A little rant about belief… Ask yourself…

Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Quick Note, Thoughts | 7 comments

When you look at the world, how do you see it? Is it the result of a series of events, one after another, of cause and effect, or is it one where things just happen, one where wishes are granted and magic is real? Seriously?

I know that religion and spiritual practices like to tell us that the unexplained is evidence of a higher power, or of a spirit world. But as time goes on, as evidence mounts for natural phenomenon, the metaphysical world is quickly shrinking away from society. Most phenomenon can be explained by experimentation, or at least can be studied under reasonable scientific conditions. If you don’t believe me, just think about things most people once believed but have been shown to be untrue. Likewise many practices that were commonplace would be frowned upon today as simply barbaric and ineffective.

For example, look at the once common practice of bloodletting, where considerable amounts of blood was drawn out from a person as a cure for anything from a fever to problems of the spleen, pancreas or liver. In ancient Greece, people used bloodletting for these complaints, claiming that it allowed the “used blood” to be drained off and replaced with new blood, which would cure the person of their complaint. However many people died during bloodletting, as so much blood was drawn from the body that these people would simply bleed to death! The whole idea was based on incorrect assumptions about the way the human body works, and was passed from one practitioner to another with this false assumption. Of course there are many other examples of ancient treatments for ailments that didn’t work, and none of these are practiced today except by a handful of people claiming that modern medicine does not work, by certain religious cults, or by people who have read one to many Twilight novels.

If asked about treatments like bloodletting, or scientific claims that the earth is flat, that cats steal souls from babies, or that chameleons are evil, most people would say the claims, practices or beliefs are not only outdated and outmoded, but that they are clearly false beliefs. Even many religious people will generally see that  information scientific about the world and the universe is the most likely explanation for it and its origins.

And yet, people still hold on to claims of supernatural beings, such as gods and deities, even though there is no evidence to support it. They will say something like “There’s no such thing as vampires, but I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that God made us in his image.” These people are indoctrinated into believing these things, they are told that they are true, and they are believed even without a shred of evidence to support it. For me, the whole story of the bible doesn’t make sense except for some of the historical tracts. I don’t see how a biblical flood can be believed, or that people can even contemplate that mankind (and the universe) is only 6000 years old.

At the same time, we all hold certain beliefs that may be found to be incorrect. Many people who don’t believe in God, devils, angels, spirits, souls etc, still hold onto a belief in horoscopes, or ESP, or aliens driving around earth in UFOs and abducting people. Why is this? The hardest thing for a person to do is to have his beliefs disproved, and accept that new truth, especially when they claim that their belief is at the core of their being, as many religious people do.

So ask yourself: What are some things you know to be untrue, but you still hold onto? Are there any? If so, why do you believe these things, even if there’s no evidence to support your belief? If your answer is “I know this to be true, I just know,” then I want you to ask yourself what parts of yourself make you know this? How do you judge what gets given the label of “true” even with no evidence to support it, or even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary?

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this topic, as it’s something I’m reading about right now. Please leave your ideas below.

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7 Comments

  1. Even though I’m an atheist, I still like to believe in UFO’s, because I’d like to get the hell off of this planet because there’s gotta be intelligent life out in the universe, since there isn’t much on this planet ! Seriously though, some of us through secular education, not brainwashing, have come to understand the world for what it really is by staying enlightened and continually educating ourselves on “REALITY”. May the FSM be with you. RAMEN

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  2. Whilst I am not a Christian, Muslum, Jew, Athiest, Jedi or anything else as organised as those, I do beleive in my personal ability to have an influence on my surrounds and events as they happen or affect me. Some could say that I am a Pagan, but I dont pray to the sun or moon, but i do believe that by using stones(crystals) i am transfering my intentions around.
    So my knowledge of stones is that they are created through pressure and more pressure, I still hold the belief that through my personal interaction with them i can influence ME. I beleive this to be true because no-one else can show me evidence to the contrary……… Do I need evidence? Or do I just want to believe. I will never push my beliefs onto others, so therefore: can I be considered a solitary practitioner? or am i just searching for something more?

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  3. “Many people who don’t believe in God, devils, angels, spirits, souls etc, still hold onto a belief in horoscopes, or ESP, or aliens driving around earth in UFOs and abducting people.”

    I don’t believe any of the above, including the “etc”. However, supposed phenomena such as UFOs, Yeti, Nessie or Chupacabra, though extremely improbable, could still exist within the constraints of reality. Some atheists, I suspect, continue to believe in such beings as their last, tenuous grasp of the realm of irrationality.

    My last grasp was “Chariots of the Gods” circa, 1970. It wasn’t that easy to let it go.

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  4. It is nice to go through this sort of rant from time to time, I certainly have, I find it cathartic but don’t let it get you down. The next step is to accept the complexity of the human condition because it looks like that is our lot to deal with. We humans seem to have great capacity to learn (and believe just about anything), we commit with tenacity to that which we believe, our beliefs are underpinned by all sorts of emotional and social effects, we do not have a rationally based brain. It seems that once our world view is established we rationalise or ignore to maintain that view, it makes life easier the more you know to be “true”. Worldviews might include doubt and desire for evidence or it might just build everything on a faith foundation, and where do you go from there? A circular, closed, faith worldview is pretty bullet proof, all logic can be deflected/ignored by faith if it is strong enough, as men of faith indeed preach as a good thing. The trick I think is to get information in front of the young before they are tricked into a closed loop thinking world view, so keep up the good work.

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  5. I asked my believing wife that question: “Why do you believe these things, even if there’s no evidence to support your belief?”
    She said, “I believe because I don’t have evidence that God doesn’t exist.”
    I’m not sure what to say to that. To say, “I believe in Unicorns because I don’t have evidence they don’t exist” would be insulting.

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  6. I always cherished and embraced my curiousity and thirst for learning. It seems in all persons of this like-mindedness, that a good amount of scepticism and independence arises out these traits. When someone gives up on their quest for learning and accepts things without question or even momentary and basic scrutiny, they are just intellectually lazy and/or dishonest.

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  7. Mark, she is making that argument from ignorance whilst we don’t when we find no God beccause where there should be mountains of evidence and none exists, then absence is evidence is indeed evidence of absence and no argument from ignorance!
    Analsyis, instead of traversing the Cosmos and having omniscience ourselves is not dogmatic!

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