Wrong Thinking

It seems quite clear to me how incredibly problematic, and untenable relativism is in real life. The idea that there are no absolutes, particularly in morality. Saying that no action is definitely wrong or right quickly hits a road block as soon as you touch on pet issues, or something that is (currently) near universally repugnant. You won’t find many supporting genocide or pederasty, and I doubt many relativists would say these things are good in certain contexts or for certain people.

Yet there is another way of thinking that I have found myself in, in a way opposed to relativism, yet still erroneous, and causing wrong perceptions about life. This idea of thinking is very scientific, mathematical, and western. The idea is that somehow everything is quantifiable, and rigid. A simple example, both easy to see, and refute, is saying if we add one apple to a second apple, we get two apples.But mathematically speaking, one apple is not equal to another apple. There are numerous differences, but we use this abstraction where they are taken to be equivalent for simplicity.

Yet abstractions like these are often taken to be truth. Perhaps not by those who originate them for simplification, but to those who they filter down to. One example is how we pigeonhole people. Stereotyping is necessary for psychologists to quickly identify some of the issues a person has. Yet if they assume that the person is the same as all others in that category, they will be found to have drastically misjudged. Though similarities help us begin to work with people we know little about, we must eventually deal with the individual if we hope to help them.

But where this way of thinking is truly insidious is not in how we classify things, but in thinking that actions have clearly predictable results. Actions, on a small and purely physical level may, to some degree of accuracy, be predicted. But everything goes out the window in a system as large as the world, especially when people are involved. Yet the idea persists that men are somehow able to prescribe solutions for our society. If we invest more in science we can solve the things that plague us. But how often is science actually used by man to solve these problems? If we eliminate the ideas that divide us, there will be peace. But it seems something new always pops up. If we educate the people, this will solve their problems. But how free of problems are the educated? Hasn’t it almost universally been the educated who have subjected us to the greatest catastrophes?

The great problem with this thinking is it keeps us looking toward solutions that will never work. What’s worse is they have  never been tested, and yet we believe these claims will work. Saying we can predict something for which we have no examples, and when we don’t understand the system, directly flies in the face of science. From a philosophical perspective, the only way someone could know such a solution would work is if they had made the system. Yet the solution of the Creator is the one solution that everyone wants to ignore.

It is this that reveals that those who claim they know how to fix our problems are dishonest, or at least horrible misguided. When someone makes such a claim we should ask them what evidence they have that it will work? What proof do they have that those solutions that have seen promise will not fall prey to the same winds of change that topled the last move toward progress?


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April 2009
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