Person X believes something.

Person Y believes something different.

Why does Person X feel a compulsion to convert Person Y to their own belief system?

asked 01 Dec '09, 01:13

Stingray's gravatar image


I have a couple of theories, which are in agreement with some previously mentioned points:

  1. We do not have absolute certainty that our belief is correct. Other people seem to follow different sets of belief. We cannot be sure who is right, who is wrong or who is more right than the other. But if we can get another to agree with us, we can get some assurance in the fact that our belief MIGHT actually hold true.

    Notice that if the above is the reason why we are trying to convert somebody, then this task is an impossible one as we will have to convert everybody.

  2. We have total certainty that our belief is the right one and we try our best to share that belief with others in an attempt to help them as by practicing that belief, they will live a happy life and/or have a happy after life.

    The issue with this theory is that nobody has concrete evidence to support their beliefs. Hence, it can be very hard to convert somebody when we hold no proof that it works.

The second reason is a perfectly valid one in my opinion and I do it myself. Obviously, people come back to me and ask me for evidence and point at things that are wrong in my life to disagree with me.

It seems that you can only make people believe through the reality you have created which holds as solid proof.


answered 01 Dec '09, 16:28

Pink%20Diamond's gravatar image

Pink Diamond

There could be a couple of reasons.

One is that it's for validation's sake, which then probably means that it stems from an insecurity within Person X about his own beliefs.

The other could be due to religion-specific reasons. E.g. many Christian church-goers seem to think that being able to bring unbelievers into the fold might gain them brownie points. Or they simply truly want to "save" their loved ones, since the only alternative in their minds is that not believing will lead to eternal death etc. Disclaimer : I have nothing against Christianity and I'm just using it as an example. I do believe in God.

Then again, Stingray, would you consider an atheistic scientist to be in the position of Person X? And if so, I doubt the above reasons I've mentioned holds for the scientist. His reasons for sticking to his guns and trying to point out all the fallacies in religious theories may stem from simply not being able to stomach these "leap of faith" types of beliefs that cannot be verified in the lab. You think? :)


answered 01 Dec '09, 02:04

Pat%20W's gravatar image

Pat W

The problem is also that we are always right. Our attention ignores anything that is not consistent with our inner belief system.

As Vesuvius pointed out, we don't manipulate the forces that are beyond our influence, rather we filter out everything that doesn't serve our inner reference point. This gives each and every one of us the experience that we are the right point of view in any given situation.

So what do you do when you have the "right" idea and you encounter those irritating "wrong & misguided" people? You try to help them, not with any ulterior motive, you genuinely believe that you are making a difference in this "other person" & the intent is a loving intent on your part.


answered 01 Dec '09, 23:24

The%20Traveller's gravatar image

The Traveller

not sure what you define as the 'right idea', however each of us has to or will find the truth for ourselves and even the passionate believer may adjust as new evidence/s becomes revelant.

(16 Jan '11, 15:36) fred

That's what the first two sentences are for.

(18 Jan '11, 18:42) The Traveller

For once, I don't feel like writing much.

Fear of being wrong. I think this is particularly true in beliefs such as religion. There's the idea that the "majority is right" - after all, if "everyone" believes it, or does it - it must be true!

Not being selfish enough. That is to say - people do genuinely look out for others. (even if this may sometimes be in warped, misled ways) They don't want others to harm themselves with drugs. Go to hell. Or for example, I do not want others around me going on in their near poverty. But, some people like their beliefs that "rich people only got that way by cheating others" etc.

People also want connection. But - they often focus a lot on the differences. Thus, the only way they think to get what they - crave - is to 'convert' others to their belief system (particularly for important parts of it) so the similarities are noticed and that connection can be made. People will hang around those who have similar belief systems and form "in groups".

And yes - that is 'not writing much' for me. :P


answered 02 Dec '09, 03:32

Liam's gravatar image


Similar beliefs and form in groups, interesting considering where and what we are right now! lol Just us being here and this group existing is the proof from the pudding. :-)

(03 Dec '09, 08:10) Wade Casaldi

One (of many) reasons, is that it is easier to relate to someone like us. It's easier to converse and spend time with someone who has a similar belief or thought system. As Pat mentioned, validation is another main reason; or the need to be "right".


answered 01 Dec '09, 02:16

LeeAnn%201's gravatar image

LeeAnn 1

In most churches that I know of, bringing others into the fold is a mandate, or at least strongly encouraged. In a way, this is pragmatic; how else is the church supposed to grow?

Gaining spiritual brownie points might be an unfair characterization. After all, if you are in the company of loving, caring, giving people who appear to have found true salvation, wouldn't you want to share your discovery with others, if for no other reason than to give them the choice?

