Costa-Garcia, Ines

May 26, 2021

Prompt 25: How can we distinguish between knowledge, belief and opinion?

Object 1: Angel Painting by my grandma in the year 2014

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This is a painting by my grandmother, Teresa Costa, composed for an art exhibition in Amposta, Spain. This piece can be interpreted in different ways depending on your knowledge, beliefs and opinions. My grandmother mentioned that this angel was both a man and woman, dedicated to her parents who had died in a car accident when she was young.

This object enriches this exhibition because depending on the knowledge one has about my grandma’s past and their beliefs about angels, their opinion of the painting may vary. People with direct knowledge of my grandmother’s life would decipher the ‘true’ meaning of the painting and their opinion would be based on personal knowledge. Others, unaware of this would base their opinion of the artwork on personal preferences and interpretations and won’t emotionally connect with the painting as much.

Many people consider angels to be ‘powerful spiritual beings’, either from the bible or form stories. Non-theists don’t believe in a higher power (angels) as they tend to be naturalistic. This painting will be discerned differently by each person’s religious belief and some viewers may value it differently as they may consider the angel ‘unreal’. Together, knowledge of my grandma’s past and belief or the lack thereof in angels both shape the viewer’s opinion of the painting.

Knowledge of my grandmother’s experience has high certitude and is objective as it is a real life event that can be verified through a conversation with my grandmother. Belief can be distinguished from knowledge as it is subjective and in this case, is based on religious and cultural norms and not something that can be directly proven. Although knowledge of my grandmother’s experience isn’t definitive as my she could be recalling the events inaccurately, it has a higher degree of perceived certainty than belief and opinion as they are subjective. This artwork shows how certitude can help us distinguish between belief, knowledge and opinion.

Object 2: A section of a passage from the Bible

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For the second object I chose an extract from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:9, the word ‘homosexuality’ is utilised in translations as part of a group of ‘wicked’ people and ‘offenders’ not allowed to inherit the kingdom of heaven2. Being gay or homosexual is certainly a positive thing, however, this passage may not interpret it in such way.

This object enriches the exhibition as Christians may be in support of this passage whilst, people from other religions might not believe the same. Belief is known as a conviction that is based on cultural or personal faith, values or morality. Depending on what faith one believes in, they may have different beliefs on whether they are against or for calling gay people ‘homosexual offenders’. Sexuality is a choice and opinions about it can be derived from religious beliefs, but are more based on an individual’s perceptions and interpretations of the beliefs they might subscribe to.

A belief should be supported by evidence; however, we tend to agree with evidence that supports someone’s own beliefs and overlook anything else. In this passage’s case, if an individual is Christian and has seen the point of view on the passage of ‘homosexuality offenders’, they are more likely to agree. There is no evidence to scientifically prove that homosexuality is wrong, therefore it is subjective as they are primarily held by an individual and are not verified by any objective method of verification. The opinions these beliefs lead to are held loosely with a low sense of reliability and strongly based on preferences. With that being said, if someone is to be told that homosexuality is wrong, whilst there is no evidence that backs it up, it may be considered as forced knowledge as they may instantly believe it. Faith and culture may also be considered in this context.

Object 3: A picture of Neil Armstrong after landing on the moon

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Around 50 years ago, on the 20th of July 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon. Apollo 11’s crucial mission, the spaceflight that would take them to the moon, was to accomplish Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins and Armstrong to land on the moon and welcome them back to Earth safely.

This object contributes to the exhibition as conspiracy theorists claim that NASA has been manipulating information to grant people into believing that the landing actually occurred. An opinion is known to be a judgment based on facts, therefore, an honest attempt to reach a reasonable conclusion based on factual evidence. If the American flag looks like it is flapping in the wind, how can we be sure, as there is no wind on the moon? Opinion can be invalid; however, it is created by research and deducted by logic or factual evidence. There is scientific evidence and knowledge of there being no atmosphere on the moon making it impossible for a flag to wave. This leads to individuals having opinions on whether the moon landing happened, making this theory entirely logical. NASA had elucidated that they had designed special flags with horizontal rods coming out of a vertical one. This creates the ripple effect making the flag look like its waving in the wind.

This object also enriches the exhibition as, even though there is concrete evidence to ‘knowing’ this happened, people still have alternative beliefs and opinions on the landing. Some of that evidence consists in Lunar footprints, samples taken from the moon and scientific equipment installed on the Moon. Despite the evidence of the landing, this object provokes doubts for some individuals. It teaches many to focus on the factual evidence provided before making a judgment or having an opinion on the subject. According to Fienberg, faking the success of the moon landing would require deceit to a huge scale and would be almost impossible to pull off.

References: 

Crawley, William. 14th of July 2008. ‘Gay man takes Bible to court’. BBC. Accessed,16th of April 2021. https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2008/07/ gay_man_takes_the_bible_to_cou.html

Editors, history.com. 27th of April 2021. ‘1969 Moon Landing’. History. Accessed, 14th of April 2021. https://www.history.com/topics/space- exploration/moon-landing-1969

Little, Becky. 18th of July 2019. ‘The Wildest Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories, Debunked’. History. accessed, 14th of April 2021.https:// www.history.com/news/moon-landing-fake-conspiracy-theories

Sentinel. 11th of July 2019. ‘Are you an earth angel?’ Sentinel & Enterprise. Accessed, 16th of April 2021. https://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/ 2018/01/16/are-you-an-earth-angel/

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