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Friday, March 24, 2017

My Book Part 1

Reportedly I have been working on a book for 6 years or more; a case might be made for 50 years, but that is a figure way too high, I am sure.

I want to set forth some of the basic parts that will be in it.

I became interested in Todd Burpo's book "Heaven is for Real" written about his son Colton's illness and unusual experiences and read it. Then I discovered that there was another book about a young man and his heavenly trip: this one was written by Kevin Malarkey about his son Alex's severe injuries and trip to heaven, "The Boy who Came Back from Heaven".

There is a lot of interesting stuff in these books and their ongoing histories, but I am primarily focused on one thing: how does one deal with claims about extra-normal experiences without being (a) credulous, or (b) intolerant, for it is clear that some people may too easily accept narratives that reflect some (not necessarily all) of their beliefs and other people will treat such stories with scorn.
There is a third way which corresponds to Agnosticism, and Agnosticism itself may run hot or cold, from being neutral in judgement yet totally uninterested to being neutral in judgement yet still wondering about the phenomena.

What is the status of truth in belief systems?
For these books are directed to a certain group with certain similar belief systems, and it is those groups which will most probably believe the book narratives to be true.
Other groups will believe the book narratives to be false.
I cannot embrace the story as "true" and yet I refuse to condemn it as "false".
The stories of good people have some important facets which go beyond true and false. What is it?

I think that to understand the reality of human actions, one must look at what is happening and try to suppress the urge to judge immediately. When confronted with raw evil, of course we must make a quick judgement, but when confronted by the actions of good people, we must make every effort to understand.
In doing so, it may help us understand ourselves, for we are no that much different - if at all! - from the Burpo family and from the Malarkey family. These families have had very different histories and their experiences cover a lot of experiences of all families - good experiences and bad ones.

How does one determine truth for events that do not have an independent way of finding out truth other than appealing to the basic underlying belief system?

That was the goal.

First, what we call belief systems are often otiose and unnecessary. Are religious credos and political creeds necessary for us to orient ourselves in the world? Probably not, for there are many religious dogmas in our faiths that we have probably never heard about and do not understand.
When was the last time the arguments against Pelagianism and its tenets were in your consciousness?

Belief systems have their uses and I would think that it would be in areas where the beliefs are in frequent use. Modern Science would be a good example, for the use of "beliefs" is so vigorous that we have experienced quite a few scientific revolutions within our lives, for with science there are established ways to verify scientific claims.
Not so with religion, and very little with politics.
Religious revolutions are sparsely scattered across history - although there may be more frequent Great Revivals and Bonfires of the Vanities - and Political revolutions are a bit more frequent but still not that frequent.

Religion and Politics (which I often lump together for the nature of "truth" in them) are systems in which:

Belief Precedes Truth

It is part of our history. 
We learn a passel of truths when we are kids.
Later we learn to be critical of our beliefs, but many of the beliefs which are fundamental to our personal lives and histories have been canonized as "truthful" due to the fact that we believed them when we were younger; we accepted them from unerring parents whom we thought were perfect...
(then we discovered they weren't... and many years later we discovered again they were!)

 Signe Wilkinson - Washington Post Writers Group and Cartoonist Group
[a cartoon based upon the description given above: "University of ideas I agree with", "Tweets I agree with", "Websites I agree with", and "Publications I agree with" are the captions within from left to right.]

The Truth of Religion and Politics we shall call Belief-Based. (And we shall rather dimly think of Truth in Science as Experiment-Based with more-or-less defined verification procedures.)

I like this sign


My Book  Part 2 will be   an essay on film editing and "coherence"

When I say that belief precedes truth, I guess I do not literally mean "in time", but that in knowledge or belief systems, belief in a statement will precede our finding out whether the statement is true or not.
Belief epistemologically precedes Truth

I think this is quite the norm for Religion and Politics, for it is our "group affiliation", as it were, that sort of wedges all sorts of tsotchkes into our brain pans and we believe them without having any intention of establishing the old truth ourselves.

AND - this does not imply that we necessarily have to verify anything at all!!!
It merely says that we believe before "truthing" and does not really say anything about whether one should believe. There is no imputation of credulity because we do not test truth. It is just the way it is.

The last thing I want to do is set up my view-point as somehow superior to another, for I posses no justification for that judgement, other than my self-infatuation!


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