Tag Archives: Reason

Don’t Believe Everything.

“Do not believe anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” 
— Buddha*

Whether the originator of this quote was actually Buddha is apparently debatable (hence the asterisk), but the truth behind each of the statements made still remains, regardless.  What’s basically being discussed in this quote is logical fallacies, and I’ve been wanting to blog on some of those for a while now.  (;

So, as for the first sentence – do not believe anything simply because you have heard it –  it isn’t (to my knowledge) a named logical fallacy, but I would hope it’s pretty self-evident that you should not believe things simply because you heard them somewhere.  That would be the definition of gullibility and would leave you believing everything, which would inevitably lead to many contradictions in your brain and probably leave you feeling pretty unhappy with yourself.

”Do not believe anything simply because it is rumored by many” is referring to the appeal of popularity, or ad populum.  Believing things just because everyone else does is a fallacy because an idea being popular does not make it somehow truer.  False ideas have, throughout the course of history, been very popular, like demon possession causing illnesses and mental disease, the earth being flat, and human sacrifices having some kind of measurable effect on our natural and physical environment.  Clearly, somebody’s opinion can not be invalid solely because it is not the same as everybody else’s.

The next two lines in the quote are essentially talking about two very similar logical fallacies that both show an over-reliance on a perceived-as-true source.  The first – believing things simply because they are in your religious books – is the fallacy of blind loyalty.  It means you are overly trusting of your sources, to the point where you believe things simply because of where they came from.  Right after that, you have the appeal to authority mentioned, which is claiming certain things as true simply because the person who originally claimed them is in a position of “authority.”  People in positions of authority are no more likely to tell the truth than anybody else, and, in fact, they are rather notorious for using their power to tell and sell lies.  The president of this country in 1998 made the statement, on-camera, that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Well, as we all know, that statement didn’t turn out to be true.

The last fallacy that thou shalt not commit according to this quote is the appeal to tradition.  We should not do things simply because that’s how it’s “always been done” or because it’s “worked best so far.”  On the other side of this fallacy, you have the appeal to novelty, which is saying that something is right or good simply because it is new.

So, how are we to come to believe things if not in the aforementioned ways?  Well, I agree with the quote that careful observation, thorough analysis and – in my words – unbiased reason are faculties that everybody would do well to practice.  What should we be striving for in doing these things?  Again, I completely agree with what Buddha* said in that we should be focused on creating a society which is conducive to our common good, but without losing sight of individual rights in the process – “the benefit of One and all,” as the quote puts it.

There are, of course, many more logical fallacies out there that could not possibly all be covered in this post, so I highly recommend looking into those if you have not done so before.  People believing in so many illogical untruths, as discussed in this post, is a large part of why the world has all the issues that it has today.  Though I am pretty adamant about the powers of love, it is good to note that in absence of truth, love can not love at all (I think the new age movement promotes a lot of this, but that’s for another post).

So, here’s to truth!  And from there on, love. 

I hope you all have a wonder-full day.  ❤

Related Posts: the Matrix., Speaking the Truth
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Sources:  Wikipedia, YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, Master List of Logical Fallacies

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Ignostic?

“I am an Ignostic – I refuse to be drawn on the question of whether God exists until somebody properly defines the terms.”  – John Lloyd in TEDtalk: Tour of the Invisible

Asking the question “Does God exist?” is kind of like trying to ask “are drugs bad?” Well, which drug are we referring to?  In what quantities and in what situation?  What does ‘bad’ mean?  Addictive?  Bad for you physically?  Mentally?  You see, the answer to a question depends on what the question actually means, and “does God exist?” is an extremely vague question with a million possible meanings.  What God do you mean?  What are his characteristics?  We’d probably be best off scrapping the word God altogether because, at this point, it’s a completely subjective term.

Even within theistic religions people’s definitions of God can vary greatly.  Not only are there typically different sects and sometimes even sub-sects within religions that debate on the nature of God, but even two people who may claim to believe in the exact same God might actually have very different personal views on who God is to them.

When you look at things that way, the terms atheist and theist seem sort of silly and irrelevant, at least to me.  Given the specific definition of God, which can be damn-near well anything the user of the term pleases, the person’s view may and probably will change.  A Muslim, for example, can refer to himself as a theist but in relation to the Hindu God, they are an atheist.  The same can go for Christians in relation to Allah.  Someone who is an ‘atheist’ in one sense might be agnostic in another (though, I think we’re technically all agnostic we just can’t admit it). 

