> ...hmmm... doesn't really ring properly does it...
> - Miriam
No, it doesn't. You see, belief serves a purpose, and unless we follow the
lexicon of belief systems, discussion becomes meaningless outside the frame of
dogma and doctrine. Which is to say, you have no credibility with believers if
you don't follow the construct of their world view. What seems benignly
humorous to us can look like a serious insult to true believers.
Here's a forwarded message from another debunker:
As the leader of Los Angeles Mensa's "Epiphanies, Epistemology, and
Ample Eats" SIG, I shall present the following essay as the basis for
this Thursday evening's discussion (July 12th). Your comments and
constructive criticism are invited. Thoughtful reflections shall be
shared with the SIG group.
Rich Kapnick, Diplomate
The Function of Beliefs
Let's review: The human brain operates by mapping its environment. The
mapping process is a multi-dimensional "sense and paste" process. Each
time there is a new experience, the brain dutifully finds the most
logical place in our "mind-map" that represents where this
observation/sensation fits in the scheme of the universe. For this new
perceived "reality," the brain then pastes the observation/sensation in
place. There are no guarantees this process is accurate . . . but it's
the best we have, so until there is a better system, we are stuck with
Each person's map (worldview) is a sensory-adjusted,
experientially-altered opinion about the nature of reality. Can you
imagine millions of automobile tourists trying to find their way from
point A to point B on our highways if no two maps they are using are
alike; when none of these maps exactly conforms to, or accurately
depicts, the reality of the road system; or when every one of these maps
is so full of holes it resembles Swiss cheese?? Like it or not, that is
the worldview each of us depends upon for comfort, security, and
navigation through our dangerous universe.
There is one word that demonstrates, unalterably, that human brain-maps
are distorted views of reality. That word is "Picasso." On the other
hand, of course, Picasso's brain-map may be the one perfect view of
reality, while all the rest of us house demented, distorted, distasteful
The great truth that spawns the entire belief-system milieu is that
nature truly does abhor a vacuum. The human brain seeks refuge from
danger, and seeks safe harbors of comfort and security. Knowledge gives
us the power to function within the realm of safety from danger. This
is highly desirable, lest we be devoured by a predator, for example.
So, we trust our past experiences that have taught us lessons about
coping with our view of reality. Trusting our mind-map to navigate us
safely though the travails of life is called "believing."
When the brain cannot find an answer that fills one of those
"Swiss-cheese holes" in our worldview, the strong tendency is to simply
make up an answer that is comforting, satisfying, and seems to make our
worldview map more complete. This is sometimes called "magic
thinking." All the world's major religions are based on magic
Since each of us takes some degree of care in cataloging our life's
experiences into a worldview whole, and since each of us has experience
using our worldview map to navigate through life, we each become
attached to our own particular map. This map is the original security
blanket of life. For some, our missionary spirit drives us to share our
map with others. Our map works for us, we reason; it will work for
others. So, we proselytize for our map. This is selling, as we try to
convince others that our map is better than their map. Some of us
become boorish, crass, and vulgar in our attempts to sell our worldview
map to others. Today, we call these freaky people bigots. In Biblical
times, they were called Apostles.
In the Holy Bible, for example, (Acts 5: 1-11) we see the disciples of
Jesus attempting to convince small crowds of people to give all their
worldly possessions to them. They tell what seems to be a fable about a
man and his wife who give their worldly possessions to the disciples,
but held back part for themselves. God immediately struck this couple
dead. This story is designed to scare the crowd so they will give all
of their possessions to the disciples and hold back nothing. To "buy"
this story, one must be convinced there is an omnipotent and omniscient
God who is so vain that He values genuflection to Him over the very life
He has created. So, if you don't engage in 100% selfless worship of
Him according to His rules, as revealed to the disciples, He will strike
you dead on the spot. Many in these crowds bought this story and
filled-in part of their mind-map with this belief.
In its most demented form, the mind of the bigot says, "Surrender your
beliefs and fill the hole with my beliefs. If you fail to do this, I
shall kill you." Or, in the case of the megalomaniac, "Believe as I
believe, or God will kill you."
You can easily see that reality and beliefs--even when beliefs reflect
reality with some degree of accuracy--have nothing to do with each
other. Reality is how things actually are: Beliefs are an
interpretation of how to navigate safely and effectively through our
unique, peculiar, disparate, and experience-laden world by means of our
Beliefs are safe so long as we recognize they are not real. We can
paste them to our mind-map as a test solution to the problem of
searching for truth. One must be forever vigilante, however, to the
idea that beliefs are insidious. Their metamorphosis to
reality-substitutes is effortless. Nevertheless, a life run by
delusional beliefs is a life that has abandoned truth, honesty, and
reality. Are you listening, Dr. Billy Graham?
Useless hypotheses, etc.:
consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, CYC, and ELIZA
We won't move into a better future until we debunk religiosity, the most
regressive force now operating in society.
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