Wednesday, February 18, 2009

i want to believe

I must have been 12 or so and I was reading a school book. It must have been Science.

the text was illustrating how we learn not just from personal experience and personal observation, but from others.

Something like, "Have you ever seen Australia? Then how do you know it exists?"

This I do remember-- and clearly. It was earth-shattering for me. I realized how much of my universe I just took on faith.

As sure as I believe that I'm alive, I believe in Australia. I believe in Antarctica, though I've never seen it or talked to anyone who has. I believe in things that I can't see-- my mind, electromagnetism, molecular structures. God.

Then there are things I believe, but feel that I can't be all together certain of. I believe in the Loch Ness Monster, in global warming, that the media is more than halfway responsible for the failing economy, that healthcare is more ridiculously ineffective than it has to be.

There are other things that I accept as fact, but I'm less certain about them. Has man really walked on the moon? How private are our movements? Is the President of the US really elected by the people? How close are the history books to reality?

I believe that we pick and choose our beliefs. We may think it's a fact-- but everything is accepted on evidence. How strong is the evidence? How reliable? What we believe so often depends on who we believe.

A fragile reality.

To complicate things, what we want to believe so often affects our beliefs and actions. It can be a temptation to ignore common sense in favor what we want our realities to be. I give you the beliefs-- pot isn't harmful, the Holocaust never happened, my country is better than yours and all dogs go to heaven.

Remember Fox Mulder's poster?

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