Find Your Nonage

Of all the beliefs that I hold, the most significant is probably my faith in the mundane. I no longer believe in anything remotely spiritual, supernatural, paranormal, or mystical, though I once did. From religion to ghosts to ESP, I find all forms of magical phenomenon to be unlikely at best, if not entirely ridiculous. I was religious until about the age of 17, when my family moved and I attended a non-religious, public school for the first time.

Many things went into shaping these beliefs of mine (or lack thereof), starting with my appreciation for objectivity and empiricism. If something cannot be proven with evidence, there is no reason to believe in it. I’ve never really been able to be convinced by something that has no evidence to support it. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that I’ve never once experienced any sort of fantastical event myself. I’ve never heard the voice of god (despite many years of religious devotion), I’ve never seen the ghostly faces of dead loved ones, never had prophetic dreams or visions of the future. It seems to me that if any of these phenomena or beings truly existed, I would have witnessed at least one of them by now, especially after years of believing in them. Perhaps most notably, however, is the lack of faith people seem to have in their own beliefs. So often people will claim to be religious and believe completely the words of their holy text, and yet will ignore parts of it that even they find too far beyond reasonable belief. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much, I think, if it hadn’t also extended to things like morality.

A lifetime of believing in evidence and objectivity can make it difficult to appreciate the subjective experiences of others, however. Many people regularly claim to feel the presence of god, have true “out-of-body” experiences, make contact with deceased loved ones, or heal themselves with powerful crystals. While I find none of those experiences convincing in the least, people who put less stock in purely concrete evidence would likely find these occurrences quite convincing, especially when they seem to be more convenient, easier, or more enjoyable alternatives to otherwise realistic solutions. And of course, with so many people finding religion worth their while, it’s not surprising that there are so many people who find solace in faith: even when they aren’t hearing the voice of god, they still have each other to turn to for reinforcement of their beliefs. 

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One thought on “Find Your Nonage

  1. Tom,

    I can’t pass this one. You fell into the same trap that most other students fell into with this assignment: you found yourself focusing more on the arguments that undergird your beliefs and your sense of disagreement with others, rather than focusing on a core belief and thinking about how people might hold a directly contrary belief. You say “Many things went into shaping these beliefs of mine (or lack thereof), starting with my appreciation for objectivity and empiricism.” This isn’t really what the assignment was asking you to say. Instead, you were supposed to dig into personal experiences and influences that may have led you to have this appreciation. Then, you needed to imagine other people who’d had different experience and led to a different mindset.

    It proved to be a very difficult assignment, and most students went through multiple revisions. If we’d done the same thing, I’d have pressed you to think a bit more about the various contexts that have shaped your own thinking. If you read through some of the posts by other students, you’ll probably see what I mean.

    Grade: U.

    Mike

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