is the process of how life propagates, it says nothing about the origin itself.
Those are two different things that could be involved with one another, but could not.
We simply do not know yet.

What is wrong with you theists?
Don't you have the "I don't know" phrase in your dictionary or is it replaced by a "god"?

toto974's picture
Usually theists are full of

Usually theists are full of confidence, yet is is inversly proportional to their knowledge and understanding.

Kataclismic's picture

If a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck.
An orange cat is not a black cat.

Even if I am color-blind and cannot tell the difference between a black and orange cat it doesn't change the color of the cat, so you don't make any sense, whether I believe in sense-making or not.

Apollo's picture


You guys are obsessed with so called facts that are irrelevant to atheism. Which seem to suggest that there maybe no facts relevant to supporting the atheist worldview. I don't get the connection between cat colors and facts that support the atheist worldview.

You see the thread title is in the context of an atheist website. Within this website are atheist claims the atheist perspective is fact based. Surely you are not arguing that since a black cat is not an orange cat, atheism is indubitably true. the type of "facts" you guys are using for illustrations are from a very narrow field of knowledge. I dare say, atheism is not confined to the narrow field of knowledge you are appealing to in your distinction between belief and fact.

You guys are using examples from a ball park that has little or nothing to do with the atheist worldview.

There is nothing wrong with being an atheist, but be a good one. So far, what has been offered in this thread is substandard.

Sheldon's picture
Atheism isn't a worldview. It

Atheism isn't a worldview. It no more needs evidence to support it than not believing in mermaids or unicorns does.

The only one obsessing over atheism is you. You're a poor troll, all things considered, and seem incapable of anything intelligent original or even funny.

Travis Hedglin's picture
All facts are beliefs, but

All facts are beliefs, but not all beliefs are facts.

Kataclismic's picture


The point I was trying to make is that regardless of how you feel about the cat it isn't going to change color because of what you believe. I can believe that a car driving by went through a puddle, splashing water on me because of a black cat that crossed my path, and that would be ridiculous, but if the cat was orange I wouldn't even think twice about it. Beliefs change with the weather, facts stay the same regardless.

If your question is; what facts do I base my beliefs about religion on, then you have no confusion about facts or beliefs, you just have a different system for generating conclusions.

There is no direct fact that can lead you to the conclusion of atheism, just like there is no direct fact to lead you to religion. My conclusions come from direct opposition to claims made in the bible, simply because it's the only argument (I see) that can actually stand. Things like the Earth being at the center of the universe, talking snakes, the fact that two individual humans could not create the diversity in DNA that we see today. But none of these facts say "there is no god" any more than you can say that the universe was created. These are conclusions we have to come by on our own. Good luck.

Sapporo's picture
As Wittgenstein said, there

As Wittgenstein said, there is a world of facts about which we have beliefs. There are also beliefs that are not based on experience (they are a priori beliefs). A priori beliefs can be shown to be absolutely true or false, while a posteriori beliefs can only be shown to be true or false to a level of confidence in proportion to observation.

arakish's picture
Apollo: "What separates

Apollo: "What separates belief from fact?"

You mean to tell us that you ain't figured this out yet?

Simple. Enforced schizophrenic delusion versus objective hard empirical evidence.


Cognostic's picture
OP: "My personal belief is

OP: "My personal belief is there is no division between belief and fact." Then you are wrong. I can believe anything and I can base my belief on anything. I can base my beliefs on crystal magic, God, horroscopes, psychological testing, a life philosophy like Buddhism, Feng Shui. What a belief is based on makes no difference at all.

Facts are valid, justifiable, testable, measurable, repeatable, inarguable, reality based, observations, that are true whether or not you believe them.

Go to the top of the nearest 10 floor building, believe you are a bird and jump from the roof. FACT: You are going to fall. I don't care who you are, unless you have a way of suspending all we know about reality, you are going to fall. Chances are you are going to die as well. Statistically I would give you a 1 in 100 chance of surviving the fall. After all, people have survived such falls in the past (FACT). I can show you actual cases of people surviving and more cases of people dying.

You can certainly believe anything you want to believe and base it on anything you want to base it on. Belief is merely the act of holding something as "True." A fact is true whether or not you believe it. Facts are the building blocks of theories. Even if a theory changes, the facts, the observable, recognizable, repeatable and testable elements of the theory do not change.

Randomhero1982's picture
"My personal belief is there

"My personal belief is there is no division between belief and fact."

Yeahhhhh, ok!

Humans cannot survive without oxygen? Belief or fact?

If an astronaut was lost to space somehow without their spacesuit, they would die.
Belief or fact?

There are eight times as many atoms in a teaspoonful of water as there are teaspoonfuls of water in the Atlantic ocean?
Belief or fact?

This thread is utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter, utter bollocks.

Belief or fact?

Cognostic's picture
Oh, you said it so much more

* Sometimes I really do edit myself. Believe it or not.

