In a recent post on Intelligent Design, I came down pretty hard on the inherent logical flaws therein. In the comments for that article I was challenged to provide a replacement ideology. Though I feel I am quite capable of proving someone?s argument to be logically unsound without the need for an argument of my own, I decided to answer the challenge. After all, why would I give up the chance to tell people how to think?
The first step is that everyone must come to grips with the unknown. The simple fact is that it is, indeed, unknown and you can handle that. Don?t worry that you don?t know everything about it. Most importantly, don?t try to explain it away.
You see, one of the primary functions of religion is to explain the unexplainable. The problem is, there are many different religions and they all seem to have their own separate bent on things. Here?s an example. The anti-evolution people say that both creationism and evolution should be taught in schools because both explain how everything came to exist. If we use that argument then we must also teach in schools all the other religious descriptions of the origins of the universe. Do you want your child to spend time learning the beliefs of some little tribe who thinks the universe was belched out of a sick yak? The usual response is that ?We only have to teach the one from my religion because my religion is right.? If members of every religion didn?t say that then it would not be a problem.
Of course the real strength of religion is faith. People say they feel their religion. They describe lightness and a connectedness. Those with true faith can draw strength and wisdom from it. True faith is a powerful thing. Unfortunately, people from many different faiths all describe the same sensations and seem to draw the same strength.
That leads to a perplexing problem. If different people have faith in different things and yet have the same faith sensations and benefits, then it says something about faith itself. When humans really have faith in something, it gives them that lightness. However, this does not say anything about the object of the faith. If a Christian and a Hindu have equal faith but the objects of the faiths are very different, which is the correct object?
The point here is that one cannot argue that one?s religion is correct simply because it feels right. There are too many other people who can make the same claim with the exact same validity. Of course, you are welcome to your religion and your faith; just don?t bother other people with it.
You may ask, ?Without faith to make our point, what should we use to explain our place in the universe??
As humans have grown over the years, we have learned to use our reasoning skills to deal with the world. Everyone (excluding those impaired by youth, defect, or inclination) has reasoning skills which can be applied to deal with the world. These skills can be strengthened through exercise. That exercise comes through formalized logic.
You see, starting at an early age, children work through different reasoning types. If you?ve ever tried to reason with a small child you?ll understand that they aren?t always as logical as you might like. That?s because they haven?t grown into that level of ability yet. The Childhood Development folks have done lots of research on this matter and they know what the different levels are.
What good does that do us? Simple, we can start educating our children today and give them tools to help strengthen their reasoning abilities. At each stage of their development they can be taught the relevant type of logic skills to bolster their natural abilities. By the time your child is in junior high school he or she could have the logical skills needed to understand that the advertisements for the latest sneakers are actually crap. Your daughter will be able to see through the B.S. that the football player uses to try to get into her pants.
Of course, you don?t have to despair that you?re already out of school. It?s not too late for you to learn these things. There are courses you can take at community colleges. There are wonderful books at the library that you can read for free. There are many paths you can take to learn logic. What will these skills do for you?
First and foremost, you will be able to see through political ads. That?s right. No matter which candidate, yours or theirs, you will see the logical fallacies used to make you believe things that have varying degrees of truth. When everyone gets riled-up on one side or the other you will be able to look around and say, ?Wow, these people are nuts.?
That?s not all. When you have logic skills you can use them for problem solving. These skills will help you figure things out. If you solve problems at work you will be a much more valuable employee and therefore be worth more money. If you can help your friends and family solve problems, you will have prestige in your community. You will be the person people look to and respect.
When you have logical reasoning skills, the world is a much simpler place where things work. You will be able to look around and see how the machinery of the world moves and be able to cope with it. Sometimes you will see trends and be able to prepare for them or possibly avoid them. There will even be times when you can see what is going on and make changes for the better. Let?s look at this more closely.
Imagine that something bad has happened in your city. There are strong emotions on all sides and everyone wants to do something about it. Is it best to rush in and make rash decisions? That is probably not the best way to handle it. We all know that people who are distraught don?t always weigh all the issues before acting. Is that how you want to live your life? It?s probably best to recognize the emotion and say, ?Even though I?m feeling this right now, everyone will be better off if I think this through.?
This brings up a typical argument against teaching people logic. It seems that some folks have it in their heads that a logical person has no emotions and that?s just unhealthy. Well, it isn?t true. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I?m not only emotional, but I?m actually passionate. At the same time, people will also tell you that I?m a very logical person. The emotions are hardwired into our brains and we cannot rid ourselves of them. Persons who do repress their emotions are usually mentally ill or soon will be. Feeling your emotions does not mean that you must be overcome by them.
When you learn logical skills, you will learn to recognize your emotions and see what they are trying to tell you. Once you have interpreted the emotion then you can act accordingly. When you feel anger, you can analyze the reason why and then handle it in a way that won?t land you in jail. When you feel love, you can respond without making an ass out of yourself. There are times when the appropriate action is to let loose the primitive part, such as in a self defense situation or when telling your loved ones that you love them.
Logic also tells us that we should get along peaceably. It also tells us why we should be charitable to others. It explains why we should make an effort. It also helps us deal with the unknown. It helps us say, ?I may not understand what?s out there at the moment, but I can deduce from the nature of other things that what is out there would make sense if I knew what it was.?
