Uncle Carlos (who is really my uncle, but isn't really Carlos) and I got into a bit of a dustup after I posted some intemperate thoughts in a previous thread about the Iraq war. I was getting ramped up to get good and pissed at him when he crossed me up with a thoughtful changeup of a comment, dealing with the problems inherent in the peculiarly human idea of belief.
There was one part I can't agree with in his post; that's his implication that things are worse in this regard than they were at some time in the past. It's not that I disagree, as such, but I can't agree. I plead Summer Highland Falls: They say that these are not the best of times, but they're the only times I've ever known.
Other than that, though, I have to accept his amendment by way of substitution to what I said about people liking war. It's not so much that there isn't some validity to the idea I was advancing - almost no idea is completely without value - but it was a crude way of looking at things. Whether that crudeness rises to the level of malarkey is a judgment call for the reader to make.
The question then arises, why, if I am capable of finer perceptions, do I choose, for emotional reasons, to use cruder ones instead? This is the question I probably should have been posing to the war supporters. Now I am forced to give them a pass and ask that question of myself.
But leaving the navel-gazing aside (it's an activity to be done on our own time, after all) this idea of belief, and the question of what it is, and of its proper role, if any, in human mentation, is a very important one. It may well be the seminal human question of my generation, whatever that is.
Belief, taking one perspective, is basically a set of opinions that have coalesced, hardened in an individual's mind to the point where the coalesced opinions crowd out other types of thought. It is well known among psychologists that people tend to be much more attached to their beliefs than they are to things that they know through experience and study to be true.
It is possible that this problem has advanced in recent years. At the very least, it remains a serious problem, despite the advanced state of what we know about the universe.
We all have beliefs. We cling to them. Do we need them?
I am in a peculiar position because, while I do have a "faith" in a sense, it is one to which belief and the inculcation of belief is not a central part of the doctrine, such as one exists.
Thus I lack the excuse that most non-atheists have for clinging to their beliefs, while at the same time accepting - believing - that there is a dimension to the universe beyond what can be detected with my ordinary perceptions.
What is the point of all this? None, I suppose. I've descended back into navel-gazing. Time for bed.