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Posts from the “Philosophy” Category

Belief and Reality

Posted on 16/12/2018

Living by Faith

We live as blind beasts in a universe of infinite dimensional complexity, and we navigate our lives using a continuum of micro-assumptions. If we did not do so, life would be nigh on impossible to live since we would be constantly checking everything.

When you walk down a road, you are doing so in the belief that the ground beneath you will not open up and devour you. In the morning, you take for granted that the sun will bring daylight. Much of what we do is done through faith based on empirical reasoning and interpretative assumptions. The truth is, we really know so little about so much. Most of what we do and know is reliant on an unconscious faith in what we believe reality to be.

Nearly all of our knowledge is dependent on what others tell us either by word of mouth or through books, newspapers, TV or schools. However, much of what we are told, especially in social sciences and politics is based on subjective opinion, so how do we know what is reality and truth and what is propaganda and lies?

Hopefully, there are perhaps at least a small number of people who have gone beyond rejection and thoughtless acceptance of what they have been told and, by using the evidence at hand and whatever logical powers they command, have adopted a different way of looking at the question.

In this piece, I am deliberately avoiding the issue of religious faith except to say that whether a person chooses to believe in God or not is a binary one. You either believe or you do not. However, your choice either way is inevitably dependent on what your concept of God is and how you have been socialized to accept it or not. You have to have an image of what you believe God to be in order to either accept or reject it. 

Self Truths, Shared Truths and Interpretation

It is the subjective interpretation of both self-truths and shared-truths that can lead to the collective beliefs of group think. In its malignant  form and intelligent people are very much prone to it. 

Our existence is about existing at a ‘Now’ moment in time and we move through time from one ‘Now’ moment to the next. However, it is not as if we move from one point to another like moving from one dot to another, it is done smoothly. 

At each of these ‘Now’ points we experience and interact with the world about us. Each of these momentary experiences are self-truths in that they are events that happen to us personally. They are realities and thus personally objective to us.

Most self-truths are uneventful, but occasionally exciting and memorable things do happen and when they do they act like navigational beacons. These help give us bearings to the reality of existence of which we are part. How we interpret what we experience is subjective and is affected by many factors such as emotion, physical and biological circumstance, prior knowledge and social influence.

If we experience an event at the same time as others, that is a shared-truth. A shared truth is a collection of self-truths by all those who experience it. Again, it is an objective reality to all those who experience it, but each person will interpret the meaning of that shared-truth subjectively. Hence, that is why there is often a diversity of accounts over a shared event.

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Symptoms of Group Think

It is the subjective interpretation of both self-truths and shared-truths that can lead to the collective beliefs of group think. In its malignant form and intelligent people are very much prone to it. 

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Irving Janis (Social Psychologist) identified eight different “symptoms” that indicate group-think:

  1. Illusions of invulnerability lead members of the group to be overly optimistic and engage in risk-taking.
  2. Unquestioned beliefs lead members to ignore possible moral problems and ignore consequences of individual and group actions.
  3. Rationalizing prevents members from reconsidering their beliefs and causes them to ignore warning signs.
  4. Stereotyping leads members of the in-group to ignore or even demonize out-group members who may oppose or challenge the group’s ideas.
  5. Self-censorship causes people who might have doubts to hide their fears or misgivings.
  6. “Mindguards” act as self-appointed censors to hide problematic information from the group.
  7. Illusions of unanimity lead members to believe that everyone is in agreement and feels the same way.
  8. Direct pressure to conform is often placed on members who pose questions, and those who question the group are often seen as disloyal or traitorous.

Causes

A number of factors can influence this psychological phenomenon. It tends to occur more in situations where group members are very similar to one another and it is more likely to take place when a powerful and charismatic leader commands the group. Situations where the group is placed under extreme stress or where moral dilemmas exist also increase the occurrence of group-think.

Benefits and Dangers

Group-think can have some benefits. When working with a large number of people, it often allows the group to make decisions, complete tasks, and finish projects quickly and efficiently.

However, this group-think is not without danger. The suppression of individual opinions and creative thought can lead to poor decision-making, gross inefficiencies, stubborn mindset and aggressive tendencies towards non-conformists.  

 

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Neo-Pantheism

Posted on 25/01/2018

An Introduction to Neo-Pantheism

The God Concept

God either exists or it does not. It is a binary question. For God to exist as an invisible, independent super-being that is all powerful and all knowing would require a complex infrastructure tapping into every point of existence throughout the universe. Such a system would be unwieldy, steeped in flaws and vastly inefficient. The task of micro-managing the constantly changing and evolving universe would be impossible to achieve as a separate entity.

