Thursday, September 25, 2008

Which Reality?

Animal reality, human reality, or actual reality? The reality of non-human life exists in the moment. Eat, avoid being eaten, and reproduce. The human brain allows the construction of an artificial, shared reality. This shared reality serves to organize large groups of people for common goals. The value of a shared reality is whether it works well to provide for the needs of the large group.

Religion is a mechanism (organizer) for creating a shared reality. It works better than no organizer at all. But all shared realities are artificial. There is no objective reality to the shared cultural reality. This does not mean that all cultural realities are equally valid, because some work better as group organizers than others.

There is also an actual reality, such as gravity, molecules and evolution. Science supports this idea that there is an actual reality separate from artificial, human, cultural reality. Science is a method for ascertaining actual reality, and as such it works well as a problem solver; it is the best method we have for testing solutions to problems.

Science can be used to construct a shared reality which is based on actual reality. Atheists and scientists are subscribers to the idea that actual reality can be an organizer for civilization that is superior to previous organizers. This is because an organizing system based on objective reality is going to work better at the basic purpose of culture, which is to provide for the needs of the group.

It is very important in adopting a shared reality to achieve a degree of conformity for the purpose of consistency. A shared reality will not work unless most of the members actually share it, so society creates mechanisms to pressure individuals into accepting the shared reality. It is useful to create the idea that this reality is the right one, or the only acceptable one, in order to enforce cooperation. If it is taught at an early, formative age and imprinted in the brain during development it is difficult for people to let go of it later.

Atheism and a scientific world view are inconsistent with a shared reality that is based on the belief in a supernatural being of magical powers that organizes and moves the universe. In order to accept the scientific world view one must overcome the very powerful mechanisms that exist for enforcing a common reality, especially early imprinting. The scientific world view works better, and has the best chance of providing for the needs of the emerging human condition, which is a very large population with the attendant issues such as food, space, pollution, and disease.

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