The best way to resolve a problem is to realize that it doesn't really exist.
Poof! Gone. Problem isn't solved; it is dissolved.
More and more, I'm concluding that this is a big drawback with religions. They want us to believe in problems that aren't evident to a non-believer.
(1) How does one come to know God? (If God doesn't exist, this isn't a problem)
(2) How can our sins be forgiven? (If sins are imaginary, this isn't a problem)
(3) How can we be sure of going to heaven after we die? (If there is no heaven, or life after death, this isn't a problem)
I've talked about this in a couple of other blog posts.
Religions make a Big Problem out of life's little problems
When did humans start making life itself into a problem?
Today, in my Tai Chi class, our instructor talked about dissolving in a different context. Someone pushes you. Instead of resisting, you melt away, flowing with the push, emptying yourself.
He likened it, sort of weirdly, to the old Alka Seltzer commercial: "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz." Meaning, the solidity of the capsule dissolves into water, offering relief.
Sure, you could fight back, resisting with your own strength. But it's a lot easier to avoid the problem of being pushed by simply relaxing and not engaging with it.
This is how I feel about most of religion's Big Problems. They are no longer a problem for me, because I don't see any need to engage with them.
I also don't worry about being attacked by mean gnomes in our garden, since I don't see any evidence that they exist.
Recently I came across an interesting 1996 essay by Patricia Churchland that takes a somewhat similar approach to a supposed Big Problem in consciousness research, the so-called "hard problem." Her essay is called The Hornswoggle Problem.
I found it pretty damn brilliant. In another post I'll talk about it in more depth. For now, here's some excerpts. It's well worth a read.
Beginning with Thomas Nagel, various philosophers have proposed setting conscious experience apart from all other problems of the mind as "the most difficult problem." When critically examined, the basis for this proposal reveals itself to be unconvincing and counter-productive.
Use of our current ignorance as a premise to determine what we can never discover is one common logical flaw. Use of "I-cannot-imagine" arguments is a related flaw. When not much is known about a domain of phenomena, our inability to imagine a mechanism is a rather uninteresting psychological fact about us, not an interesting metaphysical fact about the world.
Rather than worrying too much about the meta-problem of whether or not consciousness is uniquely hard, I propose we get on with the task of seeing how far we get when we address neurobiologically the problems of mental phenomena.
...One danger inherent in embracing the distinction [between Easy and Hard] as a principled empirical distinction is that it provokes the intuition that only a real humdinger of a solution will suit The Hard Problem. Thus the idea seems to go as follows: the answer, if it comes at all, is going to have to come from somewhere Really Deep -- like quantum mechanics, or -- Wow -- perhaps it requires a whole new physics.
As the lone enigma, consciousness surely cannot be just a matter of a complex dynamical system doing its thing.
Yes, there are emergent properties from nervous systems such as co-ordinated movement as when an owl catches a mouse, but consciousness must be an emergent property like unto no other. After all, it is The Hard Problem! Consequently, it will require a very deep, very radical solution. That much is evident sheerly from the hardness of The Hard Problem.
...Moreover, the mysteriousness of a problem is not a fact about the problem, it is not a metaphysical feature of the universe -- it is an epistemological fact about us. It is about where we are in current science, it is about what we can and cannot understand, it is about what, given the rest of our understanding, we can and cannot imagine. It is not a property of the problem itself.
It is sometimes assumed that there can be a valid transition from "we cannot now explain" to "we can never explain", so long as we have the help of a subsidiary premise, namely, "I cannot imagine how we could ever explain..." . But it does not help, and this transition remains a straight-up application of argument from ignorance.
Adding "I cannot imagine explaining P" merely adds a psychological fact about the speaker, from which again, nothing significant follows about the nature of the phenomenon in question.
Whether we can or cannot imagine a phenomenon being explained in a certain way is a psychological fact about us, not an objective fact about the nature of the phenomenon itself. To repeat, it is an epistemological fact -- about what, given our current knowledge, we can and cannot understand. It is not a metaphysical fact about the nature of the reality of the universe.