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Behind the Certain!

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Fact or fiction, it's all the same to me!

— Filed under: Opinion
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For my first column I felt compelled to set out something of my mind-set for you to grab hold of in order to indicate where I’m coming from. The notion of what is and what is not, “fact” has for a long time been difficult for me to cope with and understand. Its trail is as elusive as time itself and throughout the course of my life has lead me down dark alley-ways of thought so much that I am now what most people would call a skeptic. That’s not to say I’m negative. On the contrary, being as I am, un-burdened by the notion of “fact”, my approach to life has the free flying exuberance of idealism as opposed to the weighed down guilt associated with the rigid infrastructure of realism. In short I find the infinite probabilities of the possible more captivating than finite possibilities of the probable.

Some in my circle see my stance as anarchic, merely a reluctance to conform or even a means of causing minor conspiracies in order to gain some form of recognition, credence or attention. Until fairly recently I had wondered myself, whether some subconscious effort was being played on my part to be different for different’s sake. Was there something in my past that triggered it off?

The answer I’ve come to realise is no. It’s just who I am. The path of my life until now has however helped bolster any pre-conceptions I may have had at some point that there is an order to everything.

When my mother fell pregnant with me, she and my dad were to say the least stunned.  A few years earlier my mother had a miscarriage and was operated on and told she would not be able to have any more children. My dad, a socialist coal mining member of the Salvation Army from the North East of England saw this as some form of miracle. My mother although a Christian, was not as devoutly a religious figure as my dad; therefore saw it as some form of blessing, miracle being too strong a word. The first book I asked for as a child was an illustrated Bible with pictures of the famous scenes I could colour in. I thought the stories were wondrous, yet never understood its relevance amongst the backdrop of the 1980’s Britain in which I grew up. I witnessed the poverty, loneliness, hopelessness and distress of my parent’s contemporaries during the miners’ strike and wondered why God didn’t come to help us and our town. What could we have done so badly that he would ignore our plight? Then I started to question its relevance and not one adult I asked gave me a real answer. Even as a child the “God works in mysterious ways” phrase felt like the most ridiculous cop-out I could imagine. So seeds of doubt were planted.

Those seeds took root and mighty forests of doubt rose from the vast desert plains of Ethiopia as I witnessed daily news broadcasts of children like me and families like mine seemingly alien like in their appearance due to starvation. The focus of my childhood one eyed prayers changed from the plight of my family to that of the families I’d seen on TV. My child’s mind then worked out that we weren’t being listened to all. Stories of people dying on a Biblical scale and no help arriving nailed God in his coffin once and for all in my mind. What I slowly realised is that we, humans all over the world were the only ones who could make a difference. This was confirmed when the Live Aid concert took place. Me and my brother (not my brother and I, coz that’s not how I speak... bite me!) made the point of watching the entire thing. It taught me we all have to look after each other because no-one else was going to. More importantly it also taught me it was possible to do so.

This was the first time I really questioned what I until then perceived to be fact. God loves us all and will save us was not a fact anymore. So then I developed a hard skin where religion was concerned and dismissed the lot. I doing so I had inadvertently set up my own FACT.

In my young and inquisitive mind Live Aid ultimately killed off religion, turned me into a humanist and kicked off the notion that music could change the world.

From now on my favourite word became WHY? It stands to reason doesn’t it? Why did no-one (seemingly at the time) see the world in the same way I did? Why did people believe in God when atrocities where conducted, sometimes in his name no less.

My favourite word formed part of my now favourite question, a question I used to best effect as a teenager albeit to the detriment of my obtaining desired academic qualifications and used as an adult to distance me even further from the “perceived” path of truth. The question is “Why do you believe that?”

I recommend the use of this question to anyone stuck in a situation where someone is blabbering on with some ill informed opinion riddled with cliché, false rhetoric and deplorable attempts at original thought which the proponent is intent on boring you with even though your body language has gone out of its way to sign post the fact that you think they are talking utter shit. At the very least it will shut them up for a few seconds. At best and nine times out of ten they will either realise they have ended up out of their depth and waffle themselves away into an even bigger hole or trail off and erm... what was I saying... er... the thing? ..Yeah...

... Anyway, I digress. I questioned everything that school tried to tell me, much to the annoyance of my teachers, especially the Science Teacher Mr Cooper who barred me from asking questions outright in his lessons. He was special though, he was awarded on a regular basis with my second favourite question, “Do you think physics is the answer?” This one had me thrown out a few times.

