Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hope In A World of Superstition And Empty Promises

By Steve Rensberry
   I embrace the unknown, the uncertain, the non-absolute, the mysterious, and the need for one's fundamental beliefs to be rational, logical, and reflective of the totality of human experience. Tentative conclusions, skepticism, and a worldview derived from empirical reality and science, as opposed to emotion, spiritualism and magical thinking, are what the universe demands.
   Making leaps involving absolute “trust,” and believing wholeheartedly in things before all the evidence is in, is simple credulity, or foolishness if you will.
    Think about it: committing oneself to an all-encompassing belief system that promises to reveal afterwords what reason and logic dictate should come before any “commitment to believe” -- especially when such commitment involves concepts on the level of an absolute -- is circular reasoning at its best, assuming to be true in the premise that which it seeks to realize in the conclusion.
   Morality and ethics are grounded in basic human needs and the necessity of survival. If we don't treat each other kindly, the way we ourselves want to be treated, we don't survive. It takes no leap of blind faith or trust, no assumption of “insider knowledge revealed only to those 'who believe,'” no existential moment of assumed contact with the divine, and no castigation of other human beings as worthless and evil simply for refusing to believe as you do.
   One's inherent desire to live an enjoyable life free of pain begs us to limit our own actions lest we all suffer the same fate. It leads us to create laws and social rules that mitigate our competing interests, to protect ourselves -- directly, indirectly, or inadvertently -- from abusing one another. Being moral means living life in the here and now. It means treating other human beings as precious and invaluable. It means opening our eyes to the finite nature of our finite existence, being kind, and seeing all of life, the earth, our neighbors, the animal kingdom, everything, not as intermediate stepping stones to some “higher” reality, but as something beautiful and worthy in their own right.
   Being moral means being honest with oneself and admitting that we human beings are neither omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent, and claiming to know someone “on a personal level” who is adds no more weight to the argument than does any other subjective, unfounded assertion.
  There is hope for humanity because there are others like myself who believe in truth, knowledge and the goodness of others, who refuse to believe their eyes are lying when death comes knocking, and who will never give up in doing what is right. There is hope because there are people still left in the world who genuinely care for other people, not because they are told to care by some assumed entity or sacred book, not because they fear eternal punishment, not because the people they care for think the same way they do, but because life matters -- in and of itself.