Belief Systems

By Wilde

Chain Border

Here's my deal. Not everybody needs a coherent belief system, but some people do. Many people are unhappy with their existing belief system, but don't know about the other options available. I like to let them know about some of said other options; to go into exhaustive detail on *all* the options available is kinda beyond the scope... Some things get left out, true. Oh well. I'm not saying that organized religion is *necessary*, or even necessarily desirable for a given individual. Hell, I'm pretty disorganized religion-wise myself.

However, if somebody has a problem with a *specific* organized religion, they might not have the same problem with another organized religion, especially if they're the type of person who's into organized religion as a general operational paradigm. If they feel comfortable and happy without an organized belief system, more power to 'em. If not, well, it makes sense (in a sense) to have a bit of flexibility within that context.

In my honest opinion 'truth' in a religious context is a more or less completely subjective concept. To go searching for it, or at least one's personal definition of it, isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, unless it's defined that way. If individual, personalized (and possibly disorganized) questing for what one defines as 'truth' gives a certain amount of satisfaction, motivation, or other desirable effects within the context of the individual's situation, gnarly. However, being *told* what 'truth' is is much easier for a lot of people, and if they derive a certain amount of satisfaction, motivation, or other desirable effects from that 'revealed truth,' crusty. I try not to judge them for it. I try not to judge individual, disorganized seekers, either.

The key here is that many people require some sort of pattern to guide their decisions in daily life. There are many of these ideological support matrices available preassembled, or one can make one's own. These can be said to be a filter for one's perceptions; that is, they can be used to make sense of the world one lives in. They're not *necessary*, but most people like to keep one or more around anyway. Atheism, Discordianism, gut feelings, Catholicism, Scientology, Existentialism, etc. are all ideological support matrices by this definition. To apply any ideological support matrix to one's personal reality, and make decisions using said matrix, one has to apply a certain amount of belief in said matrix's truth, or validity, or usefulness in the given situation. Otherwise one isn't acting in accordance with it. I define an ideological support matrix one applies no belief to to be a philosophy. I define an ideological support matrix one applies whatever amount of belief to to be a religion. In other words, philosophy + belief = religion, and belief isn't necessarily static (or absolute); it varies with the individual's situation.

In that context, a religion acts as sort of a decision guidance system, which is more or less what I mean by ideological support. It's necessarily going to block out certain options as undesirable: that's the point. If no ideological support matrix is applied, all choices are equally desirable, and no decision can be made without outside intervention. Random chance (like flipping a coin) and pragmatism are both ideological support matrices, and if one applies belief to them and uses them in whatever situation, they can be defined as religions in that context. Whether that's a valid definition of 'religion' is arguable, but it's come in handy for me so far. *shrug*

Social pressures are definitely a factor, but only if the individual lets them be. Most of the time, and for most people (I'm _not_ saying *all*) conforming to social pressures is the path of least resistance. There's nothing intrinsically right or wrong about that. Condemning people for being sheep, while it's something you or I might do routinely, is inherently a value judgment. I make those judgments all the time, in accordance with whatever ideological support matrix I'm using at the moment (and I've got quite a few available, some of which I've made up).

Sure, *absolute* belief is the death of intelligence, but only if that belief is in something other than the 'truth,' validity, or usefulness of intelligence itself. One has to believe that rational thought will work as a decision support mechanism to be able to use it for that purpose. However, again, belief in anything (even rational thought) doesn't have to be absolute, its intensity can vary with the changing situation, and it can be applied to more than one ideological support matrix at once (as in, say, using Euclidean geometry and structural physics to solve an architectural problem).

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