I would like to offer a very public apology to my friends, especially Kevin. My questions and challenges are not meant to be personal, and I have not intended to embarrass anyone, least of all my friends. If my responses seemed off-putting or even hostile, I believe that to be a product of the privileged nature of the topic at hand, combined with my forceful way of discussing it.
Tracy’s plea to change the subject, even though I trust her, she’s said she trusts me, and I know her to be quite open to discussion on any other topic, shows how deeply embedded the taboo against challenging religious beliefs can run.
My original question was asked to illustrate a point, a point that Kevin was kind enough to help me elaborate (though not through any pre-arrangement between us, I have to state clearly).
Many people feel that God exists. This feeling is deemed off-limits from challenge or discussion (at least), or even elevated to a status equal to or greater than that of logic, rational thought or empirical evidence. I strongly disagree, and my reasons are many. I hope, with time, to elaborate on them. I intend to do so for as long as I live, and in as many ways and forums that I can reach, because it is a goal larger than myself in which I believe.
But people tend to take their feelings… um… personally, which explains why many find it difficult to accept the tentative and subjective nature of the contents of their head. Understandable, yes. But regrettable, as well.
But feelings, and the senses, can be wrong. Sometimes spectacularly so. If I may direct your attention to the simple observation of the solidity of the ground under your feet, and the equally obvious sight of the sun tracking across the sky, morning to night? And yet, the Earth, in fact, moves, rotating and twisting and flying in circles ’round the Sun. And the Earth’s movements are not a relative matter, but can be demonstrated, and predicted, through tools and ways of thought that are new to us (in geological terms).
Other examples are available in so many formats and places. But most of the time they’re presented as puzzles, mind-teasers, games, or entertainment. I guess people dismiss them as trivia to prevent them from acknowledging what is actually being revealed.
But they’re not just simple tricks.
Because our feelings are so easily fooled, we need ways to measure our intuitions and feelings and see if they produce an accurate model of the world in which we live. Those tools are logic, and rational thought, and the scientific method. Logic can be faulty and lead to false conclusions, true. But far less often than your senses, which are fooled myriad times a day. And logic can be corrected by the other, rational, tools.
Beliefs or “faith”, which has no foundation but itself, are incapable of correcting themselves. Someone with a strong “faith” and a somewhat working brain, can re-interpret any new evidence to support their “faith”. In just the blink of an eye, someone who wants to can see the glass as half-ful, or half-empty, and can cause all sorts of feelings to begin cascading in their brains and bodies, to give a simple example. Neither viewpoint changes the glass and the water, however. Reality is what it is.
Feelings and unfounded beliefs are nice, and all. Enjoy them, if it means savoring a delicious meal, or the warmth of friendship, or the beautiful colors of a sunset.
But don’t pollute those things by seeing things that aren’t there, like some imaginary intelligence that no one can see. And don’t pretend that the things you wish were there justify their own existence.