This I Believe

Rodney - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on November 17, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I “believe” that the phrase “this I believe” is an arrogant, narcissistic linguistic sleight of hand that sets the stage for the patronizing self-absorption that lies at the heart of virtually all human evil. When the brilliant twentieth century philosopher, Hannah Ahrendt, coined the expression “the banality of evil” she was referring to the hubris that is inherent in moment-to-moment self-consciousness and the everyday ordinariness of malice, deception, manipulation, cruelty, and plain meanness. When the human species evolved an awareness of self, the notion of primacy of belief was born; and, with that notion of primacy, along came ideology with all its black & white, us versus them disabuse of behavioral responsibility. Prior to self-consciousness, human behavior was purely animal and based in transactional reality: “How do I eat today?” “Where do I safely sleep?” In the false pride that is the bulwark of “belief” all manner of monstrous inhumanity became possible.

I think that religion of any sort is superstitious poppycock, the equivalent of Alduous Huxley’s Soma in “Brave New World”. Anything is acceptable if it keeps the rabble in check. In a universe so vast that none of us can ever begin to grasp its totality, in a reality where our existence is indescribably miniscule compared to everything else, it is no wonder that questions and mysteries about existence abound. Of course we don’t understand the how and why of existence; and, of course, in the darkness of those imponderables each of us is anxious and yearns to make sense of it all. But we cannot. And we never will. In our desperate search for meaning and relevance we ambush our promise of further growth by attaching ourselves to unverifiable religious faith. The central flaw of every theology is this dependence on blind faith. When the contemporary philosopher and scholar, Sam Harris, wonders how we can dismiss the existence of Zeus while we assert the absoluteness of a Hebraic Christian God, I say, “Yes!” Every manifestation of God flows from ignorance and the fear it generates.

Faith in itself is not a bad thing. It serves a sensible evolutionary purpose. If we believe in ourselves, our families, and our neighbors we become a stronger group, one that is more likely to survive, prosper, and reproduce; but, when that faith reaches beyond the perimeter of immediate experience it becomes toxic and begins moving inexorably toward corruption and inevitable evil.

I reject the notion of belief in favor of the more exacting and precise ideas of opinion and rational thought. In short, “I believe in a lack of belief”, and hope that logic and reason prevail over ignorance and its unavoidable descent into chaos and madness.