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December 04, 2009

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Interesting thoughts. I wonder if a New Ager could even get close to the presidency in this country at least if they didn't espouse a lot of Christian phrases in public. I am thinking of Reagan with the very fundamentalist Christian talk, but his wife consulting astrology to see what might be dangerous dates after he nearly was assassinated.

I agree with you that the risks to leadership would be fundamentalists of whatever stripe.

Broadly speaking, seems there are those inclined towards belief or doubt.

The believer - whether religious, mystic or or new age - appears to share in common an inclination toward belief until disproven; whereas the skeptic seems inclined toward doubt until proven. Perhaps the believer is more positive, but the skeptic is better able to distinguish speculation from fact.

Seems there is an evolutionary explanation for both belief and doubt.

Belief is used to learn quickly communicated ideas without having to experience them directly. Doubt is used to distinguish lies from truth. Perhaps belief is a more primitive instinctual emotion, as compared to doubt, which requires a slower more analytical thought process to weigh beliefs?

Perhaps our conditioning (learning/programming) is based on belief for the purposes of speed, but as such is prone to error, and thus doubt is the mechanism needed to correct or refine our conditioned beliefs?

Perhaps belief is an unconscious lower-order more automated thought process, whereas doubt requires higher-order processes such as the intellect, which can invoke logic and reason to critically assess our own beliefs. Thus, through the intellect we are able to evaluate and refine our own beliefs, in effect overcoming our more primitive conditioning.

The mystics argue our intellect is part of mind and hence also conditioned, but they don't explain their own means of perception. If they are stilling the mind, what is doing the percieving? This is not explained, neither is what is being percieved explained. Perhaps, rather than stilling the mind, they are going deeper into the belief aspect of mind, which accounts for the experiences manufactured as if in an dream-state.

But even if the mystics are correct, what has their special perception been able to achieve? Even if our intellectual scientific models of reality are relatively still a far way off, no mystic has ever offered a more accurate model of reality as a result of their experiences. In fact, most them deem their experiences of reality as indescribable. Even if they have glimpsed a more accurate indescribably version of reality, what does that do for humanity as a whole or for that person subjectivally. It does not give he/she special powers or even certainty of a higher power.

Probably too long, but any enlightening thoughts?

Having been at one time inclined toward belief and now what might be considered more of a skeptic, perhaps it's not just two types of people but also stages of life and experiences. There are people who stick to one way or the other regardless of what happens in their lives, but many of us seem to gravitate through experiences to new ways to new ways of thinking. I think it's whether we stay in one box or are willing to go beyond. Boxes (of belief or disbelief) are convenient and can be very frightening to leave.

George, your cogent thoughts reminded me of the book I blogged about recently, "On Being Certain." Belief seems to be a subset of the sensation of certainty the author (a neurologist) talked about. We just know something is true, because we just know it.

It does seem that belief is more "primitive" from an evolutionary point of view. More instinctual, intuitive, immediate, irrational. Probably this helps explain why belief is so much a part of human (and animal) existence. We can't live without it. But we also need to learn better how to live with it.

There is no shortage of Newage in western RS circles.I would hazard a guess that a certain propensity towards magical thinking is prereq towards accepting some dude as a PLM.I'll be looking into Burton's book this afternoon tx for that.

Yes, thats interesting Brian, succintly put. I dont know if its correct, but it does make alot of sense.

Rain;s comments are also true and my earlier comment was a very generalised one.

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