Tuesday, 17 July 2007

My Thoughts on Religion and Mysticism in General

I make absolutely no bones about criticizing the worst aspects of religion or indeed, any other spuriously held beliefs.

I have personally been an atheist for as long as I can remember, well at least from the age that I grasped the meaning of the word. Indeed, even as a young child I never bought into the God concept. I guess I would clarify my position thus: I do not believe in God for the same reason, that I do not believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy (sorry children). One cannot produce evidence for Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies and of course sane people don't attempt to. The reason one cannot, is because they are arbitrary man-made speculations that have no context within reality. There is a difference between an arbitrary statement and a false one. Even the false can be falsified through context, for example: 2 + 2=5 is falsifiable, because one can frame it within context. The same that applies to arbitrary mind spun speculations like Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies, applies equally to the God concept. It is an arbitrary speculation, because it is simply a subjective mind-spun idea and is devoid of context.

Let me give a simple example of context, as it relates to objectively definable entities within reality. Try if you will to point to an entity in the World called species - of course you cannot. The fact that one cannot point to an entity within reality called species, does not falsify objective context of the concept species. One needs to realize that species is a higher level concept and belongs in a hierarchy of man-invented labels, that help us identify categories. So, one cannot point directly to an entity called species, but one can identify an animal, that belongs to the category of a particular species such as a mammal, one still cannot point to an entity called mammal, but from mammal one can point to a dog called Spot. This hierarchical string of man-invented contextual labels, which we use to categorize through the process of language, helps us store information in an organized way in our brains. You will note that the above chain of hierarchical identifications, from species to mammal to a dog called spot, is what verifies the objective nature of the original concept in the hierarchy - re: species.

Now, here is the main point, what one absolutely cannot do with the concept of God, ghosts gremlins, fairies Santa Claus et al, is to identify a conceptual objective hierarchy of context, that allows one to string a context of conceptual identifications, in the form of category labels, that would allow one to for example identify the God concept as objectively definable, with reference to reality, it cannot be done.

The reason one cannot identify the God concept, within objective context, is because it is an arbitrary man-invented speculation, that is subjectively arrived at and not objectively arrived at within context of something axiomatically knowable.

Now, individuals do of course have different definitions of God. There is God in the Einsteinian sense, which he used simply as a metaphor and shorthand to personify the universal forces as a totality. There is also Spinoza's God, which he simply referred to as nature. I would have no problem with someone labeling me as a philosophical Spinozian in the context just described.

The other kind of God of course, is that of the major monotheism's. These are the kind of gods that I call arbitrary and man-made. These are the gods that individuals believe in, not based on evidence, but simply because they are believed on faith and passed down through tradition.

What applies to God applies to all forms of mysticism one can think of; from mind-reading, Tarot Card reading, UFO abduction, Crystal Healing, Water Divining, Telekinesis, Ghosts, spiritual healing, dream analysis, in fact I could go on and on with an ever expanding list. What all these have in common, is that they all rely on faith and are believed without a shred of evidence in their favor.

So, am I being a kill joy, to all the mystics out there. Well maybe. But the fact is that I write these articles because I think it matters. There are a lot of charlatans in the World who prey on the feeble minded, who sometimes out of desperation, look towards a mystic for help. Not all mystics are in it for the money, but many are, and they will happily rip off, the next 'mug-punter'.

What I find particularly disturbing is the inculcation with mysticism, of a child's mind. The child mind is desperately and courageously attempting to grow its mind and integrate aspect of reality. Religious mysticism in particular, is poisonous to the child mind. What is particularly vile, is the inculcation of the child mind with the concept of Hell.

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