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Category: spirituality

apophenia, patternicity, pareidolia

We see patterns in things.  What is this?

No it’s not.  It’s three circles and a line.

Patternicity, as coined by Michael Shermer in this article [scientificamerican.com], helps illustrate how and why we see patterns in otherwise meaningless things.

Pareidolia, as explained by Wikipedia, is why you hear your phone ring when it doesn’t.  Or, more often for me, I feel my phone vibrate, even when it doesn’t.  When presented with noise of one type or another, we see patterns in it.  Our brain does this with pretty much everything.  As an engineer, I’m hit with this a lot when trying to debug something.  A pattern appears, I pursue it to fix a problem, and in the end, it didn’t exist (or was just unrelated).  Even though I’m not trained out of patternicistic behaviour, I know that I do it.

Add that together with our own desire to be validated.  If I believe something, I’m going to interpret the world according to that belief [wikipedia.org].

This makes it somewhat psychologically inescapable to reinterpret things according to our pattern of thoughts.  I’m mostly talking about modern Christian’s interpretation and Jesus-spotting in the Old Testament.  I think it takes some suspension of disbelief and creative interpreting to pull out some of the prophecies of Jesus from places I wouldn’t expect them.  Even one of the first prophecies they say apply to Jesus…

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.  -Gensis 3.15

It seems, just like many similar passages, this is interpreted as prophecy by a liberal application of Captain Hindsight.  When you see how things are, its very easy to interpret things to prove that the thing you already know is true.

Party of the…beauty…or ugly…of it, is that there is no way of knowing if it is true.  Jews don’t tend to see many of the so-called “Prophecies” Christians see in the Old Testament as prophetic works, Christians claimed them as prophetic after the fact.  It just doesn’t seem fair to me.

And, one more thing.  Every indication in the Old Testament was that the Messiah would be victorious when he came.  I see no evidence of multiple comings, nor of Jesus fitting the bill as the Jewish messiah.  However, if you creatively reinterpret afterwards, it’s very easy to claim “Now we see!”, and change the interpretation of the past to fit the present.

God gave some criteria for prophets.  It doesn’t seem like many of these prophecies fit the bill.  It very much fits in how we spend so much of our time seeing / imagining patterns.   Some of them are real.  Some are not.  The mechanism to see which is real or not is lacking, and most do not even try to discern.

things i believe, or dont or whatever

I guess I can come out of the closet.  It’s probably one of those situation where everyone already knows I am, but I don’t admit it to the general public.  Actually, I don’t think about it much.  It’s not like it eats away at me.  I know everyone is is just screaming in their heads, “COME OUT AND SAY IT ALREADY”, and I’m just here dragging my feet.  Sorry for taking so long.  I’m pretty much an agnostic.

 

My apologies to the Muslims/Buddhists/whoever.  This will be primarily discussed in its relationship to Christianity, but the thoughts can be applied everywhere.

It boggles my mind a little how controversial agnosticism can be.  Or perhaps it’s not at all controversial, and I’ve just grown up in situations where it becomes very controversial.  At ye olde alma mater [cedarville.edu], one of the hot issues was the matter of truth and certainty, assurance of salvation, etc.  At the core, the question becomes, can we know things with absolute certainty?  Or, can absolute truth be known?

Let me back up.  I write this just as much for my own benefit, as it helps sort and clarify my own thoughts, as I do for you, those who will vote for me in the 2028 presidential election.  I’m not saying I don’t believe in God; I certainly do.  The reasons are due to personal experiences, things I can’t safely attribute to randomness or chance, and specific events which spoke to my own mind and soul.  That’s part of the individuality of God relating to us; some people find God in a cute puppy, others in the workings of the atom.  For me, the intervention of God in my life has, I believe, at all junctions been shown through me by the statements and influence he has had on me through my own father.  On three separate occasions, he has shown uncharacteristic behaviour in a precise way, though not knowing beforehand what effect that would have on me.  Beyond that, all I have learned and known of God had and has been academic…quite important to my growth, but nothing to provide a real root or faith.

Therefore, in a core, absolute sense, I am not an agnostic;  I do firmly believe in God, though I cannot prove, nor will make any such attempts to prove the existence of such a being.  Furthermore, I believe all attempts to prove such a being’s existence or lack thereof will be flawed and end with nearly no good done.  The only way an individual can react to God is by God reaching them in a way particular to them.  This may be through other people; it may even be through someone else trying prove God’s existence!  I’m trying not to get bogged down in the details.  The point is there exist no proof, objectively, of God or notGod.  Only anecdote.

Beyond this, I don’t claim to particularly know anything about God.  I’ve been raised with excellent theology, have had my mind trained by leadership camps, worldview seminars, Bible degrees, and that which most significantly warps my thought process…a degree in engineering.  My brain is (as of yet) insatiably inquisitive and contrary, even to its own thoughts.  There are many religions with diverse beliefs.  Within each individual religion there are independent sects, often with intra-religious conflicting beliefs.  Most sects of all religions have those considered learned and wise in religious and intellectualism…and I believe they are.  How can so many learned folk be in such disagreement on what is knowable, and on what that knowledge is?