What I’m trying to say is we’re all just playing a silly name-game here instead of just looking at things as they are, no labels involved at all, and making a claim about the validity of a statement after you have actually been confronted with it.  There’s no reason to try and reject something up-front; that is unscientific.  If someone makes a statement you don’t agree with, argue with them about that specific statement using reason and logic, but there’s no reason to be like “Oh, I’m an atheist, I reject all notions and definitions of God no matter what they are or how you came up with them, even though I know it is not actually possible to prove that God doesn’t exist any more than that he does and in making the claim that God does not exist I’m claiming to know something that is actually unknowable.”

The renowned “atheist” Sam Harris has made similar arguments regarding the use of the term atheist and I tend to agree with him.  What we need to combat the ignorance involved in religion is not just another group of people who will devolve in to group-think and get glued to their ‘pillar beliefs’ of God “not existing” – basically an anti-religion.  What we need is for people to realize that the problem in religion is not necessarily the belief in God or a higher power, but the lack of logic involved when it comes to defending one’s beliefs in said higher power, typically because of the group-think that comes into play when you decide to slap a label on yourself and say “I believe these things and that’s all there is to it.”

Labels have a place, but when it comes to making truth-claims about things that are at this point unknowable, I think we should refrain from using them as much as possible.  People get easily attached to certain identities they’ve constructed about themselves, and labels tend to only further that attachment.  They also obviously encourage sticking to one’s current beliefs – even in the face of conflicting evidence – rather than being open to changing them.

So, does God exist or not?  That is not something I can tell you.  I can tell you that I personally believe that we puny little humans know nothing, and that it is more likely that there are things ‘out there’ that we simply cannot comprehend at this stage in our evolution than not.  Are those things God?  I don’t know.  Are they something we might consider God-like?  Perhaps.  But I’d much rather go into this inquiry with an open mind, ready to accept any answers that come to me, than with a mind closed off by a label – even if the label is as well-intentioned as that of, say, an “atheist.”

Love to you all,

Related Posts: Keeping Up Appearances, Admitting that I Don’t Know

“Curse” Words

I actually came across this hilarious video after I had already written my blog post, but it went so well together that I had to include it. I also love things that give me a good laugh, so I wanted to give you the chance to do the same (watch the whole thing! It’s probably funnier for Harry Potter fans). (;

… Interlude while you watch.

(Disclaimer: This post may offend you. Keep reading. There’s a method to my madness.)

Okay! So, let’s just get this out of the way… fuck.

I’m willing to bet the majority of you kind of cringed just now. Looking at that particular arrangement of pixels on a screen sets off some kind of alarm-type-thing in most people’s brains. Even in mine, though to a smaller degree, I’m sure. What would your reaction be if you heard a little kid say “that word”?

Most people have been trained – be it be by our media culture, religion, parents or some other means – to have an emotional, if not visceral reaction to certain words, even when they are said without any context at all, as in: fuck. There are literally people taking some kind of offense to that word right now. Why?!

This is my conclusion: it would seem as though a lot of people, perhaps even you, are more concerned about what words are coming out of someone’s mouth than they are with the attitude that lies behind the words. Let that sink in.

Seriously?

That, my friends, is called setting oneself up for total failure! It matters infinitely more why someone is saying something than what they are saying. Just watch a little politics and you’ll figure that one out real quick!

Now, listen, I completely understand getting offended by someone saying “fuck you.” It’s considered mean, rude, and an insult, and I’m definitely not advocating that people be mean or rude to each other! Quite the opposite! But be offended because of the attitude behind the words, not the words themselves. This sick fixation we have with more or less arbitrary words simply “being bad” on their own – independent of anything – is completely irrational and based only on the fact that “society says it’s bad.”

I’ve got some news for ya, Friend. Society is going to tell you all kinds of things are bad. I touched on that in this post. “Society” clings to traditions and often doesn’t know when to let go. People have been using the “but society! Tradition! The world will fall to piecessss!” argument for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. They’ve attempted to use it for everything from accepting the sun as the center of our solar system to allowing gay people to marry. Nearly every time, all it does is hold meaningful human progress back.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I, personally, couldn’t care less what so-called “society” has to say about me, my words, or my actions. What I do care about is rational people coming to me with rational reasons why certain things should or should not be done. You would do well to do the same! It’s past time to get rid of the “what others will think” shackles, as well as “tradition,” “conformity,” and anything else that people think should take precedence over plain logic.

Free Your Mind.
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