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Our Non-Religious Beliefs Page 125 of  131

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  • ………………ORIGINS OF CONFLICT…………………


  • Perhaps the most pressing matter before mankind is what divides mankind into antagonistic and often warring groups. One of the factors is probably genetic. This is because mankind evolved over hundreds of thousands of years during which time there was great scarcity of those things necessary for survival. This scarcity required groups to move from place to place in order to acquire the basic needs of life. Undoubtedly in this moving about they often encountered others doing the same. This would involve conflict because each group would instinctively know that the other was doing the same. This would then have caused conflict to acquire the possessions of the other plus the females that decreased inbreeding. In such conflicts, the victor would have eliminated another competitor for the scarce goods required. Undoubtedly the most successful in combat would have become the survivors whose descendents are with and within us yet today.


  • If this tendency is in our genes, there is little that we can do about that other than to recognize this tendency and try to compensate for it. However, there may be another factor that also fragments mankind into shards, that tends to war against one another, and it is learned, and therefore can be unlearned.


  • This factor resides in the roots of our beliefs. It is the very nature of beliefs that they aren't based exclusively on verifiable evidence, otherwise we wouldn't call them beliefs; instead we would call them facts. The problem lies in that many of the beliefs that are held so dearly are regarded as facts. However, deep within each individual, that holds such beliefs as facts, remains some doubt that is repressed below awareness. This doubt operates in the subconscious so that it creates some degree of insecurity about those beliefs that are not verified and most often are impossible to verify.


  • No one welcomes the feeling of insecurity and therefore we tend to set about to create a social environment that doesn’t arouse those insecurities. Detested are those that express beliefs that contradict our own deeply held beliefs.


  • To contrast the difference between verifiable facts and beliefs that are not verified, and often can’t be verified, just note the difference in the way one would feel under the next two examples.


  • Suppose that someone told you that Hawaii is a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. This wouldn’t arouse any insecurity in you because you would know that the statement is verifiably false. The only emotion might be that of pity for another that could be so ill-informed as to harbor such a belief as a fact.


  • But suppose that someone told you that there is no Hell and your belief is intense that there is. In this case it would likely stir up some anger in you if you believed that the existence of Hell is certain. It is precisely because major groups of people have such very strong beliefs, which are different from others, all of which cannot be verified one way or another, which stirs us to act against one another. Such are the kernels of war that we can verify has brought far more harm to mankind than benefits.


  • In a very real sense, our beliefs, in matters that cannot be verified, have enslaved us and enlisted us to do battle with one another. It isn’t that everyone on each side wants to do battle against the other; but it does mean that there will plenty within each group that desperately wants to put an end to the other party that stirs the insecurities within themselves that they dare not admit that they have. It is much more comforting to hold to our beliefs and then try to destroy those that discomfort us; and in general this is what we do whether at the military level or at the social level.


  • As long as children are taught as facts, those things which cannot be verified, we will continue to develop combatants with varying degrees of combativeness.


  • We continue to teach right from wrong even though such teachings tend to be nebulous at best. In a static closed society, such teachings will function to keep a group cohesive and working productively together; however in a multicultural society, that increasingly is encompassing the whole of mankind, such teachings of right and wrong can be more destructive than constructive.


  • There is no such general teaching of right and wrong that can’t be more clearly expressed as instances where certain actions would cause either great harm to others or to one’s own self; and that other actions would benefit others and would often benefit one’s own self as well. We are not required to teach such obscure concepts of right and wrong when we can show real-life consequences for our acts. However, it more often seems important to sequester alien thoughts than to discover ways to avoid our own harm or seek ways to benefit ourselves.


  • That which we can verify as true is what we should call “The Truth”. That which we believe to be true, but cannot verify, is what we should call “assumption”. Held as assumptions only, these beliefs are much more easily abandoned or modified as more verifiable evidence comes to each of us.


  • Most people that claim to be seeking the truth are merely seeking confirmation of their own beliefs for which they still have some doubt that they want reduced. Few seek truth only for the sake of truth. It has been said that: "The truth shall make you free."(Jesus, John 8:32) It was never said that just believing what is the truth shall make you free; therefore it is wise, if seeking to become free, to not confuse beliefs with truth. Most, but not all beliefs, come delivered with shackles for their owners. Look about and you will find few that are unshackled; this is because they have been captured by beliefs that are completely unverifiable.


  • "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. (Thomas Jefferson)


  • There is probably no tyranny that so bears down, and shackles the minds of mankind, than those beliefs that are held as facts but cannot be verified as true.


  • WALT HASKINS


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