Friday, April 29, 2005

Als das Kind Kind war

From 1 Corinthians:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Christianity also tells us that we have to put away skepticism and trust like a little child. Stop questioning and just believe.

That's a typical style of pitch that a cult, or an advertisement for a worthless object or drug gives when there is no real evidence for its worth. Remember this ad?
If you're a skeptic, just trust me. It works. I don't know how, but it does.

Or this?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Please do not allow your initial skepticism to deprive you of certain financial success! This is your once in a lifetime opportunity!

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

We are like children compared to the Buddha. If we can have a child-like innocence, then it will be possible for us to give ourselves unstintingly to the teaching and the practice, holding onto the hand of the true Dhamma that will guide us.

Just believe, things can only get better,
just believe, your spirit gets so higher,
just believe, tomorrow can shine brighter,
all you got to do is just believe.

The idea is, if you "just believe," your wishes will come true. There's a certain occultness to that belief. That is, that believing in itself has magical properties. Remember Peter Pan? The passage where Tinker-Bell drank poison, and Barrie orders the children to believe in fairies to keep her from dying? What a sick bastard. Adults pull this kind of extortion on kids all the time. Their favorite is using Santa to get kids to behave. Does this work?

The seduction of this "just believe" stuff is great. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be a kid again, to have someone else be responsible for us completely? Maybe, maybe not. How wonderful was it, really, being a kid? Did these beliefs bring us joy, or terrors in the night? Or both? Can we go through it again, this time without the shattering of our beliefs? And would we really want to be that kid? Is it really that wonderful, all the time, to have to answer to someone else? Did we never long for independence?

There's a variation on the Corinthians bible verse from the movie "Wings of Desire" that reminds us that childhood may not have been so much about believing and trusting, as it was about questioning. Here's part of it:
When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

Thanks for listening, Diary.


Aaron Kinney said...

Great post. Pressuring people to believe in imaginary stories and ideas is pretty sick and twisted. Religion is the continuation of child-like imaginary tales.

When I was at the Sansone/Manata debate, I was hanging out with some people before the debate started. An atheist guy was talking to Gene Cook, and Gene said something really crazy. To paraphrase:

"Jesus showed his love to me, and I feel him in my heart. I know hes real. And to hear people insist he doesnt exist really bothers me."

The expressions on his face and the seriousness of his statement really struck me as insane. I thought in my head at that point, with a rather freaked-out alienated feeling: "Holy shit! This full grown adult and father who seems to be in his 40s REALLY BELIEVES these crazy fucked up inhumane fairy tales. What kind of ingorant primitive world do I live in when Im surrounded by such fairy-tale insanity? This guy is a crackpot, but whats scarier is that the majority of the world believes in religious shit just like this nutjob."

Times like that, I always imagine how cool it would be to have been born 1000 years in the future, where hopefully religious people are the vast minority.

That Gene Cook guy really illustrated your post Alleee. He was pushing a childish fairy tale belief as a fully grown adult. The emotion and passion and seriousness in his voice was totally insane!

Hellbound Alleee said...

As Tammi Faye's puppet sang,

"God's not dead! He's still alive!
I feel Him in my heands,
I feel Him in my feet,
I feel Him all over me!"

That's pretty perverted, but the question in, "how do you KNOW you feel HIM?" The answer can only be, "because the bible says so." However, the bible does NOT say so, even if that WEREN'T a circular argument. The "bible" tells us to be wary of false gods.

The feeling of profundity or great spiritual awareness is a function of the temporal lobe. In short, "it's all in your head." Evolutionary adaptation gave us this kind of judgement in order to make priorities and see connections in order to learn. However, this function is very close to our emotional center. These can become confused, and temporal lobe seizures have been found to be the cause of people thinking they are gods and prophets, and that everything has profound spiritual significance.

breakerslion said...

Yes, Alleee! Exactly so. If I am right, then our more religiously-susceptible brethren and sister-en are actually the victims of one of nature’s cruel jokes in the form of unnatural selection. Selective breeding caused the temporal lobe/emotional center confusion to be more pronounced, because religious thralls have been historically rewarded by not being ostracized from the group. Also, from time to time, the faithful have been encouraged to over breed.

breakerslion said...

Another point I wanted to thank you for making - the fallacy that child-like innocence is unquestioning and uncritical. Every mother I have asked remembers a time when her small child kept asking, “why? ... why?...why?” It’s too bad that sometimes the trust we have for adults is misplaced, but we didn’t “just believe”.