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Sunday, 29 May 2016


Well said, thank you.

Jeff Bezos gained a lot of respect with me after a recent interview where he said that not only is it a good thing to be able to change your mind (unlike what politicians are allowed), but one should also periodically examine and question even one's deepest beliefs.

It's not an easy thing to do though, our subconscious or lizard brain uses all its deep-seated fear to hold on to ideas like mad.

I used to wear a t-shirt that simply read 'anti'. It summed my belief system; lazy :)

“We learn from failure, not from success!”

“There is a reason why all things are as they are.”

“Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker”

― Bram Stoker, DRACULA

A photographer's look at churches in America-
"Churches ad hoc: a divine comedy".

Everybody has a belief system.

I believe in evidence and facts. Nothing else. Certainly not allegations, until they're proven using evidence and facts.

...religion offers itself up specifically as a belief system..."Cult" can be defined loosely as "a religion that is new or not yet established."

All religions are mere collections of allegations, for which no evidence or proof exists. "Cult" is better defined as including all religions.

A few years back there was a fad for atheism...The fad faded a bit when people realized the so-called New Atheists were treating rationalism, or even anti-religion, as a sort of religion itself.

Fads and trends in popular culture aside, it's important to realize that atheism is NOT a religion itself nor does it argue against anyone believing in / worshiping whatever imaginary friend or friends desired, i.e. it's not "anti-religion." Rather, atheism is simply a conclusion that there exist no facts or evidence to support allegations of a deity. Full stop. With the passing of time, more people reject religion, irrespective of what the 'trendy' read or engage in.

In the US, there are organizations that actively work to ensure religion is purged from government. They have no interest in impeding the practice of religion by others who accept religious allegations without facts or evidence. Instead, they strive to end tyranny of the majority, an injustice manifest in local, state and federal rules/statutes and unconstitutionally promoted in numerous corners of the courts, schools, agencies and departments that should be treating ALL citizens equally.

[Full stop for you, you mean. Other people feel there is plentiful evidence of a deity, starting with the existence of the world itself. They cite many things which you might not accept as evidence, but they accept it as such. Your belief system is defensible, but it's still a belief system. Just sayin'. --Mike]

I grant religious feelings and thought one and only one benefit for humanity: the ability to stimulate a small number of people to produce transcendental music and art (art in the broadest sense, e.g. architecture) that becomes a joy for the rest of us who are willing to stop, look, and listen. Most everything else is (sometimes dangerous) nonsense at its heart.

Dear Mike,

Very nicely drawn. "Belief system" is the appropriate and non-judgemental term all around. As someone who does hold beliefs that would be construed as religious (note to readers: personal details are none of your damn [sic] business, so don't ask) (further note: religious beliefs do NOT necessarily require a God... or Gods), it really gets my goat when folks on one side diss the folks on the other. Invariably by circular reasoning and elementary school-level logic.

Particular gripes: the folks who claim atheism (in any flavor) or so-called "secular humanism" are religions. No, they are really not. Either you have no real understanding of what the word religion means, or you are intentionally trying to muddy the waters. Either way, you will not receive kind response from me. Belief systems, yes. Sometimes even philosophies. But NOT religion. Putting it simply: the absence of X is NOT the equivalent, in any fashion, X.

On the other side, militant anti-religious folks of any stripe who act like data is on their side. Guess what? It ain't. If we had anything like broadly accepted, clearcut data, the matter would be settled. You're starting with different default assumptions and axioms, that's all. Fine. Try telling me how "rational" you are (and by implication, I am not) and it will not go kindly for you, either.

When people start genuinely coming back from the dead and giving us data, great ("hey, nothing there, fergeddit!"). Meanwhile, we get to argue in a distinct absence of consensus-agreed-upon information.

Folks, just live with it. That's the way with belief systems.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

As I am not K.M. ... or maybe I am, who knows?

Mike, the problem with asking someone "and how are you crazy ?" is that crazy people do not know they are crazy. You have to let the craziness revel itself over time.
As to dueling, I think that has morphed into road rage. The caveat being, there is always someone crazier then you out there.

From the book Lost Horizon

But Miss Brinklow was in no mood to temporize. ...
"Of course," she said with a gesture of magnanimity, "I believe in the true religion, but I'm broad-minded enough
to admit that other people, foreigners, I mean, are quite often sincere in their views. And naturally in a monastery
I wouldn't expect to be agreed with."

