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Wisdom Calls at 4am

By Carl S ~

Woke up at 4 a. m. By 5:30, I knew it was hopeless to try and get back to sleep. The usual leg pains, gnawing stomach, backache, burning knee, lying in a mind/body struggle. Now I'm laughing, thinking about the absurdities of the “intelligent designed” organisms spoken of from pulpits, by those who ignore evidence. My body tells them what to do with that nonsense. What often keeps me awake are the aggravations and frustrations of thinking how to reason against such nonsense. I've wised up, so I’m sharing the wisdom that came knocking at 4 a. m. I appreciate your interest. You can think about these things too. Enjoy.

To begin: “It is not wisdom to ignore evidence.” Wow. I don't know who wrote that, but I've memorized those seven words. They explain so much of what is wrong, has been wrong, in societies, explain why there are unmovable religious believers, intelligent design believers, climate deniers, much political bias, etc., etc. Denying evidence is maladaptive, though understandable. Reality can be tough.

Now combine “It is not wisdom to deny evidence” with, “Science adjusts its views based on what is observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.” (Tim Minchin.). To say that science adjusts its views on what is observed is to say that science is a practice of those who will be mentally and psychologically mature. Do compare this to those who “stick with what they believe in,” regardless of all evidence to the contrary, an attitude better known as “faith.”

It is not wisdom to ignore evidence. It is unwise to ignore the evidence. It is foolish to ignore evidence-based reality. In judicial systems, ignoring evidence is not called “faith,” it's called “prejudice.” It isn't wisdom that denies evidence. It is fear, paranoia, or it might be just plain old-fashioned stubbornness or bullheadedness. What's virtuous or moral about that? Far from being a position of humility, it is an arrogant and selfish stance.

Philosopher Jamie Whyte writes:
“The idea that you can't argue with the morally sincere, that caring licenses irrationality, is as pernicious as it is popular. It displays a lack of moral seriousness. If the matter at hand is something you genuinely care about, then you should seek more than ever to believe the truth about it. And rationality is merely that way of thinking that gives your beliefs the greatest chance of being true. To dispense with it on the ground you care is preposterous. As the moral temperature rises, so should our devotion to the truth and hence to proper reasoning.”

“The idea that sincerity may substitute for reason is founded on an egocentric attitude toward belief: that what I believe is all about me, not about reality. What matters is not that the position I favor will have the best or the intended effects, or that the problems I worry about are real and grave, but only that I hold my position from the right sentiments, that I am good.”

He calls this an “egocentric disdain for the truth.”

Christianity [...] is the invention of Paul of Tarsus, who fell off a horse and had a vision, heard a voice, which he interpreted as his own personal “revelations.” If there is one thing that stands out from reading the personal experiences related on this site, it is in seeing results that come from pursuing moral seriousness. Jamie Whyte's two paragraphs describe the differences between being a believer and an ex-believer. This is why it is an “ex” Christian site. We still get responses from the “trolls” with their egocentric attitudes in what they prefer to believe, their disagreeing using arguments from theology, not morality. With the foregoing statements it should come as no surprise that we equate faith, the ignoring of evidence, with prejudice, and that the reinforced faith of many is the reinforced prejudice of many.

Oh, how we could have seen Christian dogmas as methods to ignore evidence, if we had investigated them much earlier in our lives. Unfortunately, we were raised to accept them as intrinsic to our society. But from a religion's beginnings, this is the way things have come to be. In this, the religious atmosphere you were born into is no different from any other.

Christianity: This religion is the invention of Paul of Tarsus, who fell off a horse and had a vision, heard a voice, which he interpreted as his own personal “revelations.” (Trauma can lead to strange results.) From that point on, by tradition, ”personal revelations” became equated with “evidence.” But, in order to stick to his delusional believing, he had to ignore evidence disagreeing with it, including that of the moral thinkers of his time. He, and those who preach as he did, still declare even the worldly wisdom of the Greeks as foolishness compared to the mind of his god. Paul even went so far in denying the “evidence for Jesus,” that in his mind he apparently created his own Christ-Jesus figure, divorced from the gospel Jesus.

In Michael B. Paulkovich's article, “the Gospel Truth” (American Atheist magazine, 2nd and 3rd quarter 2012), we find, “Christendom claims Saul (Paul) among the first NT writers; yet Saul never met Jesus. Apparently he spent a fortnight with Peter, long after the crucifixion: ” I went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and I tarried with him for fifteen days.” Surely Saul, tarrying with Peter, would have pestered Peter non-stop about the son of God. Or vice-versa, Peter would have blathered on endlessly about Jesus' incredible miracles, portentous medical knowledge, and incisive philosophical lectures. Clearly this is not the case. Saul never writes about any act performed by Jesus. He seems to be aware of but two “facts” about Jesus' life: that he was crucified and resurrected, and that he had brothers.”

You have to give Paul credit. He sincerely stuck to what he believed in despite all evidence to the contrary. He said that the wisdom of the world, requiring evidence, is “foolish” to his god, after all.

These are a few examples of what happens when evidence is ignored; viewpoints are not adjusted accordingly as new evidence is found, or evidence is rejected offhandedly. “Faith” is the word I would use to define this as a habitual practice. “Immature” is another. ( Isn't this practice nothing more than a refusal to grow up?) No wonder so many people find religion attractive. )

To become wisely mature, you'll have to give in to and follow the evidence, follow your doubts. This is a process of psychological and emotional maturation. As with the process of becoming a mature sexual person, so too in rejecting what you have been told to blindly believe, you must be willing to lose your innocence. As in experiencing sex, you'll wonder what kept you from losing such “innocence” in the first place. So much of living eyes-fully-wide-open was waiting for you to find.