Carrying on from yesterdays blog on Evolution, I thought i’d use this blog to attempt to verbalise my rather ineffable understanding of life.
I do not believe in any organised religion. That much is plainly obvious. However, some of my favourite philosophers throughout history, are the Christian philosophers over time. St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, to name a few. “Thinking Christians” as I like to call them. I find that the religion that has come to dominate the Western World – Christianity – has been rather oppressive and dangerous throughout it’s history. I understand that for the individual, spirituality can be an uplifting and comforting experience, which I advocate fully. I cannot though, understand why something that happens to have billions of subscribers, is considered “respectable” simply because it has billions of subscribers. People tend to blindly believe, without question. I find it somewhat arrogant. On a philosophical level, I cannot accept Organised Religion, and here is why…..
Humanity is limited to our very narrow understanding of the Universe. We can never overcome that narrow perspective, because the reason Humanity is limited is not due to an easily corrected ignorance, but instead down to what Descartes in his First Meditation noted as our senses. To see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is all we have. How arrogant of Humanity to think that whatever exists to those five sense is all that exists. We seem to put “God” into the category of the five senses. We give him human characteristics; love, wrath, expectation. All human concepts. How arrogant of us.
What if there is more? And if there is more, we cannot possibly comprehend it, because we are far too limited, and yet Organised Religion believes that the entire nature of life and the Universe, can be explained, in a 2000 year old book; a book that doesn’t actually mention Evolution or dinosaurs (you’d think it would). We are enslaving our own minds by the very nature of Organised Religion. When in actuality, the man who happens to know the Bible by heart, is no more knowledgeable than the man who calls himself Atheist. Both rather dogmatic systems of belief, mean nothing, we are all Agnostic.
It is not just extra sensory limits that hamper our understanding of “everything“, it also extends to our five sense. Closer to home.
A man who I see walking through Leicester City Centre every so often, sits on the bench in the middle of the City Centre, and often talks to himself about how he’s the king of England. Sometimes, he has a trumpet. People stare at him, as if he’s mad. How could a sane commoner actually believe that he’s the King of England? He must be mad right? He is Camus’ Outsider, is he not?
As Descartes points out, whilst we presume to accept everything that our senses perceive as real, to be real, we are daily deceived by our senses. We fall asleep, we dream, and whilst we dream, we believe everything our senses are telling us to be real. If during our dream, we see Elvis riding on the back of a donkey, in Ancient Rome, our dream counterpart does not think “I must be dreaming“, we simply accept it as truth. In fact, there have been times when I’ve woken up from a dream, and it has taken a few seconds for me to realise it was just a dream. For those few seconds, am I considered mad?
So what is to say that we are not dreaming now? Or at the very least, that our senses are not deceiving us in some awful way? Why do we trust our senses when we are “awake“? How do you know for certain that you’re not dreaming right this second? What is the difference between us sleeping and dreaming, and the man in the street calling himself the King, other than the fact that one of us has our eyes closed? Surely there is no real difference? We are both being deceived by our rather devious senses. We are both “mad” at different times. And so with that being said, how can one presume to know anything? To claim to understand the nature of God, and the Universe is to claim an arrogance and a level of knowing far beyond that of Humanity in general. To attempt to understand anything whatsoever in life, we must question everything; every belief, every tradition, every custom, every level of authority, everything anybody has ever told you.
Language plays a gigantic role in limiting human knowledge and experience. Language reflects just how constrained humanity is. We cannot adequately explain feelings, especially given just how personal emotions truly are. I cannot describe the beauty of love, because the beauty of love to me is simply a feeling, whose very aura is deeply ineffable. In the same way that I cannot explain the colour blue. And so language constrains us. Given the obvious constrains of language, how are we to use such a limited medium of communication in order to describe the infinite? It is simply not possible. And yet we arrogantly attempt it; Organised Religion.
Your perceptions and the impressions that your senses give you are yours only. Your experiences and your subsequent system of values and morals, are yours only. If I were to call myself Christian, my system of values would strongly contradict those of Christianity. I have, for example, no problem or issue with homosexuality, gay marriage, gay adoption, or even abortion. No amount of threatening me with a rather bleak and conservative bigoted God is going to change my system of values. And anyway, if God truly is perfect, and “knows all“, he knew before I was born, that I’d have a system of values, due to the experiences my family have had and my natural surroundings that I had no control over, and that seem to contradict everything that the God of Christianity stands for.