Her concession evoked a formal bow from Chang. "But why not, madam?" he replied in his precise and flavored English.
"Must we hold that because one religion is true, all others are bound to be false?"

"Well, of course, that's rather obvious, isn't it?"

Conway again interposed. "Really, I think we had better not argue. But Miss Brinklow shares my own curiosity about
the motive of this unique establishment."

Chang answered rather slowly and in scarcely more than a whisper:
"If I were to put it into a very few words, my dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation.
We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excess of all kinds—even including, if you will pardon the paradox,
excess of virtue itself. ... "


I cordially invite you and your TOP and voracious and thinking readers to look into two books by David Dark.

"The Sacredness of Questioning Everything"
"Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious"

Read the liner noted and a few of the reviews. I feel they will add to the perspective of today's (OT).

A regular reader of TOP...keep up the great work!


Nikolaas Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz are better described as ethologists (literally "habit-study", the comparative study of behavior - the field they created) than behaviorists (whose belief was more like a religion with little evidence). They elucidated lots of little understood behaviors especially in young animals, particularly birds and insects.

As the citation says: "One of Nikolaas Tinbergen's most important contributions is that he has found ways to test his own and other's hypothesis by means of comprehensive, careful and quite often ingenious experiments."

That's a belief system I adhere to.

They got the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1973 along with Karl von Frisch, who explained the waggle dance of bees in 1927 to much derision, as there is no Nobel prize for biology.


F8 and be there. (With sunny16 as a drunken fallback.

Our parents instill in us a set of beliefs and values as we're growing up. Then it's up to us. Some parents are better than others.

Mike, I believe (sic) that you do Dawkins a disservice. (No, I don't *believe* - I could produce evidence to support rational argument to support that conclusion.) The explorations he began in "The Selfish Gene", and upon which he expanded in later writings, of the possible reasons behind the widespread propensity amongst humans of all cultures to develop and maintain religious beliefs and organised religion, themselves constitute a strong example of reasoning about religion without appeal to belief systems.
I would agree with Ctein - while some self-proclaimed atheists act in a dogmatic way reminiscent of vocal adherents of organised religions, that does not make atheism a religion. And, in a view shared by many (scientists, physicists), religious feelings can be experienced and valued without making one in any way religious (speaking as an atheist who is in wonder at the universe).
Many years ago, when I was a struggling physics research student, a colleague of mine, who was also a Bach enthusiast (read fanatic), described Bach's music as solutions to the Schroedinger of the Universe.
Bach solo cello suites... I think he was onto something (although I was never able to determine the potential function). Not to mention the first few bars of Beethoven's 4th piano concerto, or...

Full stop for you, you mean.

I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. Upon seeing your response, I was going to attempt a better construction that clarified, but Ctein already submitted one. Atheism is not a religion. Full stop.

Your belief system is defensible, but it's still a belief system. Just sayin'.

Yup. As stated at the outset, my belief system is reliance on evidence and facts. :-)

A belief system is what you filter everything else through first.

You mean like when some people believe that any picture not shot on "Full Frame" cannot be of satisfactory technical quality ??

Can you believe this?

Good post Mike. I enjoyed it. My own belief system defies labels, at least any that I can think of or that others have tried to attach to it. I think that is as it should be. Labels are the first step on the path to conflict.

Way back when, The Bellamy Brothers put out a song about a 35 year old "Old Hippie." Every decade they add some new verses. It's not quite "Where Have All the Hippies Gone?," but it does try to answer the question.

Freud action figure, that had me crackin'
I have to get one of these, put it right next to Wolverine. Geeking out.

I believe I'll have another beer...

Karl Marx, Kenneth Moore, Keith Moon, Karl Malone, Kilo Meter, and King Midas all thank you.

Thank God I'm an atheist. No, really ...

Dear Sal,

Before you invoke me as an ally, note that your belief system also requires (at a minimum) the axiom, "Absence of evidence that is acceptable to me constitutes evidence of absence." That is an entirely reasonable starting point for a belief system but, like all axioms, it is both unprovable and not always true.

If you accept that, we're allies.

If you imagine you have a firmer rock to stand on we're likely not.

I do agree with you that Mike's phrasing was crude, but I think you would not have argued had he said that there are (too many!) atheists who embrace their beliefs with religious fervor. Which, I strongly suspect was what he meant to convey (I love putting words in a editor's mouth [G]). In that vein, my remarks were not at all directed at Mike; I hadn't even given weight to his phrasing until you pointed it out.

