This I Believe

Micahel - San Diego, California
Entered on March 4, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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After careful examination of all the knowable facts, and deep debate upon the nature of knowledge, I came to the conclusion that in-spite of all experience, almost everything is doubtable. At the very foundation the only logical premise is that there is something that thinks these thoughts.

Thus I believe I exist.

Presuming existence as a self evident fact, it follows that my experiences, although they may be generated through the fallible senses of an imperfect body, must be more than random signals in the void. My experience of the otherness of space and the sequence of time, which form the myriad repeating patterns of life, must therefore come from some objective existence independent of the self.

Thus I believe the Universe exists.

Beginning without understanding, we subconsciously assume the existence of others, like ourselves, as our experience is dominated by forms who’s patterns mimic and inform our since of identity. The independent being of these caregivers is grafted into our emotional lives and welded into our very instinct by the necessity of evolution, but their actual existence is not directly knowable, and must be inferred based upon uncountable assumptions and events that correspond to our developing understanding. Thus it is ultimately unprovable weather any other intelligence exists in the universe outside the self, but I believe they do.

Thus I believe You exist.

So, on the foundation of my existence and experience, I leap to the conclusion that We exist in a shared, objective Universe, and that our experiences are similar enough that we may communicate and exchange meaningful ideas about it, gathering ever greater knowledge and wisdom from our shared experience of existence.

Thus I believe We Communicate.

Finally, we come to the crux of the matter, for without first being one could not believe. The first step must be to gather data, and in measuring these beings, like me but somehow unlike me, with whom I share experience, I grew a model of the world with the maximum perspective across space and time. We are fallible and imperfect, and without first realizing it we adopted standards of evidence that constituted proof of the fact, or truth, of things. Over time we analyzed this, communicated, and reanalyzed the process of our thoughts, our ideas, our knowing. Logic developed and we compared it to other ways of knowing, of finding truth, and wisdom, and for me at least, it came down to this. Thus far, the most reliable way of predicting the future of things within this space-time universe is the mathematical perfection of reason. Reason is the best path to truth.

Thus I believe in Reason.

Exploring the universe with Reason as my guide, I soon came to find paradoxes and absurdities. The imperfect knowledge of human beings creates gaps in understanding that we do not yet have evidence enough to bridge. And there are limits to reason, which are often found within the finite context of our human being. In a universe that is ever changing yet ultimately predictable, each human life seems to be an anomaly, capable not only of modeling the universe, but also of modeling the self, and that self reflection, when combined with a rational self-awareness gives rise to the infinitely strange and beautiful freedom of the will. It is something I covet, perhaps unreasonably, but without it all existence seems meaningless.

Thus I believe in Free Will.

This examination of belief is never ending, our minds must be open to new information. Belief in reason is logical only as long as it remains consistent within the testable evidence of our shared existence, but there are those who would argue that it does not. Some claim they experience levels of reality that are beyond any evidence or rational understanding, they can provide no direct or inferred proof of its existence in fact or in truth, yet they would impose their beliefs in these experiences upon others, and this causes conflict. It is clear that the freedom of the will is limited only by the accuracy of one’s understanding of the world, yet the most infinitely unfathomable aspects of reality are not the mysteries of nature, but the vagaries of the human mind. All the needless suffering imposed by unnecessary conflicts and the limits they set upon our potential enrages me. To date, the best humanity can do is set up adaptive social systems and governments to try and limit the violence and destruction that our ignorance imposes as a tax upon our survival. The best of these systems have codified the wisdom gleaned by ages of endless conflict, and I have adopted them as my own.

Thus I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.

I hold these truths to be self evident: That all people are created equal, and each has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That among others, people have the freedoms of speech, of thought, and of belief, and the right to express and communicate their beliefs to any who will listen. I believe these rights can not be given away, that each individual must earn them for themselves and fight for them when necessary.

Beyond the rational beliefs I have stated here, I have theories about the nature of things and ideas. I have rational philosophies of ethics, and science, and law, which define right action, and help guide me through the conflicts of life. I will share them with you if you wish, but I would not force you to live by my rules. May reason and experience be your guide.