 

Instead, God is not an invisible super-being. Realistically, the only way God could interact with the universe would be within the structures of the universe itself. Consequently, God cannot be a separate entity and also be intimately involved in its workings. If God is to exist, it can only be as the universe itself. This belief is the fundamental principle of Neo-Pantheism. God does not have a species, a gender or a race. God is all of everything. In this form God can be invested with all power and all knowledge since all power and all knowledge reside within the universe.

 

God does not need humans in order to exist.

 

God does not need to be defended. God has all the power needed, and more, to take and create with or without human aid. There is no need for the persecution of others in God’s name. To use God as a reason to harm others is the worst excuse of all and no more than a disguise for pathological minds to carry out evil acts to try to satiate their own perversities.

 

Good and Evil

Studies into the nature of evil have led me to conclude that evil is more associated with harm and suffering than it is with death and destruction. One of the indicators that you may be infected with evil is to find out, in your heart, if you actually hate somebody or something. Hate itself is an emotion. It is not an evil. It is warning you of a potentialthreat. It is for you to determine whether the hate is justified.

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The Question of Faith

We try to grapple with knowledge of our world armed with generally little more than the crude senses we are born with and a limited intellect with which to try to understand it. Essentially, we live as blind beasts in a universe of infinite dimensional complexity.

We live our lives making a continuous series of micro-assumptions. If we did not do so, life would be nigh on impossible to live. When you walk down a road, you are doing so in the belief that the ground beneath you will not open up and devour you. In the morning, you take for granted that the sun will bring daylight. Much of what we do is done through faith based on empirical reasoning and interpretative assumptions. The truth is, we really know so little about so much. Most of what we do and know is reliant on an unconscious faith in what we believe reality to be. This is also our handicap when deciding on the question of whether God exists or not.

If asked to contemplate the existence of God, many people would probably conjure up an image of what they think God might be and then either accept or reject that image. Whilst some will reject any notion of God without any consideration, others will equally accept God’s existence as they have been brought up to believe. Whether or not a person accepts the existence of God, their perception will undoubtedly be shaped by socio-cultural influences and the interpretation of personal experiences. Those that reject the notion of God are often referred to as atheists and the ‘not-so-sure’ or those needing proof, may be considered to be agnostic.

Hopefully, there are perhaps at least a small number of people who have gone beyond rejection and thoughtless acceptance of what they have been told and, by using the evidence at hand and whatever logical powers they command, have adopted a different way of looking at the question.

 

Pantheism and Neo-Pantheism

The only real distinction between Pantheism and Neo-Pantheism is that pantheism is the doctrine that god is in everything whereas Neo-Pantheism is that god is everything. 

 

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Neo-Pantheism as a Faith

A faith is a belief in something without overwhelming evidence to support that belief. Neo-Pantheism or Neopantheism is a faith because it is based on the belief that the universe is not just a mass of complicated atomic structure, but has elements of cognitive thought and purpose that collectively form intelligences. The collective consciousness of that which exists in the universe is the consciousness of God, the Universe.

God is dualistic and this is evidenced in nature. God is made up of both Good and Evil. We may sometimes choose paradise or hell, but as often as not the choice is denied us by such things as the chemical processes that drive us or the vagrancies of life that fall upon us.

Neopantheism is not arrogant enough to claim proof of God being the universe. It is derived through deductive reasoning following which you can either reject or accept the assertion. If you accept then you are a believer and a Neopantheist by default.

Neopantheism should not be an exclusive dogma. That would be against the principle of evolving wisdom and understanding. You can hold faith in other things. Neopantheism does not need to be incompatible with other faiths unless those faiths dogmatically exclude a desire to seek the truth.

For a Neopantheist/ Neopanist, God exists as sure as the universe exists whether we choose to believe its deified status or not. The belief does not require fairy stories and fictions to justify it though these may serve as allegories. If people can embrace the concept of God as the universe then it offers them an end to loneliness and despair. It means appreciating and accepting that everything about us, animate or inanimate is intimately related to us. It means that just as we may have a particular respect for a blood relative, so we should have for all things. If people can open their minds to this they will not only be able to smile on the beauty of nature, but be part of its magnificence.

 

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