This is not a debating society, so no further exchange is solicited, and probably will not be welcomed by Mike. Just making sure that my position was/is clear.

And now, highly coincidentally, I am off to listen to a panel (comprised of atheists) whose titled could be paraphrased as "How to be an atheist without being an asshole." I expect Dawkins to be thoroughly skewered.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

As Bertrand Russell said: I would not die for my beliefs, because I might be wrong. But then he was a more enlightened human being than most.

I like to think that I don't believe anything not supported by facts and see the world as it really is, but I am probably deceiving myself.

Dear Ctein,

Before you invoke me as an ally, note that your belief system also requires (at a minimum) the axiom, "Absence of evidence that is acceptable to me constitutes evidence of absence." That is an entirely reasonable starting point for a belief system but, like all axioms, it is both unprovable and not always true.

If you accept that, we're allies.

Not really. Absence of evidence that is acceptable to me constitutes failure to prove existence to me. I hope we can still be allies. :-)

...I think you would not have argued had he said that there are (too many!) atheists who embrace their beliefs with religious fervor. Which, I strongly suspect was what he meant to convey...

You are correct. I would not have submitted a comment had Mike worded his post that way.

This is not a debating society, so no further exchange is solicited, and probably will not be welcomed by Mike. Just making sure that my position was/is clear.

We'll know whether he welcomes the further exchange if and when he publishes this comment. :-)

Your position was clear, and I'd no intention of putting any words in your mouth. This must be the most civil discourse on religion to ever grace the Internet. :-)

I agree with Michael Gatton; science is the opposite of a belief system. I mean something specific by that.

Religion divides the world into two kinds of propositions: true propositions and and false propositions. Many religions stipulate that true propositions are those set down by God, and that questioning true propositions is forbidden.

Science also divides the world into two kinds of propositions, but the categories are different: definitively false propositions and propositions which have not yet been proven false. And science stipulates that questioning propositions which have not yet been proven false is required.

Scientists who are not disguising some religion as science really don't care if you question the theory of evolution; evolution is a proposition which has not yet been proven false, and therefore questioning it is required. What scientists do object to is taking a scriptural narrative and putting it into a the nonexistent category of "propositions which are true" - in other words "propositions which must not be questioned".

"The fad faded a bit when people realized the so-called New Atheists were advocating anti-religion with religious fervor."

No. "Religious" is not a synonym for "intense" or "committed". My feeling that some religions are very bad for humanity (ISIS as one example) is intense, but that does not make it "religious".

I won't comment on the religion side. But when I hear people saying that they believe in Science I cringe. Science is based on proven experimentation, nothing to believe in. Of course, what Science thinks true by current experimentation may (and has in the past) be proven wrong tomorrow. A lot of what people today call settled Science is anything but, even if many believe it as gospel.

Paradigms shift, so be it.

As is usually the case for me whenever this topic of discussion comes around, I believe I'll have another drink, thank you.

I have identified myself as an atheist for years. But I get no satisfaction from any discussion stemming from it. I simply feel that there are no gods, and that the burden of proof lies with the side that is claiming something unseen exists.

It doesn't bother me when someone else I know does follow the rules of this religion or that. I do not feel any urge to convince anyone else that they should start being an atheist.

I don't like the atheists who preach atheism any more than you do.

I don't care if the 10 Commandments are outside the courthouse, or whether "under god" appears in the Pledge of Allegiance. My atheism is pure: I do not care about the appearance and/or practice of other religions. I never think about it at all, unless reminded somehow.

I can sum it up thusly: (1) There is no god; (2) You are free to believe that there is, in fact, a god or some group of gods; (3) who cares

I always just thought those thoughts made me an atheist. But is there another name for it?

"An old joke had it that even nihilists passionately believe in one thing—nihilism!"-
...but they don't care ;)

I had to think a bit after reading this. Technically I'm an atheist agnostic smart ass. When I talk to my teenage daughter about what I actually believe I tell her I believe people absolutely have to learn to cooperate and build a society that serves our common needs instead of mostly catering to our selfish interests. I tell her we need to work together to make sure we all develop our individual abilities fully while keeping also keeping strong family and social bonds. I tell her that even though it looks like the generations before hers might come close to destroying the world, her generation gives me hope, not despair. So yes, hippy stuff, a belief that humans can change and fix this mess.

