Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Easy Life


All is for the best

Believe in what we’re told

Blind men in the market

Buying what we’re sold

-          BU2B, Rush

It took scouring about 1,500 years of history for me to come up with a list of about 100 niceties that we are to believe, as incredible as some of these might be.

“As for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.”

-          Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

If I spent a few minutes on it, I could probably come up with one hundred more just from the last five years – maybe even just from the year 2020.  I won’t spend time on this; you know the list as well as I do.

Open your eyes

And turn off your mind

-          Just Let Me Breathe, Dream Theater

I have thought about how easy it would be if I just believed – believed without questioning, believed without thinking.  Heck, I don’t even have to believe it; just act as if I believed it.  I could watch CNN or MSNBC: whatever they told me, that’s what I would act on, that’s what I would repeat to my colleagues, friends, and family.  No muss, no fuss.

How much easier life would be if I truly believed – thus avoiding any internal contradictions.  Of course, if I could turn off my moral compass and my interest in truth, it would be easier still.  Not that I claim to have a corner on truth; just that I would appreciate a more expansive investigation by those deigned to inform us.

But there I go; I can’t even type a few words without falling off the wagon.  It would be so easy if I just believed, or at least acted as if I believe.

Just close your mind

You can find all you need with your eyes

Of course, the “news” tomorrow might be the exact opposite of the news today, just like Orwell’s “Hate Week”:

…at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy.

You wouldn’t be so easily fooled, I am sure.  Me?  Why wouldn’t I go along, along with everyone else?  How easy that would be:

He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia!

Everyone just “knew.”  How easy it would be to get caught up in that “wave of understanding.”  Life could be just that simple, if I let it.  Just like how several covid restrictions magically have disappeared in the course of the last week.  What happened about a week ago that hadn’t happened in the last ten months?  Damn, there I go again.  I guess achieving the easy life is not so easy…at least for some of us.


Feed my head with simple thoughts

Life would be much easier if I just learned how to swallow.


  1. Faith is a form of intellectual suicide. Once learned, it can be applied to any subject. It is a skill taught to the young to enable them - for the rest of their lives - to believe whatever they are told to believe or whatever they wish to believe without evidence. It is presented as a virtue when it is, intellectually, the original sin. It is the separation of the mind from the objective reality in which it finds itself.

    1. Too many loaded terms.

      As to faith...given the various definitions, everyone has faith. It would be impossible to live otherwise.

    2. My favorite way of putting it is: a human is physiologically incapable of looking at himself as a mere machine, a bunch of particles rolling down the slope of entropy.

      Those who try are living a contradiction. Humans need to act to survive, and they need purpose to act. Rational, evidence-based inquiry can help enlighten our choice of purpose, but that choice still needs to be made, and it will ultimately depend on how we view material reality in a cosmic context, and our place in it.

      Because we obviously can't ascertain our place in a cosmic context through scientific means (at least, it doesn't look like it), that will always involve some degree of faith.

      Even if it's faith in the idea that material reality is all there is, and that all this "purpose" and "cosmic context" stuff exists ONLY in our heads. It can't be demonstrated, but it needs to be believed in.

    3. I clearly defined my use of faith as trust in authority and belief absent of evidence, neither of which is necessary to life; both of which are destructive.

      The dictionary you point to conveniently omits those most important and original meanings which you will find in Merriam-Webster, Oxford, American Heritage, and others.

    4. Trust in authority ought never to be blind, but 95 percent of what people believe comes from their trust in the authority of their choice. Is global warming real? How about COVID-19? Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?

      How do you know what you think you know? Nobody has the time or expertise to research every subject under the sun. Aside from the fact of my own existence, I'm *convinced* of very little. I am *persuaded*, however, that global warming, COVID-19, and the JFK lone-gunman accounts are largely false.

      I am also persuaded to believe in the existence of God and Resurrection of Christ. I don't know what constitutes "proof" to those beliefs. I see evidence nonetheless. Your mileage may vary.

    5. Destroying the definition of faith by claiming that all thought is based on faith is invalid. The term refers to some thoughts as distinguished from others. The difference is in what supports the thoughts being compared.

      To suggest that all thought is based on faith would amount to a self-invalidating proposition not worth uttering.

    6. "To suggest that all thought is based on faith would amount to a self-invalidating proposition not worth uttering."

      In this thread, you are the only person who has uttered this proposition.

    7. "It [faith] is the separation of the mind from the objective reality in which it finds itself." -- John Howard

      Objective reality? What is that? I don't understand. Please explain.

    8. Objective reality refers to the reality of objects - that which offers observable evidence.

    9. "In this thread, you are the only person who has uttered this proposition."

      Only as an example of something not true. Attempts to declare faith to be epistemologically necessary by lumping axioms and plausibilities together with blind faith in authorities or fantasies is word-gaming.

    10. "Objective reality refers to the reality of objects - that which offers observable evidence."

