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A Tale of Two Realities: Fact vs. Belief

It has struck me more and more lately how discussions about politics with conservative acquaintances become debates between belief and fact. To some extent it seems Republicans (and Tea Partiers) confuse the two. For example, you will hear things like, “do you believe in evolution?” Evolution is science; it is not something you believe in because science isn’t about belief. It’s about demonstrable facts. You can believe in creationism, but you can’t believe in evolution. You either accept the facts or you deny them and hide behind unassailable belief.

Birtherism is another issue that comes down to facts vs. belief. A conservative relative of mine says there is reason to doubt that Barack Obama was born in the United States. No, there is no reason to believe any such thing. The facts are there – birth announcement, birth certificate, etc. But birthers chose to disbelieve the evidence. You can pile the evidence up but none of it will matter because it’s not an issue of provable, demonstrable fact; it’s an issue of belief.

The same can be said of a great many other important issues of our age, including climate change, American history (the Christian nation myth), Sharia law, the “homosexual agenda” etc. These are all debates fueled by belief, not fact. There is evidence of climate change but this is ignored. There is no evidence of either “creeping” Sharia law or a homosexual agenda, yet these are almost issues of faith for conservatives. The evidence is again irrelevant.


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