I once went to a church (for sanity's sake I will omit the name) that was apparently based entirely on Matthew 28:19 ("Therefore go and make disciples of all nations"). It was structured almost like a multi-level company; there were advancements based on the number of people you recruited, and the number of people they recruited, and so on.

One time, I went to one of the Bible studies for this church. Guess which chapter and verse in the Bible they turned to first? At the end of the study, I had questions about Ecclesiastes, and I was hoping that, since I was obviously in the company of experts, I could get some good answers to my questions. They acted confused; it almost seemed as if they had never seen that part of the Bible before.

I never went back.


answered 01 Dec '09, 02:44

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 01 Dec '09, 05:51

Sorry, you had to go through that Vesuvius that was not right, an not Christ like. People should want to come to a church because of the real caring love there, the righteous spirit filled people there and that the spirit is working there through the nice way you are treated and how it makes you feel good on the inside your soul connects and it feels good there. But so many times, the love of God that is suppose to be within people does not radiate out to you and others, they are after more members, more money and looking down upon you, or trying to brain wash you. God is about love.

(01 Dec '09, 03:59) flowingwater

I don't think they start off trying to convert anybody to an belief system but as people talk and get along more together and respond to each other in conversation than if the conversation ever get to a question of a different view point than of course they both think their view point is right, correct, and they will both most likely try to show the other either how their belief is right and correct or they will try and show the other one how their belief is wrong and incorrect.

Why do we do this because I think we simply believe we have the right belief and we want to help the other person to be on the right side of belief also. And sometimes one does get the other Person B to join Person A opionion, idea, or belief. But most often they just tend to agree to disagree. And maybe ponder the other person's belief system, idea, or opionion. Which is usually base on our own personal facts or careful research information of others and has been tested over an period of their and this is why they belief their way so.

Who knows sometimes they both could be right because they are both coming from a different angle and prospective and sometimes they both could be right exactly where they are standing at and coming from. But they both must be able to look at it from both view points and than say well I see where you are coming from but I don't agree with your point of view and at least you have given it some thought. Maybe it even made you ponder and you made the other person ponder especially when they go to talking about personal experiences with their belief style.

Sometimes it is more of an personal preferences than anything else. Now some serious stuff is still base on personal preference, beliefs, facts, experiences, and faith sometimes and whirl it all around than you have a person own personal belief system.


answered 01 Dec '09, 03:00

flowingwater's gravatar image


edited 02 Dec '09, 02:53

I think when we're closeminded we want to believe at almost any cost that our belief is right and anyone who threatens this is just plain wrong in their beliefs. However when we begin to wake up and trod the spiritual path, our mind begins to open and we realize that our concepts and beliefs have been mostly very limited and we are more open to learning and growing and that includes looking at everyone's beliefs and opinions with an open mind. We accept what resonates with us and know that it's okay for another to believe differently. Person X can then be happy for person Y even if their beliefs are different. There is no longer that inherrent need to prove oneself right and the need for validation drops.


answered 01 Dec '09, 21:36

Michaela's gravatar image


edited 01 Dec '09, 23:19

I think that person X have planned something involving person Y (X will do that then Y will do that then they both will be happy) and when person Y does not do it's part of the "script" person X will in all logic try to "fix" person Y.

Maybe it's fear, we each have a perception of the world we use to predict our future and we're afraid to change our perception, especially if there is a breakdown in trust which makes the environment seem hostile and everyone camps in their own "tried and proven" perception/beliefs/theories whatever.

I don't know of any solution so fax except to try not to change others. But that seems to crumble when others try to change you in an unwelcome fashion, hence you need to "defend" yourself with actions that can appear as hostile, hence resulting in the aforementioned "breakdown of trust".

Furthermore everyone accepting that everyone is an independent entity with their own "system" of functioning will help IMO.

I am talking mostly from a relationship standpoint, so this implies that relationships become entities which are separate from ourselves, with a birth, life and death as any other entity. With both people agreeing to change the relationship instead of changing each others they might both reach their goals without falling in the usually confrontational and unproductive habit of changing each others.

By bringing this relationship entity into the equation mentioned in the 1st paragraph, the relationship can be come a valuable tool for both persons. Both persons can in this way trust and love each others by proxy... through that relationship entity, and there is no need to try to change each other...

PS: I just figured this out while typing, hope it is good reasoning.


answered 15 Jan '11, 15:19

Rolf's gravatar image


Why does Person X feel a compulsion to convert Person Y to their own belief system?

There is a saying: “you can take a Horse to the pond to drink, but you cannot force the Horse to drink!”

Also no one can try to convert you, but you, by your own choice, since you create your own reality!

