Primordial belief

Take all our conscious thoughts about ourselves and the world around us to be either in the realm of knowledge or of ignorance. Take also that what lies in the space of knowledge is true. Then what lies in the space of ignorance may be true or false or both or neither. It is only within the space of ignorance that a “belief” can exist where that “belief” is then a possible truth. Take also that “science” is the process by which some of the “beliefs” within the space of ignorance are shown to be truths and thereby come into the space of knowledge. Knowledge is transferable between humans only if the recipient “believes” that the person transmitting the knowledge is transmitting the truth.

Much of what I take to be “knowledge” is not actually known to me but which I take to be known to others and part of the body of “human knowledge”.  I take the earth to be an oblate spheroid, not because I have personally observed that, but because I “believe” the many humans who have made the observation and brought that “true” statement into the body of human knowledge.

Most of what we therefore consider to be “our” knowledge is actually somebody else’s knowledge and not “known” to ourselves. However our belief in these persons leads to us claiming that knowledge as our own as being part of the body of knowledge available to humanity. The longer some statement has been within the body of knowledge, the stronger is our belief in that statement. Most of our actions are based then, not on our own personal knowledge, but on the belief that whatever lies within the body of knowledge of humanity is true.

But it strikes me that there is an assumption, a belief, which underlies every thought, every perception. This “primordial belief” is in fact implicit in every living thing. In fact it is so intrinsically intertwined with life that it may well be a part of the definition of what life is. This “primordial belief” is that the flow of time is unhindered and that a future exists. I breathe because there is future to breathe for. I cannot know when I take a breath that there will not be another one. Every living thing – a cell, a microbe, a virus, a tree or a human –  does what it does because there is a future (explicitly or implicitly) it believes it can live in. Even the very last breath I take will be taken in the belief that there will be another one to come. A belief in my future is existential.

A belief in a future is inherent in life. There can be a future without life (and there probably will be), but there is no form of life which does not have an implicit belief in its own future.

So every conscious mind (and that includes atheists, agnostics, religious fanatics, scientists and even economists) has this primordial, fundamental belief that a future exists. That, that future exists, can not be within the space of knowledge. All religions exist in the space of ignorance. But long before any of the “beliefs” they adopt comes the primordial belief that every living thing has  – that it has a future.




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