Those who know me know me to be oriented towards science rather then to be "spiritual", whatever the word "spiritual" might mean to various people. I think the general concept is soemthing everyone pretty much understands though, so I won't bother trying to define it more accuratelly now.
I don't know how many times I heard various arguments all revolving about that very thing: I am a rationalist, I am a materialist, I cannot possibly comprehend the spiritual because that is something that must be felt and experianced to be truly known and understood.... Well, all right? I am all those things. And if what the "other side" claims is really true, if all those things metaphysical really need to be experianced personally in order to be known then yes, I am indeed not adequatelly equipped right now to truly know them.
Only... I have to wonder now if that is truly so? But while doing that, I have to point out one thing: I am keeping an open mind, always, no matter how stubborn and set in my ways I may appear. Because, in the end, if I am to be honest with myself I msut leave room for the remote possibillity, however small I think it to be, that there really are things in that metaphysics that my approach cannot reach. That still doesn't mean that no approch can reach it though, right?
So, if I really mean what I just said, then what the fuck am I waiting for then? If I am not a hypocrite, if I really want to know things, know reality, why aren't I doing yoga yet? Or trying to meditate? Or pray in the church? Or doing any of the things people do in order to explore the spiritual? If I am really open to the possibility that various approaches to spirituality might be the only way to find out if all those things really do exist... well? Why aren't I all over myself testing it out for myself?
Tricky, eh? I'm still not doing it, obviously, so it must be that in truth, I only think I have an open mind but really, have already decided what I want to be the truth and am not open to the possibility that I might be wrong. But here is the thing: I am open to the possibility, and that is exactly why I am not running down the spiritual path.
Okay, this made absolutelly no sense whatsoever, right? I am now making excuses and dodging the issue, yes? No. And now I'll try to explain why.
I am still at the beginning. I am looking into the vast universe, still not knowing all the things it contains. By now, I have learned of some things it contains and have also learned that some others don't. For example, people have postulated the existance of aether once. And then they poked and pried any way they could until they learned that no, the assumption was wrong, there is no aether. So, now we know of at least one thing that isn't there. Similarelly, people have postulated any number of things over time, poked and pried and in the end found out if they exist or not. That is how we sieve through various possibilities - take each and every one, inspect it and in the end conclude what is the reality about it.
And the key to such an observation is objectivity. Taking a step back, ditching what we want to be the truth, and trying to find out what rally is the truth. That would be why I put scientific way of thinking far above the "magical" way of thinking. Because scientific way offers the objectivity that the magical thinking lacks. And more objective we manage to be, less chances that the end conclusion is wrong.
The way scientific observation works is to use the existing data, things we already learned do exist (and found out how they work) and build upon them. Thsoe are the bits and pieces of reality that we objectivelly have in front of ourselves. And every time we are faced with soemthing new, something yet unexplored, we will logically assume that, whatever it is, if it is real, it'll neatlly plop into its proper place in our current map of reality. Another piece of the puzzle uncovered.
But that also means that whenever we are faced with something new, and especially something that seemingly falls out of the map we have made already, we will first inspect all the possibilities of it falling into the spot where we expect them to be before moving on to the possibility of changing the current paradigm. I do hope this much at least makes sense to everyone.
So for example, if people see strange lights or hear strange voices isnide their heads, before we jump to conclusions of something paranormal going on, we will first attempt to explore all the normal possibilities of explaining things. And here's the catch with truly keeping an open mind: Because we have seen people falling out the windows before, the next time we see it, we'll expect the familiar splat, but we will be ready for the possibility of them not making a splat, too. One day, someone might really sprout a pair of wings for all we... know? Nope. For all we know, no one will ever sprout a pair of wings on their way down. To be open minded means to always remind yourself that even such a ridiculous possibility still might exist. But realistically, everything we know about human body and gravity so far points to nobody ever sprouting a pari of wings.
But a case of sudden wings is something that both "the faithfull" and the "boneheaded materialists" pretty much agree on - neitehr side expects anyone to sprout those wongs, not really. However, the thing I usually hear at this point is "Ha-ha, why of curse no one will grow a pair of wings in the way down, that is just silly. But! When it comes to this other thing, then it's a different story! That is not silly!". Whatever that "other thing" happens to be.
