Every year, around this time, I'm always amazed by the number of people I meet who are coughing and sneezing and hacking away. I say to them, "You didn't get a flu shot--you can get one in the drug store for around $20 now," and they reply something like, "There are dangerous nanotubes inside vaccines," or "Flu shots GIVE you the flu." When I ask them where they heard that, they always reply, "I read it on the internet." And they believed it implicitly.
There used to be a song that said, "How do I know? The Bible tells me so!" That seems to have been replaced by "How do I know? The internet tells me so."
They didn't ask their doctor--a professional who would KNOW--they believed some unknown rant on a site they happened to come across on their computer (or was sent to them by another True Believer).
I've never been a fan of belief--of any kind. I don't think it's a virtue. When we lived in Texas, folks would sometimes soldier up to me--CERTAIN that they'd found a heretic--and ask me if I believed in the Bible. I eventually found a reply that worked. I would say, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not interested in "belief."
The very concept of nonbelief puzzled them so much that they would shrug their shoulders and go away.
Belief seems to cause all the trouble in the world, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think it's a good thing when it comes to religion, because it leads directly to the concept of "my religion is good and yours is bad," which leads to religious wars of the type that are going on between Sunnis and Shias in the Middle East right now--and these people are supposedly part of the same religion!
Belief cancels out contemplation and questioning, and to me, these are basic parts of walking the spiritual path. ANYONE can believe--it's easy (too easy)--the HARD part is to keep one's mind open and observe and try to figure out the right way to live. And to have the courage to change the way you think and live if you decide you've been doing it the right way.
True believers rarely change their minds, which accounts for the prejudice against blacks and gays, for instance, which still exists in pockets of the US today. In an election year, candidates and voters use euphemisms to excuse these nasty beliefs, but they cling to them nonetheless. If they didn't believe in "belief," maybe they would think things through a little more clearly.
If preachers exhort you to believe, it's because they want to keep you in their grip. They want to control you, and belief is one of the things that does this best. We live in a big, international world now, a place where there's no longer any room for people who push their beliefs into our faces--whether they're about race, chemtrails or religion. When we leave our old beliefs behind, we usually find something better--ideas that are less militant, less strident, more accepting of others.
Changing your mind is NOT a bad thing. Imagine if millions of Germans in the 1930s had changed their minds about Hitler--millions of Jews wouldn't have died. Change equals growth, and growth is essential to the REAL spiritual journey.