What a great question Mike! I don't have a "belief system" as to me, belief means complete faith in something. At the epistemological level, I don't think we can know anything for sure. Unfortunately, this is no way to run a railroad, so I've settled on accepting the things our senses perceive, and which are repeatable, as fact, and true knowledge. Everything else is an open question, and I am comfortable with just not knowing the answers to some questions.

What, Me Worry !

I believe in enthropy, the drifting apart of molecules, organisms, societies, cultures, species, planets. The implication to 21st century humans is, if you don't put the energy you're alone.
I also believe empathy goes a long way to counter enthropy. It allows you to appreciate the belief systems of others and thus to decode (and sometines predict or even encourage/prevent) their decisions and actions. There are many examples to the importance of empathy in the interpersonal, societal and even geopolitical levels (World War I comes to mind).

Funny how some of the science supporters seem to be the most vehement in defending their faith ;-)

As Nobel Prize winning physicist and philosopher Niels Bohr said:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

Self examination is essential to broadening our belief systems as eliminating them is highly improbable.

Daniel Dennett, the Tufts University philosopher would enjoy this conversation. He has written several books that touch on religion, which he concludes is all based on believing in beliefs - but don't. take my word for it , read the section on religion here
or read
his 2006 book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Dennett attempts to account for religious belief naturalistically, explaining possible evolutionary reasons for the phenomenon of religious adherence

Well, you've given me 3 thoughts, for which thanks ;)

First: it occurs to me that the problem with atheism is that the central tenet of non-faith doesn't have many consequences and, for all that folks ahering to the proposition would not like to be called a religion - even a non-religion - there is still a social/tribal grouping happening around it. I do idly wonder what it would take to promote it really to a religion - got a doctrinal statement, got a social grouping, ... rituals perhaps? Anything else?

Second: from a skewed viewpoint here in right-Pondia, I don't hear many Americans talking in favour of capitalism but I *always* hear "soshulist" in one perjorative syllable - and wonder how come so many people are opposed to a simple ideology that works in their favour.

Third: maybe your psychology is my Quality (sense: Pirsig). That does seem to be a filter through which I observe the world at the moment, at least.

I'm pretty sure my ' belief system' comes out of the 40 years I spent working as a stockbroker with the retail public.
A Roman said it first ' Money alone sets all the World in motion.'
I've learned a little since then and would change the quote to Self Interest sets all the World in motion.
That's the primary filter for me. Add to that Curiosity and you've got start on how I see things.

Belief systems don't fall on us out of the sky, we choose to adopt them. Of course parents, educations, friends can influence our choice, but how do we choose? Self-interest, perceived or otherwise? Identity? Safety?

If/when a belief system becomes toxic, how do you turn that ship around?

We spent half a semester in an MBA ethics class dealing with "first premise," which is similar to what you're trying to get across. Best class of my life, as it resolved a number of things that I hadn't quite understood.

First premise is the thing you rely on when the answer is unknowable in true sense. "Why am I here on earth? God put me here" is one of those first premise things, as it's not probable or disprovable: you MUST have a belief to answer the question.

You are correct that politics, economics, and a host of other things have first premise components.

But here's the thing: far too many people hide behind first premise when the answer IS known or knowable. And people will distort their first premise to not accept a fact that's inconvenient. Science is the business of learning and knowing things. It has absolute knowns, and at its leading edge it has some hypothesized knowns that are being tested. Knowns can be challenged, but they're still knowns unless you can, via scientific method, disprove them. Not first premise method. Scientific method.

My belief system is slowly guiding me into the silent forest.

The only belief systems we should ever be wary of are those we are told to follow.

Especially if the instructions are second-hand and therefore open to interpretation...

Another one who thinks you are being unfair to Dawkins...

Dawkins has put himself in an interesting position, almost becoming a politician in his efforts to influence policy, and one which is inevitably going to create angst and occasionally he is going to look bad.

But he is most definitely NOT turning atheism into religion. Anyone who reads is books and essays properly will understand that.

Dawkins places reason above un-reason, evidence above prejudice. Dawkins treats religion like a flower or a rock - something to be explored and explained via reason and intellect rather than just believed because you were brought up to adhere to a tradition.

He is particularly concerned about the place of religion in public policy; especially in America, where religion has a hold on policy-making that is dramatically different from Western Europe. And to be honest, everyone should be concerned as well. Public policy should not be slave to religious beliefs, unless you want to live in a theocracy. His recent years have seen him embroiled in a secular pursuit, pressing for policy making to made on the basis of reason, not religion and to end the practice of granting religious institutions special privileges. Of course he is going to meet resistance, he is attempting to assault bastions of power!

