Friday, May 28, 2010

On Flawed Perception

If one’s thinking is “off” (which, of course, it could be)
And our view of the world has gone odd
We add to the problem (it seems so to me)
When the thing we’re perceiving is God.

Throughout all our centuries, thousands of gods
Have been worshipped (and some worship none);
On the face of it, those are some pretty long odds—
Do you really think yours is the one?

The same human frailties that make you dismiss
Our perceptions of things on the ground
Are how we choose gods—and the problem is this:
There’s no evidence—none—to be found!

When we share observations with others as well,
And collectively form an alliance,
The empirical questions, at least, we can tell
(Thus the stunning successes of science)

The wishes of gods, or of angels on pins
Bring up questions, of course, by the score;
Two groups disagree, and that’s how it begins,
And it ends, all too often, in war.

No, give me a group that embraces its doubt,
And continues to work on their flaws
Instead of some followers, dear and devout
Of some Mesopotamian laws.

(again, damn that 200-word limit!)
Over at the NPR debate, some kind commenter noticed yesterday's verse, and responded:
If one's thinking is off or even sublime
how could we justify supporting such thought?
For from whose basis would we rely?
It seems that without some margin for thought
we all could be in for a lot.
Where would it lead mankind one might think
but to suggest an answer may be for naught even if on the mark.
We all can think and that we must do
but to suggest a response that would be off
would be like striking at thinking with the chance of being turned off.
Who then may one turn to to bring us all back to sanity?
If every thought would be left to ones opinion that would risk it leading to general demise.
We all know that would result in turmoil
unless we centered our thoughts with guidance.
But whose guidance would we rely?
Perhaps with the One who has chartered the Way!
What is wrong with a proven Way?
It wouldn't limit thinking but would instill guidance and eliminate self doubt as to whether ones thinking is off!
Am I far off?
Basically, we can't trust our frail human perceptual and cognitive equipment to make moral decisions, so why not use god's guidance? A fantastic idea, really, except that the people who complain about our perceptual and cognitive capabilities never seem to remember that we use them (to some extent) when seeking the advice of this omniscient, omnipotent, but strangely invisible and unknowable entity. And if it is difficult seeing eye to eye about whether, say, genital mutilation is immoral, try coming to agreement about the characteristics and wishes of an invisible and unknowable entity! Why, I suspect that people might even come to blows about it. Nah, never happen. Relying on the advice of a deity could never lead to a bad end.

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