The truth is, however, that both teh wings and that "other thing" are the same, in the sense that the critical tought we apply in one case is also applicable in the other. When faced with a phenomenon or the posibility of a phenomenon that seems "paranormal", which is to say "highly unlikely in regards to reality as we know it", the first thing we ought to do is to inspect all the 'normal' explanations for it before moving onto the 'paranormal' ones. In other words, let's test it against what we know already and only then move into the 'unknown'.
In case of, say, a claim that spinning around for hours on end, chanting prayers over and over again can bring one into a higher state of mind and in touch with the divine, we will start from scratch: we will assume that it might or might not be so. Then, as the next step, we will test the claim against what we know already. We already know something about the way human brain works and quite a bit about how human body works. We know already what effects on perception and thinking endless spinning in one direction has. Now we are faced with two options: either the supposed "hightened state of mind" really si exactly that and endless spinning can bring one into it, or the perception gets so screwed up when doing that that a person doing it becomes desoriented and starts seeing things that aren't there. So, how do we determine which one of the two options is correct?
As a rule, if it can be explained "naturally", we'll conclude that it is really just a natural phenomenon and not "a way to touch a god". And of course, ah-ha! We only say that because we are so fixed in our limited, materialistic way of thinking, we are not truly open to the posibility of that really being a "way to god". Well... I think that yes, we can and do know for sure that we are dealing with a natural phenomenon after all. Because we have observed such a phenomenon enough many times, conducted experiments, tested and retested it, brought in the helpful knwoledge from other fields when needed, all that solely in order to be certain that our conclusion will be correct and every last time, it turned out that in the end, what actually happened is jsut a distortion in perception. Because we have seen someone making a splat when falling out the window so many time that now we know that when someone falls out the window, they'll make a splat. And we can't just keep tossing people out the windows forever - There has to come a time when we say all right, we have done this so many times that we don't have to do it any more. In the end, thing has shown itself to be either true or not.
And one problem I keep encountering over and over again (or at least, what I see as a problem) is the way people keep saying "Yes, but!". After something is tested and retested so many times, at some point we simply have to stop. There is a line after which it stops being an experiment and starts being a beating of the dead horse. By that time, people who were really keeping an open mind, people who were really interested in finding out if something is like this or like that, are satisfied that the answer has been found. Only people who did not have an open mind to begin with, only people who did not want to find out the truth but instad, hear the answer that they want to hear, keep wacking at it long after the horse has been turned into pulp.
And it doesn't really matter which people are those and on which "side" of the spectrum. There are such people on both ends. And it is those people, and that sort of thinking that I take issue with. Clinging to what they want to be the truth instead of accepting whatever turned out to be the truth in the end. People who will forever keep saying "Yes but! Maybe if we jump out the window just one more time, someone will sprout wings!" How many people do we need to push out the window before the "Yes, but!" people can let go?
Tim Minchin said it: "Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be perserved". I do not apply that sentence to religious and/or spiritual tought alone, but to everybody. Because if, say, tomorrow it turns out that theory of evolution is wrong, I would be a complete idiot if I did not accept that. Whoops. We've been wrong before and lookie ehre, looks like we've been wrong again. Okay, now once again we know how things didn't happen and that, too, is a valubale knowledge - now that we know what definitelly isn't true, we can safelly discard it so it doesn't distract us from now on. However, the same reasoning should then be applied to everything else we face - theory of evolution, falling out the window, as well as spinning around as a way to touch the divine or voices inside one's head. Turns out it was not a spiritual experiance after all. Whoops.
But! We have not touched the divine or the karmis or anything jsut yet, ahve we now? And what about the beginning? That the only way to truly 'know' it is to dive into it? Science hasn't done it yet. I haven't done it yet? Why am I not doing it yet?
Because, before I can approach such a thing in such a way as suggested (or any way suggested), first I need to have some grounds from which to start. If I am testing out a possibility, I first need to know if the possibility even exists. And doesn't this run straight against my own starting point? That we begin with all the posibilities, treating them as equal and then testing them out to first see if there is that startting point at all? Did I not just say, effectivelly, that in order to test if theory of evolution os true I first need to know that theory of evolution os true?
No. I did not.
What I really said is this: what is it that makes you so certain that that is the only way? Furthermore, what is it that makes you so certain that the spiritual that you are experiancing exists in the first place? The fact that you have experianced it yourself? But how did you do it? Through meditation (for example)? So, basically, you meditate because that is the way into the spiritual and you know there is a spiritual because you touched upon it furing your meditation? In other words, you start with the belief that there is a spiritual and with the belief that the way to it is through meditation and then you meditate and really do touch the spiritual?