I feel what he is trying to do is much mis-understood, his motivations mis-represented and he gets unfair criticism as a result - often from people who have no detailed understanding of his position and end up attacking sound-bites, not the real man.

"The point is that something has to structure your core beliefs, and it's best to try to be aware of what it is. It can't be nothing. "

You must realize that that is your belief system.

Personally I've seen too much nonlinear behavior to share it with you.

Nice essay.

"that has been going on more or less since the end of the 11th century" - Somewhat longer than that!

There are days that I believe that the whole world or even the whole universe is virtual reality. Only my brain exist and it makes everything up. Or sometimes I think that the whole system is fooling me. When I walk the streets they are quickly building things up just before I arrive and they are breaking things down as soon as I disappear around the corner. I never talk about this with anyone because I know some people might find I that I am strange and in the worst case they will lock me up.

I envy my neighbors wife. She has a daily contact with the creator of the universe. You know the one that made our milky way with about 50 billion stars and so on. He successfully helped her finding back lost car keys yesterday.

Thank God most people are quite normal and they know that this life is only a game show. Only those who give the right answers will get through to the final.

Mike raised a second point in answer to one of the featured responses: (paraphrasing) belief as a system of mental states, which acts as a driver for action. In this connection we must consider whether evolution has selected for certain human brain states that have been successful in the past to perpetuate the human race. In this light, the core beliefs are arbitrary rules, which might be purely "accidental" but just happened to have survived in evolution. They had provided fitness to the human race, but there is no guarantee that they will in the future when the circumstances (environments) change.

Whatever beliefs you have, or whatever belief system you adhere to will evaporate when you pass away.

What will persist is the mutual love that you have discovered with another individual.

That is something worth finding - although difficult

Mike, the yellow filter is one of the filters I have used on a camera. Yellow also happens to be one of my favourite colours.

I think that "the science-based belief system is one of many belief systems" would be a less provocative statement than "science is one of many belief systems", and just as interesting from an intellectual standpoint.

Having been trained as a scientist (physics and astronomy, causing my friends to refer to me as a "half-astrophysicist"), I can see the argument that says science and religion are opposing practices. However both have their "belief systems."
Religion focuses on creating beliefs that can't be explained, like "is there a supreme being that created everything" while science theorizes on some topics that they believe in but can't explain like "the big bang that created the universe" but for which they continue searching for answers.
Both have their conundrums- who created the supreme being or what came before the big bang. The primary difference between religion and science to me is whether you accept a belief as stated (dogma) or you endeavor to explore the questions it raises.
Interestingly enough, some current research into how the brain works indicates that many are hard-wired to one or the other.

As you say, "The point is that something has to structure your core beliefs, and it's best to try to be aware of what it is."

I'd add to that, take a stand for what you believe to be the better cause and do not hang back while you spend a lifetime figuring it all out.

I totally get what you wrote about Dawkins and Harris, as my father has become a disciple of theirs and has transformed from a nice mild-mannered atheist to a rigid-minded evangelical Atheist, for whom all the complexity in the world is reduced to the evils of religion. I thought you might be interested in this


What a pleasure to find such an enlightened post and subsequent discussion on the net. Once again, your readership demonstrates that, as a group, it is among the most intelligent to be found anywhere.

However, the amount of certainty contained in some assertions I'm reading is, to my mind, disturbing. Philosophic and scientific insights beginning at least as far back as the 18th century--if not earlier--should have influenced more of us to speak with tentative caution by now. Objectively, human beings realize they lack the perspective--literally and figuratively--to speak with final authority. Nevertheless, many then proceed to attempt to do just that.

Perhaps most unsurprising is the way that language flies apart when religion enters the discussion. While most (although not all, even in this small space) can agree what "a religion" is, it is obvious that people speak of myriad and vastly different notions when using the terms "religion" and "religious." The inability to differentiate between the imperfect implementation (a religion) and an innate inclination toward an ideal (religion), is the source of much confusion. When humankind becomes better able to understand that distinction, we will have a world that is far more kind, tolerant, and civilized, one less governed by emotional, verbal, and physical conflict.

Meanwhile, photography is a fine walk, and these little excursions along other OT paths are also good exercise.

