Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wishful Thinking

Sometimes, I see things that I want. Expensive
things. And of course, I can't afford those things.
And then, while I turn away, I can not help but
think "one day, when I when the lottery..."

Of course, that's absurd. The odds of thats are nil.
Especially considering that I don't play the lottery.
Still, the thought remains. Because it is comforting.
Because it warps my perception of reality in a way
that makes it more bearable to me.

That's stupid and it is human.

It is also something that I see in people every day.
Not just pertaining material desires. It's far more
common in the "deeper" matters of life. Life, death,
love, hate, fate... Self-deceit rules the world. A man
is mistreating his wife, but she stays with him
because she clings to the thought that he'll change.
Business is down, but the boss keeps going like be-
fore because the market will probably recover. A
woman is diagnosed with a deadly disease, but she
just prays to get better.

Praying. Belief. Religion. The biggest deceit of all. It
is something the people uphold even in the face of all
the science in the world. And why ? Because it is so
damn comforting.

Evolution has programmed us to avoid death at
all cost, but our damn brains have grown to an
uncomfortable capacity. We now know that sooner
or later, we will die. And we can't stand that thought.
It goes against our prime instinct. The solution that
our poor, confused species has found for this dilemma
is simple: We made up a life after life. We don't really
end ! We just go on to the next place. It doesn't get
simpler than this, and it could hardly get any more
absurd. And this is the way we, as a species, seem
to approach all uncomfortable realities. We can
change everything if we just belief hard enough.
And what when things go wrong, after all ? 

The ways of the lord are mysterious.

Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, belief
prevails. It empowers. And power is something that
is hard to give up.
We made god because we want to be god.
We want to have control over all things.

Guess what ? We'll never have it. And the sooner we
can accept that, the easier it will be to deal with the
things we actually can do something about.


Anonymous said...

"Atheism is a theoretical formulation of the discouraged life." -- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Manufacturing religion as a means to avoid death does in fact occur, but it's not the sole purpose or reason for religion. It is also a mistake to identify religion with spirituality. One is external; the other comes from within. Religion is at turns helpful and dangerous, whereas spirituality has the potential to unite us all, because we all have spirits, or a deeper presence/compass, call it ethics, morals, higher connection, etc..

Science from a human perspective is finite. We do not know all, therefore cannot explain all. An atheist chooses not to believe in an afterlife because the explanation does not fit or is "not scientific enough". Yet science itself, as far reaching as it may or may not be, cannot truly touch the hem of real spirituality, or the idea of "God". Science does not have the means. In the end, atheism, like religion, is mere conjecture, and atheists, all too frequently, are more reactive than purposeful individuals, flailing at negative experiences in their own lives which cause them to want to disassociate with religion. Who can blame them? But that does not make them right.

Nobody has the answers.

So how is the dogmatism of the atheist truly different than the faith of the believer? And which is more comforting, in the end?

"Atheists put on false courage in the midst of their darkness and misaprehensions, like children who, when they fear to go in the dark, will sing or whistle to keep their courage." -- Alexander Pope

Perhaps it is safer to refuse to label that which we do not know. Perhaps it is more comforting to try to label it still, and make a positive association, and better your life, if possible. Either way, who are we to judge? Everyone disdains everyone else, it seems. This cannot be good.

The world needs hope, in whatever shape or manner it comes.

Creature SH said...

You say that science does not have the means to touch spirituality. Well, this is partially true. If I was to say that there is a wall that one cannot see, feel, sense or measure, science cannot disprove it. But that doesn't mean that there is indeed a wall.
And of course science can't explain all. The universe is far too vast, too complex, too grand to understand every last variable. But that just goes to show that absurdly simple, downright naive and uneducated answers that religion offers cannot be true.
Every sentence in the writings of the world religions gives away it's origin in the minds of people from a simpler time in a widely unexplained world. It's fiction. Fairy tales. No matter how much we tell ourselves that there has to be more, these ancient tales of gods and miracles are not the key to the cosmos.
I can understand that most of mankind wishes to be more than the sum of cells and chemicals, but there simply is nothing to suggest the presence of a thing such as souls - Only the wish for it. Medical science will sooner or later be able to explain every last aspect of the human psyche. That's anti-climactic, but reality rarely works like a novel.
Maybe science is not a good word to use here. Science implies institution, and institutions are not without fail. But logical deduction, facts, that which can be proven is the best thing we have to go by.
As for hope.. I do deny it. But false hope cannot be the way.

Anonymous said...

You contradict yourself, though.

You say that because science cannot prove there is a wall, does not mean there is no wall. How is this not true of God, then? Because science cannot prove there is a God, doe not mean there isn't a God...yes? There can be a God, or a spirit, it's just that science hasn't proven it---yet. An atheist should allow for that. The atheist usually doesn't, due to his dogmatism, and dogmatism, no matter whether borne of religion or secularism, is irrational.

Irrationality is illogical and has no place in science or faith.

Also, have you read "ever sentence in the writings of the world religions"? Because I'm fairly certain you haven't. The Vedic writings, for example, are filled with mathematics and physics and it is downright haunting how accurate some of what was written then is germane and specific to modernity. Just because it is wrapped in religious/mythological terms makes it no less valuable or viable, it just describes the times in which those people lived.

