12/26/2016 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
Would you prefer to think or believe? Which is more important to you, believing stuff, or finding out what's real, no matter how much effort it may take? Are you by nature a doubter, unwilling to accept without question what people claim? Are you a searcher, or an acceptor? Do you find more pleasure in discovering new facts about reality, or would you rather go along with "common sense," despite your doubts? Think before you answer.
Over the years, I’ve tried to help people in their predicaments, i.e., another name for religions. Looking for comparisons, I've used being placed on a tightrope over hell, on which believers are told they have to walk. (Perhaps you have a few of your own.) At the moment, one idea comes to mind that sounds close to home. I'll copy an idea initiated by Lewis Carroll, in his poem, "Jabberwocky." He would combine words to make one word which, oddly, seemed to make sense. I'm going with "Thwim" a combination of "Theology" and "Swim." Believers all over the world who prefer not to think about what they believe, ..."thwim." As long as there have been gods, theologians have been thwimming for them, explaining them, making excuses for them, and performing miracles in their names. And ever since, all believers have been thwimming for the theologians' gods. Oddly, "in the thwim," they have to swim against the tidal flow of evidential reality. Fighting against the tendency to thinking is strenuous exercise.
Rather than thwim alone, believers tend to occupy belief-boats, where they oar away on the troubled waters created by their theologians. (To be fair, most of them are born on the boat, and don't know any other environment.) Theologians' shills are required in the boats, to urge the oarers on. This is encouraged also, by the fact some of the belief-vessels are highly elaborate, impressive, or baroque, ergo they create the image of being very important. But no matter how ornate the chamberpot, it's still a chamberpot. And be aware: no matter what the religion, it's the same boat.
For the individual believer, thwimming involves using any possible maneuvers, methods, and contortions of mind to stay afloat. On or off the boat, no notice is posted: "Thwimming is hazardous to your mental health." But it ought to be. Thwim is founded on superstition and fears. Believers cling to the message: "Don't look back; something may be gaining on you." That "something" is doubt.
who dare to thwim alone have been warned by the fearful on board: "Don't listen to those who will lead you astray, telling you to think, not thwim. Thinking may lead to doubt and doubt will lead you to a safe port, the tempters will say. This is what they'll tell you, but trust us when we warn you: all ports are unsafe outside the waters. Cover your ears and say, ‘I can't hear you.' Reasoning and searching are Sirens luring you to destruction. Thinking and doubt? Avoid them; there's no other choice; it's either thwim or drown."
It's much easier to go with the traditional better-safe-than-sorry theological flow than to swim against its current. The current may take believers over the waterfall into the rocks, but thwimmers not only fear to look back; they won't look at that possibility, either. Even if they could imagine plunging over, they'd take that risk, together.
The powers of the thwimming fear-mongers do their utmost to prevent anyone from thinking and doubting, by preaching that doing so will lead to discovery and ultimately, perdition. (Ignoring them, fearless explorers do take their chances, though.) "Your free will will take you over the edge of the physical as well as the immortal world," they used to warn.
Doubt is the suspicion that what you've been told may not be true. Those who doubt are free.
Once you stop thwimming, start thinking, stop being afraid of your doubts and give in to them, and keep investigating outside the thwim, something eventually happens: like the first creatures of evolution exiting the water onto firm land, a whole new world of possibilities opens, a world in which to change, to become many forms most wondrous. There is freedom in which to run and leap, walk, and fly! You may have been born and raised in the thwim waters, but your real freedom as a human being is outside them, thinking, investigating, and discovering the universe itself. Think.