Over at True Christianity by Botts there is a lovely, albeit very bittersweet discussion on faith and the approach Christians might take in trying to spread what they might call the good news. I say bittersweet because better than any post in my recent memory it describes the fundamental disconnect between someone like Botts and myself. In terms of life experiences, politics and manners I find Botts to be closest to my own personal morality than any other Christian believer I read on the web. That which separates us forever seems to be how we process personal experience. It seems to me, that is the key to whether one has faith or not. My mind is hardwired to think of the good news as the fact that a growing part of the population seems to be moving away from historical belief structures toward a naturalistic view of the universe. My life is filled with wonderful events, joys and experiences and a sense of wonder but none has ever convinced me that they emanate from a plain of existence beyond the physics of this universe. I conduct myself in an empathetic, moral and ethical manner that seems similar to many of the 'good' Christians I encounter. What is it that makes me experience similar life events and attribute them to either bias, illusion or neuro-chemicals and another to honestly believe it's a sign from some metaphysical plain of existence? I don't know but I don't think it's life experience or conditioning. I think it really is innate. Certainly was in my case as despite being sentenced to many years of hard labor in a Catholic school, it just never took hold. That got me into a lot of trouble - in an earlier age I probably would have been burned at the stake for a couple of my theology essays. (Particularly the one where I suggested that Roman Catholicism was nothing more than an overlay of Christianity on top of Roman culture and its Pantheon demoting many of the gods to mere saintly status. Man I got a beating for that one.)

My mind wanders waxing with wanton alliteration, but I whimsically wonder if we aren't seeing the early days of a speciation event. Certainly seems that religiosity/and or a fondness for Woo is a factor in mate selection these days. It will be interesting to see how the scions of such unions view the universe.


Michael Lockridge said...

It is quite sad that our lives are so short that we cannot observe whether or not your prediction comes to pass.

Hardwiring is something I am currently thinking about. Indeed, I have a bit of a blog in progress on the matter. I look forward to my three followers and five or six readers not responding to that one as they have not responded to so many others.

Speciation. Interesting.


Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Mike - A blog or a short story?

Michael Lockridge said...

At present, just a blog. I might find a story in that, as well. Both the speciation and the hard wiring can form some interesting seeds for stories.

Jared said...

I'm not sure if "hard-wiring" is an appropriate way of thinking about it. Certainly there may be a neurological component to belief in anything, but whether this is a matter of circuitry or software needs a bit more exploration. Certainly some people seem to be predisposed to belief or lack of from a very early age, but this may be due to the interaction of education and experience.

My own disillusionment happened at quite an early age, but my parents were cafeteria Catholics, so I fell in quite nicely there. It was shortly after reading "Brave New World" that I began realizing religions were a cultural construct. The variation between all of the "one true" religions kind of struck a chord I could not ignore.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

I'm not sure either of course, but I am encountering more and more people who essentially have never been able to suspend belief even in very religious surroundings. As it has become more mainstream to admit disbelief it seems that many of these individuals are pairing up. hardwiring probably is a bad metaphor in that if it's anything it's probably at a more complex regulatory level, but I definitely knew from a very early age that I wasn't receiving the signs some others were.

Anonymous said...

Well, there is some evidence that even died-in-the-wool, hardcore believers are only performing a mental "trick" on themselves to "believe" in god(s). There is an experiment with the "invisible observer" trick that is pretty interesting regarding doubt of religious tenets.

mac said...

It may be a mixture of Nature & nurture?

I think some people are more inclined to believe in the supernatural. Others become indoctrinated.

But, you may be right. Some do not become indoctrinated simply because they are inclined to not believe.
Perhaps more people than we think are inclined to not believe. If we take into account all the people who don't regularly practice their religion, we may find many who don't really subscribe to the beliefs.
For example, Jack Catholics, how many fall into that catagory? Many of these people would describe themselves as christian, but do not practice religion.
Perhaps that's why we see the numbers of disbelievers rising. People are seeing that they are doing just fine without practicing ancient rituals.

Like you, I never "got" it. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.
But, I have seen some that did change their beliefs.

I dunno?

Jared said...

mac, I've come to dislike the whole "nature vs. nurture" scheme. Matt Ridley actually wrote a pretty good book on this subject titled "Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human." It missed out on tons of research, but it does give some pretty good example of how "nature" (genetics) is highly influenced by "nurture" (environment) and even how the environment is affected by genes. It seems to be a very complicated picture which goes both ways and our behaviors are more about the outcomes of these interactions.

I need to reread that book so I can put together a good review of it...

Michael Lockridge said...

Nature/nurture. We strive to see a simple dichotomy in a complex system. A dynamic complex system. It is not so simple, and our thoughts are bound to be simplifications.


Just my blog bit on the hard wiring analogy. Sorry I don't have the skills to make the link look better. When do we get a tool bar in this comment section?


Pliny-the-in-Between said...

toolbar? Probably never is my guess