I believe we cannot know much beyond this.  We should pursue knowledge and growing, and we will always find and grow in beliefs…but every belief that you have will be able to be countered by some logic, mindset, theory, whatever.  The reason people believe so many different things is because we cannot prove most things one way or another, so people are drawn to conclusions through a variety of mechanisms.  Some are sound.  Some are not sound.  Two people may believe the same thing…one because of real investigation leading him there, and another simply because they were brought up that way, and have never considered it.  Some people will say 2 + 2 = 4, because of math.  Some will say 2 + 2 = 4 because, it just feels right.  With the same answer, is one person right, and one wrong?  If someone says they believe in God through study and searching, and another believes in the same God because it just feels right, are they both in the same place?  I can’t answer those questions.  Even MATH can foil you. As Mark Twain once said, there are … “lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

Alright, I know this sort of discussion causes one mindset to dance with joy in the brain, and the other to say…what are you saying, and why do I care? Give me real things I can disagree with, you dirty hipster.

Let me share some practical things this leads me to not believe.  I’m not against them.  I just really don’t see any reason for them beyond faith, and the faith it takes for these things is no different than the faith Muslims have about their dogma.  Neither do I see God extending himself to validate the existance of dogma.  Many people feel God working and moving to make his presence known.  I don’t know of even any anecdotes relating to the following:

  • The innerrancy of the Bible (in any form it takes)
  • Doctrine of the Trinity
  • Literal deity of Jesus
  • Being “saved” by the work of Jesus

Really, this is enough to have me stricken from the Christian records.  That’s alright.  Jesus was Jewish anyway, so I don’t mind not being a Christian.  What does concern me…I don’t want to say it scares me, though sometimes it does…is the thought that my lack of dogma would separate me from community.  I am active in a church’s youth group, and I wouldn’t want these things to have them feel that I cannot provide leadership and wisdom.  Kids are in a shitty place, through not much fault of their own, and I like being able to help them.  I wouldn’t even mind being shut out of the church, or rejected by my peers.  I want to be able to show those kids they can make it, and that there is a better path.

Overally, people grow up believing what they grew up with.  Some explore and find other things.  Some don’t.   I’m tired of attributing problems to Christianity or specific beliefs.  It has almost nothing to do with religion or politics, even though that’s where the fiercest battles take place.  It has to do with being human. Humans of all religions and all political affiliations believe different things, but overall, act the same way.

Christianity specifically, and many other religions, place emphasis on faith.  It’s theoretically not a problem that we cannot prove things; we live by faith!  However, how do you place that faith?  On that, there is no barometer.  There are scientific findings that make Christianity look silly.   Common sense seems it should render cults ineffective.  But that’s ok…they live by faith.  If there is no standard, then we cannot judge anything as objective truth, ever…at least, in the world we live in now.  People can live only by faith, and they will believe whatever it is they end up believing.

And you know what? I’m ok with that.  Now, I strongly prefer when people think, explore, and come to thoughtful conclusions through study and communion with God.  Everyone is not like that.  Though I won’t claim the Bible to be true in an absolute sense, it certainly has wisdom, and the body of any community has many parts…all different.

I’m not being entirely truthful.  It drives me batshit insane when people act illogically, and rejects the clearest indications of things we can know because of their beliefs.  As a brief example, take global warming.  Bringing up global warming will be near-immediately rejected in certain circles.  However, all indications provide evidence that the earth is, in fact, warming.  Put aside your beliefs for a moment. Accept that evidence clearly shows this is true.  After that, you can be on the same page to discuss why the world is getting warmer.  Please, don’t close your eyes.  Don’t be dogmatic.  Let both your faith and your intellect intertwine.

I reject a lot of things.  Reject is strong word.  Perhaps I really just mind less and less.

I’ll tell you what I do believe in.  God, loving him, and loving other people.  I can’t tell you why.  But I’ll try and show you, even though I suck even at it.

even cthulhu can be cute

morning

i woke up at 5am today.

it has been quite some time since i’ve seen 5am.  i honestly can’t put my finger on the last time.  there’s a better chance that it was a late-night-bar-hopping-home-at-5:30am event rather than waking up to the sun.

it’s not my fault. i brought my brother in law to the airport.

its abstractly fascinating to feel awake, and see the clock ticking off numbers that i don’t recall seeing while being functional.

i’m eating well; lots of fruits and vegetables, minimal (but still there!) meat, very few sugary drinks or processed garbage.  that means day to do, i feel great, and even when i wake up this early, i still feel good and ready to go.

my brain is near its peak, if not at it.  work drags sometimes; but that’s work.  im quite comfortable with, just myself right now.  i’m 100% able to go for a walk, bike ride, fishing, all by my lonesome, and be happy and content.  some may say, so what? thats lame, i CELEBRATE alone time, its not hard!  for a massive extrovert such as myself, being able to be quiet, alone, and peaceful without your brain running in thousand different directions wanting to see a thousand different people is a significant feat.

im content and peaceful with life; i have a path before me that i choose to take. i have been blessed by god, and i know i could reject the path, find another, and that wouldn’t work out poorly. but i choose to accept the blessings i receive right now, bask in them, and be peaceful, thankful, joyful, and full of love.

life is heading in wonderful directions.  i do have a few selfish thoughts of what *i* want to happen.  i’m interested in seeing how i handle it when the direction of my life shifts AWAY from what i want.  i love basking like this, and i fervently hope it prepares me for the next storm, whatever form that may take.

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