I am not, at this point, yet concluding that there is or isn't a "spiritual". For all I know right now, at my starting point, you could be right about it. But I am taking issue with the way you got to that point to begin with. You could have reached the right conclusion after all, but the path you took to it begs some explaining first before I can be convinced to try it out myself.
Namelly, in such a hypothetical case, I have to ask first: How did you come up with the spiritual hypothesis to begin with? Invariably, the answers I keep getting are, the just did, and then tested it out and it turned out to be true and isn't that how scientific approach works anyways, so what's my problem?
My problem is, that is not the scientific approach at all. So, I postulate the spiritual hypothesis myself. Then, I observe, collect data, and every new thing I encounter, I test against my spiritual hypothesis. Once I have done enough testing, ocne I threw enough many people out that window, if everything I have fits neatly into the spiritual hypothesis, then I can conclude that the spiritual hypothesis is true. That is the scientific approach.
The approach I keep running into, however, is never that. Because, unlike the scientific one, it always fails to do that one important thing that I mentioned earlier and that is to bring oteh knowledge, other factors into play. I already said, the only thing we can possibly do in our search for knowledg of what does and what does not exaist, is to first test it against what we already know does exist, and only ocne that fails, move on beyond that. So, in case of spirituality, or spiritual experiances, we must also consider the possibility of how brainand tought works when exposed to this practice or that, how psychology works in this situation or that.... in short, are there any other, known factors, that can produce the same effect here? If there are, and we already know them to be true - that corpus of already existing knowledge that we draw upon - then we are safe to conclude that what we know is real, produced the effect that we have just witnessed. Yes, sure, it could be explained by something else, too, but that "something else" has not been shown to exist, or at least, has not been shown to exist just yet.
Let me use an example from physics. In order to explain parts of his theory, Einstein postulated something called "a cosmic constant". If the cosmic constant exists, then his theory is complete and everything falls neatly into place. If cosmic constant does not exist, then either his theory is wrong or there is something else he did not manage to think of that's keeping things together. So, some time later, two things tunred up: one, that Einstein's theory remains in effect because everything observed thus far falls neatly into it, exactly where it's expected to fall in and two, that cosmic constant does not exist. When faced with a model, a theory, or a concept that "holds water" no matter what new thing gets discovered since, then the only thing we can conclude is that, the hypothesis is correct, but this little bit of it (in this case, the cosmic constant) is not necessarily right. And long story short, scientists plunged on, pretty damn certain that Einstein's relativity is true, because everything they know points to that conclusion, and tried to find what is it, instead of teh cosmic constant, that is really responsible for things being the way they are. And find it they did. Can't remember exactly off the top of my head all the exact things and etails about it, but it doesn't matter for what I'm trying to explain ehre. The principle of the thing, the reasoning is sound, and that's the exact same approach that I take as well.
So, back to the example in question, the spirituality hypothesis, yes, sure that all the things people experiance could be explained by something other then a mix of psychology and normal (or abnormal) functions of the body, brai n included, but if things we do know exist explain it perfectly already, what need do we have to still keep assuming that the spiritual exists after all?
The need to know, of course, the need to find out whether it truly does exist or not. But here is the glitch. In this hypothetical case, people meditating and then having the feeling of touching the divine through meditation, we know that such an experiance could be the pruduct of perfectly normal, natural things or, that it could be the product of really touching the divine. So the only objective conclusion at this point can be that we don't know for certain just yet. I still haven't made up my mind at this point - objectively, I lack more information before I can conclude that something is or isn't real.
So, the next step? Let's do it again. And again. And again. Lets take and examine every instance in which people have reported spiritual experiances. Lets keep tossing people out the window until we are certain that no matter how many times we do it, they will end up in a splat.
But wait up. No matter how many times we do thsi same, or similar thing, won't we reach the same conclusion - that, in the end, we don't know? Of course. Which is why we need to spread out, think, try to devise various tests and experiments that will cover as much ground as possible and sooner or later, we will think of one that has the biggest chanes of turning up the real answer.
