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Discussion 3 to Meditation 717
You have not gone far enough

by: Paleface

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In Meditation 717, you have hit on a very important point, but in my view have not gone far enough: “On the one side is a massive collection of dogma…” – well, yes, in practically all investigations[1] we start with plausible dogma as candidate for inclusion into the body of what we might eventually accept. Most of this dogma is not usually identified as such but it implicitly is there, Examples:

My point is that there is nothing wrong with dogma as such – but with how far and how blindly it is supported.

What’s the opposite of dogma? Some call it ‘fact’. Fact being a loaded word let me use ‘observation’ instead. The reason of this switch is that what is fact for one could be assumption for another. When we rely on observation we have the advantage of records and repeatability. These records of course could be incomplete[2] but, if complete, they will include information about their own limitations, to what extent can one trust the values of what is presented as observations.

So how does one “know the truth”. If it is a religious truth: just ask the proper authority. And try not to rock the boat. And don’t go any deeper.

If it is an actual truth you are seeking (Legal, botanical, architectural, chemical, you-name-it truth; not only a “scientific” one) then look at how that truth is discovered, or agreed upon, or accepted… (What observations or measurements were made is generally the best bet as a start) and with how much uncertainty.[3]

That seems to require that one must first earn a degree or two, or have a friendly shaman with connections. Fortunately there is a compromise: seek elementary explanations[4] on how this or that was found; if you are lucky, you may agree with the rationale and accept[5] them at least as “Oh yeah”s, or, if you are not lucky, you may postpone getting your satisfaction, but at least you may have gotten the name of someone who knows how and when the info was obtained. Nothing wrong with remaining ignorant of details.

You have five questions about what you call God’s behavior. I have only two to ask you:

  1. Who are you talking about?
  2. How do you know[6] that what you are reading has been written by somebody reliable and informed? .

“On the other side.”

Just a few discussible answers and rebounding questions.

About, your list of possibilities:

I will ask you to go easy on the “apathetic” question. I am not pushing militancy, but please keep an eye open for (modest small scale, gentle) opportunities to help society. If you find people you disagree with, find out why, they might have new insights. Be nice, by all means, but disagree openly, not in hiding.

Don’t expect others to be nice to you – you be nice. Why? Because you are, NOT because Item XXVII, Catch 22, in some sacred document says you should (the agnostic justification for being nice: “just because”) or because it is mandated (the religious reason for being nice). Be quietly militant and don’t expect others to follow you.

Reduce your ambivalence by demanding that ideas which you do not yet understand be made at least plausible to you. Understandable? That may be too much to ask right away for some concepts, but the purpose of this trip is the going, not the arriving. When given final answers – use them as source of new questions. Such as “And how is that known?”.

Religion gave birth to Science, compare them. And throw in a bit of the arts into the mix. You may find that elements of esthetics pop up as “serious” parameters more frequently in the sciences than in the religions., not just as oooh and aaaah provokers.

But if you are curious, investigate. (Only advice: if you want to investigate religions stick to the well established ones: the probability of misunderstandings, financial and others, should be less. Their answers might not be satisfactory, but surely better thought out.)

Happy hunting,

Paleface -/-

Footnotes:
  1. Consider both the religions and the sciences to be investigations, searches for verifiable truth, with different tools.
  2. Not only in the sciences: anybody recall anything about missing minutes in tape recordings of politically important conversations?
  3. If you have no idea how wrong you might be, you have no idea about how right you are…
  4. Wikipedia is a good place to start – but wear gloves and use caution.
  5. Under your responsibility
  6. ‘Know”, not “Believe”
  7. Get a grant for studying the cultivation of a strain of sunflowers that do not follow the Sun.  Well, you might get it.  Please sign me in as consultant…
  8. One of my fellow students could see infrared illumination.  And he was not extraterrestrial or something…
  9. Even before they get to be teenagers! Talk about tough love.  Check at a local pet shop.
  10. They call it “Survival of the fittest”.  I prefer “Survival of the survivors” – great name for a mystery, isn’t it   ?…

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