How does one evaluate the truthfulness, the correctness, of a philosophical view? Let me propose to you that science, because it is based on a rigorous investigation using empirical methods that actually attempt to answer questions without bias, is the correct method. Technology sometimes verifies scientific discoveries as being true because the technology, when it works, is validation. Science also entails on-going testing to ensure that a belief or viewpoint that we thought was a truth is tested again, and again, to see if the results change or not. Science should be used as something close to an ultimate decider of what to believe if you want to get at the truth. Unfortunately, philosophy is, to great measure, the pursuit of viewpoints put forth by arguments that hopefully make sense. This sort of runs counter to science where scientists can speculate when trying to come up with a theory to test — but they go way beyond speculation and move ahead to test any thesis they come up with. If there is no tethering of the belief to real science testing then philosophy becomes a belief system and not a truth system. There has been a whole long history of singular and system beliefs that we now term mythology because the facts fail to support the former beliefs. Old mythologies fall out of favor because humanity has acquired more understanding of its surroundings, and, the whys behind a lot of former mysteries. The most prominent example in my mind is the the discovery that we descended not from the heavens but from other primates. The theory of evolution is now a fact. The religious explanation, that we were created by god, is now a preposterous notion.
There are still mythologies that persist for whatever reason: ignorance, romanticism, or any other reason where people cling to an old idea that science may have disproved. This retention factor of clinging to our mythologies is quite powerful when the belief seems to work for the individual, the family, the tribe, or the nation. Why drop a belief if it works? Tribal pressure often times is at work to perpetuate rituals and beliefs that were handed down from prior generations but are wrong when measured by science. It is interesting to now appreciate the tie-in with science and philosophy. It is also noteworthy that religion thinks science is a threat, and why not? Science is quite capable of eroding the power of religion because it exposes the untruths. Knowing this, the individual has a choice. Do you want to know the truth, or would you like to cling to tradition? In many cases there is no problem with believing in Santa Claus — so long as no one gets hurt or suffers.
Another human factor exists that may minimize the importance of trying to find the truth of what the real world is all about: it is our personal fear of dying. Our existence is a bit absurd, when we get born, and, it gets even more strange the older we get. We are dumped here for no apparent reason except our mom and dad made the right moves to conceive us. Once we are here we slowly appreciate the wonderment of what life/existence is all about — but there is no inherent purpose — except to survive. We spend not enough time here on Earth, and then die — again, for no apparent reason. Does that not sound really odd? Once you are dead, this whole experience did not happen because your mind dies and — with that — all memory of what you did.
We are not god’s creation, because science has taught us that we evolved: we were not “created.” We are animals that evolved to the point of gaining intellect where we can understand very completely our own being and lack of purpose beyond survival. Where is the logic in arriving and not staying here forever? Religion does an admirable job of minimizing our fear of dying by promising that there is an afterlife. What a wonderful solution if it were true. Religion creates a wonderful avoidance mechanism where our self-concern of dying is suspended for the longest time. Religion tells us we don’t really die but go to another level of “existence.” Science, on the other hand, does nothing to minimize the fear of death — but tells us there is no heaven and when we die there is nothing more for us and, in fact, we never existed except in the memories of our friends and enemies. Science is cruel in this way and explains why a lot of people would rather believe in the mythology than in the truth. Religion’s purpose, on the other hand, is to comfort us by creating myths that allay our fears.
But, believing in mythologies has some dire results for world politics because people fail to deal with what is real. The mythologies are responsible for killings, which is a bit ironic when you realize that it is the fear of death that binds individuals to their mythology.
Here is a partial list of wrong beliefs that currently take place because populations wish to believe in the mythology rather than in the reality of who we really are:
• Theocracies should not exist because there is no god and thus there can be no one to interpret the wishes of god upon our political and social decisions. There is a need for clerics in the churches and mosques to support the personal needs that people have for comfort — but not in any building where politics is practiced. Politics deals with real societal problems — and mythology deals with what is not real.
• Islamic conflicts between Shia and Sunni are stupid because their differences are not really important to the point of killing one another.
• Conflicts between Israel and other Arab countries pertaining to religious differences seems meaningless.
• If god did not create us, then why is there an argument against abortion? Why is a cleric dictating what a woman should do with her body? Clerics should stay out of the medical profession’s decision-making.
• My favorite example of stupid is when some really stupid person is told by another stupid person to put on a vest of explosives and kill as many people as possible and they will go to heaven and have a huge amount of virgins to do whatever they want. This is is an excellent reason why the Arab nations need a good basic education program, but then again, the clerics need stupid people to be their lemmings and to follow orders without question.