And the thing is, we have done so, and we keep doing so every damn day. We draw upon the past experiances, we have to, we work with what we know is true already. And again, as Minchin said "Throughout history, every mistery turned out to be - Not magic!". We used so many windows and so many different people and every single time ended up with one simple conclusion: everything that we ahve observed can easily be exaplained by natural means. And at the same time, we have not yet glimpsed a single thing, a single occurance, that would point in the other direction. We have not, in the past how-many-thousand years seen or experianced anything that would beyond doubt point to supernatural, while at the same time, we have observed so many things that point directly o natural isntead. How many more times do we have to do it, then? How many more times before we draw that line and say, all right, this can be considered proven, no need to keep beating the dead horse now.
Ah, but of what of that thing that the spiritual can only be approached personally, that only by experiancing it you can truly know it? I still ahven't tried that out, have I? So how can I really know?
Like this: Every single test ever conducted showed the same result: people who approached meditation already certain that there is a divine and that they can touch it that way, upon meditating, reported that they have had a spiritual experiance. People who have approached the same thing without the prior belief, did not report anything spiritual. I think we can safelly conclude that we are dealing with the simple matter of wishfull thinking here - that if you want to interpret whatever you felt as spiritual, then you will and that if you don't want to, then you won't.
All right, but you can't approach spiritual like that! In order to experiance it, you cannot go into it like that, you have to open yourself up to it in order to reach it.
All right, that, too, might be true. So where do we stand now? Again, that if you believe in it, then it's real for you. And if I don't believe in it, then it's not real for me. And yet, only one of us can be right. So once again, I have to go back to the start and ask, where did you begin? Because if you truly have an open mind, then you should also count on the possibility that the only reason you are experiancing and iterpreting things the way you do is possibly not the result of anything spiritual but the product of you simply wanting it to be so.
In short, I find the "but you can only know it if you feel it" or "you have to be open to it in order to experiance it" to be baselss claims. Because... how do you know that that is indeed so? Reality, they say, is something which, if you stop believing in it, does not go away. Reality is something that has to be the same for both you, me, them, everybody. If it's reality, if it really exists, then there must be a way for all of us to know it and not merely assume it. If you start off with the assumption and then tell me the only way I can find out that your assumption si true to assume it myself first, then... Your assumption still might or might not be true, but your methodology sucks. And experiance of thousands of years tells us that, when methodology sucks, the results are invariably faulty.
In the end, where I take my stand is objectivity - a place where we, no matter what we would like to be the truth, can both stand, look at the same thing and draw the same conclusion. And science, I think, provides us the best possible means to find or create such a place, a place where we can both see the truth as it is, not as we would like it to be.
Taking a look at history of the humanity's quest for knowledge, there is one theme that keeps reccuring over and over again. Whenever science breaches yet another, previously impassable boundary, the phantoms of superstition get pushed back. People once populated the sky with various gods. People once tought that lightning comes from Zeus being angry. We poked, pried and explored and today, instead of an angry Zeus, we have electrical discharges within clouds in his place. An old assumption turned out to be wrong and what we learned is reality took its place. Once upon a time, stars were distant and unknown and people were free to populate them with any fantasy they wanted to. Today, we have reached the stars and again, reality pushed the fantasies out. And every time something like that happened, thsoe who believe in one thing or another always say "Yes, but!" and then retreat deeper into the metaphysics, raise the bar and say "Yes, but you can never explain this!" And yet, few years or few centuries later, science comes knocking on the door again, and explains even "this" that people believed can never be explained.
Look back - this has been happening ever since humankind became aware of themselves and begun exploring and discovering the reality around them. Every single time. I don't know about the rest of you, but for me, this is enough. So many centuries of everything pointing to "no", in the sense that we never saw or encountered anything definitelly pointing to "yes" yet so many things pointing to "no"... I do think that by now we have tossed enough people out the window to safelly conclude that when you push somebody out the window, that somebody ends up with a splat. And that by now, we have seen so many instances in which the supposedly supernatural turned out to be natural after all that we can safelly conclude that supernatural does not exist.
