eThoughts : Gaining Wisdom: Checking Belief and Truth With Reality

Both belief and truth are potential tyrannies. Witness California’s passage of Proposition 8 defining marriage as that between a man and a woman. A group of people—homosexuals—are denied marriage. How about the laws, passed by a majority, that governed the interaction of blacks and whites—or not as the case actually was. Separate facilities, no intermingling—including marriage—and so on. Those were truths for the majority. And both the belief and the truth of those people were wrong—very wrong.

Belief and truth based on the coherence test when what we previously knew was incorrect or on the pragmatic test when what we effectively predict was a set-up in the first place, are not sufficient to mandate behaviors in others. And don’t give me any crap about laws governing murder, theft, and so on. Murder and theft, etc. are not about believing such deeds harm society, they are demonstrable—they correspond to objective reality.

Let’s try the correspondence truth test in conjunction with God. If one believes in God, perhaps they’re not paying attention to the outside of their subjective universe. Consider God without belief. How about the word “God” as an interpretative representation to denote the objective, demonstrable evidence of the wonder and beauty of existence? If we don’t get stuck on the word or the belief—the interpretation—we can suspend the drive engine of belief and see it for ourselves. For those who don’t want to wrestle with what God is amidst the ugly and the evil that is also demonstrable in the world, we’ve come up with another word—the devil. But again, the ugly and the evil are not about belief, it is demonstrable.

Now we’ve got an official problem—two demonstrable, non-abstract, polar opposites that both exist. So we’ve decided they are in conflict. We even experience the conflict. But that doesn’t make the conflict a demonstrable issue in the absence of subjectivity. We may be experiencing and reflecting outwardly our inner conflict, rather than seeing what exists apriori outside of our heads. In other words, the God/devil dichotomy reflects our inner conflict—a conflict we created and imposed, which we then see as an objective reality, but which is a subjective creation disguised as objective reality.

Massive misfiling methinks.

It is not appropriate to have belief and certain kinds of truth—truth in the absence of wisdom—run the show, whether for an individual or a group of individuals. Belief is fine as a bridge before knowing occurs, but belief, by definition, is not a completed picture.

Here’s another official problem—the act of belief (interpretation) actually changes the way neurons work (called an engram or memory trace). Belief can become biological, just like any conditioning (association) can. And biological pathways are more likely to be used than non-pathways, just like roadways or sidewalks are.

The use of our associations and conditioning, can then be experienced as a biological basis of behavior, rather than the creation of behavior and biological configuring. That we created such behavior does not mean that God or the devil did. And it sure doesn’t mean that we then have a mandate from God that we have to follow or else we shall be serving the devil in our deeds.

So what we may really be doing is honoring belief and subjective truth or truth based on outcomes alone, like they are the be-all and end-all of morality and ethics. Consider such belief and truths as hypotheses, not as facts. And act accordingly.

That’s why I suggest we have a venue to step outside of our beliefs, our interpretations, and our truths—to add wisdom. This wisdom was the virtue, however flawed in practice, in the creation of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. That structure was set up to ensure that our “inalienable right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are not subject to the tyranny of belief. Folks, the birth of our nation was not based on belief, but on the recognition that we are best served when belief and unchecked truths do not ride herd on reality—those “inalienable rights” “we hold to be self-evident.” But to see that evidence, we need to step outside of our preconceptions. We don’t have to lose them, just add to them the wisdom of emptying the mind of interpretations every once in awhile. There is where we learn to see—which is a bit more salient than just belief in unchecked or misleading truths.

After all, what exactly would we be afraid of?

It might be interesting to stop our interpretations long enough to see that. We just might find that fear is our navigator when beauty could be if we’d get out of our own way.

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