Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life outside the hive

By Steve Rensberry   

 Why do so many people believe in the absolute reality of so many things with such little evidence to validate their truth? Consider ghosts, angels, demons and that most prominent of deities -- God, or Allah if your prefer.
   If you find yourself one of the believers, I implore you to entertain this one simple question: Is it even remotely possible that such entities could be mere fabrications of the human mind?
  Why exactly do you believe what you do? Is it based on solid, empirical evidence or is it based on subjective, cognitive experience and philosophical speculation? History is replete with examples of magical thinking and superstitious belief. How do you know what you believe is any different?
   Don't get swayed by the human impulse to turn wishes into reality by imagining to be true things which are false. As finite, emotional creatures in a complex world, the best and most rational position to take is one that rests on a healthy foundation of skepticism and critical thinking.
   Part of your challenge--if you choose to accept it--is to wean yourself away from the comfort zone of all-encompassing belief, in the kind of belief that literally takes over your life. The difficulty is that the simple act of believing in something, even if it is based on a falsehood, can offer a tremendous amount of psychological comfort and positive reinforcement, especially when coupled with a supportive social network.
   They say that much of what we believe is simply a matter of inculcation from a very young age, the evidence notwithstanding. But there comes a time when we all need to grow up and become honest with ourselves. Don't give up on reality by thinking you've found the absolute, unquestionable truth, from now until eternity. Trust me, there is life outside the hive.

Carl Sagan on God, Faith and Religion