There’s an incredible predisposition in the world today to deny individual, personal experience, even en masse, as a valid form of evidence when pertaining to large or impactful truth claims. This claim is made while pretending that we actually believe for a second that observational, repeatable experimental demonstrations should be the crux of our acceptable definition of truth. One large issue with that, however, is: Observations are literally experiences.
So, do we add the “characteristic”, so to speak, of necessary, consistently repeatable outcomes as observed by self-declared “impartial” observational creatures to our definition of what “knowledge” is allowed to be? At what point does the line between subjective and objective get blurred by this definition to the point where truth is buried beneath a mountain of corpses of the “conquered dissenters” that were willing to challenge the status quo of those given authority over the definition? What happens when all the voices that could see through the illusion of circularly dependent authority are silenced? Conversely, assume for a minute that the truth was known, but those holding truth abused their power to the point of compelling those oppressed by them to equate the truth itself with the group of oppressors. Then, by extension, the truth itself was tossed out along with the group that had used it for their own gains. When the truth becomes associated to the oppression directly, how do you use the same rhetoric and foundational “truth” that was used to enable oppression to cobble back together a compelling method of instilling that same truth back into the group that was likely once oppressed by the old “holders”?
It’s a conundrum to be sure, but there comes a moment when you realize that the truth doesn’t require your approval. You are not the power that gives it legitimacy. You are, at best, a tool in its discovery. You are not even the vessel of its delivery. The truth is all of those things. You are simply blessed to even be able to stand in its presence. Anything you do, if not done in pure truth, has the potential to pollute its ability to shine. We see this in just about everything. Science is powerful. We all know that be to true, but the problem is that humans simply can’t be trusted to interpret what is true. A process, like the scientific method, can only guide the input variables in a course that generates results. They may be consistent, they may be erratic, but they will definitely be guided by that process. The issue is that nothing else is shown but that “something”, when controlled properly, has a repeatable set of results or doesn’t. The results must be interpreted. If the process is called “truth”, you do a disservice to both: truth and process. If the interpretation is called “truth”, you lump in experiential interpretations into objectivity. What could be more dangerous? Unless we have a standard by which to judge those experiences, everything is subjective, at minimum, to some degree that is difficult to quantify. Does this guarantee that all experiences are true? Does this guarantee that all are false? It does seem to show one indisputable thing: our work for discovering it is definitely cut out for us.
Thus, we arrive at our next beautiful paradox of our culture: we are willing to allow others to do the work for us and accept the results almost without question as long as they don’t ask anything of us. For example, if a handful of astrophysicists declares, albeit theoretically, that the universe unraveled from an infinite number of universes that all exist as a complex “nothing” to which “everything was inevitable to derive from” because of its infinite quality, we roll with it. We say to ourselves, “They know better than us. They did the work. Let’s take them at their word.” Now, let’s view a different side of the coin. A man who has devoted his entire life to matters of the “spirit” claims to know something about that realm, and his “findings” lead him to an assertion that something is required of you by way of that “spiritual realm”. Imagine now that there are ~3.4 billion of those people, albeit self-described, that we doubt about those forms of claims. Now, compare that number with the number of astrophysicists that exist. I don’t even mean ones that agree with expert A from before, but the entire number of all that exist in the world, of about 10 thousand, and so many accept the assertion of a minute portion of them almost unblinkingly.
Why would we do something like that? To me, it’s obvious: the declaration doesn’t place any responsibility upon you. To be honest, if anything, the claim absolves you of a fair amount of the world’s claimed responsibility. The issue, however, is that the premise is inconsistent. We accept things like this in our daily lives constantly, and what’s worse, we treat them as objective truths. We all talk about elections, weather, climate, pollution, crime, punishment, education, and on and on as if we understand, purely, the fundamental truths of the way the world works in these regards. We have no proof, barely any evidence, scientific or otherwise, and yet, on we march into the abyss of our ignorance.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve actually heard self-described “educated” people talk about how they can’t even know if their experiences are real. If they, as a person, can even know they’re “really real”. If their consciousness is even “real”. But then, in almost the same breath, they will unwaveringly quote scientific demonstrations and their interpreted results, by other creatures of equally unlikely and untrustworthy questionable experiences, with a dogmatic and potent acceptance. It’s truly incredible. To go so far as to doubt and question the validity of even your own experience, but then for a moment, even if it’s the briefest of moments, to assert a trust and confidence in the discovery and experience of another, whom you have even less tangible evidence of their consciousness, is about the most laughable thing that could ever be strung together and labeled as “coherent” or “intelligent”.
People think that religious individuals are mock-worthy, jesters, or laughing-stocks, but then those jesters stand in the presence of those that are willing to earnestly say things like the sentences above as they mock you. How absurd could anything else ever be? How utterly immune to shame must you be to take yourself seriously for one iota of one second while saying things like that? The lack of introspection or, maybe worse, the complete self-deception is truly mind-blowing. There’s no other way to put it.
Consistently over the last several months, I’ve been saying the following: “belief informs actions.” I think I should refine it to: “true belief informs actions.” We may read that and think a myriad of things like: “so what?”, “yeah, of course”, and the like, but truly sit back and evaluate your actions that you take, the words that you choose to say, and then ask yourself this, “what beliefs do I hold that would yield the actions I actually enact?” That’s the true you. The “you” that lives and acts is embodiment of the beliefs you actually hold. If you aren’t performing this introspective act on the regular, you almost certainly don’t even know who you are. In a slightly altered quote from a famous movie-monkey, “I’m not the one who’s a laughing stock. You don’t even know WHO YOU ARE!” Ask me most anything about why I do the things that I do, and I will almost certainly have an answer. So many, when asked what they believe, will honestly look you in the face as they drink their starbucks and wear their politically charged apparel, and say, “you don’t even know if you’re real.”
Could there be anything more mock-worthy?