Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Creating Fact? and Choosing Belief?

Someone tweeted this today:
"Belief creates the actual fact." -William James
But just how much do we 'create' reality? and what is truth? fact? I think that if we are talking about god as a 'being' then as much as we believe/wish for it we could never make him materialise. But if we are talking about a belief in happiness or goodness (or the opposite of those) then yes I think we can create 'the fact'.

Maybe a little more clarification from James would help. 
"This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it." 
"Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact." 
Now that sounds like something an atheist like me could tweet. 

I also Wiki-educated myself a little about William James and pulled out a couple of things to talk about here: 
  • James defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer. 
What is your truth? This is something I hear a lot in 'hippie' circles. Finding one's own truth. It's quite a tantalising idea.  
  • James held a world view in line with pragmatism, declaring that the value of any truth was utterly dependent upon its use to the person who held it.
Pragmatism is right down my alley. Feet on the ground, down-to-earth, "let's get this wagon train a-movin'" type of girl. (Not all of the time though, just one part of me).  
  • Through his philosophy of pragmatism William James justifies religious beliefs by using the results of his hypothetical venturing as evidence to support the hypothesis' truth. Therefore, this doctrine allows one to assume belief in God and prove His existence by what the belief brings to one's life.
Now is pragmatism about to bite me on the bum? I still like this eh. If my belief in god, whatever that might entail, improves my experience of life and other people's experience of me then how do I argue with that? I'm thinking I need to have a chat with Nietzsche right about now. 
  • He was, by nature, a pragmatist, and therefore believed that one should use whatever parts of theories make the most sense and can be proven.
A pick-and-mix or potpourri of theory; sounds good and pragmatic to me ;) 

And this quote:
 "I think that yesterday was a crisis in my life. I finished the first part of Renouvier's second Essais and see no reason why his definition of free will — 'the sustaining of a thought because I choose to when I might have other thoughts' — need be the definition of an illusion. At any rate, I will assume for the present — until next year — that it is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will."
I am intrigued but also quite lost by this one. I believe in my free will because I like my free will but... Rockstar thinks it is an illusion. "We are all slaves" he says, as well as "there is no such thing as individuality" and "happiness is highly overrated". Now imagine our date nights after a few glasses of happy juice. 

I will leave you tonight with a quote and a link to an article a friend posted on facebook today titled Disbelief Is Not a Choice
...when we consider theistic beliefs we see different causal environmental factors at work. Early childhood indoctrination by family, for example, is a key environmental factor that promotes such beliefs in many, as is the pro-religion conditioning that one receives from the community and broader society. Even if the overt promotion of religiosity by society is mild (which usually isn't the case in much of America), prevailing social views that disapprove of open disbelief will often discourage serious exploration of secularity.
Creating my reality.
Discovering my disbelief. 
Coming out. 


  1. On the surface, that first quote sounds extremely Mormon (Belief creates the actual fact). Just believe!! Doesn't matter what is really true... JUST BELIEVE!!

    But FACT seems to mean different things to different people. In the dictionary, FACT is defined as:

    FACT (noun)
    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
    5. Law. Often, facts. An actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.
    6. Ater the fact, Law. After the commission of a crime: an accessory after the fact.
    7. Before the fact, Law. Prior to the commission of a crime: an accessory before the fact.
    8. In fact, actually; really; indeed: In fact, it was a wonder that anyone survived.

    For me, facts are actual facts. Events or things that really happened. Perhaps I take things too literally. But since I do take things very literally, that explains my exit from Mormonism entirely.

    But then, you know what Boyd K. Packer said: Some things that are true are not very useful.

  2. I know!! that's what freaked me out about it when I read it. ...and a Mormon just believes!

    I'd agree with you on facts, as for truth though... that seems to be a bit more slippery and subjective. But I'm new to this and I'm sure Dawkins or someone could straighten me out.

    Old Packer eh!

    I think it's time to go on a hunt for 'stupid things apostles say'; should be a fruitful search.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Therefore, this doctrine allows one to assume belief in God and prove His existence by what the belief brings to one's life.

    1. I believe that if I chew gum and wear my lucky shirt, I play baseball better.
    2. This belief brings me better baseball playing (as long as I don't look at my stats too hard).
    3. Ergo, my belief in gum and shirt are true.

  5. Oh yes... and hunt for stupid things apostles say... and prophets, of course. That should be interesting.

    And I love Daniel's analogy about gum/shirt. That is exactly the sort of thing that Mormons cling to in order to rationalize their belief systems. That, and "feelings" (which are so reliable).

  6. Yeah finding truth from this method is flawed to say the least. I do wonder about the 'usefulness' of belief, or more, of spirituality. I look at some of my friends who believe in energy flowing all through and and being something that we can tap into for our benefit. This seems to be a sustaining force that I wonder if I too could tap into or if I am too much of an unbeliever to make it work. I think it is really al about being positive and meditating on that and channelling positive energy. I don't think there's anyone pulling strings.