People have a way of being very specific about things. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. As always, it is up to each of us to pay attention to how we are thinking, how we are relating to the world, to catch ourselves when we aren’t making sense. Also as always, it helps to have some sounding boards. If all of your sounding boards think the same way as you do, you may find yourself thinking some very odd things. Which is why we may see a religious community or a political community, or a knitting circle for that matter, acting in ways that defy reality. Because somewhere along the way they shed the practice of looking at viewpoints other than those that agree with their own, and descended into becoming oddly specific.
When we become oddly specific, beliefs become solid, verified truths to us. Even when the universe doesn’t seem to agree. To draw an example from religion, Galileo observed the movements of the moons of Jupiter and concluded that such movement verified Copernicus’ assertion that the Earth revolves around the Sun rather than vice-versa. The response of the church was to denounce Galileo, arrest him, force him to recant his statements, and place him on house arrest.
Because they already ‘knew’ the ‘truth’, and a verifiable fact was seen as a threat. Think about that for a moment.
Some people had an idea about the way the universe worked, and when observation told them that their idea was not correct, they denied the observation to defend their idea, and abused the messenger.
This is what happens when you begin with a conclusion and proceed to observation. You miss important ideas, you fail to learn, and people get hurt. It is a natural consequence of denying reality in favor of preserving a cherished belief. No matter what that belief is. It need not involve religion or philosophy at all. If you begin balancing your checkbook with the belief that you have a thousand dollars in the bank and act to prove your belief rather than acting to find out how much money you have right now…
…the bank and your creditors will not be amused when your checks bounce.
It’s better to begin with observation and proceed to a conclusion. And even then, understand that you may not have all of the information, or you may have made a mistake. Once you have reached a conclusion, be open to discovering that there is more.
And especially, don’t let yourself get tunnel vision.
Do you really want to miss seeing the nude sunbathers just because since they weren’t eating waffles you concluded they must not be nude and didn’t look? What a tragedy!