The penultimate cryptomind discussed in “The Mind Club” is “God.” The authors’ begin with Pascal’s Wager, which is a compelling argument for believing in God. It is presented in terms of Cost Benefit analysis. The authors’ argue that people do not form their belief in God in terms of cost/benefit analysis and continue the chapter with explanations as to why people believe in God, but that these beliefs do not constitute a proof of God’s existence. After all these years of philosophical debate, it should be conceded that proofs are not possible, and that belief is basically a matter of faith.
Healthymemory’s argument is that a cost/benefit analysis of the belief provides a rational basis for believing in God. Pascal was arguing in terms of the century in which hie lived. Healthy memory is taking the liberty of phrasing his analysis in contemporary terms.
Suppose that God does not exist and that you do not believe in God. Although you might be proud of your hard-nosed belief, you cannot know that you are correct. The only prospect is a possibly unpleasant surprise awaiting you after you die.
Suppose that you do believe in God and that God exists. if you believe and you have lived in accordance with your beliefs, then death should have a pleasant outcome. However, suppose that God does not exist. Well you will never know because you will not exist after death to learn that you belief was incorrect. However, during your life you will have lived with all the comforts your belief affords you.
Healthy memory is strongly of the belief that one should never be certain about anything. All beliefs and models of the external world are probabilistic. But even if one thinks that the probability of God existing is infinitesimally small. You should still believe because you will enjoy the comforts of believing and will never learn that you were wrong (dead men tell no tales—even to themselves).
You might argue that this argument is specious, and that one is only fooling oneself.
Healthy memory would argue that when we are living we are constantly fooling ourselves. There is an enormous amount of research indicating that we are more optimistic than justified by objective reality. But this optimism is adaptive. It causes us to persevere and to keep on trying.
Healthymemory has found that many of the difficulties people have with God are really difficulties they have with religions. Religions are created and operated by humans. If all religious people behaved according to the dictates of their faiths, the world would be a much better place. But religions have been and continue to be the basis of innumerable wars. It is quite possible, and perhaps even desirable, to believe in God and not to affiliate with any religious faith.
Healthy memory extols science and accords science for being responsible for the advancement of humankind. Yet science provides one kind of knowledge. There are other domains of knowledge and one is deficient if one is restricted to scientific knowledge. That individual, in effect, becomes an intellectual runt.
The Dalai Lama has literally had a lifelong interest in science as this interest began in childhood. He has said that were it not for his responsibilities as a religious leader, he would have been an engineer. He has worked with a wide variety of scientists and has established a Mind and Life Institute. Psychologist Richard Davidson has worked closely with the Dali Lama, who has provided Buddhist monks and priests in Davidson’s research on meditation. This research has revealed notable changes in the brain during and after meditation. Both basic and applied research will show large advances from this research. The emphasis is on the mind and how it can enhance lives.
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