I’ll Have What She’s Having!


This morsel was inspired by the contrasting flavours of science, religion, fundamentalism and all that yummy stuff. And while it may not contain those particular ingredients, it is strongly reminiscent of their respective essences. Please feel free to take as much as you want of it, or nothing at all. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if it’s not to your tastes. Bon appétit!

Let me ask you a question

How often do you question your faith? If you vote, how often do you question the facts quoted by the representative you elected? Your president? How about the science you were taught back in high school? College? How about the studies you just read in the Journal, Science? Nature?

Okay, so that was maybe seven questions, but you get the point

Most of us are probably skeptics of religion, if we’re leaning more toward agnostic; and science, if we’re more religious; of politics, if we’re rooting for the other team. But we really seldom question anything at all. We just disagree with it. And when we do question, we simply don’t want to know the answers enough to do the research ourselves, so our investigations often stop short of the truth. And thus, we satisfy ourselves with easy answers; the kind we give our own children. You know: those yellow-brick roads, leading to pre-determined conclusions. Conclusions that validate our positions, but seldom do them any merit.

And you know, as bad as it sounds

It’s not that we’re necessarily lazy or anything, it’s that these investigations simply take time too much of our time. I mean think about it: if we questioned every single fact that we were taught in school, we would never have learned anything because of the infinite questions of how? and why? filling all of our class time. So to make matters simple, we’ve learned to defer to a higher authority. We start by deferring to our parents and our teachers. Then to our pastors and politicians. To the doctors and researchers. In other words: to the professionals themselves. These are the shepherds that we have designated in our lives, and all we need to do is follow their lead. Is it any wonder that they often seem to have us by the throat?

So what does this mean?

It means that (Religious or Atheist, Conservative or Liberal, String Theory or The Standard Model) we all tend to listen to what anyone has to say unless it goes against our core beliefs or in some way contradicts our way of life. This is called cafeteria style faith, and we all do it. You see, in any other age, we would be less independent, and have hosts who would pre-select the various items on our proverbial plates. But since we are privileged to live in a modern age of free thinking (an age prone to the flattery of self-centered advertisements; of drive-thru’s, and endless buffets) we tend to patron only the systems that allow us to have it our own way. So we look around and assemble a plate of ideas that we feel is most palatable; most compatible with our own tastes. Much like matching the appropriate wine with our meal, or dessert with our entrée, we tend to match the right “facts” with our core beliefs. Now the fun part is when we start inviting guests over to join us at this same buffet and try playing host ourselves; expecting them to swallow the things that we find palatable; never considering  that they might have tastes all their own. Okay, so in case you didn’t get it, that last part was sarcasm.

The point is, we’re all the same, really

Because, while we may not share the same beliefs as everyone else, we’re still just consumers, dining in the same buffet, engaging in the same experience that we call life. So relax! Loosen a notch or two on your belt, and pick up a plate! Because there’s plenty of food for thought to go round!

And just remember

If you don’t like anyone trying to shove their stuff down your throat, don’t try to push yours down anyone else’s, either. Yes, that includes your kids. What? ….I’m just sayin! ;-P

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Science In Context «

  2. So refreshing to see something other than holier-than-thou attitudes some people have.
    The world would be a much better place (and radically different socially and politically) if people would restrain themselves from placing their moral values on someones throat and then forcing him/her to swallow them and even more, ask them to be grateful for it.
    Unfortunately we do not live in that kind of world so at the very least people should try to do is try to agree to disagree.
    Obviously when someone takes a side he/she might suffer from the other side. That’s the very core of disagreements that degenerate to open conflict. Wars were started over disagreements which at their very beginning were more or less not worth having a disagreement over. As an example, to schism in Christian religion between Catholics and Orthodoxes came one one side due to a disagreement on the value of prayer in the afterlife. The today’s Catholics claimed that a bad person can be admitted to heaven if he repents on the deathbed, while Orthodoxs claimed a person must be pious the whole life, so a prayer is not worth much. A very simple disagreement which sparked conflict between countries and countless wars in the centuries to come.
    That kind of attitude has not left us even today. Rarely do we see a theory where the side that disagrees with it does not try to make the other look stupid or to convince them of the errors of their ways in other ways than facts.
    Obviously some people are even more touchy than others and take any disagreement over their already established beliefs as a personal insult. Sometimes it is a personal insult when people hide behind the freedom of expression to slander other people’s beliefs for no other reason than to cause a scandal.
    Anyway, my point is that if you know something in one domain you must also learn to be open-minded towards people that maybe have a different opinion born not necessary from disagreement but more likely from not being able to see the things as we see them. Each of us is different, we each see things from our own eyes. As a lawyer (not that kind of lawyer) I meet each day people who have no idea how to survive in the jungle of the laws a democratic society surrounds itself with. I try to keep an open mind and make them understand how to survive in that jungle from their point of view, not mine.

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