Every day it seems we discover a new “fact” which cancels out what we had always held up to the light of reason and analysed for a bit. The greatest scientific minds of the age were convinced at one time that the world was flat.

I have ideas. I think in the long run ideas are a lot more important than beliefs. This in itself makes me trip over the possibility of a fact. Here goes.

The only fact I know is that there is no such thing as fact.

Now, you may be thinking "How can that be a fact?" By its very nature it is contradictory therefore cannot be fact. Maybe knowing nothing is the same as knowing everything. Who knows? I don’t? Neither do you... FACT!

Over to you good reader! 

Kuncen's picture

Kapow!

Great first column! Thanks for contributing. I like the development of your main point over the course of this piece — very coherent.

Kuncen

opit's picture

The Doubter

Emulating Thomas is only sane - why would you believe everything you are told without verification ? Reporting of what people think is not accurate in the least. I collected some evidence of institutional bafflegab from an evident oversupply just to examine a representative sample of debunking 'common sense.'

http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2009/07/perception-alteration.html

Hewy's picture

Thomas who?

Erm... like the title says. Thomas who?

Hewy's picture

Ah! That Thomas!

Thomas Veatch, I'm guessing. Yeah I used his list on reply to another column on here. I knew the list but could not be arsed to type it out so linked it in.

I'm gonna read up on this guy. Looks right up my alley. I'm a major consumer of anything Chomsky so it fits I suppose.

As I mentioned earlier in my piece for some time I had the feeling I was the only one thinking like this and have subsequently found myself drawn to people who held or at least seemed to hold a similar outlook, starting musically with my inspirations, John Lennon, Bob Dylan. Jimi Hendrix; which has lead me on to the people they held up as inspirational. 

My obsession with working out why I think the way I do developed into why does anyone think the way they do. I've studied a number of religions, though not all. All it did was push me into the arms of Frued, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Plato, Zeno, Socrates, Pericles, Laozi, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Epicurus, Kant and Nietche and the like. Now I realise that the answers are not as important as the questions, or at least the reasoning behind the questions. Those being questions of mortality, morality, existence, oneness, enlightenment and the spirituality resultant of all of these facets. I realised that by searching through all of the works of these people formed a sort of religion in itself and that burying my head in literature was no substitute for expressing my ideas and learning from the impact or response from others. Disturbingly I find very few people think about life at all and just get on with it. Maybe this is the answer also. I'd like to think not. I'd like to think there will be a time when we will all begin to understand the universality of chaos and the beauty and mystery it holds. I am always learning and hopefully I always will.

Peace and love to you and yours.

opit's picture

Thomas

I never heard of Thos. Veatch until I stumbled across him earlier today.

No - I was thinking of the nickname of the disciple Thomas in the New Testament, who was called the Doubter because he questioned everything. I figured if it was good enough then...it's good enough now.

Hewy's picture

Haha!

I should have been a a bit more savvy there and not over thinking!

Tee Hee!

I used to get called that by my dad so I feel doubly worried as to why I didn't pick up on it. Haha!

My dad, also a Thomas, lost the "First Name Battle" with my mam. A case of him being a Thomas, his dad being a Thomas and his dad's dad's dad's dad and all that malarkey. Would have made my life a lot easier if he'd won the battle. Lane is not the most child-friendly of names.

Cheers monkey boy!

MrRobbie's picture

Bravo Fact Man

I enjoyed your first post, i did, it made an entertaining read and gave me a little insight into your brain cogs.

Personally, I don't believe there are NO facts. [is that a double negative? there are not no facts? Maybe that's just bad grammar, but as an Englishmen, FACT, i can make up language, anyway back to the point]. I know things to be definite and thus i would say they were indeed fact. I am handsome. Fact.

I can see where you are coming from, it's hard to trust the world, our peers, the news, media and those appointed to lead us as a nation, society, and human race. Especially when our own thoughts and words clash with the ones they try to put in our mouths. Tastes like bitterness and lies.

So, my hope is in some way, no matter how small, that revolution can grow from our seedling ideas.

Onward young Huey, and keep up the good work.

May your house be free from Tigers

Hewy's picture

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Vive la revolution!

Regarding the house and tigers young man, yes it may.

May I have a more substantial and concrete example of fact than that of blind arrogance and the accidental nationality of ones birth?

Fancy making the placards for this revolution malarkey boyo?

May the fruit of your loins be healthy in the belly of your woman!

MrRobbie's picture

Blind!?

Well i must research, rather than just spouting my personal fact-based examples :) but, alas, those are my favourite ones!

