Shifting Belief Vessels

The Sea_religions1Our webs of beliefs are complex — we all hold various mixes of beliefs with differing accuracies.  We use these webs or vessels of belief to navigate life — and thus usefulness must be part of our evaluations of beliefs and not just their accuracy.

Using the four diagrams above, I have attempted to illustrate this apparently controversial thought. There we see shifts in the vessels of our religious beliefs as explained below.  But first, a caveat: Instead of “naturalist”, I debated whether to use the following terms: atheist, religious-free, non-believer, agnostic, and more.  But “naturalist” is what I decided on.  I am not stuck on it, but had to choose for the diagram.  Below, I mix the terms.

Diagram AReligious  —>  Naturalist (1)

Some atheists/naturalists may imagine that when a religious person stops believing in gods, demons, ghosts and such, they suddenly become more reasonable (accurate in their beliefs) and that this new accuracy offers automatically offers them more useful skills to navigate life.  But this is often not true.

Diagram B: Religious —> Naturalist (2)

I have rarely seen the fantasy of Diagram A. For example, sometimes I have seen some religious folks give up their faith but then drift into careless, dangerous and/or destructive journeys as a non-believer.

Diagram C: Naturalist —> Religious

I have also seen naturalists become religious and though embracing several new inaccurate beliefs, nonetheless their lives definitely improve!  Religions of every sort are full of such testimonies, and I think they are largely true.  This is because either inaccurate beliefs mix with other beliefs to have a good outcome or the other items that come with the religious package are compensative.

Diagram D: Religious —> Religious

And as I have written before, I feel there are better forms of mistaken beliefs than others.  I think there better forms of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, secularism and all the rest.

My diagrams has all sorts of problems: the metaphor is weak, the words I chose are lacking and more.  But does it communicate anything of value?  It is useful for me, even with its inaccuracies.  Or do you feel its inaccuracies are too costly to be considered truly useful?  In a coming post, I hope to show a way to safeguard some of these issues.  Until then, what do you think?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “Shifting Belief Vessels

  1. Very perceptive that newly minted Atheists (formerly religious) probably think they’re automatically more well informed or enlightened. Shifting mindsets is so much more than that, but few of us achieve that.

    Also there are all manner of non-believers and it’s tricky to lump them into a few categories. I’d say Atheists rely heavily on using (sometimes in a lazy sense) links to studies; Naturalists may rely too heavily on humanistic philosophy.

  2. Thanx amelie. You said “there are all manner of non-believers and it’s tricky to lump them into a few categories.”
    Yet in your next sentence you generalize about atheists saying “I’d say Atheists rely heavily on ….”
    I suggest you use the word “some” or some other qualifier when attacking atheists.

  3. TWF

    Well, I thought I understood the diagram before, but now it is obvious I was wrong! I had thought that you meant “accurate” as in “accurate to what the text says”, not “accurate to what is really happening”. Doh! This clears it up now.

    It’s not a bad chart, but one significant difficulty in making this a great metaphor, besides tricky verbiage, is the wind of the sailboats. Wind, and to a lesser degree sailboats, have historical metaphorical implications. You show the wind in the diagram, but you have people steering the boats regardless of the wind. With sailboats, you gotta go where the wind takes ya. Or so the metaphor goes. 😉

  4. Sabio, actually I was being understated. I have never seen an Atheist NOT try to make a rational argument without at least once citing a source. Now keep in mind, this is pretty much the correct way to debate especially science. But it can impede conversation and is not always necessary.

    I was not unduly criticizing. As I have fallen into the same trap. It is merely something to chew on with social interactions. Don’t take everything so personally!

  5. @TWF,

    Ah, I couldn’t figure out what you didn’t understand in my last post. Perhaps I need to work on the metaphor more.

    But as for sailboats — your wording makes it seem that you have never sailed! Am I correct? Well what follows is assuming you haven’t:

    A sailboat can go wherever it likes, but to get there it must tack.

    Sailing use to be a hobby of mine.

    Here is a youtube showing the surprising-to-the-naive fact that sailboats can sail both INTO the wind and FASTER than the wind.

    I forgot that the physics of sailing is not obvious to everyone.

    Here is a funny youtube showing how the avg person does not get it.

    Finally here is one of evaluating vectors of true and apparent wind — and adjusting the main sail appropriately. This is sailing 101 for sailors. I forgot the years of lessons I had on this stuff and just took it as common sense. My mistake.

    I will have to make another post called “Tacking through Life” — I have used this analogy for politics many times in the past. But without explanation, if falls. Thanks for pointing that out.

  6. TWF

    Ha! Actually, I have done a little sailing. As a teen, I spent a bit of time on a Sunfish on a small lake. Indeed you can navigate (mostly) into the wind, and, of course, different relative bearings yield different progress for different watercraft.

    However, most people aren’t that familiar with it. Instead, it’s “whatever way the wind blows”, the “winds of change”, etc. Cheers!

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