Space? The great vastness that could hold an astral dimension? The spiritual bodies? Consciousness of those long lost to us? We are in space right now, and we have not encountered a single thing resembling that. Push the bar up again - so it's something that we cannot detect like this yet? Some while ago, the same was said about black holes, yet today, mini black holes are being created and studied in laboratories. Those things that there was no way to ever explore? We are exploring them even as I type this. But... magic, bioenergy, astral bodies... are really made of something spiritual, not material and you can never find them out using your materialistic way of approach! Really? How do you know? How can you tell? Could it be that... you're really backpaddling now? On what possible or impossible grounds are you even making such a claim? I have yet to hear a proper answer to this one. And even allowing for the possibility (which I still do) that that is really so, what makes you think that we can't? If there exists such a thing as "magic particle", we will find it. Everything we once tought was beyond our reach, we have eventually reached. There is no good reason whatsoever to assume that we can't push even further now. Materialistic approach cannot achieve it? Again, I do not see any base for such a claim. Everything we have found out to be the truth so far is material. Matter is, for all we know, and by now, we know a lot, the only thing that actually exists. We can still allow for the possibility that there is even more out there, or we can still cling to hope that there is, but the thing is, so far, nothing points to it. That "so far" is a lot. And by now, enough to be certain that if there has been no quack, no feathers, no footprints and no eggs in sight that, in all likeliness, there is no duck either.
And if there is that duck, I am certain, I "know" that we will find it. Whatever that duck turns out to be. I strognly suspect it will be what many people hope it will be, though.
And here is one last thing: the ever-present accusations that scientists, rationalists, materialists like me are closed-minded, stubborn and so set in our ways that we don't want to know the truth. Wrong! Imagine that, tomorrow, we do find that, as unlikely as that is by now, magic does exist. That bioenergy is for real. And that there is a karma after all, or that great silent song of the universe that pulses inside us all and our way to the stars is through finding it within us and tuning into it. Imagine the posibilities! I promise you, scientists would be out of themselves for joy! I would be out of myself for joy. So many new frontiers suddenly open - for research, for learning, for knowing. We'd all leap at it like a pack of dogs at a bone.
So no, it is not the scientists, the rationalists, the materialistically-oriented minds that are closed. I'm afraid it's those others that truly are. Because, if tomorrrow, their phantoms turn out to be just that - phantoms, if their ideas turn out to be fake after all then... What is left for them and of them then? All the things they hold dear, believe in and grew to depend on shattered down.... where does that leave them?
In pieces, that's where. And that is why they feel safe only as long as they don't know. And faced with teh possibility of finding out, they accept the reality, as we discover it, with a nod if they like it and shut their eyes, plug their ears and try to raise the bar again if the answer is not the one they wanted to hear. No matter how much evidence you put in front of them, no matter how many times you explain, there will always be people who will just not want to face the truth unless the truth is what they want it to be.
Of course, after all the things I said here, I have not really convinced anyone of anything. Which is all right, because that was not my intention anyway. If someone ends up thinking about all this, fine, but not necessary. I do hope, though, that at least, I explained where do my own toughts and positions on the reality around us come from. And, given the lenght of this and how complicated it gets at times, why have I long lost the will to explain all this, every single time.
So the bottom line, from where I stand, things look like this: We have had many different ideas about our reality. In time, we have explored much, and that "time" is a long time indeed. Not once did we find anything that points to karma, or astral, or gods, or that astrology works or that universe sings. Everything we have encountered thus far had and has an explanation grounded in reality that we know (and again, we know a lot about it today). It's been a couple of thousands of years of this and I think I can now safelly say that no, it doesn't quaack like a duck, it doesn't walk like a duck, it doesn't wobble like a duck and therefore, it is not a duck, despite people's heartfelt desire that it is a duck. This is why all the things I growl at have been packed into my "utter bullshit" box. And that is why I think that after all that, you still persist in "Yes, but!", that what you are really doing is clinging to the view of the world as you would like it to be rather then growing up and accepting the world for what it really is instead.
Which leads me to the final bit of this long-winded post and that is why am I on this "crusade" of mine the way I am. This is where I come from, and these are the implications of it:
Why in the nine hells don't I just let go? Yeah, sure, fine, I can see where you come from but for hells' sake woman, why can't you just live and let live? Why this need to go and growl into people's faces about it, why don't you just let those you see as fools be happy fools? Do you really feel such a need to be right all the time? Why the hells can't you just sit and be your realistic self without the need to shove it down everyone's throat all the time?
Because of the way people think, that's why. This might be a bit difficult to explain, but I got this far, so I'll do my best to finish what I started and explain even this: Because of the way people think.