Placards... i'll get on it, i got some new crayons today and have a lovely red colour i shall love to use.

The Tigers... that is my 'signature' it shall grace the bottom of every post i make. Basically meaning... may you be safe in your own place.

May your house be free from Tigers

timedesign's picture

Growing up?

Hewy, your narrative of your questioning and ultimate rejection of religious certainties pretty much tallies with my own (albeit with a slightly different timeline). I think this phenomenon (maybe that word's a bit too strong) is pretty wide-spread. In north-western Europe especially, I just think the human race has, like a small child, simply outgrown the need for some sort of celestial father figure. Amongst the people I know, I can't think of a single die-hard believer. Apathetic agnosticism seems to be the order of the day seeing as most people don't even care enough about the issue to declare themselves atheist.

Which is a damn sight better if you ask me, maybe as a race we'll start acting responsibly.

Disagree with you about the absence of facts though. Tories are always twats.

I thought you guys were talking about Thomas Aquinas

Hewy's picture

Necessity!

I think religion in it's earliest form was indeed an necessary primitive form of governance and that's why so many power structures and religions are so inextricably linked even today. They have co-existed for so long that until we as a race explored other colonies, which worshipped either something completely different or something at a variant to our own beliefs we had never questioned religion as a concept. As a child I often wondered what made us (Christians due to upbringing) right and everybody else wrong. I remember someone gleefully telling me we were right because our religion was the biggest, which for a while in my naiive child mind made some form of sense, but then I wondered why some of "our" boys fought with the catholic boys down the road when I understood both "them" and "us" to be Christians.

All religions seem to have set guidelines such as the Ten Commandments which when you check them out now seem perfectly reasonable but alas, also moribund as the majority of wars have been fought and many people have died due to civilisations either imposing their belief structures on others or others' belief structures encroaching on our own.

If we see spiritual humanity as a life cycle, we had a child like fear the unknown and needed something to believe in so some of us made stuff up in order to do so, as we got older we became aware of other belief structures and began to question our own after initially condemning theirs during our teens and as fully fledged adults we are aware that the more we know the less we know and what's important is doing the right thing. And we all have mates who we bump into having not seen them since leaving school and think fuck me he's still a kid! That's how I see it anyway.

You can even equate it to Santa Clause effect (optimal timing here folks or what?). Theres comfort in this jolly beardy fella (God?) watching you all year round and working out an appropriate gift (Heaven) determinable by your actions. But one year you find your way into the cupboard you aint supposed to look in and see your Action Man with the kung fu grip all packaged and unwrapped and think. The "gift" was here all along. And the rest of your life you begin to wish you never found out because we equate it with a time when we didn't have to think about it.

Right, I'm metaphored out!

Peace and love to you and yours timedesign! That goes for all y'all!

Bernard's picture

Universal truth

Bravo Hewy, an ambitious first column. At the outset I thought it would be a long-winded and rather pointless account of your upbringing, but was pleasantly surprised to see your ideas come round to, as someone already put it, a cohesive point. Do you mean to say, in a roundabout way, that you reject the notion of universal truth? What about universal morality?

Hewy's picture

Not in a roundabout way!

Cheers Bernard,

I do wind on a bit but I like qualify my points by explaining how I came up with them. Original thought is "amazing" until you realize a number of people think the same way and then it drops down the pecking order to "comforting". However when you realise that even though people think the same as you they got there in a completely different way it jumps towards "amazing" again but the ego keeps it hovering just under in a beautiful place called "wonderous". All manner of shit can be got up to on that shelf though so it aint much of a step down! At least that's what my ego convinces me is the reason for not allowing it into "amazing" again.

Anyhoos, that last ramble sort of says it all but I'll simplify. I do think there is a universality to humanity, after all we came up with the word and concept of what is "universal" in the first place. So you are right, I do reject the notion of universal truth and morality. I think the problem with these concepts is that they give fuel to the concept of religion as all religions attempt to impose their version of what universal truth and morality should be.

I think the concept of truth is a personal matter as it can only be determined by our own perception of reality. I think the religious mind too easily accepts something as truth as the fear the prospect that nothing is true.

Love the Dr. Strangelove picture dude. Sellers' magnum opus.

opit's picture

'Religion'

Religion is a known technique of Mind Control and programming people to think within channels of 'acceptable dialogue'. My sidebar Topical Index does have a 'Perception Alteration' file and another on Religion,etc. ;  but if you want to explore sometimes it's best to 'throw caution to the winds'.

http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2010/12/4-december-down-rabbit-hole.html