Friday, 31 May 2013

Which infinities are easiest to believe?


If you push any belief system - any set of metaphysical assumptions or any theology or philosophy - back to its logical roots, then you will find some kind of 'infinity' which is hard to defend, hard to believe, absurd in a sense.

Something of the sort is unavoidable, so far as I can tell.

However, some of these infinities seem easier to believe than others.


My understanding of hunter gatherer metaphysics (reinforced by the world-view of early childhood) is that they believe that the essence of life is something like energy in a fixed quantity which permanently circulates while transforming into different forms (different people and some animals, maybe some other beings); and this has 'always' been the situation.

So, there does not seem to be a problem in believing:

1. An infinite regress of ancestors - or else, if pushed... termination of that regress in a primordial ancestor (or several ancestors) who was 'always' there.

2. An acceptance of what is (tradition) as best, and always and everywhere valid

3. A world - matter, stuff, energies - which was 'always' there; albeit in a state of cyclical transformation.

4. A personified world, a world of intelligence, awareness, relationships.


What does not seem natural or spontaneous to humans are ideas such as:

1. Eternal stasis, purposelessness

2. Eternal progress, purpose, an end-point to things

3. Creation from nothing

4. Domination by impersonal entities such as forces, rules, laws


These (or something similar) built-in dispositions to believe some things, and fail to understand other things underpin all belief systems - and create unresolvable tensions in all religious systems at a deep level - these tensions being experienced as phenomena such as alienation, despair, solipsism, anger - and disbelief; where disbelief = the inability live-by an idea.