Monday, April 23, 2007

Superstitious metaphor

I am superstition only to the extent that I know thinking about something contributes to making it real to me. The new goal I set for myself is to focus on what I desire, and discontinue thoughts on that which I spurn. I feel this simple truth is nothing new, however. It was expressed by the ancients through metaphor, in the form of stories about gods. In that, I do not hold any beliefs regarding gods. When I do refer to god, it is simply the knowing use of such as a metaphor. Another metaphoric use of gods employed by the ancients was to plainly explain and understand what was then unknowable. As knowledge increases, that metaphor loses value.

However, this does not mean I deny the spiritual or supernatural experience. Too many people from every realm on Earth, in every known time frame, and walk of life have extraordinary experiences that go beyond simple physical world explanation. Too easy is it when someone who is void of such experiences attributes anecdotal recountings to the devil or imagination. I regard these dismissals as silly.

Even after experiencing something extraordinary, it is hard for some to understand the experience properly because they have been so indoctrinated with a system of beliefs. How much less so can someone who has not experienced a thing judge one who has?

The question is why have beliefs? Why not base everything on the self-quest for knowledge? I find that I seek out what others have learned, and augment that with my own experiences. For example, I know that terrestrial life develops over time through the processes of evolution and natural selection, but I do not hold a belief about these. I simply know that discernable and testable evidence makes knowledge about these processes more clear. I don’t try to fit in a god into my understanding of these processes. Nor do I try to use my limited knowledge of these processes to come up with unsupported conclusions that I then rigidly believe. In other words, I do not hold any beliefs about how life got started, even though I have knowledge about how it develops. I am aware of notions and ideas about the origin of life, but I treat these has just that. I do not need to have a belief regarding the origin of life in order to know that evolution is currently the best description of those processes.

My experience is that Christians and Atheists alike are too easy to judge something based on beliefs they hold, rather than on the human experience itself. To a supernatural event, the Christian will say, “It was God’s will” or “The devil did that”. To that same event, the Atheist will say, “It was your imagination” or “You misinterpreted the event; there must be a logical explanation.” To this I say that’s pretty arrogant to assume that they know the answer outright. In particular, this is the one area with Atheist are hypocrites because the general idea behind atheism is the lack of beliefs without evidence. If they have no evidence one way or another, they normally don’t jump to conclusions, except when something supernatural or spiritual is being questioned. Of course, Christians just make stuff up in their heads as they go along, in order to fit everything into their picture of this world created from their overly literal, under-educated understanding of ancient texts.

It’s expected to develop notions about something, and to test those as hypothesis. Most of us are in the wrong profession and/or will simply not live long enough to have the time to challenge every hypothesis or theory for ourselves. So, some bit of trust has to be placed in the works of others. Just as long as everything is understood as not absolute, it’s ok to accept reasonable margins of error in one’s knowledge.

I am not an atheist. I am not religious either. To me, both are contrary to my experiences and gathered knowledge. Both have had value in the process of developing my current knowledge base. They are not useless. They are both stepping stones to gaining experience and knowledge in one’s life. They both have their place, though neither can be used as reason to end the search for new knowledge and experiences.

Focusing one’s thoughts on a god can make that god real to that person. But each of us has the power to create our own metaphoric god. Judging someone’s metaphor is ultimately a judgment of our own. In this, I am also a little superstitious. Do not judge, lest ye be judged. Of course, I’m not perfect. I judge all the time. It’s the effort that counts; at least in my metaphor.


Jason Hughes said...

I am guilty as charged... :(

I do immediately state something along the lines of "There has to be a rational explanation for ____."

Good point, great post. You continue to make me think... :D I like that...

And have fun rock climbing!

fcsuper said...

I might make my point a bit better if I could clean up my typos better. I just made the posting an easier read. Thanks for your gracious comment and forgiving my horrible typos. :)