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Sunday, 8 April 2007

Okay, I admit it, I lied.

I said I was a "truth fundamentalist, whatever the cost". It's not true. If I thought that believing something would damage my mental health to the point of reducing my ability to think rationally in the first place, I would have to question the advisability of believing it, even if I had good reason to think it true. Also, if I thought that believing something would result in my doing something seriously morally wrong, I might well decide to deceive myself. I play games with myself all the time: "I'm sure I can do it", "I'm a good person", "She's a good person". Is altering my beliefs for the purpose of motivating myself and others a dent in my objectivity? Probably. But I just can't help but think it morally justified.

Sometimes I worry about the grey area between this and believing in God because it helps to motivate you. The thing which stops me from endorsing religion for this reason is that religion goes so much farther than that, builds such huge structures beyond simple motivational search for meaning, that it can sometimes work in the opposite direction -- it can cause people to do wrong. But what if you don't take your religion that far? What if you value your own moral sense enough to trust it above your scripture? What if you don't have any particular scripture, you just think the world makes more sense if there is a god?

I dunno. Personally, I think it's better to curtail the postulates you make for motivational purposes. I don't think it's possible to remove everything that you believe for the sake of comfort. I do think it's best to keep such things to a minimum. But I place the truth so much higher than most people. When I look at the difference between my eldest younger sister and me -- she'd put love above truth more often than I would -- I can't help but think that there are some things about her that probably make her a better person than me.

So I find it hard to claim that my ground is the best ground. But you'll never push me off it. It's the person I am, and sometimes it's valuable.

Trouble is, "It's the person I am, and sometimes it's valuable" is true of a lot of religious positions. Have I succumbed to relativism?

Edit: No, I haven't.

1 comment:

L.L. Barkat said...

Some of the scariest people in this world are those who do wrong in the name of God. It surely is a motivator and a supposed justifier that has great power (and people on the sidelines are hesitant to counter such power).