Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Belief: Part 1 of 2

belief: 1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another 2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something 3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.

(From Middle English bileve, bilevento believe; of Old English gel-aefa; see leubh- in Indo-European roots.)

(leubh- Indo-European root: loving, desiring, caring. Related words, love, beloved, libido.

So, obviously, beliefs are something cherished, something to wrap your arms around and snuggle, something to get you all mushy and sentimental. That's a strange way to feel about something as nebulous, unresponsive, unrequited, and intractable as an idea, or a set of ideas. It's like having feelings for a stuffed animal. Let me get back to you on that.

When I started, I was raised as a Lutheran, which isn't that far from being a Catholic. So, the usual right? Tri-partite Godhead, Father Son, Holy Ghost. Loving personal God, omniscient, omnipotent, all that stuff. Then, of course, curious young lad notices logical inconsistencies and paradoxes. These in turn evaluated, discussed, and any questioning summarily dismissed by religious authorities both local and distant. With the observation of the imperfect state of the world combined with the obvious ignorance and hypocrisy of said authorities resulting in the inevitable cynical conclusion that There Is No God and all by about the age of fourteen years old.

Of course, it turns out that the atheist's position is just as philosophically and empirically untenable and unprovable as the theist's. The statement "There is no God" is a positive assertion, a statement of fact as subject to the burden of proof as the statement "There is no more toilet paper in the bathroom". Anyone who tells you different (especially atheists) are either intellectually dishonest or just yanking their own pud in public.

So, in response, I've modified my position to that of agnostic. It's not the weak weenie-boy "I Don't Know" type of agnosticism. It's more the "I honestly don't know, and I doubt that you know either. So if you are going to get all rabidly serious about it, best to keep it to yourself unless you want your primitive superstitions and monkey gods to be made fun of" type of agnosticism.

On the one hand, it's a big universe out there. Look at the picture. That's billions of light years, billions of galaxies in that picture. That's a huge amount of space and time, a truly scary yawning vast abyss of who-the-fuck-knows-what out there. It could even be infinite. In which case, seems like there is plenty of room for doubt against the Case Against God. On the other hand, there is no reason to assume there is a monkey shaped god giving us the gunfinger, the wink and the nod.

Just for the heck of it, I once entertained the notion that there really was a loving personal god out there, looking after me, keeping an eye out, in my corner. The flood of warm relief that passed through me was pretty remarkable. But then, I went back to my normal way of thinking, and that wonderful warm feeling passed away soon enough. And there I was back to living in uncertainty. Back to, you know, the normal state of human affairs, which is generally one small emergency away from a full-blown panic attack.

So, what's a person to do in this situation? I don't know. I guess I choose to live life as it comes. I choose to love life as it comes. For good or ill. That's my belief. My beloved.

1 comment:

  1. I usually get the warm fuzzy feeling from realizing there is not a self-important god out there demanding that I do things his way...deep sigh...