One example based upon my experience, every one is right, and no one is wrong, and it is usually all about you, your values, and your beliefs, and anyone that conflicts with your values and beliefs is on the opposite side of you, and this is where the conflict arises from. And in my opinion we are all guilty to some degree in this respect, since we are always selling our ideas to people constantly. It is a good sales man’s pitch, as to why you should buy his product, and service!

But in essence no knows the real truth of everything in life, since we all limited to what we know as an individual, and in our field of work, and by far we do not know everything; so that it is why we do need each other to complement our strength, and weakness, because we cannot do it alone!

Generally, everyone is right in their beliefs, and usually like to invite other to share in their beliefs, and that is okay too, especially since we all have the freedom of choice, and we decide for ourselves what we want for our self!

The thing to be aware of is not because a person values and beliefs are different to yours, that you should be prejudice, or you should disregard or single out this person! What you need to keep in mind is that we are all from the same Chip of Block, but we are not the same size, and shape etc, and that it is okay to appreciate each the way we are, no sweat!

It would do us a world of good, if we can learn to relax, and be flexible in our thinking, and not be too quick to judge, and condemn each other, (avoid this) and this world would be a better place for all of us per’ see, and many great barriers would be broken down at last, between all race and culture and people!


answered 18 Jan '11, 02:16

Inactive%20User's gravatar image

Inactive User ♦♦

In the Christian religion it is built into the Bible and so seems a duty to help as many as can be helped. This is virtuous and does have much merit in it as it can turn people's lives around such as people that do not see any help or hope. I have just seen a story about the guitar player from Korn finding Christ and how his whole life has turned around, he said it ended his life of a living hell that he tried to drown out with constant drugs and alcohol. So this is good, now if a friend is in another religion and has found God that way to me that is good I know that many Christians would say "no we need to change them and convert them" but I don't see these as "broken people." These same principles might be in every religious book "convert others that need me" type of thing and most take that as "only my church is right" so if you have even found God in your way that is not good enough you must convert to my way. This seems to get to be the interpretation of that "go out and convert" stuff. I really believe it was meant to give hope to the hopeless, there is a passage about "pity the man that has no-one to help him up" that means if he has "no-one" be that someone for him, it would change his life if he accepts.


answered 01 Dec '09, 06:14

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi

I would like to respond in a way that doesn't involve religion.

I am an advocate of the "soft" interpretation of reality creation; you create reality by aligning yourself with what you want, and then watching the universe serendipitously arrange things in a manner that is consistent with your alignment. I am willing to accept the notion that "you create your own world," but I interpret that statement as, "your world is based on what you focus on. What you focus on you bring into your experience."

In this world view, there are such things as physical laws that have a separate reality from our thoughts. This is why many different people can make consistent observations about things like friction and gravity; we rely on the consistent application of these laws to enable basically everything to work, from the simplest things like walking to the most complex of things like creating particle accelerators.

In this world view, if a person decides that gravity means something else, this will essentially prevent him from walking. It will not allow him to levitate.

There are those that advocate the "hard" interpretation of reality creation, that is, everything is created from your own thoughts. In this world view, you are totally responsible for everything. While this may be true from an existential standpoint, I don't see how it helps the person who decided to come here and experience life using this universe's physical laws, if those laws are subject to bending or breaking on anyone's whim of a thought. Even Abraham's teachings contain safety valves that prevent this.

Now we come to the point of your question.

It can seem compelling, sometimes, to help the person out who appears to have such an obviously tenuous grip on "reality" that there is an almost uncontrollable urge to "correct" them, especially when their beliefs seem to be hurting them or others. The person who subscribes to the "soft" interpretation of reality-creation sees that there are certain principles that seem to work for most people that might help this person.

The person who subscribes to the "hard" interpretation of reality-creation will tell that person to just "do what feels good" (i.e. follow your own emotional compass). I'm not sure how useful that advice is outside of the context of a reality-creation teaching curriculum such as Abraham's teachings.

At the risk of getting political, the best example I can think of that is currently topical is the health care debate. It turns out that there are states in the US that have a very good system of health care that essentially solve most of the problems that the upcoming health care bill seeks to fix. Yet I haven't heard even one instance of a senator or congressperson visiting those states and studying them to find out what these states have done to make their health care better. Instead, they are driven by the wants, needs, and feelings of their own constituencies, who have no clue about how to improve health care, but only seek to maintain the status quo or advance their own agendas.

My point is, if you want to do something that works, there are often proven models to follow, and there are people that advocate those models because they produce tangible and consistent results (i.e. they are pragmatic).

And, of course, there are those people who seek to impose their belief on you because it satisfies their agenda. Unfortunately there are probably far more of these people than there are pragmatists.


answered 01 Dec '09, 19:56

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 01 Jul '11, 21:09

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