Some thoughtful responses


I just wanted to highlight a couple of interesting comments friends have made about the blog:

tricky word that ‘belief’. also, consider magic a psychological technology and spirituality a practice not an ideological position… i’ve taken to saying “i entertain the notion that…”. i dropped ‘i believe’ years ago as nonsense.

I think of this stuff more as a practice than as anything having to do with belief. Like, if you practice mindfulness meditation a lot, certain things will happen (according to scientists you’re likely to get less stressed out, reduce inflammation, etc). Or if you practice other kinds of meditation you might have an ecstatic experience. And some people mash belief into that, but it doesn’t have to be so (see: “buddhism without beliefs,” bokononism, the agnostic experience of the numinous). I see the obsession with belief as the primary agent of spirituality as something we inherit from dime-store Christianity.

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On doubt

The most dangerous capacity humans possess is the power to convince ourselves we’re in the right.

Most of what most people have believed throughout most of human history has been wrong. A great deal of what most people believe now is wrong. These are not difficult statements to swallow. But get your mind around this: some of your own beliefs are wrong. Bound to be. Which ones? Pick three things it would kill you to be mistaken about, and imagine for a moment that you’re flat-out wrong on all of them. What’s best for your children. The morality of the hardest choice you ever made. Whether God exists.

Someone out there disagrees with you on all these things. It might be me. Suppose it is. Suppose I’m right. What should I do about it?

From David Larsen’s review of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (from the NZ Listener a few years ago). It’s well worth the few minutes it will take you to read the whole thing.