I got into a discussion, an internet argument even, which is never a good idea, recently about whether it makes sense to label all Muslims your enemy (assuming that you’re not a Muslim) based on the fact that the Qur’an contains passages that can be read as, “Kill non-believers.” My stance was, obviously, that this was stupid. My opponent’s stance was that he labels all Muslims enemies because of these passages but probably wouldn’t have a problem with a Muslim if they were standing in front of him. His reason? He suggests that people can believe things that they don’t follow. If this were true then it would be possible for a Muslim to believe that their holy text is telling them to kill the guy in front of them and yet they don’t.
Regardless of the rampant contradictions in such a stance, the whole conversation made me really wonder how someone can believe something and yet do the opposite. For instance, in the example of the Muslim in front of my short-sighted online debating partner, does that Muslim, who we’ll assume does believe he’s being commanded to kill the guy in front of him, not follow through with his God’s command out of sheer willpower to go against his beliefs or is it that at the time he believes that it’s not a good idea to kill this person. Basically, if you believe something and then act in a way that goes against that belief, did you really just have a couple beliefs overlap each other?
Upon trying to think of some examples where someone is acting against their beliefs, I came up with a couple that were questionable. Lets take priests who molest children. These people most likely don’t interpret the Bible to be saying that it’s honky dory to ruin children’s lives in this way yet they still do it. When those particular priests are in that situation where they decide to go through with these actions, is it just some blind moment like blacking out after drinking too much or do they justify the action in the moment? If they do justify the action, does that justification enact a new belief? For example, the priest normally believes that it’s not okay to touch small children but at the time that they are doing so they also believe that it is okay to do so for such and such a reason. You can do the same thing for recovering alcoholics. They believe that they should stop drinking but they still end up drinking because they believe at the time when they fail in their endeavor that it’s okay for them to drink.
So yeah, is it safe to say that no one ever acts against their beliefs, or no?