Believe what you will, but…

Ok, I am going to dive into deep, murky waters here because I am sick and tired of people trying to sell me to this book or that religion as the ultimate truth and the ONLY way to find meaning in life and eternal salvation (or else… I might add). 

I think you are free to believe whatever rocks your boat. You can even invite your buddies for a ride along if you want to, provided you genuinely respect those that do not want to join your happy tour. Those are some basic rights that every human should be entitled to (sadly, this is not so everywhere in the world).

However, there are a few things, that I cannot stand when it comes to this handsome, well dressed couple of young men that knock on my door on a saturday morning while I am still in bed contemplaing the multiple meanings of the word lazyness:
 
1. The one and only theory
2. The seems legit but… principle
3. The you have the right to remain silent law

As I believe these topics might look arid and incomplete and just for kicks, I am going on a limb here to add a brief description of them but more importantly how to avoid and counterbalance them:

The one and only theory
Please, please, please do not try to impose what you believe on others assuming that your religion, sect, group, congregation or whatever you call it owns the monopoly of the true (mainly because you don’t!).

Instead, consider that many other religions and groups (some of them very big) around the world are doing exactly the same. It does not take a rocket-science degree to realize that obviously it is not working out for everyone. And yes, this of course means that there is a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of BS flying around out there.

So next time you are sharing, predicating, saving, educating or enlightening someone and you get the BS look, don’t take it personal, put it in perspective and assume that your truth might not be the only one the other person is ready to accept.

The seems legit but… principle
Rumor has it that long ago an old man was counting apples he picked from the tree in his garden, and as he was doing it out loud a young man passing by heard him say: Those two apples plus these other two, according to the good old book equals five. The young man shouted at him: you crazy old man! Haven’t you heard? It has been demonstrated that two plus two equals four! while waving four fingers at him

The old man thought for a while and then said, mmmhhh. Maybe, but the good old book says it is five, so it HAS to be five, this generation and their new useless ideas! he growled, turned around and walked away.

I hope this little story sounds as ridicuolus to you as it does to me. However this is the perfect representation of the seems legit but… principle. Lots of people ONLY believe on a very old scroll of dobious origin found, interpreted and translated hundreds of years ago (kind of the chinse phone game) or what a pictogram found on the wall of a cave abandoned thousands of years ago they think represents.

And the sad part is that they do it despite very good evidence suggesting otherwise. They just decide to ignore it, shrug and as the old man in the story say: the good old book says otherwise, so it HAS to be true and consider the discussion terminated.

So, my suggestion is that by all means, you should firmly believe what your book, scroll, pictogram or celestial body say. BUT you have to be ready to change, update or at least cast the shadow of the doubt in your beliefs when the arguments are solid and new evidence that suggest otherwise is compelling. Maybe, just maybe, two plus two equals four after all.

As a corollary to this principle, I am happy to report that the earth is not flat and is not the center of the universe neither. So, please send a memo to he high priests indicating that they are to stop burning people as this matter has been settled beyond reasonable doubt.

The you have the right to remain silent law
As humans, we are very lucky to all posess a common trait: curiosity. We naturally ask questions and we like to have them answered. If you are a parent, you know how inquisitive a little kid can be. You also know that nowadays, children will not settle for half answers. The most surprising fact of this is that children don’t need to be taught to ask questions (some of them very good and creative) it just comes naturally. Amazing!

So, when you as a normal human being, have a genuine, good, creative question and no good answer can be pulled from the good old book, then you get a dogmatic one-fits-all answer or worse, a going around your head speech that gets you feeling stupid and guilty.

This is one of the big incompatbilities that I have with most of the major belief systems, you have to believe. That’s it. End of the story. Period. Caput.

In general, these systems count on you not to question, support research or do your own that might lead you to ask more good and creative questions. That would be a contract breach! And that, of course is a big no-no.

So, my suggestion (specially to the big wigs) is that questioning, reserching, being curious should be actively promoted. If perchance, this leads to find that an old dear principle or argument does not hold water, simple, follow the suggestion of the seem legit but… principle: Change it!

It will be much better for everyone, the benefits of this approach can’t be underemphasized. Imagine how many wars, murders, floggings and injustice could have been averted just by applying this simple principle.

Final conclusion
So, next saturday morning when you ring my bell, if you are ready to apply these principles, I might actually consider getting out of bed to have an intelligent and interesting conversation with you. But if that is not the case, please read the sign: Caution, guard dogs on duty and let me rest.

-Stein

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