Friday, January 09, 2015

On the Nature of Belief

The history of human civilization is the history of beliefs.  Within an individual lifetime, we adorn ourselves with a progressive litany of beliefs.  Without belief, individually and collectively, the human species is lost within the chaotic stream of a wildly unpredictable universe.  Belief is the rock upon which human existence is anchored.  It is from a system of beliefs that a sense of meaning and purpose is fashioned.
Beliefs and the belief systems that necessarily flow from them encompass a spectrum that goes from the truly insightful to the absolutely ridiculous.  Within the context of my thinking, those beliefs that fall within the category of the ridiculous necessarily fall outside of the domain of the reality principle.
Included in the latter category are those beliefs that engage the concepts of mysterious beings such as angels and devils, ghostly spirits and ethereal apparitions of any kind.  In addition I regard with serious skepticism any attempt to explain apparently natural phenomenon within the context of mystical and supernatural precepts.  It is this kind of thinking that can serve as an impediment to real progress.  A cursory examination of the behavior the US Congress (circa 2015) makes this point eminently clear.  The more outspoken of those “idiot” members of the supposedly august body of the US Congress hold that the threat to humanity imposed by the unfettered combustion of fossil fuels is a dubious hoax.  The basis of this conclusion seems to be that their god is of such a benevolent nature that he (or she depending upon your predilection) would never allow the degradation of the natural environment to progress to a hazardous conclusion.  It makes me wonder where this god of theirs was during the Nazi-inspired Holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc.

In my mind, belief without the imposition of reason or intellect is of a severely dubious nature.  Belief or belief systems not based upon the reality upon which we are all grounded serves humanity poorly or not at all.  Civilizations built upon such flimsy foundations are bound to fail – witness the rapid dissolution and dismemberment of the Third Reich at no small cost to humanity worldwide as an exquisite example.

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