After last night’s ramblings you might consider it ironic that I’d want to now dig into the dangers of things that aren’t real. I mean, I was in la-la land yesterday, daydreaming some arguably out there things that no reasonable, common sense person would agree had much validity and some would just say are a waste of time thinking about. And sure, that’s okay to have that opinion, you’d be wrong, but you’re free to have it. So why daydream then come around to an argument that some aspect of daydreaming might be dangerous? Thinking wild, unrealistic things is just one of a myriad of ways of flexing our mental muscles. Finalizing our belief systems on unrealistic things, however, is neither a sign of intelligence nor wisdom, and can often be catastrophic.
Take for example a list of things I’ve determined simply do not exist:
One: Good or Evil.
Now, all of these things do exist, in that, we can think about them, define them, discuss them, and create artistic representations of them. But they do not exist in any real sense. I, for example, was raised to believe in original sin, but in all my fifty years I’ve never been provided any proof that sin actually exists, outside of it being an idea promulgated by a very old book, nor how it corresponds to ideas of good and evil. Worse, the good-evil definition (i.e. what helps us determine what’s sinful and what’s not) wasn’t the same between my childhood church or any of the many nearby churches. Indeed, despite their close physical proximity, none of these congregations could agree on what was good, what was evil, and what constituted sin. Hell, even in the same church the definitions were varied. Some would have said I was sinning simply for how I’d started that last sentence. Others would have shrugged it off. Take a further walk outside of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and you’ll run into religions where the idea of sin is simply ridiculous and the same for good vs. evil. Yes, it may come as a surprise to the adherently faithful, but children who grow up to be adults who don’t have the ideas of sin or good/evil pummeled regularly into their brains grown up into adults who don’t have the ideas of sin or good/evil on their minds (not that I can comment from personal experience but I’ve met quite a few that fit the bill).
I also know Superman doesn’t exist, despite me wanting him to not only exist, but look and sound just like Christopher Reeve. Hell, besides the fact that, like some kind of extra-terrestrial idiot, he keeps standing up for, “Truth, Justice, and The America Way” (none of which, ironically, are really “The American Way”). Maybe the world would be better with a Superman helping just as it might if things were as clear cut as having good and evil. Maybe it wouldn’t.
We can conjecture and we can discuss ideas that relate to non-existent things. And that’s a great mental and social exercise. Frankly, I think it’s just how larger brains work. But to act as if Superman exists when he doesn’t? That can be dangerous. Yes, big guy, go solve the problem in the Middle East, stop them sinners, set the wrongs right, make the sinners pay, help good triumph over evil, destroy…oh shit, now he needs to pick a side, doesn’t he? Does he pick Israel? Or does he side with the Palestinians? Actually, I’m pretty sure what would happen. Superman would fly up into orbit then listen to everyone on the planet (this is actually a power he has, for those who aren’t up on all his comic powers [not at all reminiscent of anyone more Biblical, n’est pas?]), get a huge headache from all our contradictory ideas about sin, good, evil, and man buns, then fly off to Mars to have a good cry. And that’s neither good nor bad, that’s just the headache that results from trying to sort through superstitions as if they were genuinely existent things as opposed to, as they say in the military, examining the facts on the ground.
Having said that, there are some things I don’t know whether or not they exist, despite decades of searching.
Two: Heaven or Hell.
Three: Eternal life.
Four: A soul.
Sure, I’d love for them all to exist (well, everything but Hell), but the reality is, everything I’ve been taught about all of these were part of my cultural upbringing. If I’d not been taught these things I’d probably just ask, “How did I get here?” then possibly theorize some creator simply because everything I see is created by someone or something, even if that something is nature. I wouldn’t necessarily end up on an idea of a being being of our image. And sure, I’d probably want to exist after I died because, well, I’ve evolved to be fucking terrified of death, so there’s a good possibility I’d want to convince myself into thinking there’ll be something afterwards and maybe that’s like going into a dream when I’m asleep. Seems plausible and suits my desire not to deal with the persistent discomfort of my mortality (of which I become increasingly annoyed with).
Oh, I could go on. Hell, people have. Plenty of books on these subjects. But what do I have to say tonight?
Simply this: the discussion of ideas is healthy to exercising our mental facilities but to accept unproven ideas as reality is dangerous.
By being able to examine and discuss any idea we learn to broaden our thinking, perspective, ability to learn and accept new ideas, as well as the ability to discern what’s (really) bullshit—but it must be done critically. Put another way, “Think smart”. Put another, just because you have a brain doesn’t mean you know how to think well. Learn the difference.
Why is it dangerous to accept bullshit?
Don’t feel like explaining it to you, but here are some huge examples:
- The atrocities of World War II
- The 100k+ Americans that died as a result of Trump’s mishandling of the COVID epidemic
Here are some others:
- The pedophile that believes God made children sexually beautiful (and having free will to choose—hey, I’m just using their argument!).
- The elite that believes their position in society is sanctioned by a higher power, that they’re somehow better, so they use their power to leverage laws their way, at the expense of everyone else.
- The fascist leader who has anyone that disagrees with them censored, jailed, or put to death.
- The “journalist” that believes sharing falsehoods is perfectly acceptable when the “ends justify the means”.
Okay, headache is getting to me. Going to sign off. Yes, I could write hundreds of pages on nearly every sentence in this blog post, something I’m becoming more cognizant of as I sit down to write more often. Suppose I’ve gotten over my youthful notion I could, with any clarity, explain my thoughts (esp. when most people’s minds tend to already be fairly set both in regards to their prevailing beliefs but also how to even listen, I mean really listen and understand, anyone else’s).
That, said, goodnight.