As a species we started believing in a world behind the world as a way of explaining what our early brains and early store of knowledge could not explain. Why does the ground shake and the mountain explode? Why does the sun come and go? Why did the lightning destroy the forest? We had big, curious, problem-solving brains. And while those brains developed to keep us fed and sheltered and breeding, curiosity and a need for explanations are a result. Organized religious belief may have developed as a way to organize tribes as opposed to a tyrannical bent for power and desiring to control peers. The fact that it can be used for either is simply a consequence.
A consequence of united belief in something for which the leaders of that belief are not required to provide any proof whatsoever.
I feel that surely there have always been doubters as well, always been one hominid that considered the religious leader might not have any more knowledge about the subject than themselves.
It began innocently enough - this need for explanations.
It is not ending well. Thousands of years have passed. Our brains have changed and grown and adapted and are now stuffed full of information that has little or nothing to do with being fed or sheltered, or producing offspring. There are many, many more doubters now - a consequence of unrelenting gathered information. A demand for real answers, not comforting ones. Our curiosity will never stop making us turn over rocks or look to the skies. We are insatiable seekers of truth.
But there are many many others that have drawn a line in their knowledge. They are satisfied with answers provided hundreds or thousands of years ago, even as they benefit from real progress and real knowledge and real advancement in every way. Worse, they will bend current truths to continue to believe what comforts them, they will deny reality staring them in the face. They will stop or drag back progress wherever they can.
It has happened many times before.
The historical precedent is what leaves me so hopeless in the present time.
I have maintained for years that faith is the greatest con of all time. To consider belief in something for which there is no proof an actual virtue is indeed the greatest con. And as it is proven, time and again, falling for one con makes you susceptible to another.
Humans are also filled with strong emotions. A byproduct of our glands and the necessary need to care for offspring that are born helpless. Sure, it sounds cold when explained biologically, in evolutionary terms. But that doesn't mean that I don't value love.
It is our emotional response that convinces us that we are right, or experiencing something supernatural. It is the emotions and emotional reactions of our own bodies that trick us into thinking there is something going on without. That thing you feel inside you really is just that thing you feel inside you.
Awe and inspiration and uplifting feelings are wonderful goose-bumpy emotions. But they are occurring within our own bodies, not without. They are feelings, they are an emotional response. They are not the whispers of spirits or gods or ghosts. They are chemicals being dumped into your body by your body. No, that is not a romantic thought, unless you're like me and find the fascinating truth it's own exhilarating reward. It's not a romantic, emotionally-satisfying explanation for many, but it's true. It's the truth.
All ideological beliefs that have no facts to support them are cons. There are white supremacists now who claim to be atheists, but they are also driven by an irrational belief that they are somehow superior to people that differ from them in purely superficial ways. There are no facts to support that melanin is some kind of merit scale. Oh, it's been studied. Of course it has. Because some hate-filled person with a lab coat wanted it to look as if they had the facts on their side. But it never boils down to truth. The argument collapses under scrutiny because, in common with all ideologies not based in reality, there is no argument on their side other than their feelings. However, generally, white supremacy is associated with christianity.
How quickly will a conned person fall for another con? How much money on religious trinkets is spent every day? On tithing? Just think of the money spent on religious jewelry alone all over the world. When you feel that your relic has real supernatural powers, do you realize that the feeling you are having is happening inside you? That you are the cause of that feeling?
For many of us, it is a horror to admit when we are wrong, but far far worse to admit when we've been conned. It's traumatic, really. And I'm afraid it will be our undoing. That coupled with the astounding number of people that do not question the irrational beliefs they were brought up with, those that never think to question, those that follow quite blindly, those that are satisfied completely with being a part of a tribe and give no thought beyond that.
It is not the norm to question what you have been taught your whole life to believe. But the consequences of irrational belief are not good for our species, these consequences are easily observable, and the astounding number of people not willing to see this or question their own beliefs when they do cause harm is very depressing indeed.
Aside from the immediate concerns of our species destroying itself over belief in the supernatural and/or the irrational, we are a species out of control in terms of breeding beyond the resources to support it. This will also form our demise, if we do not succeed in warring ourselves to death first. We are animals. We have an instinctual need to breed. And unfortunately, like many creatures on this planet, in crisis we tend to breed even more. We are outstripping our advancements in food production, and destroying the very environments upon which our food production depends. And we have to fight ideological belief in factless claims simply to try to save those environments.
I do not think intellectual heads will prevail. I do not think the rational will win the day. There are too many fronts on which our species is under attack by itself. There are too many irrational beliefs slowing down any advancement to save our species, and the countless other species our species is currently wiping out. I want to have hope, but I am looking at the numbers, I am looking at our history, and I am coming up with the same answer.
Bleak. Yes. What do I do?
I irrationally continue to fight. I believe, with little facts to support me, that maybe something can be done. I won't go down in acquiescence. In spite of it all I like our species, I want us to survive, I wish for the future where we are flying off into space in the name of further knowledge. Where we've come to some kind of Star Trek-ian unity on earth and have turned it all around to the betterment of us all. My own irrational ideology. My own belief in make-believe.
One: here’s another!ReplyDelete
This is seriously good readin’.
I’m a civil engineer, I find a certain comfort in easily abandoning that which is impossible so my feeble energies can be devoted to the possible. This is to introduce my...hero is not the word, guru/mentor maybe, Buckminster Fuller, best known for his geodesic dome but responsible for an encyclopedia of innovations unpromoted but open source. He found he was most effective when striving for the benefit of the most people, so devoted his efforts to all humankind. He, too, at the last despaired for our survival.
I found you through Jim Wright. Was moved and impressed by your comment on his essay re: Al Franken.
Marcus Aurelius said “For us, there is only the striving; the rest is not our business.”