      I've been reading this blog for about three years, and have delved into a fair bit of the posts that were written before I started reading too. I feel quite confident in saying that this blog is most definitely not about objects.

      Stick around a while. John. You might be surprised by how your thinking changes.

    11. Objective reality is the reality of objects.

      Why didn’t I think of that? Such an awesome explanation! And totally in keeping with all the other numerous descriptions which I looked at online, trying to find something which was able to explicitly nail down what objective reality really is and clearly define it, but virtually everything I looked at was gobbledy-gook which said nothing at all.

      Although gravity is a force, not an object, it is real and can be measured, which I guess makes it objectively real. Skydivers know this to be true, so they pack their parachutes very carefully. They know that if the chutes do not open, they will be splattered all over the ground because gravity exists and operates in truth. Knowing this, they still jump, because they have faith in their parachutes. If they did not believe the chutes would work, they would not jump. Plain and simple. They have faith. Are you going to tell them it is “intellectual suicide” and “unnecessary”?

      "The starting point, for any scientific hypothesis, is for the proponents to disprove the null hypothesis. Demanding that those who believe something may not work, to prove that it doesn’t, is to turn the scientific method upside down. You can never prove a negative."

      The starting point, for this scientific hypothesis is for John Howard to disprove that faith is beneficial to the person who believes. If you can do that, then I will admit I am wrong. If you cannot, it would be well for you to consider the possibility that you might be wrong.

      Where is the PROOF that you are right? Or that persons of faith are wrong? Not conjecture, not hypothesis, not opinion. Proof. That is all I want to see.

    12. Gravity is an attribute of objects, not a separate "thing". Objects have attributes, among them their actions.

      Suggesting that every prediction is a faith, even when it is based on objective knowledge - such as your parachute example - is to stretch the word 'faith' beyond it's meaning. There most certainly is evidence supporting such predictions.

    13. John Howard has the modern, existential view of what faith is. That it is separate from reason. He wants to eliminate faith but most moderns want to eliminate reason as far as using it to find meaning and values.

      John Howard seems to follow the New Atheist path of strict materialism and ignoring any need for a philosophy of life or metanarrative other than adherence to evolution. It is a dead end when trying to live a life of meaning. Natural empiricism is a dead end. Irrational philosophical pursuit is a dead end.

      The only way forward to live a whole, fulfilling, human life is to apply reason to issues of religious faith and personal meaning of life. To do anything else has been shown over the last couple hundred years to be null and void.

    14. John Howard,

      "Objects have attributes, among them their actions."

      Objects don't act; only subjects do. Objects can only react. So then, from whence came the First Action?

  2. I'll just say IRL I am surrounded by people who do believe the media, the government, etc., people I work with, people I see in my daily travels, people I love. They don't seem very happy to me. They seem angry, nervous and fearful. Sometimes seeing how they are affected saddens me, but by comparison I am pretty happy myself.

    1. "I had to walk the streets of Missoula the other day for a few blocks--maskless, of course, even though most of the other people on the sidewalks had their "face diapers" on. In every instance, when I met someone and deliberately tried to make eye contact with them, they invariably looked somewhere else, refusing to meet my glance. I got the distinct impression that these people were sad, deeply sad, about their plight, yet they would not do what was necessary to alleviate the situation. It was almost as if they had become resigned to it. Be safe, be sad! It would be easy to sneer at these people or to be contemptuous of them, but I feel compassion for them because they are enslaved to an attitude and cannot break free from it. In this respect, I hope that I am following the example (Matthew 9:36) set by Jesus, Who felt compassion for the masses because He saw their condition."

      From a blog post I wrote--

      The saddest people in the world are those who believe the lies that governing authorities tell them.

    2. "The starting point, for this scientific hypothesis is for John Howard to disprove that faith is beneficial to the person who believes."

      OK, I see no evidence of the benefits of a lack of evidence. That concludes my disproof. We disprove the existence of something by noting the lack of evidence for its existence. Faith, of course, is the choice to believe without evidence. are requesting evidence that requesting evidence is a good thing?

    3. Well, obviously you have chosen to believe that there is no room for faith and that nothing I say will convince you otherwise, so I will move on. I will say no more on this matter.

  3. "Damn, there I go again. I guess achieving the easy life is not so easy… at least for some of us."

    Stay among the living my friend. The path of least resistance, such a powerful and all-pervasive force in nature, was not made for souls like you and I and many others here in this wonderful community you've fostered.

    “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” - G.K. Chesterton

    1. Something similar to this can be seen in Matthew 7: 13 & 14.

      "Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

      If I was to speak this: "The way of life for most people is a super-highway--wide, flat, easy, and capable of handling enormous traffic at high speed, sometimes with catastrophic collisions and destruction. The way to life, though, is more like a goat path in the mountains--narrow, rough, steep, and perilous, but the ones who make it to the top...OMG, what a view! What a view!!

    2. ATL & Roger, you both are right. Of course, there is only one path some of us feel called (even required) to take (as best we can and with much help).