I came across this piece which I wrote on a blogsite some time ago …
A lot of the online argument in this general area tends to be sterile and futile, largely (in my opinion) because of the aggression with which certain people try to slap down anything that’s ‘unscientific’. Personally, I have no religious or quasi-religious belief that I try to convince anyone else of. In fact, I have no strong belief of this sort at all, and no interest in trying to undermine or ridicule the beliefs of others.
As I see it, reality exists irrespective of our beliefs about it. Our senses and our minds are limited, and probably not fit for the purpose of understanding everything. Science can reveal a lot, but it cannot fully reveal reality because it is an aspect of our limited minds and is therefore limited, whereas reality is not. Science is like a torch … useful for finding our way round a cave; useless when we step out into the sunlight.
We all have a model of the world inside our heads. This may have been highly influenced by what we were taught as children, or we may have figured much of it out for ourselves, according to our temperament and preferences. In any case, it is wrong. It does not correspond to reality, because we are not and will never be omniscient.
It seems to me that some people fetishize such concepts as ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’. These certainly have their place in the advancement of science, but outside that place they amount to superstition. We ‘know’ a minuscule amount. There is no evidence or proof for the unknown, but it still exists.
We build our model by applying logic, reason, tradition, intuition, intelligence, direct experience, inklings, epiphanies, and so forth, in varying proportions depending on our nature. Many of those with highly ‘logic-built’ models, in my opinion, undervalue models of other sorts and attempt to smash them. Their logic-built model does not reflect reality … it simply reflects their nature.
As long as it does no particular harm, one model of reality is probably no better or worse than any other … it’s just different. Best of all, to my mind, would be to treat our model as unreliable and provisional, and to avoid loving it too much. After all, it’s only a model.
4 responses to “Reality, religion, ‘proof’ and so on”
If I may quote the old cliché – I wish I wrote what you did – it will save me any more words. I echo your point of view.
Many thanks, Ike.
Very clear, intelligent piece with some excellent thoughts. I may have read this before?
Thank you, Shermeen. Yes, I think I posted it on MyT back in the olden days. 🙂