Friday, September 05, 2008

Is A Foolish Consistency Really the Hobgoblin of Little Minds?

Guest-post from C. Ewing

In perusing matters of faith, I was also reminded of this quote from the movie Secondhand Lions:

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in."
This line of thought initially came about in relation to "credere est assensione cogitare". I'm also reminded of a reoccurring stance that our pseudo-illustrious Hanno will take. Let us presume, just for sake of argument, that God, god(s), Goddess, the divine, or any notion of theism is simply, unutterably, and hopelessly wrong. I'm wondering: is this important in some way? If willfully holding to this belief makes you happier or a better person (in the moral sense, which we'll leave conveniently vague at this point in time) does it ultimately matter that you are in error?

In short: is it sometimes actually for the best that we dismiss reason? And I don't want to stick to the Judeo-Christian here. The same is true of our Wiccan friends, our neo-Celtic compatriots, etc. If believing in some sort of Gaea theory, fairies, etc., will make you more compassionate, more considerate, more concerned for the environment, etc., should we press forward the inconsistencies or absurdities of such notions?

A part of me wants to say: yes, of course. Merely holding an inconsistent, obviously false or unsubstantiated view is reprehensible, and should be corrected with all due haste. But, in the end, we will all maintain certain inconsistencies. Indeed, we will always harbor favored biases, which will lead us to dismiss certain evidence in favor of other, perhaps far more questionable evidence in support of the view we want, simply because we want it. Why is this a particular case where that is somehow not permissible?

Maybe, for some of us at least, these are things simply worthy of assent. That the world is a mysterious and wonderful place. That we have an ultimate Father and/or Mother figure who loves us unconditionally, and will always do right by us. That our enemies and neighbors should be loved. That forgiveness is always possible. That good will always triumph, and that there really are such things as miracles and magic.

I'm at a loss. Maybe I'm just resentful of a certain nun who taught me in fourth grade and seemed to have a passionate distaste for my very being. I would like to be dismissive. But at the same time: isn't a world with faeries and good people a far better world? Even if for me, they only go so far as being sparkly stickers.

Just a thought. I'm not sure how intellectually stimulating this actually is, but my initial reaction puzzles, and slightly disappoints me. I had hoped I was better than that.