Originally posted by knightmeister
It's often said "oh if you were born in another country you would have been Hindu/Muslim/Buddhist/Christian etc " and it's said in a way as if to imply that a persons's set of beliefs (usually christian) is merely random , ill thought out and dependent on cultural background (rather than an honest assessment of truth).
The problem is that this is a ...[text shortened]... e there not Atheists who would have been Christians if born in a different country/family?
Of course. There are also some who leave the belief system that were “enculturated” into when young, but then but then resist any consideration that might challenge whatever their new, chosen, belief system is. This does not mean that either the former or the latter was “unexamined”. I’m thinking more of deep-rooted (and likely subconscious) influences that make one be afraid of being wrong—if not the first time around, then the second.
It’s impossible to generalize because people are different. To put it metaphorically, some people have more fear of (or discomfort with respect to) ha’mizraim
, the “narrow places” (the Hebrew designation for Egypt); others have more fear of ha’midbar
, the desert/wilderness—again, metaphorically. That tension is just one of the themes in the exodus story.
This is just an example—one that I chose because I recognize it in myself: I tend to be much more fearful of ha’mizraim
. But at times, I am attracted to its promises of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic comforts. Now, is it my fear or my reasoned analysis that leads me to conclude that such attraction is a bit like the hypnotic rhythm of a swaying cobra…? And is my fear—whether thoroughly examined and reasoned over, or not—well-grounded? [Rhetorical questions here.]
And so, I have to be vigilant and aware of those psychological tendencies; that’s part of my existential responsibility.
I’m not saying that all who submit or cling to some designated authority do so out of fear; nor that all those who resist any such submission do so out of fear. I am saying that where fear (or some other psychological factor) contributes, one cannot say that it is necessarily more of a factor for the resister than the submitter, or vice versa.
That enculturation that we all are subject to during our “formative” years (whether subtle or overt) likely affects not just what
we (are taught to) think, but how
we (are taught to) think—and to react. So, it’s not just our formed beliefs that we need to examine, but how we go about forming them: how much do we actually rely on strict reason, how much on pragmatic considerations, how much of our belief-formation is actually in-formed
by aesthetic considerations (beauty and elegance)?
I am a non-dualist—as you know. My metaphysical conclusion to what I call “gestaltic non-dualism” is not based on either pragmatic or aesthetic considerations. But how I express that non-dualism has very much
to do with the aesthetic living out of my life—existential aesthetics, let’s say. Intellectually, I fall pretty much in line with Zen/Taoism. But I find that aesthetics there (and they are
there) a bit spare for my taste.
Well, I’m really just thinking “out loud” here, at your expense. I’ll let others wade in.