Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 9 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/14/19

We Need to Stop Believing in "Belief"

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   4 comments
Author 513617
Message Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

Alex_Grey-Adam_and_Eve
Alex_Grey-Adam_and_Eve
(Image by attanatta)
  Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

"I don't believe in belief. I think belief is a tremendously stultifying force. What I'm interested in is freedom, and I noticed very early that a belief absolutely precludes the possibility of holding to its opposite, and therefore if you believe something you have" limited yourself."

"Terence McKenna ("Under the Teaching Tree," 1985)

My own personal skepticism with "belief" first revealed itself to me at an early age. I was seven years old, attending Catholic school, and my class was preparing for our First Communion.

For those unfamiliar, "Communion," aka the "Eucharist," is a ritual at Sunday services in which the Last Supper story from the Bible is reenacted. This is when the Jesus character famously shared bread and wine with his disciples the night before he was hauled away by Roman officials to be tried and executed. "This is my body," he said, as he broke the bread, and "This is my blood," as raised the wine cup.

- Advertisement -

According to Middle Age-era Catholic doctrine, when a priest playing the role of Jesus intones these words during Mass, the bread and wine on the altar undergo a process known as "transubstantiation" in which they literally become the actual body and blood of Jesus. You read that right. These products of wheat and grapes do not merely symbolize flesh and blood in this ceremony; they are flesh and blood, in everything but their form. Quite the concept.

Seven year old me tried to wrap my mind around this, but I couldn't understand it, let alone believe it. What was clear, though, was that all the grown-ups around me wanted me to do this thing, so I went ahead and did it. Maybe, I thought, it would make sense later; maybe "faith" would grow.

It never did. I left the Church as a teenager over sexual/guilt issues but that's a topic for another day.

- Advertisement -

Belief is not monopolized by religion, though. Hardly. Throughout all of society, nearly everyone bases their lives on beliefs. Indeed, our notions of what constitutes "life" itself are steeped in belief. So many arguments are only battles between beliefs. So much that's supposedly factual is merely belief by another name.

We organize ourselves by belief in our society in large part because we no longer organize ourselves by practical action. The vast majority of people in the United States don't take part in any practical actions whatsoever.

An action is "practical" if it is undertaken in direct support of one's survival, such as procuring food, water and shelter.

We have been giving up the practical bit by bit since we turned to agriculture and invented the abstraction of wealth. In the previous world"the world without property, class or war"everything was practical because everything was direct and up to us. If we ate, it was because we had spent time gathering food. Furthermore, our efforts were communal; as a species of animal, we are social and our survival depends on working within groups. So our relationships were also practical.

Belief has no part in whether a particular plant has edible roots, or a water source is drinkable, or a particular hide will keep the rain off you. The tubers could be nutritious or poisonous, the watercourse fresh or brackish, and the skin complete or worn through. Whatever the case, these are matters of fact. They are knowable by the senses and anyone with intact physiology can ascertain them. That makes for a world without experts.

Additionally, everyone was trustworthy. I will not say "because no one could afford not to be" because that implies that people were consciously choosing whether to be honest, and that would not"could not"have been the case. Do wild animals in herds, flocks or schools mislead each other? Of course not. Their relationships are based on cooperative practical action, not belief. At one time, we were no different. When that shift happened is a matter of debate, but not whether there was one.

- Advertisement -

Our current lifestyle could hardly be more different. Everything we do is in direct. Interceding between ourselves and practical actions are abstractions like money, ownership, price, work vs. play, and clock time, all of them figments of our collective imagination. Their function is to demarcate and divide a world that is naturally bountiful and whole, and thereby manufacture poverty and power, both of which exist only in relation to each other.

Organizing ourselves by beliefs rather than practical action has real world results: starvation and homelessness in a system that overproduces food and housing; a natural environment choked with pollution; among the other species: mass extinction.

But the material consequences do not follow from the beliefs themselves. Ultimately, it's not what we believe but the fact that we believe. Our shared psychosis is the issue.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Kollibri terre Sonnenblume Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Kollibri terre Sonnenblume is a writer, photographer, tree hugger, animal lover, and dissident. Kollibri's work can be found at http://www.macskamoksha.com."



Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Climate Change: Why is it so often "sooner than predicted"?

Do we need a dictatorship to respond to Climate Change?

Forgiving Debt to Invest in Environmental Healing

Assange Indictments are not about Assange: Democrats Need to Drop their Hate and Support him

How We Are All Climate Change Deniers

Reflections on Technology & Culture at my Half-Century Mark

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   



You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.
Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 
Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments  Post Comment


Daniel Geery

Become a Fan
Author 1198

(Member since Jul 9, 2009), 70 fans, 340 articles, 3540 quicklinks, 16336 comments, 180 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

I* do believe you are right! As in 100%. đŸ™„


*Devout ex-Catholic speaking here.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 15, 2019 at 4:47:18 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 

David Watts

Become a Fan
Author 10429

(Member since Jan 31, 2008), 12 fans, 18 articles, 26 quicklinks, 2171 comments, 27 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Very good and interesting article.

