Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faith Comes "Bundled" in the Human Consciousness Operating System

I thought this was an amusing read (from various viral emails, recently posted to Facebook):
Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Professor : Is GOD good ?
Student : Sure.
Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?
Student : Yes.
Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?
(Student was silent.)
Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?
Student : Yes.
Professor: Is satan good ?
Student : No.
Professor: Where does satan come from ?
Student : From … GOD …
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Student : Yes.
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor: So who created evil ?
(Student did not answer.)
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor: So, who created them ?
(Student had no answer.)
Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?
Student : No, sir.
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.
Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Professor: Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as cold?
Professor: Yes.
Student : No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)
Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?
Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.
Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)
Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?
(The class was in uproar.)
Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter. )
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.
Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving. 
P.S.  I believe you have enjoyed the conversation. And if so, you’ll probably want your friends / colleagues to enjoy the same, won’t you?
Forward this to increase their knowledge … or FAITH.
By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.
This old parable is well thought out, but suffers from a desperate need to be reinforced by sticking Einstein's name in at the end. If the argument for blind faith was sufficiently strong in its own right it would not need the entirely false 'stamp of approval' from a well-recognized 'smart science guy'! Ha! (LOL)  To be fair, if it inspires 'faith' in you, then you should also read: http://www.snopes.com/religion/einstein.asp

What science has recently uncovered is that our big brains, of which human consciousness is a unique product, have a couple of built-in 'instincts' that cause religion to be one of our biggest problems. First is an innate tendency to see meaning in things that are merely coincidental, mixed with a brain big enough to allow us to question why things are the way they are (animals don't want to understand why the sun comes up in the east). We have an innate need to invoke our huge capacity for imagination to answer what the nature of human consciousness is, and the latter has proven to be largely unanswerable -- hence religion and 'God' (or 'Gods' a while back).

The second most profound human challange is our instinct to see ourselves as special, including our immediate gene pool, and those who are not just like us as 'other' and therefore people to fear and fight with to protect our gene pool. Our big brains allow us to be both an intensely social species and to invent 'uniqueness' in our societies, hence our tribes' culture is 'special' to our group and other tribes' cultures are 'other' and must be fought. They can only be part of our tribe if they accept our stories, otherwise we have to kill them.

So the danger in taking 'strength' from this parable is that it instinctively reassures us at a very fundamental level that it is OK to 'take things on faith'. So what? Well if we accept that this is OK, that it's OK to stick rigidly to our cherished beliefs in the stories our tribe has invented to explain the inexplicable and reject or ignore evidence that stories are all that our belief system is based upon, then it's OK for us to fear and be angry with others for having a different 'faith' because faith is inviolate and immutable. 


What I'm saying is that if we follow this argument, that our tribe's stories cannot be interpreted merely as guidelines for acceptable social behaviour, but that they must be treated as equal to laws of nature; if faith can't be simply something that we feel individually with various degrees of passion, but rather something we must impose it upon each other, test for adherence and punish those who don't have sufficient faith (in our opinion), then we set up a society in which those who don't share our specific set of stories be treated as outsiders and therefore enemies.  Enemies, by definition, are to be feared, not fraternized with.  Enemies ("other than our tribe") are to be looked down upon, segregated, and either enslaved, or killed off.  Not cool, and not what any one of the major religions actually stand for (the notion of Jihad in the Quran is a gross misinterpretation used by the power hungry to put themselves in a position of power).

What IS cool, is to recognize the core of this debate, that some people have a desperate, inexplicable NEED to believe in a higher power, while others are quite comfortable with not doing so. Further, that all humans share this 'spectrum' of need to believe, regardless of what tribe they were born into, so we're all the same, regardless of 'faith', and we're all the same in our instinct to see others as 'the enemy'.

Once each of us understands this, the intensity with which we argue between conservative and liberal, between one faith and another, between the borders of one area and another (arbitrary 'lines in the sand' based upon language that define 'nationality'), becomes just something to be curious about, to smile about, to marvel at its absurdity. Once we 'get' that it's all just about our selfish, ego-driven need to see each of ourselves as 'special', to see 'our territory' as inviolate, we can stop getting so angry at 'others' that we bury an axe in their craniums for not being just like us.

So go ahead and have 'faith', just don't let your innate tendency to feel 'special' (a member of the chosen tribe) and 'right' drive you to see 'others' as wrong, whether they're athiests or faithful. Their beliefs just make them feel good, so live and let live and don't bring religion into politics and law-making. By definition, government is what is good for ALL the people, and if there's more than one tribe under any given government, then there is absolutely no role for religion or faith in governance.

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