From: Grant Callaghan (email@example.com)
Date: Thu 05 Dec 2002 - 01:39:34 GMT
>Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 17:50:42 -0500
>As always, another nice posting from you. I agree that one doesn't need
>religion to find faith-based beliefs, and wanted to focus on one element of
> > In numerous posts many of us have pointed out the fact that you
> > can't argue
> > with memes of faith. People on both sides of the argument will refuse
> > see what they don't want to see in opposing arguments. So to continue
> > arguing about it is a complete waste of time. It's not a matter
> > of who is
> > right and who is wrong. It's a matter of meme dominance and we
> > on this list
> > should know that better than anyone. When someone posts endless
> > arguments
> > in support of a faith-based concept, it is equivalent to spam.
>Can you say more about WHY faith memes are hard to argue? I am thinking
>that we call it faith _because_ it is hard to argue, and so am asking what
>you and others might suggest is the technical basis for the hardness.
>I will also say that I agree that it is hard, but would not agree that it
>impossible. You may recall from posts of long ago, I have suggested that
>having a belief is akin to an action: we hold beliefs based upon the
>(subjective perceived) advantage they offer us in doing so.
>Hope this question makes sense!
Yes, it makes complete sense. My own view of the store of memes we carry in our minds is based on what I call a map of the world. As we go through life, we create an internal map of the world we live in based on various kinds of input from our senses, one of which includes sound and the language we process and another which is sight and the combination of what we see and what we read. All of these help us to create the world we believe we live in based on a system of belief.
I used to say it doesn't matter whether there is a God or not to the person
who hears God tell him to kill someone. That person is equally dead and the
killer equally damned by society whether God "really" exists or not. People
who see visions and hear voices believe what they see and hear even though
no one else can see or hear what they do.
The world we construct in our minds is the whole world to us and the input
receive through our senses tends to confirm that world view because when we
spot a familiar pattern we have a name for it. A culture tends to
coordinate the views of people who belong to it around the sharing of the
names they use to talk about patterns of behavior and other elements of
their environment they share. How we react to our environment is largely
affected by how we see it.
Let's say, for example, that we are walking down a wooded path and I point
at your feet and say, "Snake!" How would you react and why? I suspect you
would jump and look around frantically. Adrenalin would run madly through
your system, causing your heart to beat faster and you brain would be
working at the same speed trying to find and identify what I had pointed to.
Then, if I say, "Oh, never mind, it was just a branch you stepped on that moved." Your heart and mind would calm down and we could continue our walk.
This word picture I just drew points to many elements of our world view.
Among them, we believe the woods are populated with snakes and snakes are
dangerous. My mistaking a branch for a snake is believable because we think
that branches don't move of their own accord and if one moves it is likely
to be a snake. If I had said "Su" instead of "snake," it would have had no
effect at all or would have caused you to wonder about my sanity. But if
were Chinese, it would have caused you to jump. So the language you
understand, based on the culture you belong to and the way that culture has
conditioned you to interact with your environment, has created a virtual
world we call our own. It represents "the truth" as we see it. Although
virtual, it is a real territory.
Every species of animal that I'm acquainted with will defend its territory.
Usually that means it will defend that territory against others of the same
species. Most mammals mark their territory in some way and will fight
harder to defend what is theirs than they will fight to take over someone
else's. Humans will fight to protect their home, their country, their
church, their children, etc., and this includes their world view.
A person's world view changes only with effort. When you see a pattern you
don't recognize, you have to find an explanation for it. Then you have to
fit that explanation into the rest of your world as you see it. If it
doesn't fit easily, you struggle to either find another explanation or
change the one you have to make it fit. But once you have found an
explanation that seems true and have given it a name and told it to someone
else, there is a sense of commitment involved that is like the commitment
you have to the word "snake." The body and mind react to defend what needs
defending. That may include jumping, arguing, fighting, or running, but
when the world view is threatened some kind of action is called for.
This, to my mind, is why we find it hard to stop aruging about things that
we believe in. The more we argue, the more we strengthen and refine our
belief and the same thing happens to the person wth whom we are arguing.
That's why such arguments tend to drive both sides farther apart rather than
bring them together. It's also why emotions run high as the argument
continues. It's a physical reaction brought on by a threat to our mental
territory. The way to stop the reaction is to show that there is no snake.
That there is no threat. That the territory can contain both views without
That, at any rate, is the way I see the problem and the solution. My theory
could no doubt use some refinement, but it looks good to me.
One memory from my childhood, though, casts doubt on my theory. When I went
into a strange neighborhood (my family moved around a lot) and got into
fights with the
kids who were alrady established in the territory, we often became good
friends after the fight was over. Other kids remained our enemies for life.
Either way, the fight changed both our lives.
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