Cogito ergo sum, I had to look it up. Rene' Descartes, I think therefore I am.

Not too many years ago I decided what Rene' said did not apply to me. I decided for me it should be, I think I think, therefore I might be.

Using your article it could be rephrased this way, I believe I think, therefore I believe I am.

...

Both you and Daniel went to Catholic school as did Janet Supriano. Janet is a wonderful person who we both have gotten to know.

This is a song that Janet says, says a lot about Christianity. I am certain Daniel knows the song as well.

Canons of Christianity by Phil Ochs. Perhaps you know it. I have never been religious but I think this is a really good song.

At the start of the video Ochs introduces the song. It is pretty funny. Part of what he says, "The other night a voice came to me. Turned out it was god." Phil asks a question of god. God replies, "Well frankly Phil, I went downtown the other day and saw "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Couldn't believe it." I threw that in because of your article. :)



Cannons of Christianity - Phil Ochs Phil Ochs (1940-1976) was an American folk/protest singer known for his sharp wit and sardonic sense of humor. A movie recently came out about him called ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: onlyjohnrulz)
Details DMCA


Submitted on Monday, Jul 15, 2019 at 6:51:34 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 

Derryl Hermanutz

Become a Fan
Author 64335

(Member since Apr 27, 2011), 49 fans, 24 articles, 1 quicklinks, 1472 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

"I've been trying to identify my own filters and dispense with them. I'd like to know what I'm hiding from myself. What a strange way to live: to be inhabiting a form with all the sensory and motor functions needed to prosper on this planet with ease and joy but to manufacture hardship and misery instead." I will help you identify some of your beliefs. You believe humans have everything we need to prosper on this planet with ease and joy. That is not a fact that you have observed with your senses. That is a belief that you seem to think is true. If you and a group of people move into the woods, forgoing all the technological benefits of fossil-fueled industrial civilization, you will discover that it is very difficult to survive at all, let alone "prosper with ease and joy". Material hardship is baked into our physical existence. Today, most people in the developed world who "work", do not work outside in nature, and do not do any directly physically productive work at all. It is easy to believe physical life is easy, if you don't have to work outside every day in every kind of fair and foul weather; and when eating does not depend on your crop not being destroyed by inclement weather. Preparing for "the future" by planting a crop that won't produce food for many months - assuming the weather cooperates and insects don't eat your plants - requires "believing in" the future. Assuming that physical reality will be the same next year as it was this year, is a belief. Assuming the "normal" state of this geologically active planet is a steady-state climate, is a belief that is contradicted by geological and climate history. If everybody believed in the moral rule that we should all try to work together toward our mutual prosperity, I have no doubt the human social, political and economic world would be much different than it is now. But "different" does not logically imply "better", or "worse". Better and worse are subjective values, not objective facts. Some people believe there are too many humans and they would be better off if most of the humans - but not "me" and "mine" - died off. People who believe that might work to prevent "everybody" from believing in the moral rule of human unity. These people believe it is "better" to promote divisiveness and cause death, than to promote unity and the prospering of all humans. Do you believe it is objectively better if everyone prospers? If so, then you believe that the "purpose" of human life on Earth is to prosper in ease and joy, kind of like the Garden of Eden fable. What if there really is a purpose, but the purpose is to promote human suffering so that we develop our moral or "spiritual" faculties of learning how to survive and prosper on this planet, together? The purpose is not living a life of ease and joy. The purpose is suffering to develop our spiritual understanding. Believing that humans can - or do - live without beliefs, is a false belief that is contradicted by the evidence of reality. People actually "do" believe things, and form moral opinions that they believe in and try to live by. We are not intellectually or morally omniscient. None of us knows how humans "should" try to live their lives on this planet. Moral ideologues believe they "do know", but they do not recognize their belief as a belief. They believe their moral beliefs are objective facts plainly visible to enlightened reason, so that anybody who fails to share their beliefs is wrong: a heretic who refuses to believe in the "divine truth" that the moral ideologues believe in. Believing is not in itself hazardous: it is necessary to life and we all do it. Wise people recognize that their beliefs are beliefs, not certain knowledge, and maintain an intellectual and moral humility that is ready to be corrected by changing circumstances and improved understanding. But believing your beliefs are objective facts of reality is hazardous, because moral true believers become tyrants who will go to brutal lengths to impose their moral certainties on the benighted masses.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 15, 2019 at 9:56:35 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 
Indent

Janet Supriano

Become a Fan
Author 90270

(Member since Oct 7, 2013), 12 fans, 1827 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Derryl Hermanutz:   New Content

And YOU are why I didn't attempt to address this gorgeous essay. I knew I just couldn't do the author justice. Even though I had a strong reaction and many thoughts.

See? We were just waiting for your cogent words, Derryl. Thanks. Quite profound, as always. :)

Submitted on Monday, Jul 15, 2019 at 11:33:04 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment