I Don’t Believe in Belief Like You Believe in Belief

Mary - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on March 24, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: atheism, humanism
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This I Believe

I believe the propensity to believe is an archetype, not unlike the ones giving us a sense of duty to our off-spring and our blood clan, among many others. These archetypes exist to enhance survival and are the basis of “belief,” forming elaborate unconscious schemata prescribing human behavior. Just as pigeons and monkeys have malleable social programming, our social interactions vary according to the environment, only ours are much more complex, due to the consciousness brought about by the ever-increasing size of our frontal lobes.

This distinctly human capacity for developing unconscious archetypal structures, rising from the advent of the neo-cortex and molded by the collective experience of our species for thousands of years, helped Homo sapiens navigate consciousness: specifically the awareness of death and impending doom.

We especially hate the awareness of impending doom.

Once we began to develop consciousness, there existed the need to calm some awareness – “If I go hunting, I may die like Fred did yesterday”- while heightening other awareness -“The elk crossed this stream at this very spot last year, and here they are again.” In order to go out and hunt, or defend one’s hunting grounds against marauding tribes (that whole blood-clan thing), it helps if one can add, “And if I die, I go to Heaven because this is a sacred hunt/war, and everyone knows if you die in a sacred hunt/war, you go to Heaven, which is even better than here.”

Now you are prepared to venture out into the woods or the war without being paralyzed by fear, and you will get a nice shot of adrenaline right when you really need it. The strength you feel from this biological-produced chemical will mistake itself for God, making you all the more willing to go hunting/warring in the future.

It is amazing how, with a little belief, our species has elevated itself. We will kill our neighbors and even ourselves for the good of the tribe. And even though we witness the same social phenomenon repeat itself over and over again throughout the ages, we tell ourselves it is our doing: we have a choice in all of this.

This is the power of the archetype.

I believe Free Will is the finest archetype we have developed to date. It creates a sense that I am not a clone, not a slave to programming. I choose to die for these higher ideals.

I believe that is remarkable.