I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Truth, part 2

On my last post, my good friend speecialpants left an interesting comment, which I have been pondering, and will attempt to run with.

"You should go further with this in terms of what you think the internet's role is in all this..."

The internet is replacing the traditional method that the writing of history has followed. Video, audio, scanned documents, e-mail are all regularly leaked to expose events- and once they are on the internet, by and large they are there ad aeternum. Nearly any event worthy of note that happens within range of a person with a blog gets documented there. If you want to find the information on something, you can. And the people who are not tuned into this idea- they are the older generations. We're raising children in an age where any information they might need to know is just a click away.

How is the internet then going to subvert religion and destroy us?

Well, simply, religion cannot survive analysis in the harsh light of a scientific lab, and, when the evidence reducing the matter to an issue of pure faith is viewed from a logical and rational perspective, a lot of less-than solid believers will be shaken.

What is an issue of pure faith? By that I mean, when it comes down to it, you should believe in your religion purely because you choose to and despite any evidence for or against it. If you are going to be swayed by some recently unearthed artifact, then just how faithful were you anyway?

"Meanwhile! I kept thinking of the issue of meaning when I read your post. Society endeavors to create meaning - "truth" is invested in power - they'r nearly synonymous..."

Ah, the 'meaning' conundrum.

As humans, we have the burden (should we so choose to recognize it) of dealing with the fact that we are thinking animals. Incorporated in that are a great deal of paradoxes- for example, the disdain for killing, but the need to kill to survive. One of the other more distrubing issues we deal with as thinking animals is the issue of reality/our own delusion. I see reality and meaning as the same thing explained in different ways. Some of the greatest philosophers have wrestled with 'meaning' and from their wrestlings I can conclude: when you get to that level of granularity, it's a lot like saying a word so many times it starts to sound nonsensical.

So, what is our own delusion?

Our delusion is that thing we generate to make it all OK. If you stop a person on the street and ask them to define a bunch of words, they will likely find they are unable to explain some words which they are completely comfortable using. Also, if you ask ten people at a crime scene what they saw, you get ten stories with varying contradictions. Just like the blind spot in our vision which is covered by our brains, just like many other less familiar instances of our brains filling in details which we take for granted... we do a good job of ignoring the gaps in instances where we have learned that: the end result seemed ok, so, noneed to pay attention to the gaps. Our delusion is that we don't have the gaps, that we aren't flawed in many ways.

We all hone our own delusions.

Now, I know you meant a different kind of 'meaning'- but I needed to go here first.

Society is an odd creature. It's a projection of that Jungian thing, the collective unconcious, but then again, it's also a bastard child of television, advertising, and many others. We can look up 'society' in books and read confidently what other people tell us it is. What is the society of the USA? Not one person can answer that condifently, or give an answer which is that same as someone else's- not an answer which isn't canned, anyway.

It would be a difficult thing to tear meaning away from society, but how I percieve them makes the connection less powerful.

Our powers of perception are tied to our needs. Our innate abilities of pattern recognition work constantly to amaze and also confuse us. See also: superstition. The word 'society' is used to describe a complex pattern, much like 'meteorology' is used to describe another complex pattern. Some very focused individuals can tell us fascinating facts about these complex systems, but in truth, nobody can tell for sure what they will do besides prance around within a certain range.

The meaning we see emanating from society is just a form of pattern recognition, but in any case, it's a no-win situation.

"Fact is that science and religion go hand in hand with the state and the truth-production you speak of. In terms of power one isn't necessarily better than other."

Definitely. I do think one is better than the other, though. Science, while not always kind, is always altruistic. Of course, corporations can do science in the name of their own interests, but as a whole, the outcome of the contributions to scientific knowledge benefits all. Religion (organized) pretends to be altruistic, but in truth it is wholly selfish. "If you do not believe as we do, then you will not receive all the benefits of being part of our group. In fact, believe opposite of us and we will work against you." - wad all religions together, and this is their effective mission statement. Science is there for all to benefit from no matter what you believe, organized religion does PR work, but definitely isn't there for you regardless of your beliefs.

"Why not venture beyond the notion, the statement of "The Truth" and bring it down to the level of a supposition hamstringed by the interests of power through the way you talk. And do it on the internet, too!"

Ow. Yeah. This is usually where I go from talking about thoughts and ideas, the camera pans way out and I jump straight to the misanthropic conclusion. There is one way to assure that a perfectly planned and logical system will fail- let a human run it. We are feeble and delusionary, not very much in control of ourselves, and we are the ruling power on the planet, just below mother nature. There is not much we fear but death or torture, and that's certainly an excellent method of controlling us.

I may have to make a part three to this after I think on it some more.


At April 05, 2007 11:04 AM, Blogger speecialpants said...

You rock!

At April 09, 2007 9:47 AM, Blogger speecialpants said...

I found this neat article at Cognitive Daily today: http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2007/04/how_concerned_should_scientists_be_with_framing.php#more

It talks about framing in terms of the risks involved with valuing science over religious tenets. Pretty interesting stuff. I think a lot of people prefer to put their cards on religion over science because of the gamble:

"People will gamble to try to avoid a guaranteed loss, but will take the sure money when considering a gain. So let's apply this logic to a controversial scientific issue: evolution. Religious fundamentalists say that evolution is wrong because the Bible says God created all life. What's more, if you don't believe in the Bible, you're going to suffer eternal damnation. So "believing" in evolution leads to damnation. From a framing perspective, this is a pretty good argument -- people will take the "safer" bet and believe in the truth of the Bible."



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