Friday, May 7, 2010

Indulging in belief is self-damaging

Many people think that there is no harm in self-illusion if it makes someone happy.

I contend that this were true, if only it actually did make an overall positive impact on their lives.

Knowing reality is required for dealing with it. Are there some aspects of reality which we can afford not to know or to have false information of?
Probably some - like stars billions of light years away from us, have very little effect on our lives. Knowing the truth about them still matters because eventually knowing space is essential for our survival, but not as urgent as knowing the content of our food is healthy or that we are indeed mortals or that driving a car recklessly can kill us.

Faith, however, provides a temporary emotional relief at the expense of valuable information - knowledge that actually IS relevant to one's life.
If it were not relevant to one's life, people would not be so emotionally attached to their mystical beliefs. It is precisely because faith involves illusions on matters relevant to one's values that one clings to it.

For example - believing in god or in destiny. How can that possibly be harmful?
The answer is that believing in those things alleviates one's sense of responsibility for one's life. It imitates the psychological state of childhood, when a child has a parent watching over them - only in this case, no such parent actually exists.

A religious person can therefore go to war, not objectively evaluating the risk, thinking that god will protect them. They can engage in reckless behavior or invest money believing that their "fate" is not such that they would go bankrupt or get injured.
In reality, there is no such force of protection - thus these people remain in great danger without ever admitting or recognizing it.
When things go wrong, they simply hang on to their belief in god or in destiny even tighter and just "accept" whatever bad things happen as their fate.
A non-believer would realize that their lives are in their own hands and act to prevent or solve that bad situation.

Even a belief in astrology can be damaging. Some people make decisions based on astrology, such as making investments, getting into or refraining from getting into a relationship and so on.
In case of a relationship, astrology believers spend their time "reading the star maps" rather than actually getting to know the person. They may become so involved in their belief that it may even lead to marriage - only to end later in misery since the couple is not actually compatible.

If we are to be happy we must make it our business and goal to know the truth - both about the outside world and about our inner life. Our life and happiness depend on it.


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