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Does to believe the impossible mean

  • to believe that everything is possible
  • to believe that something seemingly impossible is actually possible
  • something else?
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It's a fairly vague (and IMHO vacuous) expression which can mean many things to many people. There's not even any consistency about whether believing the impossible is a good or a bad thing. It may mean you've got impressive powers of imagination and tenacity, or that you're ignorant and credulous, for example. –  FumbleFingers Oct 19 '11 at 17:50
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@Jasper: It would hardly even be a struggle to believe that your answer was "correct". Clearly you lack faith! :) –  FumbleFingers Oct 19 '11 at 18:11
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@Fumble: Jasper does not now not refrain from choosing not to disbelieve the not impossible: the seemingly possible is impossible. –  Daniel Oct 19 '11 at 18:43
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@Jasper: What in the world? Your answer is fine! –  Daniel Oct 19 '11 at 18:44
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Jesus wept! I'm an atheist, and even I have more faith than Jasper! :) –  FumbleFingers Oct 19 '11 at 18:45
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"To believe the impossible" to me sounds truncated. The phrase is familiar, true, but when thinking about it, I would rather see:

  • To believe in the impossible, or
  • To believe the impossible could be possible
  • To believe in that which is impossible

In its -- to me -- truncated form, it seems to imply that "the impossible" is an entity of its own, e.g. to believe the rumours.

Therefore I would interpret the sentence in question as:

To believe that things which most people consider impossible, is actually possible

Which is different from your options in that it uses a subjective viewpoint. To believe the impossible to me feels more like the viewpoint of a free thinker, a radical, or whatever adjective you prefer for someone who is not satisfied with mainstream opinions (or generally accepted facts).

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Thank you @TLP for your detailed answer! –  Luc125 Oct 20 '11 at 7:45
    
@Luc1245 You are welcome! –  TLP Oct 20 '11 at 14:09
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I'm getting the impression that it's used when you're asking someone to do a leap of faith and believe a story that person is unlikely to believe if it wasn't for you begging him to.

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As completely anecdotal evidence from my own experiences, believing the impossible refers to the action of deciding to believe in something which seems, at first blush, to be impossible.

Since our achievements can be limited by our aspirations, this phrase is usually said to inspire greater aspirations in the hearer.

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