Bob Blakley above (Sunday, 29 May 2016 at 05:19 PM) defined science succinctly as:

Science also divides the world into two kinds of propositions, but the categories are different: definitively false propositions and propositions which have not yet been proven false. And science stipulates that questioning propositions which have not yet been proven false is required.

For example, the world is flat is a definitively false proposition proven false in many different ways over the centuries. (Photograph a large ship as it sails over the horizon. How would the shape morph if the earth were flat vs roundish?)

The statement that a planet or moon is a perfect sphere with all of its mass concentrated at the center is also a definitively false proposition.

However, both of these propositions are useful models if they are understood as limited models. Flat earth is sufficient for a general-purpose map of your city. Perfect sphere is sufficient for calculating tides for most practical purposes.

Questioning propositions which have not yet been proven false is required can be stated in another way: if there is no way to test the falsity of a proposition, then we're not talking science but beliefs.

I'll finish this off with some greatly abbreviated history. At the turn of the 20th century, most physicists believed that at its core they understood how nature worked and all that was left to do was to refine existing knowledge to more decimal places of experimental accuracy. If this knowledge were set in stone (not allowed to be tested as false), we would be living today in a Steampunk world!

But by reexamining the results of certain experiments, devising new ones based on these results, etc., certain scientists soon unhappily realized that the results of 19th century physics were indeed not false in a world (relatively) slow and large, BUT did not hold up when examining the very fast and the very small.

This ability to uncomfortably question the very foundations of physics - to be willing to TEST if this knowledge is possibly false - was (and is) what makes our modern world technology possible.

A sad irony is that the most dogmatic absolutists use this same technology to further their terrible destructive ends. The exact opposite of dogmatism and absolutism is science.

I'd like to quote from Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man": "Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known ... Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you ... think it possible you may be mistaken'. ... We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power."

Mike, you've raised an important topic here but I'm not sure that you have "kicked the can" any further down the "road of usefulness" (so to speak).

My belief system is that beliefs are dangerous i.e if we believe X is true then we act accordingly, which could be bad news if in fact X is not true.

The best antidote is to minimize our beliefs and try to assess the natural World based on evidence. The amount of "belief" we have in X is proportional to the amount of evidence for X; if there is no evidence then we have no belief in it. Simple as that.

But what constitutes "evidence"? The best description humans have devised for the natural World is provided by science, so we should use scientific grade evidence (and the Scientific Method) as our benchmark for evidence.

I also recommend people read "Don't believe everything you think" by Thomas Kida.

Ah the deepest of subjects. Look at the OT God?
You like him? Really? What is missing is the feminine divine. In a nutshell somewhere along the paths of that beyond we lost this feminine aspect of the spiritual realm. No one really knows what is real and what is not yet the brutal male god is a tough love. Isis, Sophia, Mary is a wonderful subject to investigate.

Maybe it is not such a good idea to include Konrad Lorenz in o a "Belief System". He joined the nazi party in 1938, was saying about his work: "I'm able to say that my whole scientific work is devoted to the ideas of the National Socialists." and was supporting the Nazi ideas of "racial hygiene"...

To try to go further on the "science as belief system" conundrum and help refine the line between experience as a logical tool and a belief (opposed to questioning and probing) that science will better solve our problems, there us just a bit of phrase that has shocked me : once you've seen a few fossils, you just don't believe in evolution. You've seen it cast in stone (if not in the literal flesh).

Two books made their way onto my nightstand last year, both dealing with aspects of spirituality.
I did not go looking for either book. They arrived by coincidence.
One was written by someone I know through work the other by a relative.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well they dovetail. I suspect many TOP readers consider at least some of their photography to be a small act of devotion. I also suspect many are also skeptics and doubters.
Those folks will find these two small paperbacks to be a real treat.
Here they are.


Why these two books arrived at just the right time for me seems odd but there is a Lakota saying "the white mans word for religion is coincidence". Go figure.

My belief system at the moment is whatever's being filtered through my Planar 50mm 1.7...

If you encounter the Buddha along the way, kill him.

If one does not take into account how beliefs evolve, it is difficult to separate religious ideas from non-religious ones. The difference is how they change (or not) as time goes by.

Last year I had dinner at a friend's house - this friend is a medical doctor and a very strong, practicing Catholic. At dinner he was vehemently mocking a man we met that day who "referred to himself as a Doctor, but he was really just a Chiropractor." He went on to emphatically declare that "not one single piece of chiropractic care is backed up by even a shred of evidence of its efficacy." He then lead the table in Grace and I was blown away by the irony.

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