Sheldon's picture
A belief is a personal view

A belief is a personal view we hold about the world. Beliefs can of course be correct, but they can also be wrong. A fact by definition is something proven or known to be true.

It is a demonstrable fact that objective empirical evidence, and the scientific method provide us with the most consistently valid results, about how the natural physical world and universe works. Behind this is the strict principles of validation contained within logic. Philosophy is still a useful method of inquiry, and it of course was the precursor to modern science.

Whenever I hear people claim objective facts don't exist, they always have a subjective agenda. An a priori belief that they can demonstrate no objective evidence for, and thus think denying objective methods like science or highlighting it's flaws somehow lends credence to those beliefs.

However most of these people are hypocrites who still use all the modern advantages the scientific method has yielded in technology and medicine.

The others are morons, who would happily let themselves and their loved ones die in agony before admitting medical science provides a more objective chance at saving them than whatever vapid voodoo superstition they choose to believe is real.

Sheldon's picture
"My personal belief is there

"My personal belief is there is no division between belief and fact."

I believe you are wrong. Seeing the problem with your claim yet?

Cognostic's picture
So.... all facts can be

So.... all facts can be beliefs but not all beliefs can be facts. Unless of course it is a fact that your belief is demonstrably wrong. :-0

Cognostic's picture
ROYISM: @ There is no way we

ROYISM: @ There is no way we can conduct any experiment on God.

Wrong Banana Breath! "Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence."

There is a cave in the mountain that is supposed to be inhabited by a man eating bear. We sit outside the cave for a year and see no trace of the bear. No evidence at all. We are fairly sure there is no bear in the cave as we have never seen one. We put meat in front of the cave and it rots. We put a small goat in front of the cave and nothing happens. We sprinkle flour in front of the cave in case the bear is sneaking in and we see no bear paw prints. We blow smoke into the cave and search the mountain for signs of another entrance and see none. This entrance is the only one. At this time we have spent only two years examining the cave and we can be about as certain as we are of anything that there is no man eating bear in the cave.

We can do that in only two years. IMAGINE THE CONCLUSION WE CAN DRAW AFTER 6000 years. We don't think you are a frigging ignorant retard. We just disagree with your obtuse opinions, random unsubstantiated assertions, and ignorant as fuck opinions.

Sheldon's picture
"What separates belief from

"What separates belief from fact?"

So after two pages of horseshit from Apollo and ROYISM the answer is still objective evidence, commensurate to the claim.

Now, how much objective evidence have they managed to demonstrate for any deity?

That's still zero as well.

ʝօɦn 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
The distinction between

The distinction between beliefs and reality is what allows to develop a theory of mind, or understanding that there are other thinking beings in the environment whose thoughts are not my thoughts (Saxe et al., 200). We also carry the capacity to track beliefs in others fairly well, which allows us to predict their behavior better than if we assumed they shared our beliefs (Frith & Frith, 2012).

Take for example a situation in which you are in a room with another person, and you both witness an apple being put in a red box. The other person steps away to the bathroom, and while they are away someone takes the apple out of the red box and puts it in the yellow box. You now need to track two separate events: the reality of the situation (apple in yellow box), and the false belief of the other person (apple in red box). One interesting, but a bit controversial, explanation of how we develop a theory of mind suggests that there is an inhibitory system in place, that allows us to suppress the reality of the situation so we can adopt the perspective and false belief of the other person (Perner et al., 1999). Its worth noting that tracking the other persons false beliefs in this situation, allows us to predict that they will look for the apple in the red box as opposed to the yellow box.

Clearly, we can see that there is a distinction between beliefs and reality; that distinction is what separates minds from one another. However, when it comes to the distinction between facts and beliefs I’m more skeptical of the difference. Facts are invariably subjective. To the person that left to the bathroom, it is a fact that the apple is in the red box. They would never call such knowledge a belief, despite us knowing it is wrong. Since we can never escape our subjective experience of the world, we can never be certain of the truth of most facts. It is always possible that the facts we believe most strongly, could have been switched from the red box to the yellow box while we weren’t looking.


Saxe, R., Carey S., and Kanwisher, N. (2004). Understanding other minds: Linking developmental psychology and functional neuroimaging. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 87-124.

Frith, C. D., & Frith, U. (2012). Mechanisms of social cognition. Annual review of Psychology, 63, 287-313.

Perner J, Stummer S, Lang B. 1999. Executive functions and theory of mind: cognitive complexity or functional dependence? In Developing Theories of Intention: Social Understanding and Self-Control, ed. PD Zelazo, JW Astington, pp. 133–52. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Sheldon's picture
"Facts are invariably

"Facts are invariably subjective."

Is that a fact? Which ones are subjective, and which ones are not?

a thing that is known or proved to be true.

1. based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

ʝօɦn 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
"A thing that is known or

"A thing that is known or proved to be true."