And the way people think is where everything really begins. Because what I choose to call "magical thinking" has its implications and its effects on every-day life, effects I find to be disturbing and destructive, not only to those thinking in such a way but to those around them as well. Not all the time, not all the way and of course, not grandly and drastically so, most of the time at least. Most of the time, with most people, it passes down and is pretty harmless. But sometimes, it does lead to things that do harm - personal harm, general harm, whatever. And yes, it is a personal issue for me - don't go thinking I'm trying to be a great altruist or something here: I'm not. Magical way of thinking affects me, and that is why I am so keen on changing it, eradicating it, doing awy with it, in as many people as I can because less people think like that, less chances of me getting hurt again.
I am not talking now about religious right, the fundamentalists, the terrorist attacks and so on (though we could all surely do without all that crap, too). No, I'm talking about the very foundations of it, the way people think about things, their life, the world and other people around them. Do they think magically or rationally? The difference is huge, even if the end results can often be the same or very similar.
Take a well-known example as a shocase. Say we have a believing person and a materialistic person. And when I say "materialistic", I mean, someone like me, someone whose worldview is based on the fact that everything we are and evrything that exists is matter. They are both good people. They are altruistic, they wish to help themsleves and the people around and them and all that jazz. Why are they both like that? All evolutionary aspects of it aside, we can say that both teh materialist and the believer came to the same conclusion - that they ought to be good people. And if they came to the same conclusion, and one that is good at that, then what is the harm? So what if they came to it using a different approach? Hey, it's the result that counts, right?
Wrong. It's the path that counts, sometimes much more then the end result itself.
Because when at the core, you have a magical way of thinking, you are, sooner or later, bound to blunder. Because in the root of how you percieve things lies the idea of belief and that belief is good. This is why I say that knowledge, reason, trumps belief ten times out of ten: Belief is something that is always in danger of being inaccurate. Knowledge is not. Whatever you build upon belief could, sooner or later, be destroyed if that belief crushes down. If you rely on believing, you keep yourself in a metastate, in which you are not certain what things are like and thus are relying on what you believe things are like.
I am not saying that what you believe in, whatever that might be, is necessarily wrong for the sole reason of it being a belief. I am saying that you are in danger that, should what you believe in turn out to be wrong, everything you built upon it will go down with it. And people build upon it a lot.
But isn't knowledge just as fickle? Is it not true that what you know today might turn out to be not true tomorrow? Yes to the latter, but no to the former. I am not talking about actual things one knows or one believes in, I am talking about the way they think - magically or rationally. And therefore, yes to the latter - what I know today might turn out to be wrong tomorrow. But, I have already built up my tought process to always be based on knowledge so even if you substitute one knowledge for another, you did not break the foundation of the way I think: I will still base myself on knowledge, not belief.
But... isn't it the same with "magical thinking" then? If one belief turns out to be false, and another belief takes its place, isn't that the same thing?
It could be. I am no psychlogist so I cannot say for certain, but personally, I don't see it working like that with "magical thinking". Because magical thinking assumes from the start that not knowing for certain is enough to build upon. It assumes that being fairly certain or worse yet, that wanting something to be a certain way is enough to be certain that that something really is that way. And if you go through life like that, regarding everything through the base prism of "if I believe it then it must be true" is bound to lead you into blunders more often than not.
Because what grows out of magical thinking is always only that solid. And since belief is always less solid then a firm fact, no matter how strong a belief it may be, instead of building yourself on solid foundations - your personality, your way of thinking and dealing with things - you always end up floating on a cloud and should that cloud ever evaporate then... Well, you know what happens then as well as I do.
So, you start off by believing, and everything else in life you will observe through that lense. I can't believe I did not get an A! I can't believe she's such a bitch! I can't believe I did not win the lottery! And then, naturally, but if I believe hard enough, I will do it, I will make it, I will get it. This concept floats through every last tought you have, every single decision you make, whetehr you're aware of it or not. And chances of making a wrong call increase. Chances of being fooled increase. Guilabillity does not seem as bad as it should be - why wouldn't I trust him, why wouldn't I try this, I know this sounds crazy but maybe tehre is soemthing in what s/he's saying...?
If you think magically, the politicians are more likely to sway your vote their way. If you think magically, you are more prone to buying soemthing yo don't really need because you're suggestible that way. Not always, not drastically, but that is what always lurks on the horizon.
And it can and sometimes does lead you further down that road. Say you're jsut a little bit guilablle at the start, due to your basic approach to things. So... maybe there is something in this horoscope after all? That can be a fleeting tought you never have again but likewise, few years from now you could find yourself in front of some fraud or the otehr, gulping down his every word as he comunicates with your dead pet rat.
