Belief, Late Night Thoughts, Thinking

A Late Night Thought on Profound Thoughts

It seems obvious that thoughts might be more or less profound when compared to other thoughts. Nevertheless, to say that thought itself is profound seems a bit like saying the map is more profound than the terrain the map refers to.  So, perhaps, all thought — even the most profound thought — is shallow when compared to what the thought is of or about.   In other words, reality is always more profound than anything we can think of or about reality.  Should that disturb us?

Yes, I think at times it should disturb us.  Consider the notion — very common in the West — that we are in some manner profoundly changed by our beliefs.  For instance, we Westerners — and even some of us who are not Westerners — think it rather profoundly changes us to go from atheism to theism, or back again.

But atheism and theism are just beliefs.  No matter how fervently held, no mater how elaborately rendered, those beliefs are shallow compared to, say, any experience of reality that is unmediated by thought.  Even belief in the world’s most profound creed is nothing compared to an immediate experience of the world.  Yet, how often does our species of great ape take mere beliefs so grimly as to indulge in violent conflict over whose beliefs are considered more profound?

So, yes, I think it should in some way disturb us that reality is always more profound than anything we can think of or about reality because our species seems to invest so much time and effort into definining and grouping itself according to what individuals think.

At any rate, just some scattered late night thoughts.

5 thoughts on “A Late Night Thought on Profound Thoughts”

  1. I refuse to fall into the trap of sophistry that “atheism” is a belief. If I were to accept that, I am basically saying that “believers” have a right to set up the playing field and the rules of the game. I do not concede to those who claim to “believe” there is a god that they thus acquire the right to dictate the rules of any discussion of the subject.

    I do not “believe” there is no god. “Belief” has nothing to do with it, except in the negative sense that I have been presented with no reason sufficient to me to form a “belief” that there is a god (or more than one god, etc.). I really don’t understand the whole notion of “belief” as used by theists to start with. I don’t “believe” my house has a front door. Every time I go to where the front door seems to have been, it is there. No leap of faith is required for me to locate it, acknowledge its presence, and open/close it.

    So, as a stand-in for pretty much everything in my world, the door works pretty well.

    Just as an additional thought, I’d say that I lack understanding (not belief) as to why those who “believe” in a deity postulate that, regardless of whether one or more deities actually exist, that the “belief” itself is important, has value, matters. I do not why or how those folks came to the conclusion that the postulated deity(ies) care one way or the other about the belief, or not, any person has or claims.

    I live my daily life without the notion of “belief” being relevant to me.


  2. @ Twoblueday: Well, if one wants to get precise about it, then yes, you’re right. However my essay was about something besides whether atheism is properly called a belief. At least I thought it was.


  3. Oh, absolutely, Paul. I just availed myself of the opportunity to discuss something you mentioned. You’ll find that my responses often go off on a tangent, and it ain’t your fault at all.

    I have been seeing this notion of atheism as a “belief” bruited about, and wanted to vent.


  4. It’s a loss to humanity when kindness and justice are ascribed to faith. I think that good people would remain good people, even if their faith were shattered somehow. And bad people, if believers, would still be believers if they stopped believing, though we would not know about it because they wouldn’t admit to not believing.

    As for good nonbelievers, they’d probably still be good even if somehow converted to Christianity or some other religion.

    That atheism is a lack of belief, as distinct from a belief, is a hard sell to believers. Nontheless it is true.


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