Sunday, 21 December 2008

Time and Beliefs.

In the museum at Alta, Norway, a shaman's "magic" drum as used by (some of) the Sami people.
After leaving school (an almost unbelievable 35 years ago), we fell out of contact, but this evening I've been talking again to my friend, Charlie and not unusually our (80 minute!), natter caused time and other priorities to align themselves a little differently.
Charlie told me that Albert Einstein believed there is no true division between past and future, rather there is a single existence. That left me wondering about the now-ness of now and whether or not my understanding of the importance of the extreme brevity of now might possibly amount to an agreement with Mr Einstein's perspicacity. Charlie explained it as humans having made a concept of time because we found, and continue to find it so very difficult to cope without measuring time. But it isn't in existence, and it doesn't matter, and we don't need it.
Soon we were heading towards religions and beliefs and I was put in mind of Robert M. Pirsig's,
"You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow..... When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths, or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt".
Me, I suffer a little from a human condition which makes me want to agree with lots of people, so let me see..., Amongst what lots of people say about their values and beliefs, what might I find which seems not to be non-sense?
Well, we do desperately (as in lacking in hope), desperately need to be in tune with (what's left of) our beautiful planet, but a "spiritual self"? No, that's just me, some lucky bloke who enjoys and appreciates very much of what he sees, and hears, and learns, and who makes judgements based on quality and caring, but does those things without religious faith, organised or otherwise, and without any spirit other than what is straightforwardly me-ness. I'm a bloke who's alive and when I'm dead I'll be dead. In terms of my spirituality there is no evidence of anything else, there never has been and I can safely say that there never will be. There never will be.
Some of us succumb to a truly ancient need to plug the evidence gap with what we call faith, aka wishful thinking. Sometimes such faith-thinking is little more than mildly delusory, almost harmless, and sometimes it is bloody awfully dangerous. (All but the very stoopidest) folks have both time and mental capacity to spare and we are prone to wonder, and prone to imagine. Some folks quite often give way to a very strong sociable urge to tell other folks that there is a Green Man and that there are spirits in rivers and on the tops of mountains, or that there is (a) god (for whose existence there is no evidence) which made the world in a certain number of days and was in some non-specifiable way responsible for lots and lots of other events which
  • Really did not happen, or
  • Really did not happen as described, or which
  • Really happened for clearly understandable reasons not related to a non-existent god.

Some of these folks get in such a mess over this non-sense that they are prone to (start dreadful wars and to), pray to so-called spirits and gods in the hope that their praying will make a difference to anything that's bugging them. It never has and it never really will. Certainly some of those praying folks would be upset or even very angry, if told the truth.

As a result of a range of mind-messing traditions many of us who think straight have, even so, been conditioned into behaving as if those who rely on illogical beliefs are entitled to be protected from sound reasoning. I've no wish to cause offence, but I have no respect for beliefs which make non-sense, and I don't think it is disrespectful of me to say so.

The options we have, there are no more, are:
  • To be deluded or
  • To delude ourselves or
  • To rely on rational reasoning.
Anyway, it's clearly good to talk, because Charlie added,
"......I have difficulties with the rational bit. We often think we're being rational when in fact we're simply covering up our own incapability to understand what may be rational in an amazingly complicated world - religion itself was once an attempt to be rational - Iron Age people came to their own conclusions based on the knowledge they had. I think the main difference between us and them is that we now know that there is a lot more to be ignorant about".

Here's the British Humanist Association:

I joined, couldn't see any sense in not joining.