I'm not saying you will, I am not even saying that those who think magically are not capable of critical tought, only that when chips are down, it could go down that road for them while it could never go down that road for a rational thinker.
You could easily end up some day thinking to yourself, for example, "God lead me to this job!" or "It is our faith not to be together" or something like that. Chances are, you'll think something like that once you really do find your dream job or ocne you really did meet the partner of your dreams. Howegver, you could just as well be wasting your life on one job while missing out on an even better one for you or spedning the rest of your life separated from someone you really could have "had it all" with.
Again, I am not saying you will, and you most likelly won't, but at the very start, you are less prone to questioning things around you then you could be or should be. I am not saying that magical thinking makes you choose the wrong job or end up with a partner you would be better off without - I am only using this as an example of a possibility that, due to magical thinking, is more likely to happen to you then to me.
I also feel that "magical thinkers" have more problems growing up and growing up as persons afterwards. Because if thinking magically, people are less prepared to drop the security blankets of childhood and grow up when the time comes. They cling just a tad bit longer, and drag out the adult part of growing up a tad bit further. Nothing drasticall, most of the time, but it does peep through. And in the long run, it can do harm.
As I said, I am really not qualified to say that all this is absolutelly true. This is the way I see things, based on the experiance I have and the knowledge I possess, no more and no less then that. I am not absolutelly certain that I am right, but I am certain that, trained, self-trained and used to putting the data I have together in a certain, rational way, at the very least, my conclusions do ahve a bit bigger chance of being correct then those reached by people who "think magically"
That said, this was the core of it, the bottom of why I find belief-based way of thinking harmfull, to everybody. If more people tought rationally, if more people were ready to accept the truths about reality instead of clinging to theri desired perception of reality, we'd all be a much better and happier bunch all together. I think.
On a bigger, more general scale, I also see things like this:
If you are ready or prone to lapping up what's being served to you, and the chances of that increase with the amount of belief you nurture, the chances of you happily reading the Kuran one day and slamming yourself into Twin Towers the next also increase. Sure, one needs to go into extreme in order to do that, but the thing is, if one was thinking critically and rationally to begin with, no way in hells he'd gobble up all the crap he had to gobble up to end up thinking that ramming itno a building full of people is a good thing.
If you start thinking that there might be something to this astrology after all, you might end up checking your astral chart for everything you do in your life, from finding a job to choosing a partner to the best time of the day to walk your pet dog. If you think critically, rationally from the start, you might end up stll thinking that there might be something to it, but you'd be aware of the chances of you being right, would not end up giving up your right to make your own choices and relying on astrology instead and would be prepared for the possibility of there not being anything to it no matter how much you want it to be or alternativelly, for the possibility of there being something to it no matter how impossible it might seem to you right now. And in either case, you'd not be shaken to boot by the discovery.
Picketing funerals of gay marines, doing great harm to the families in grief, blowing up abortion clinics or letting women die rather then allowing them to abort a fetus, speding your life addicted to horoscopes or driving planes into various buildings... none of this would be happening if more people were less guilable. If the majority of people realized the advantages of critical tought over magical tought, if those prone to magical thinking ended up as minority, then we wouldn't have so many televangelists or mircaulous cancer cures or parents killing their children by refusing to have them vaccinated on time doing harm to themsleves and others around them. We would have less ignorance and more knowledge, less hurt and more happiness and because of that, hells yes! I will go after people's throats and growl into their faces over all this and more! Because it harms everybody, because it harmed me.
That is why I'm this militant and not backing down. That is why I can't, and won't "live and let live", that is why when you start sprouting some superstition or other around me - superstition being anything that people want to be the truth but has never been proven or has been proven to be false or has already been explained away by natural means - I will spit on that, laugh at you and call you a bloody fool. Because it's harmful. And as such, needs to go away and it wont go away if everybody just sits donw and "lets live".
So... That's about it, I guess. I hope that for once, I did finally manage to explain myself - where do I come from, how I got there, what logic did I follow to get there, why am I so damn certain that my conclusion is correct and, finally, why do I feel and act the way I do. And next time someone accuses me of being too militant, being a fundamentalist or engages me in a conversation about things supernatural... Well, this, I suppose, is my answer to that.
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