There are people today who believe there is a difference between “historical science” and, oh gee, I dunno, science science. People believe a lot of things. You can literally put the word “believe” into any freaking sentence you want and then argue that no one can question your beliefs, even though they can. Belief is a blanket of impenetrability. Like The Cone Of Silence from the Get Smart series. It doesn’t work, but if you believe it does, you don’t mind that it doesn’t work so much, cuz you’re too busy believing that it does work. Allow me to attempt to illustrate what I mean below.
There are many adages which I do not believe in, but appear to be accurate to others nonetheless. Three of these adages which come to mind at the moment are as follows:
Money can’t buy you happiness.
Money is the root of all evil.
Money makes the world go around.
Although they are very popular, well-heeled phrases, any rational (or in my case irrational) mind would of course find these sentiments absurd on their face. Evil is a subjective, man-made concept that is essentially defined as anything you don’t like, or anything your beliefs tell you you should not like. Either you condition yourself to accept your beliefs as they are explained to you, or you change your beliefs to accommodate your desires, thus risking hell fire or damnation or whatever your personal beliefs tell you is the price for disobeying whatever your equivalent for a god might be.
If you are a nonbeliever, you’re probably still with me. If you’re a believer, you insist evil was invented by either a god or a devil. Both of these things are fabrications inside your mind which never created anything. Fabrications in your mind can only create other fabrications in your mind. If you then make something tangible in the real world inspired by one of your fabrications, YOU did it, not your god. If something exists, either mankind made it at some point, or it existed before mankind showed up. Jumping to the conclusion (i.e.: assuming) that something which does exist was created by something you can’t prove exists simply makes an ass out of you and me. Please stop it.
I’ve talked about this at length in previous blog posts and am not going to argue about that here. This blog post is an attempt at explaining WHY some people believe these sorts of things without proof, although with a little bit of foreshadowing, I’m going to warn you that I don’t quite pull it off. Oh, and it was Arthur Dent who bruised his arm.
Money is also a human construct by the way. I’m not aware of any belief system claiming a god came up with it first, tho i think the Greeks used to put gods on their coins, then Romans used to put emperors on their coins and call them gods. It gets complicated, but i digress. We use money as a substitute for a more realistic bartering system involving whatever people have that other people don’t. We started using currency cuz it’s hard to fold livestock into a wallet or purse. If money is the root of all evil, then mankind must have invented money before we invented evil. You may see it differently. Both appear to have been invented before recorded history, so your guess is as good as mine.
Now, happiness is an animal emotion. More specifically it’s a human emotion that we also equate with behavior we see exhibited in some animals. This is part of what is known as anthropomorphism, where we take human things and assume animals have them too. Like happiness. We may believe dumb animals feel happiness in the same way we do, but they can’t tell us whether or not we are correct because they are dumb. I should have used “mute” instead of “dumb” cuz “dumb” has multiple meanings and you might not be smart enough to realize I meant “mute” when I said “dumb.” You might think I meant “stupid.” Am I talking down to you? Sorry. Hard to tell from up here, but again I digress. For example, there is evidence to suggest that in some ways dolphins are smarter than we are, but we’ll still always beat them at spelling bees. Just cuz. So we got that going for us.
The one thing mentioned in the three previously mentioned old adages that’s not essentially a human construct is the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike seem to agree that the world was here before people. I am aware of no philosophy, theology, or scientific theory that proposes mankind existed in its current form before the Earth did. No belief claims we floating around in the blackness of space for awhile until some god or other force elected to place us on terra firma. I wonder why that is? How people got here is still open to debate, despite the human genome compared to genomes of other animals, radiology and carbon dating, historical geology, archaeological finds like scores of fossil discoveries and loads of other data. There are people who still believe what can’t be proved, and refuse to accept what has been proved.
A book written thousands of years ago (billions of years after the universe was proven scientifically to have come to be) claims the universe was made thousands of years ago by some guy they can’t prove exists even tho they talk to him telepathically every day. No proof. Yet they believe. We CAN prove the age of the Earth with science, but the old book came before science and it says science is wrong. The old book also claims that thousands of years ago men lived to be hundreds of years old. That’s not what science shows. We’re lucky to get to a hundred. In recent years the average human life span has been going up to nearly eighty. That’s due to advances of medical science which did not exist thousands of years ago. Less than a couple centuries ago, the average lifespan for humans was roughly half what it is now. It’s reasonable to think the less medical advances and more natural dangers and lack of knowledge, the lower the expected lifespan would be. Believers have theories as to why humans lived longer back in the days of the Bible; less pollution for example, which is perhaps valid, but insufficient, and these theories are not corroborated by scientific evidence. Of course, again Believers just dismiss science whenever it disagrees. When you believe Abraham was 800 years old when he helped concieve Issac, doing math correctly is probably not high on your list of priorities.
Every time science trumps religion with something, religion trumps science with nothing. Somehow this works for Believers. I used to be one, and even I don’t understand why this works, but I feel it might work in the same way those three adages about money (don’t) work. We feel they work even after we’ve proven they don’t.
Money does not make the world go around. Gravity does. Physics does. This has been scientifically proven ad infinitum, but people still believe money makes the world go around. Why is that? Well, global economics has become a gauge by which countries and governments measure their worth and power. Money has become a motivating factor behind why countries and governments do what they do to each other and to their respective societies. Even, and especially when they say something else is motivating them, money is usually the real reason when you dig deep enough. When people in power do bad things under these auspices if fuels the fire for the belief that money is the root of all evil. If we see bad leaders do bad things in an attempt to make more money, we remember that more prominently than when good things happen because of good people doing good things using money.
What I’m trying to say is that a belief is not always literally correct, but figuratively it can be interpreted as accurate, so we pretend it’s literally correct because it feels figuratively correct. Perhaps the third adage will better convey what I’m suggesting. Money does not buy you happiness. Literally this one is actually correct, isn’t it? After all, happiness is not a commodity that can be bought and sold at a Walmart. Happiness is a feeling you generate within yourself based on your response to stimuli. A memory can be an example of internal stimuli, but more often than that, happiness is triggered by external stimuli. A rainbow, for example. You can’t buy rainbows. However, if rainbows make you happy, you can buy a prism, which is glass cut into a shape that will produce rainbows when light refracts through it. You can then carry rainbows in your pocket and pull one out whenever you like. So money cannot buy you happiness, but it can buy you goods and services which may make you happy. “Money can’t buy you happiness” is technically correct, but figuratively it’s totally bogus… which is exactly the opposite of the point I’ve been trying to make all this time! Dammit! Don’t listen to me. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.