Wednesday, 12 September 2007

On Belief

by Charles Pooter

Pitchard Buckminister's earlier post points to a universal need to find meaning in the cosmos. It is necessary for many people to attempt to satisfy this need. One way of satisfying the urges the God gene places in your head is to maintain an agnostic, sceptical core but to read about whatever spiritual and Fortean subjects interest you. Just let it wash over you, delving in whenever something particularly takes your interest. Don't "believe" any of it. As the great UFOlogist and Fortean John Keel said "belief is the enemy". If something particularly attracts you and you find yourself infused with the Holy Spirit, obtaining Gnosis, contacted by VALIS or whatever, then so be it, but why feel under any pressure? Conversely, why feel under any pressure to commit to belief in an existentialist, Godless Universe, about which 21st Century science is omniscient?

It is also worth noting that the possibility (probability?) that this is a Godless universe working broadly along the lines envisioned by mainstream science may be a good thing compared to possible alternatives. The assumption, made by major religions, that ultimately there is something good in charge, is a very big assumption indeed. To my mind, if written accounts in the historical record are anything more than allegory or delusion, then any metaphysical forces that hold sway over the Universe are far more likely to be deceitful, bizarre, indifferent to humanity or just plain evil. Examples are numerous: the God of the Old Testement seems far similar to the Demiurge of Gnostic imaginings than a "God of Love". The trickster entities of the old European fairy-faiths seemed to regard mankind as a toy. The apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima seemed to delight in imitating religious figures whilst exhibiting bizarre behaviour and issuing mischievious "prophesies". The diverse and unsettling reports from around the world of encounters with "aliens" repeatedly show patterns of malevolence and deceit.

I'm not saying any of this stuff is true and I maintain my sceptical agnosticism, but what I am saying is that if the material realm is so screwed up, what makes anyone think the spiritual realm is any different? To quote the mythical Hermes Trismegistus: "As above, so below".

So, let us view the probability that scientists are right and mystics wrong as a good thing. When we die, we probably rot and get eaten by worms. There are far worse alternatives.

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