The Dangerous Beliefs of the World
(Noticed during the first Trip Around the Sun)
1. Blind Faith. (That we ought to have Faith and not have Doubt.) Faith and Doubt are important companion tools. We reject untruth using our doubt. We accept truth using our faith. Either without the other becomes a serious problem for us. Faith without doubt allows us to follow every little wind. Doubt without faith allows no way to move ahead of where we are. Have we been taught to be ashamed of our doubt? If we would be effective seekers of truth, then we must replace that shame with gratitude.
2. Believing that Good and Truth are the same. Not all good things are true. (Santa Claus?) Not all true things are good. (Murderous dictators?) Truth and Goodness are not the same thing – hardly even related. Truth simply is. Goodness is produced with intelligent effort.
3. That our emotions are more dependable than our thoughts. There is no question that an emotionless life would not be as sweet – nor as painful. Still, emotions are not dependable in ferreting out truth from folly. If we tried to do our science with our emotions, we wouldn’t succeed in building what we’ve built. Of course, a scientist with no emotion probably wouldn’t have the motivation to do the work. Feeling and thinking have different important purposes. Often, religious beliefs are emotion-based, when they ought to be thought-based. Sometimes we miss the boat because we attempt to be “humble.” In seeking truth, we ought to improve our thinking, not strengthen our feelings. He said, “My Thoughts are not Your Thoughts – and your Ways not my Ways.” He didn’t talk about His “feelings” being different, but His Thoughts. He didn’t make the universe by feeling – but by thoughts and acts. He says He loves us – that’s His feelings, which must motivate Him.
4. That we ought to live by the Letter of the law. We often teach that the letter is a good guide, but that the spirit is even more important. But Paul wrote, “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” This is not good compared with better; this is bad compared with good. Let’s get this one right, because it has more import to our happiness than most people know. We have seen families destroyed by a letter-of-the-law attitude – over and over. Let the kids see that we don’t care about the letter, if the spirit is followed. This does not mean to look at the letter and break it. Just don’t look at it at all. The spirit will usually cover the letter. When it does not, the spirit is most likely better anyway. This really means “think.” When we are tempted to live by “the letter of the law,” it is because we don’t want to have to think in each situation. Admittedly, there are times when this “efficiency” is valuable – so long as we form our habits understanding their limitations, with a willingness and courage to go against habit when circumstances justify.
5. That “We” are the only ones who are correct or authorized. If someone is baptized in another church, it must be done over by one of “us.” Only members of our church can go to heaven – or the belief may be that only people who believe in our prescribed way can go to heaven. Those who haven’t found “Jesus,” for example, will go to Hell forever, no matter how good they are. Hell is described in different ways – Death without ever being alive again – burning forever without ending – or just a lesser “heaven,” than that enjoyed by those in the “right” group.
6. That we ought to resist organizational change (organizational repentance.) It is a fact that nearly all older organizations are resistive to change. The tried and proven have gained the confidence of the group. This is not all bad, of course. Conservatism in conserving the good is valuable. The principle of repentance, however, is an entirely liberal process. It is a process of change. We all know it’s good for us as individuals. We resist repentance of the organization – changes in doctrine. We make extra doctrines early in our development to support this lack of repentance. For example, we say, “People make errors, but the Church is perfect.” “Our interpretation can be in error, but the doctrine is perfect.” “If the Prophet declares ‘Thus Sayeth THE Lord,’ then what follows is infallible.” In truth, the Church is us, and there is no other church. Plumbers and scientists and Prophets and politicians can all become schizophrenic the same as any of us – out of touch with reality by disease or by age or by indoctrination (mild term for brainwashing.)
When we take an honest look at honestly gained data, then we doubt astrology. But this one is easy for us; we already doubt astrology. There are many other things we ought to doubt that we do not doubt. Without a healthy doubter, we would believe many things to be true which are not true, and in fact, we all do this. We also doubt many things without thought or study – with our emotions. When we doubt – or when we believe – in both cases, it should be by thought, not by feeling. By using the two tools – faith and doubt, we ferret out the truth from the folly. (It’s the Wheat and the Tares in the story.) As we continue in this honest process, we become more accurate in our beliefs. There will be times when we will err no matter how good our process is, but the net – over the long haul – will be improvement in our personal belief system
- Chuck Borough – During the First Trip Around the Sun – 2002