You may be thinking, ?But it?s a crazy world out there! The weather isn?t logical. There are terrorists bombing people out there and they certainly aren?t logical. How can logic deal with that??
Those are good questions and they have a good answer. Logic is a tool, like any other. It has its uses and it is a pretty useful tool. Let?s look at another tool. The hammer is a simple enough tool. You hit stuff with a hammer and it forces the stuff in the direction of travel (whether there?s room for such travel or not). A tack hammer is used to drive little nails into furniture to hold the upholstery in place. A sledge hammer can break loose bits of concrete or drive huge metal spikes into the rock. A jack hammer uses compressed air to repeatedly beat on pavement or similar. A wrecking ball is basically a huge hammer used to knock buildings over. All of those hammers are hammers but the size of the hammer determines what it is used for.
A similar thing applies with logic. Really simple logic may help you figure out why the coffee maker doesn?t work properly. More logic may be needed to figure out how you are going to pay all your bills this month and still have money for your favorite vice. The logic needed to analyze complex macro-economic forces is huge.
Though we may not see the reason behind the weather or behind terrorists, that doesn?t mean that there isn?t a reason. In the case of the terrorists, finding the logic behind their behavior is a top priority.
?But my faith gave me guidance to raise my kids. Now what should I do??
First, there is no real reason to stop raising your kids in accordance with the rules of your faith, as long as you also give them the reasoning ability to deal with the world outside the church walls. If you find that you are really pressed for an alternative, it?s both simple and difficult.
The simple answer is to focus on the goal of raising children. The typical goal is to raise your child so that child will be a good parent in turn. This is where things become difficult. There are many different philosophies regarding raising good kids. You?ll have to use your reasoning skills to determine the best way for your situation. Some basics might be fiscal responsibility, social responsibility, and a desire to raise their own kids to be good parents. You may want to explain to them that their childhood is just a time of preparation for adulthood. (There will be those who will gripe that childhood should be a time of play and innocence where there should be no stress and everybody should have their own peppermint unicorn. These people would have your child turn eighteen and have no preparation for adulthood at all. When you meet such people, run away in case the medication wears off.)
This all seems good in a theoretical environment like the LibertyBob web site, but the world can take a little more work. That?s where I recommend that you give things a bit more symbolism. Humans are big into symbolism and it can help get things through to the subconscious parts of the brain. For the purpose of communicating symbolically I am going to use a ready made system, Astrology.
Now, I?m not really into the Astrology thing myself. There are plenty of people who are and, by looking at the prevalence of Daily Horoscopes that appear in the newspapers around this nation, those people are fairly mainstream. That means that I can use the Astrology symbols and most people will understand them.
According to the Astrology folk, this is the Aquarian Age where the Aquarian influences are everywhere. The hippies will tell you that this is a time of peace, love, and understanding. Here?s where things get wonky. You see, the Astrology signs all are associated with Elements (these are traditional elements and not the ones you learned about in Chemistry). The element of Water is all about emotions, creativity, and the deep places of the subconscious mind. The element Air represents math, logic, and that parts of the brain that handle that stuff. These two elements are important, so keep up.
Aquarius is called the ?Water Bearer?. From this you may think that Aquarius is a water sign. That?s the trick; it?s really an air sign. So why would a sign of logic be the water bearer? Well, Aquarius is the sign of the application of logic to the emotions, creativity, and the deep places of the subconscious mind. So, if you need symbolism, there you have a ready made system telling that now is the time for you to get all logical.
?But why would we listen to you about Astrology, LibertyBob? I haven?t seen any of your ads on late night cable television.?
If you really need that level of symbolism, consider this. My father is an Aquarius. My mother is an Aquarius. They got it on in the summer of ?67 and I was born nine months later as an Aquarius. When you listen to the song ?Age of Aquarius? by the Fifth Dimension, you are hearing my birth chart described. According to all that crap (and some other crap too complex to go into here), I am The Aquarian? you know, if you believe that sort of thing.
Now then, you have logical reasons to accept logic as a source of personal growth and social responsibility. You also have a symbolic reason for the benefit of your subconscious (I can create more based other symbolic sets if needed). There is nothing in your way so go out and do the reason thing.
?But what should I do with it? What is my purpose? What is my destiny?? Oh, those questions. Each person must find his or her own purpose. I recommend that you better yourself so that you may better help others. Your destiny is like momentum. You will continue on a constant path (with decay) unless you or some external force exerts effort on your direction of motion. That effort may be good or bad. I recommend good.
The human species is approaching a crossroads (like usual) where we will have to fight for the last resources on this planet or escape into the vastness of space. Nature handles overcrowding by one of four methods: starvation, illness, predation, or expansion. As a species we must cooperate to reach out into the heavens and find our place among the stars. The alternatives are pretty bleak. It is your responsibility to your children, your community, and your species to strengthen your reasoning and scientific skills that you may contribute to that expansion.
There you have it, the LibertyBob Philosophy. I hope you appreciate that I held back on the smart assed comments and such to ensure that this is readable. Thank you for visiting LibertyBob.com. Your patronage is much appreciated.