Posts Tagged ‘beliefs’

There are no non-believers

August 26, 2022

Every belief is assumed knowledge and all knowledge assumed is a belief. Why do we find it necessary to have beliefs at all?

Our behaviour and our actions are all about the future. Consciously or unconsciously we project our actions into the future. Knowledge provides a basis for such extrapolations. But where we do not know, we need to find some basis for behaviour. And so we turn to “assumed knowledge”, to beliefs. I don’t actually know that the sun will rise today. I wake up because I believe it will. Every human action is based on the belief that life will continue. It is not possible for any human mind to know everything and so it is impossible for any human mind to be devoid of belief. This is an inevitable consequence of our finite minds having a very limited capacity for “knowing”. Human minds, singly or collectively, are also finite and incapable of encompassing the incomprehensibly large amount of what is knowable. (Observe that knowledge is whatever a brain can comprehend and that incomprehensibly large is usually given the label infinite but inventing a label does not increase comprehension).

All beliefs are necessarily subjective but any belief may be shared by many minds. A Belief (B) can apply to any proposition (P) which is taken to be true but which cannot be proved. All the fundamental assumptions in science and philosophy and logic are propositions taken to be true and are beliefs. Of course, contrary to popular delusion, there are no objective truths. What is True is always subjective. Every definition of Truth is circular (truth = in accordance with fact, where fact = what is true). Circularity in definitions is a sure indicator of having reached a cognitive boundary – a limit to comprehension. Any human brain contains only a tiny fraction of what can be called accumulated human knowledge and an even tinier part of what is knowable. For that brain, all external knowledge assumed to be true is just belief. Not believing (denying or negating) a Belief about a Proposition, is a subjective negation of the Belief but not of the Proposition. A denial of a belief in a proposition is silent about the truth of the proposition itself. There is no case where the statement “I don’t believe in Belief P” is not itself a Belief Y where Y is now just the proposition that P is not true.

~B(P) is about the B and not about the (P)

~B(P) = B(Y) where Y = ~P

“I don’t believe in X” is just another belief statement saying ” I believe that X is not”.

The human mind creates (invents) and makes up plausible assumptions so that it does not get stuck and can move on. Beliefs allow us to avoid the paralysis of thought that not knowing can lead to. Science assumes causal determinism and the Laws of Nature so that all phenomena can then be deemed explainable. Of course, this assumption means that science is restricted to the knowable and cannot address the unknowable or the incomprehensible (since what is incomprehensible is not permitted to be knowledge). A label – random – is invented for that which incomprehensibly has no cause but random is just a label. The determinism assumed by science is merely a belief. Philosophy, logic – and even metaphysics – all need their assumptions. There is some debate as to what these fundamental assumptions are but only to the extent as to which assumptions are fundamental and which emerge from others. It is just an assumption of human cognition that something cannot be both true and false. Or so we believe. It is an assumption (a belief) that logic and reason must prevail. It is an assumption (a belief) that for logic and reason to prevail, contradictions in arguments are absurd and not permitted. All our fundamental assumptions are also boundary conditions.

Physics and religion both make fundamental assumptions which are always beliefs. Physics assumes causality according to assumed discoverable laws of nature in all of the universe (even though our brains and senses are finite and limited). Religions assume various versions of gods and deities with a variety of attributes regarding existence, creation and omniscience.

Physics theories are remarkably similar to God theories

The human brain is finite. Human cognition has increased as we have evolved but is limited by the size of our brains and of the senses (including extended senses) that the brain has access to. Human comprehension is circumscribed and cognition resorts to circularity when the boundaries of comprehension are reached. Reality is whatever the brain can perceive as reality. Knowledge is whatever the brain can comprehend as knowledge. Curiosity about the surrounding world is an innate part of the human cognitive state and drives the process of inquiry we call the scientific process.

We invented gods long before religions came along and hijacked the beliefs to exercise political power.

God or no-God? That is the wrong question

The fundamental reason for inventing any god was to be able to answer or explain the inexplicable. Every God ever invented was, at its core, a Theory of Explanation.

The most common form of atheism lies in denying – often with much logic and reason as justification – the beliefs of others in gods or deities, but what is usually forgotten is that this denial is merely a criticism of the beliefs of those others, but is actually silent about the propositions themselves. Famous atheists (Russell, Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, among many others) revel in ridiculing, with reason and logic and a heavy dose of sanctimony, the beliefs of others in gods and deities. But it is worth noting that when anyone denounces a belief in a God, the God must first be defined to be able to claim the non-belief. Which claim is itself a belief.

I tried to clarify my thinking a few years ago

The proposition that “God Exists” is logically meaningless until “God” is defined. This is the wrong proposition to be addressing. Most religions do not logically come to the conclusion that “God Exists”. They start with that as an assumption which – as with all such assumptions – is taken as self-evident but which cannot be proved. To ridicule this assumption is not difficult. Religions avoid the more fundamental questions by invoking their gods. But this is a method used also by physics and cosmology. The universe is assumed to be homogeneous. The four laws of nature operating in this homogeneous universe are invoked by physicists to avoid the question of why the laws exist in the first place. The Big Bang and Dark Matter and Dark Energy are invoked by cosmologists to avoid the question of why time exists and what time is and what the universe is.

Every atheist can assert a non-belief in any version of any god  – which is itself a belief.

But no atheist is a non-believer.

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