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Sacred Beliefs


Explanations > Beliefs > Sacred Beliefs

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?



Sacred beliefs are those that people hold to be unquestionably true. In fact the beliefs may be so deep, the person does not realize that they are beliefs, considering them as obvious facts instead.

Sacred beliefs are characterized as triggering emotional reactions when they are challenged. The response may range from alarm to outrage, and those who question such beliefs may well find themselves the subject of responses from patronizing scorn to vicious attack.

In contrast, tentative beliefs are those which we are prepared to change. We recognize them as beliefs that are convenient in the absence of any better alternatives. Between tentative and sacred beliefs are firm beliefs, which we are strongly convinced are true, but are more surprised than angered by any contradiction.


Typical sacred beliefs include:

  • That we have immortal souls that survive beyond death.
  • There is a supernatural being that in interested in our existence and actions.
  • That the rule of law must always be obeyed.
  • That good science leads to unassailable facts.
  • That it is bad to be selfish and good to help others.
  • That members of a family are obliged to help one another.


When sacred beliefs are shared, they become stronger, which is a reason why we try to spread them through preaching, teaching and other authoritarian persuasion. Indeed, whole societies may be based on sacred beliefs.

Shared sacred beliefs are often written in texts that form canons, fixed literatures that define what must be believed. In religion, these include holy books and critical supporting texts. In science, these include academic papers that describe important experiments plus significant text books. Philosophy, politics and more also have key works.

Many conversations can be found to have a focus in sacred beliefs, such as talking about people who are not following the rules well enough. In this way, status can be based on who is the strongest believer.

So what?

If you want to persuade, play directly to their sacred beliefs and never contradict them. Talk about others who do not believe. Show you are a true believer. Tie what you are seeking to persuade them to that belief.

See also

Why science and religion are the same, Ellis' Irrational Beliefs


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