The moment something like a "fact" is known, you've extracted it from the real world and represented it inside someone's mind. The extent to which that representation can still be called a fact, as opposed to a belief, is very limited.

Sheldon's picture
So which facts are objective

So which facts are objective facts, and which are subjective opinions? Also how do you claim to know?

Is the earth round or flat? Are both beliefs equally subjective? If not why not?

ʝօɦn 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
You already know my approach

You already know my approach to objectivity, however, the emphasis I am placing here is based on what is happening inside Sheldon's brain. What you consider to be a fact, and what you consider to be a belief, are indistinguishable.

You already know that I believe there is an objective reality out there, as a result, there are surely facts about it. But if I (a subject) am to learn these facts, I have to transform them into something subject-dependant, that is to say, something subjective. I do not have direct access to these facts about the world, first and foremost, because I cannot perceive them direct, and secondly, because I am forced to store in my memory the perceptions that I had of them, not their raw objective experience. When you experience an event, such as observing that the earth is round, not only am I dealing with a subjective experience of what may be out there, but I've now stored that event as an episodic memory that persists long after the earth's roundness is no longer observable. My brain then extracts "knowledge" information about these episodes, and stores them as semantic memories (i.e. facts).

We know the brain makes use of the memory system in order to produce imaginative experiences, such as simulations about what will happen in the future. These simulations are invariably beliefs about the future, beliefs about what the past could have been, and outright nonsense beliefs about reality. Individuals that have problems with memory, often cannot think about the future, or imagine things.

The facts that you know and the beliefs you construct, are fundamentally intertwined inside your head. Confidence does not correlate very well with reality; your confidence about what you think is a fact may help you sleep at night, but it will fail when put to the test. The things you think are facts, are your beliefs about the world. As I mentioned in my comment on theory of mind, you will behave according to your beliefs, not according to the inaccessible facts of the world.

Sheldon's picture
"What you consider to be a

"What you consider to be a fact, and what you consider to be a belief, are indistinguishable."

If only there was an objective method to help. Come on John how many times can you make the same silly mistake, and then still try to laud it over everyone as a scientific genius?

"Confidence does not correlate very well with reality;"

Now that's hilarious coming from you

"your confidence about what you think is a fact may help you sleep at night, but it will fail when put to the test."

Jesus John, are you trying to be this funny? You're saying confidence in the scientific method can't be tested? It can't be good for me to laugh this hard.

"The things you think are facts, are your beliefs about the world."

Is that a belief or a fact?

ʝօɦn 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
"Is that a belief or a fact?"

"Is that a belief or a fact?"

There's no meaningful difference.

Sheldon's picture
"Is that a belief or a fact?"

"Is that a belief or a fact?"

There's no meaningful difference.

I disagree, and since that's just a belief you hold why should I care what you think. Check mate.....

Tin-Man's picture
If I BELIEVE I can fly

If I BELIEVE I can fly unaided, it is a FACT I will surely fall to my death and go *SPLAT!* on the pavement below should I jump from the top of the Empire State Building while acting on my BELIEF.

ʝօɦn 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐy's picture
As someone that doesn't share

As someone that doesn't share your belief, I would say no, don't jump; but if I did share your belief I have no choice but to say yes.

That's why talking about science "communities" or using other people to justify a beliefs magnifies the problem as opposed to solving it. If you and I believe it is a FACT that that smoking doesn't cause cancer, or that it is a FACT that cholesterol causes heart disease, then we're going to behave in ways that are equivalent to jumping from the Empire State Building. We'll smoke cigarettes, and substitute fats in our diet for sugar.

We most definitely have things we call FACTS today, that are as unknowingly wrong as thinking we can fly.

Sheldon's picture
"We most definitely have

"We most definitely have things we call FACTS today, that are as unknowingly wrong as thinking we can fly."

Theism for a start. Though the clue is in the complete lack of objective evidence. As indeed would be the "fact" that no one has ever been able to fly, and amply explained and evidenced by the scientific theories that explain gravity.

Sheldon's picture
You will note that amongst

You will note that amongst all his verbiage he has yet to tell me if the belief the world is flat is indistinguishable from the belief it is round. How can he claim superior scientific credentials, and then dismiss the scientific method as useless.

Endri Guri's picture


Facts are always correct, no matter who tries to prove anything through a fact, it will always be correct, because it is already evident that it is a fact.

Beliefs are just assumptions of the mind, you can believe in something but that does not make it inherently a fact.
I.e If I said that the sun that the Sun was spherical and I quoted many different scientists proving that the Sun is spherical, I would have the same result as anyone else on the World who does this. It is always the same.

If I said that God/Allah/Jahweh/Vishna existed, I would undoubtedly use religious scripture, which is more about statements than actual proving, and no matter what, I will always have a different definition or conception of it, depending on what I learned or read.


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