Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion) (montecristo) wrote,
Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion)

Reality: it's what's for breakfast, lunch, and supper. It may not be enough, but it is what is

How do people take anything on pure faith? This is not to ask how they accept things which they have seen demonstrated before and accept as a matter of understanding but rather how do they accept mysticism, stuff burped up by their own ids, or things "given" to them as "received knowledge"? I have heard certain forms of believers point out that the belief in some form of "received knowledge" is almost universal among human beings and they bring this point up as if it makes a case for accepting some sorts of received knowledge as having a basis in real existence. If anything, I think the converse is true. It is the near universal tendency for people to believe in things which are patently untrue, even self-contradictory, which convinces me that there is no such thing as "received knowledge." It's all make-believe and evasions of reality. It is merely the power of self-delusion which is ubiquitous. If the objects of received knowledge had any basis in reality, one would think that there would be some sort of convergence toward some truth or truths but there is no such thing. Some people will believe, passionately, damned near anything. Where there is real knowledge it is always the product of unflinching, disciplined, identification, integrated without contradiction into the web of concepts which describe and explain the things human beings have observed, measured, and tested.

Columnist Joe Sobran once wrote that the thing that turned him away from atheism back toward the faith of his youth was a consideration of the Christian martyrs. He couldn't believe that something for which so many were so willing to die throughout history had no basis in reality. He reasoned that only something extraordinary and real could drive or inspire people to acts of such extreme faith. I think Joe is a being a bit too parochial. When you realize how ready, willing, and able people are to sacrifice themselves and others when inspired by a vast and diverse array of things which can not even be explained or defined, much less proved, then you start to see that none of these mystical "faiths" make any sense. Nobody's particular brand of zealous religious belief is special or unique — they each have their adherents and nobody's ineffable being or concept holds a monopoly on believers who are rock-solid in their unquestioning certainty. The human tendency to attach realism and meaning to the patently absurd should tell us all that nobody's mystical pipe-dreams and "traditions" should be immune, beyond, or impervious to skeptical scrutiny.

There is no "magic"; there are no leprechauns, unicorns, devils, angels, gods, goddesses, Supreme Beings, spirits, spirit guides, spooks, ghosts, ectoplasmic residue, past-lives, reincarnation, or karmic justice beyond natural cause and effect. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Wishing alone makes nothing so. Something must be produced before it can be distributed or consumed. Existence itself is finite. Everything that exists is bounded in space and time. That which isn't bounded in space and/or time is purely imaginary and has no existence except as a concept. The individual consumer imputes value to all resources and factors of production. There is no group mind, no "general will," no social consensus or contract, no noosphere. "Society" does not think, will, or desire, because there is no real, physical "social brain" to perform such functions, and the zeitgeist is a pure abstraction. The "Common Good" is a common delusion — values are individual and aligned only by coincidence, persuasion, and agreement, and often even the agreement is illusory.
Tags: philosophy, ponderings and curiosity

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