The Ghosts of Theists’ Future?
How we think is, I believe, much more important than what we actually think. The most important aspect of the change in thinking that needs to occur in our society is how we arrive at truth. The importance of critical thinking, of reasoned study, and of rationality cannot be overstated. Superstition, mysticism, and religious thinking are not really the disease; they are merely a symptom of a more serious problem. The human condition seems to consist, at least in part, of an all-consuming desire for easy answers, a need to simplify the complex and deny the unpleasant aspects of our reality at all costs. It is these aspects of the human personality that are the real enemy of progress and true understanding. If these problems are not addressed even the complete abolition of all existing theological systems wouldn’t be a solution. We’d simply find new myths to replace the old.
Imagine a distant future where humanity has forgotten us and our civilization. Where our great cities exist only as ruins and our history is only vaguely and partially recalled. Without an evolution in our thinking it’s all too easy for me to imagine the effects.
Consider what would happen if future archaeologists unearthed ancient documents that depicted an account of a being who descended from the heavens, was raised by human parents, displayed superhuman powers and abilities, used those abilities to combat evil and protect the innocent, died to protect his people and returned from the dead to continue his struggle.
Would this story be likely to become the basis of a religion? Would people be likely to believe these documents even if no other historical source gave them any validity or even mentioned the events in question? I think it is quite likely. What if other digs around the globe turned up more accounts of this being and artifacts related to these tales? Would apologists claim that the sheer amount of things that mention this being serves as proof of its reality regardless of the fact that science and history show no evidence for such a thing?
Is it likely that people would devote their lives to the idea of this savior and his exploits building massive monuments and congregations in his honor? Could a concept with no objective basis in reality really become so important to people, so pervasive that it would become the basis of entire communities?
Could other finds from history lead the followers of this new religion to have their beliefs tested by others with a different belief system? Would these various groups of followers feel strongly enough about their beliefs to argue and even fight over them?
What would be the result of all of this struggling between groups of people who each hold beliefs that have no basis in anything but the interpretation of partial accounts of events that science and reason tell us never actually occurred?
How do we avoid such a fate? We teach critical thinking, and live according to the principles of logic and reason. Require a rational basis for the things you believe. Find out about the realities of existence, find out why things are the way they are rather than just accepting someone else’s interpretation of fragmentary source material. Judge your beliefs not according to whether they’re comforting but according to their validity in the face of the reality around you. In a nutshell, question, study, explore and always challenge your conclusions.
Posted on November 14, 2012, in Editorial, Religion and tagged atheism, critcism, doubt, editorial, evidence, faith, history, opinion, philosophy, progress, reason, religion, science, sense, skepticism, theology, thought, truth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.