Zero Dark Thirty Plus Infinity

The film Zero Dark Thirty presents a stark view of our world circa 2013: two dominant cultures locked in a titanic struggle to the death.

One alluring feature of atheism is resolution of that struggle: if we could only abandon religion and faith, we would immediately diffuse these conflicts and the world would be a step closer to peace.

I offer another perspective. The faith that is aligned with Vahhd is the faith that will endure. Vahhd is the rising of the Sun every morning and its setting every night. Vahhd is the flow of oceans and the passage of stars at night. Vahhd is natural law.

Every day we make choices that bring us in alignment with Vahhd or farther from it. We can humbly accept Vahhd or resist it.

The end of faith is not the long-term goal. Rather, embrace a faith that is aligned with Vahhd.

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About Anthony Mannucci

A physicist (yours truly) turns his attention to many subjects...

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Culture. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Yes, but what does your recommended faith entail? Faith? Is “faith” necessary? If you mean, have regard to natural law, or to what we can learn about natural law, well yes, fine!
    But I don’t resonate to calling that “faith.” And natural law is fine, in the world around us. It’s not all that discernible in human conduct, which is where it could be helpful–certainly where something beyond what we have access to now is sorely needed.
    I’m not in touch with the correct conduct wrt blogs–should I sign, leave email, or is that self-promoting? Happy to do what’s required, Oh, I now see I should sign in below.

  2. What I mean is that the spiritual is forefront in our lives. The things that matter most to us are not material things subject to the laws of nature. Our lives are a search for meaning. This longing never leaves us.

  3. Human behavior is based on the laws of nature, but we inevitably try to escape that trap because it means we have no free will. Free will is an illusion. The only true escape is to “believe” in human potential.

    • It depends, of course, on what one means by “free will.” It’s plain we do not have free will in certain respects, e.g., what can attract our attention. But such a situation is only to our benefit, as we can have our attention grabbed to alert us to danger. Once we find our attention engaged, we can exercise some control and certainly have the illusion of free will. I”m not troubled by the notion that it is only an illusion. I’d prefer to acknowledge that we don’t have free will than to groundlessly “believe” in anything of serious import.

  4. Why are you so afraid of faith? Faith is a foundational concept. Rationality and proof is always based on some assumptions that must be accepted on faith. Logic is a method of deduction that starts with premises and reaches conclusions. The premises are not themselves reached by any logical or deductive process. So, if logic leads to something you believe reflects reality, you ultimately have faith in that reality, because your premises are based on faith.

    People try to escape faith, perhaps because they believe that by relying on the proven and provable we will avoid conflict and anguish. I fear the opposite. I fear that deceiving ourselves that we do not rely on faith will lead to an uncritical attitude towards what we do believe, a form of over-confidence. We need to be humble and accept that we cannot know the right way without faith.

    • I appreciate your trying to put me on the right path wrt faith. You’re right to the extent that faith makes me uncomfortable. I think of it in the context of injustices that I or others experience. Faith will have me accept that injustice will be put right “in the next life,” “on the day of judgment.” I say: No, what has happened is wrong, and I’ll deal with it (or try to) in the here and now. I don’t think your example of a logical analysis applies to me. You can try to show me it does, if you wish!

  5. I have not thought of faith in this way. I agree with dealing with things, like injustice. But our desire to correct injustice also relies on faith: that there is justice and that it is worth fighting for. These are not objective truths, and are certainly not scientific truths. If you did not have faith in justice, you would not fight for what’s right.

    • Haven’t you ever heard of fighting for lost causes? I don’t know what it would mean to have “faith in justice.” If justice exists it is because some people have acted in a just manner. Do I have faith that they will? No. Some will, some won’t. I’ve been astonished, in fact, at how brazenly people with the power to do so will ignore justice and act in a manner that blatantly is unjust, just because they can do so with impunity. But, I shall do all all in my power to change the situation. Certainly without faith, while I keep looking for some means to make them act justly.

  6. Why are you astonished? As someone without faith, and as an atheist, you know that there is no design to the universe. All of us are the result of an accidental agglomeration of chemicals that became conscious and alive. Beings that originated from such accidental circumstances can certainly behave rationally and ethically, and just as easily behave irrationally and unethically. Do not be surprised at what the human universe throws at you. Perhaps you did not really mean what you said.

    • I was astonished at the head of an organization of do gooders brazenly acting in a manner that plainly is unjust, and brazenly continuing to do so when he must realize that his actions astonish all who witness them. I am astonished because I never before encountered anything like this. Also, I’d never call myself atheist.but do use the term, agnostic. Finally, it’s unlikely for me ever to write anything that I don’t mean!

  7. I think you encountered what I call “the law of opposites.” Human beings, because they can be aware of how they are perceived, will act in ways that appear the opposite of what we expect. In other words: over compensation. I think there are many people who are really bad inside, and they are drawn to causes or activities that make them appear good. Being bad leads to appearing good. That’s the law.

    This person you talk about may have a completely different inner life than you think.

    • I take my agnosticism seriously and don’t speculate about what’s not accessible to me, e.g., the inner life of others! But as you have posed such an explanation, I can see it’s highly plausible, in general. Goodness know what made him accept the voluntary position he holds. All I know about is his unbelievably, recklessly, uncaring conduct when we appealed for help with a difficult individual who was harassing mercilessly a disabled member of our group.

  8. That’s too bad. This guy should be shown the exit.

    • I’m doing my best! But, back to faith. I don’t know why it should be important to you. Have you come to realize that being a scientist involves having faith in the current view of reality (whatever that is for the time)? It would be my view that the current best understanding is only temporary until a better one comes along. I’m struggling to understand where your engagement with faith comes from.

  9. Your comment confuses me. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of what I mean by faith. My interest in faith came from my realization that science does not answer all the we need to know to live our lives. It also comes from my belief that there is a “parallel universe” of patterns the exists outside of the physical universe and is not measurable by science. In pondering human nature, I came to realize that humans respond very strongly to patterns, what I also call the “unseen”. So, if we are always reacting and living in relation to patterns (non-physical things), then we live by faith. Faith is our infrastructure of beliefs, moral and otherwise. I maintain that faith and science are not necessarily contradictory (although they can be).

    • Thanks so much for saying all that. I find it fascinating and shall ponder. But I’m so glad you’ve clarified that “faith” means something like what you’ve written. I guess my first thought is to say, why not just call it “belief”? “Belief” to me says less than “faith,” but says all that one needs to say about what you describe. You’ve thought about things and come to believe ….. You don’t as yet have evidence to support that belief, but that’s not a concern, you can be on the lookout for evidence, but in the meantime you enjoy your belief and may even be developing it farther.

      As regards what you describe, e.g., the patterns we note or may note, I’d suggest that they are a function of brain structure or, rather than structure, the brain’s capacity to create structure. In fact, I’d say, if humans generate such things, then that’s what they have to be, i.e., manifestations of brain product.

      The other thought I had reading what you wrote is that it reminded me of mathematics, which surely, par excellence, is discovering hidden structure. Yes?

  10. I will think about what you said. Belief versus faith. The word “faith” seems to perturb many people, but I am not sure why.

    • Surely because of its religious connotations. I became agnostic in my late 30s precisely because of what I had written here about not wanting to have faith that all would be put right “in the next world,” “on judgment day.”

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