Sorry, you are incompatible with reality

Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Thoughts | 6 comments

Everyone has their own dreams and wants, it’s part and parcel with being human. We all wish for our loved-ones to be safe and prosperous, we all want our lives ot be happy, and we all want to live in peace without incursions from the the destructive influences of outside life. There are those things we can achieve, there are those that we can strive for, and there is a multitude of unobtainables that while they would be nice, are so far off the radar of possibility as to be farcical.

So many believe in things that have no basis in reality. I find this a difficult proposition, it is my disposition to question things, assess the validity of claims, take all evidence into consideration, then make a decision based on what it presented to me. Mind you, I am not a Vulcan-like robot, whose decisions are all based on logic, and there are some unreasonable things that affect my decision making and actions. For example, I know my cats can’t understand what I am saying to them (one of them is completely deaf so he can’t even hear), and yet I have full conversations with them, they meow, I answer, they meow, I answer. It’s stupid, but I feel like I am communicating with them. I know I’m not, and the only thing they would be saying if they could talk would be “Me, food, now!”

But I am conscious of this, and I also know it is silly of me. This is also a considerably different thing to faith. My stupid delusion has nothing to do with faith and everything to do with fancy. It would be really cool if I could have a meaningful conversation with my cat, but I don’t have faith that I can. I know that I can’t. That is reality.

The world is full of faith-based and conspiracy-based delusions. I’d say at least 90% of religious based claims are the product of personal wants and simple misunderstandings of the world. Claims of soul, spirit, afterlife, redemption, resurrection and damnation are all products of an overly-active and a non-questioning mind. These are stories we are told to comfort us in times when we see no hope, stories used by people to stop others from simply giving up. They are also stories which are misinterpretations of the natural world around us. For example; the ground shaking is not God telling you to sacrifice a cow to appease him, it is one tectonic plate ramming up against another; yes it is sad that a person has died, but just because they were conscious before doesn’t meant that that consciousness lives on; yes the bible tells us that god created the universe in 6 days, but all the evidence here on earth points to a gradual process which follows the laws of physics without a single deviation.

A lot of humanity’s false beliefs come not from misunderstandings, but from people who wish that things were otherwise than what reality presents itself with. These people are charismatic and devious. They have an agenda that has nothing to do with truth and everything to do with manipulating and controlling people. Their biggest weapon is fear and their biggest ally is ignorance.

Bill O’Reilly is a a great example. In the video above, he uses the argument that nobody can explain how the tides work. They come in, they go out, and YOU can’t explain it.  The argument is ridiculous, and without any merit, but there are those who think that the tried and tested “facts” of the reality we all live in are just a conspiracy to take away their faith in Jesus (or whomever). O’Reilly preys upon these very same ignorant people.

If a person believes strongly in Jesus their saviour, and is then told that the discoveries of science are at odds with the claims of the bible, depending upon how strong their faith is, if it comes down to a choice between the two, the willfully ignorant bible-bashing masses with choose the side of their deity. After all, the deity promises so much, where science only offers cold hard facts.

The biggest problem I have with the whole faith vs. reality debate is in the realm of education. What do you think is the outcome if we stop teaching the laws of physics in the class room and start teaching divine will as an alternative? What would happen if we started teaching that the world is actually 6000 years old instead of 4.7 billion years? What do you think would happen if we started teaching that the sky is actually a crystal sphere which suspends stars in orbit, instead of a vastness of space?

The resulting population is a misinformed, and ill-prepared bunch of useless twits. There is a reason we no longer believe in certain things, that is because they have either been dis-proven, or that a better and alternative answer has arisen. It is NOT some conspiracy designed to “Kill God”, although hopefully it does a little of that as well.

Face it. The opinions of people who listen to O’Reilly and his ilk doesn’t really matter individually. The problem is that people like him are gaining some momentum both in the USA and Australia, and their numbers ARE growing.

Michael Shermer wrote in an article on 9/11 conspiracy theories:

“The belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking (that includes, in addition to Holocaust denial, creationism and crank theories of physics), and is easily refuted by noting that beliefs and theories are not built on single facts alone, but on a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry.”

This also applies to the “God-of-the-Gaps” and the same logic is applied to people who claim that we can’t trust science because it keeps changing its mind.

But let me just say this. Just because you can fathom something doesn’t make it likely. Just because you wish something to be true doesn’t make it real. Welcome to the world, it’s reality cares not for your wishes and desires. YOU must adapt to it. The universe is far more powerful than you, your rhetoric and your delusions. Stop, look around, and tell me what you can PROVE to see. Then I will listen to you.

Until then, your ideas and your claims are incompatible with reality.

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6 Comments

  1. “Sorry, you are incompatible with reality”
    “So many believe in things that have no basis in reality.”
    “Claims of soul, spirit, afterlife, redemption, resurrection and damnation are all products of an overly-active and a non-questioning mind.”

    With all due respect Martin I am both intellectually and emotionally appalled by these three statements.

    The first and second inherently imply you believe you personally know exactly what reality is, furthermore that you are Right and finally that anyone who holds different is Wrong. Starting with Socrates I can find no great thinker/scientist/philosopher who has not acknowledged how little they truly can know so tiny is their part of ‘reality’.

    As to the third…crikey Martin! I personally have always had a questioning mind and the concept of the soul cannot be dismissed as readily as Christian dogma etc. And I am hoping at least some scientists will be allowed to keep questioning too.

    If you have decided for yourselves that your questions are adequately answered in this area that’s fine and I respect your rights to that view. But to dismiss others who continue to question and research as being “overactive” and “non-questioning” of mind is unreasonable in my view.

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    • No I don’t claim to know what is reality and what is not, Leesa, what I am climing is there are “real” things and there is ignorance. Maybe I should have prefaced this by saying that it was a reaction to Bill O’Reilly’s bullshit thinking instead of being a claim to have all the answers.

      I understand where you are coming from, and respect your viewpoint. Maybe I was overly harsh, but then again, it is a blog and not a textbook.

      Thanks for your comment.

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    • The very point Martin is making is that we do need to question – but those questions need to be ones that can be answered empirically, not with an appeal to “I wish it to be so”. I don’t think Martin is claiming to know all; he is rather railing against people who in fact do claim to know all – because a magic book tells them (you?) so.

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    • The first and second inherently imply you believe you personally know exactly what reality is, furthermore that you are Right and finally that anyone who holds different is Wrong

      This should be an easy situation to rectify – just provide evidence for a deity, soul, or spirit. If these things are “real”, then we all should be able to experimentally verify their existence.

      … the concept of the soul cannot be dismissed as readily as Christian dogma etc.

      Yes it can. I see an equal amount of evidence for a soul as I do for Yahweh or unicorns. The burden to demonstrate these things is held by those claiming them to be true.

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  2. if the rational people do not speak out then the ignorance spreads – I agree with you wholeheartedly about the educational aspect.

    a good example of this is that the biggest pharmacy chain in the UK sells and makes unfounded efficacy claims about homeopathic medicines and magnets. there was recently a protest where everyone ‘overdosed’ on homeopathic remedies to mockingly show they had no active ingredient.

    as for believing in a soul… extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and Leesa has obviously not understood the Russell’s Teapot argument.

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  3. I just want to clarify that I am not so much speaking about what people do or do not believe/think, but rather, about how we define those that believe/think differently.

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