Are you sure? Thoughts on beliefs and foundations.

We as humans choose to believe things, or not believe them, even if it requires a gap in logic. For example, “I know that he was married three times already, but those marriages were for money. He’s marrying me for love.” Or, “I know the Browns can win the Superbowl this year!” So could we make those same choices of belief about the supernatural? Is it possible that we make choices to believe in God, or not believe in God based on fear or hope in consequences? Or even further, do we choose to ignore the possibility of God or the supernatural intentionally just to avoid the question of God?

What if, by some twisted circumstance decades ago, a man chose to believe that he didn’t believe in outer space. What if he wrote a book claiming that space was really a flat sheet of dots that moved. What if that book explained some misunderstood phenomena like comets or wind better then had been heard before. What if that book became popular and then accepted as good science. Would we have discovered space flight if the common understanding was that space didn’t exist?

If that knowledge was passed down from scientist to scientist, from professor to student for decades would we have caught the lie? If you have been taught from when you were just a baby that space was an elaborate planetarium, not a three dimensional explorable area, would you believe someone who said otherwise?

You are probably thinking that of course we would figure it out, but human history speaks otherwise, at least for a few hundred years. For example, how many generations passed while people thought the earth was flat, or that the sun orbited earth? Or take the case of modern, or not so modern, Albania. Just after the communist regime fell in 1990, some friends of mine moved there. They discovered that the people had been brainwashed into thinking Albania was a superior nation that was under a constant state of impending invasion. When my friends arrived however, most people had only started seeing color photographs in the last few years. What made them believe all this? Quite simply, it was a real life example of George Orwell’s 1984.

Of course, now, during our illuminated 21st century in the rich and intelligent West, we don’t make those mistakes anymore right? Right?

How would we even know? Did our own ancestors think there was something wrong with the concept of a flat earth or the sun orbiting us? Did they respond well when people finally started saying otherwise? Galileo Galilei was persecuted for his statements concerning a heliocentric solar system. He was force to recant his views and lived in house arrest for the rest of his life.

In the West, we are taught that the supernatural might exist as far as ghosts and spirits go. At least, we think it’s possible, but merely creepy. It doesn’t really have effect on our daily lives though. Most non-religious folks think that the concept of a “god” of any sort is a cute fairy tale, until it starts having everyday life implications. Then the concept of the supernatural becomes invasive, annoying, and intolerant.

A fine example of this is the Percy Jackson book series. In the end, the gods of Olympus become less all-powerful and sovereign, because we wanted them that way. The gods end up owing their continued existence to Percy Jackson who then makes demands of them. What a picture of how we modern humans want of any god figure! We expect them to owe us, to grant our every wish, and then leave us alone till we want something more. Is that really a “god” then, or just a genie in a bottle?

Is it possible that we have chosen to blind ourselves to the supernatural? Is it possible that we are intentionally deceiving ourselves since that makes live “easier” because our society told us to? Are we making god into a genie if we even allow him to exist?

Are you sure of what you believe about the supernatural? Who taught you to believe that? Your parents? Your teachers? Or did you experience it on your own?


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