We've evolved beyond the mythology of their day, yet that doesn't mean the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater. We should keep the parts that endure, that are eternal, and there are parts that are eternal. For example, the spiritual parts.

For example, that we are all made of spirit. We are spiritual beings.

What I sense in you is the hostility I have encountered in so many atheists just like you. Blanket statements are made about "all religions" being irrational and, worse yet, the followers of these religions being deluded and of sub par intelligence. This is unfair and ungracious.

I think if you took your hostility and judgment out of the equation, and actually gave faith fair examination, as well as people of faith, you would see that faith and religion is a way of life, just as atheism and science is. It adds to quality of life, to serenity, to peace, to the movement of days. It's how people choose to exist in the world, and religion, at its best, can give hope to the world. Clearly, religion at its worst can do great damage, but so can secularism, in all its shapes and forms.

Whether religion ultimately leads to a God at the end of an individual's lifespan, who can say? Not you, not them. Not science. Nobody.

And so if you can not say, how can you claim they are not entitled to say it?

Creature SH said...

Of course I cannot conclusively rule out that there is something out there. There's probably a lot of things in the universe that science won't even begin to scrape for a long time. I do, however, think that we can savely rule out the options given by religion.

There is simply nothing to suggest that these grandiose fabrications are anything more than that. Their "evolution" can be traced back through the millenia, even to the birth of the first monotheism. And all that is to be found are stories. Written, re-written, translated, modified a thousand times over. What validity could lie in fragments of ancient fiction? How many forms has the tale of a messianic son of the god-father taken? Heracles, Thor, Jesus... They're all the same. Unfaithful remakes designed as the ventriloquist doll of whoever spread "their" words.

And of course religion was often intermingled with early science. Because religion was inserted into everything, most foremost the minds of the people. And a mad genius is so much more likely than an omnipotent being. Especially since none of the supposed omnipotents are without flaw in their own gospel.

Please don't misunderstand me. I really do not wish to be hostile. I want to help people. What I want to see is independent thought. Morals not based on a reward or punishment beyond life, but on the basic concepts of reason, fairness and equality. Universal principles that can't be bent or tainted by high-priests and preachers. There can't be equality as long as people seperate themselves into groups like race, nation or religion. It will always be "Us" versus "Them".

I'd like to end on that note, but I feel that I also have to address the matter of personal serenity. Of what worth can it be when it is based on an illusion ? Is there any difference between a believer and a madman ? Personally, I learned years ago that there is none. But by then, it was too late to escape the consquences.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a good idea, to want independent thought for everyone, but that must allow for freedom.

A free man can choose a life of faith, whether you understand that faith or not, and you should not judge that life just because you do not understand faith.

And it's not that faith is ridiculous, or a "fairy tale", or irrational, it is that you don't understand it, because you do not have it, and have made no attempt to acquire it. That is why you lack certain credibility on the subject of faith and the spiritual life. You have not even explored it; you rely solely on your position of atheism and science and know nothing of the mystical life. So, respectfully, you haven't a clue.

And please don't mistake me. I've read Frekes, I know about Athansius/Arius, I've taken pains to read Crosson, am familiar with The Jesus Seminar and the notion of the historical Christ. I don't take any of it lightly and am not a fan of believing lies. I am, however, also old enough to know that being intolerant of the intolerant makes you no better than the ones you judge.

Anonymous said...

As a reading suggestion, check out C.S. Lewis. At present he is the most read Christian writer, but did you know he started out an atheist? It's true. There are a few good biographies of the man. He was a contemporary of Tolkein (a Catholic) and through that friendship, converted out of his atheism. I'm not suggesting it as a means to convert you (hello, I am not a member of any faith or religion), but because Lewis was SO FREAKING INTELLIGENT, his writings on the subject are compelling.

That is, if you're willing to consider positions other than your own. ;)

Creature SH said...

You think that I know no faith, but you are - understandably - mistaken. I once was a believer. It was a god of my own design, but to me, it was as true and valid as any other religion.

And by recognizing the same deluded patterns as my own in others, I've come to understand that my belief indeed was as valid as any other.

It was ridiculous and downright hilariously absurd. Yes, I am ashamed of it, but I do not deny my past. I have learned from it. Is it really wrong to share the lesson ?

Anonymous said...

I wondered about that as I was commenting---you seem so completely devoid of faith, so as to have never known it. But now that you have, and have also shared your response to it, it makes more sense, your reaction.

But is it really fair to graft the reaction you have to your faith (particularly if it was to a god you created yourself) onto the rest of the world? Are you truly the only case study?

What about all the mystics and sages throughout history? Have they truly contributed nothing of value? Have they all been supremely deluded? John of the Cross? Augustine of Hippo? Paramahansa Yogananda? Thich That Nan? Thomas Merton? DT Suzuki? If what they believed was wrong or worse yet, fairytales and lies, why were they so happy? Serene? Calm? Why the thousands/millions of followers?

Your quick answer might be more delusion, but isn't that too easy? And what if it's more than that?

I challenge you to think about it. I would also love to hear more of your personal story regarding your faith life. I am intrigued. I would never belittle you or use it against you later. I greatly respect these matters, as I think you know.

Were you pagan? That is what I'm getting.

Creature SH said...

You should have your answers by now.