I agree with much of what you say. I believe that ethical treatment of others is a good thing. I believe that respect for others is a good thing. I believe in tolerance for one another.
I believe that there is great beauty and great mystery in the mere fact of existence. It makes sense to me that if something exists, it must have been created. Call it what you like. In discourse, I am comfortable using the word God to describe that creator, or creative force, or ethical force or whatever it may be.
My basic problem, and really the problem of the future of human civilization that I think Mr. Harris is trying against all odds to desperately state, is that it is dangerous in the extreme to idealize a particular idea of God if that idea of God divides rather than unifies. And that is where we are. People are polarizing more and more, at least as it appears to me. Some Christians view our current man-made situation as a positive sign that the End Times are here. Perhaps the Islamic fundamentalists feel something similar. If that is a good ethical landscape, where we choose as humans to divide over religious worldviews, then there is really little hope for us.
And it all makes no sense to me, and it greatly saddens me. And the polarization is really all for nothing, because the only thing I know with certainty is what I don't know, and can't know. And that gives me the capacity for doubt about any worldview that I might decide to adopt. And it also gives me the ability to know what is impossible for you to know with certainty.
You may be right, and you may believe it, and you may feel that you are right. But you cannot know that you are right. Given the number of belief organizations in the world, and though I suspect none of them probably have figured out the ultimate answer, I have to admit the possibility that one of them might have discerned everything correctly. I tend to view the odds of that as something less than my chance of winning the SuperLotto, but it's a possibility that I have to admit exists. But it would be arrogant of me, as it unfortunately is of you, to believe to know the answer.
We humans are still limited creatures, and the product of how we were made and our environment. Our thoughts are defined by what is originally included in the package and what we have absorbed in our experiences in life.
If I thought I had a mystical experience that showed me a way to knowledge beyond that knowable by traditional sensory experience, I still would have the capacity to recognize that I am not perfect, and could be wrong. The mystical experience could have been something going on entirely within me, and it would be the height of arrogance for me to say that I have had a revelation of some kind and now I know the truth, and everyone who does not believe my truth is wrong.
Because we are created and exist within what we know as the universe, we simply are incapable of knowing what is beyond it. We can choose to believe we know what is beyond it, but we would be frankly kidding ourselves to imagine that we actually do know.
The reason for our lack of knowledge is not complicated. It has to do with the limits of proof within a self-referencing system. The only referents that we have are what we know, and those referents developed within this universe, and are simply incapable of explaining of what is outside it.
You might want to take a look at Godel's Theorem, and the philosophical implications of it. A classic lay example of the limits of knowledge in a self referencing system like ours is an evaluation of the statement "Everything I say is false." If the statement is true, then how can everything I say be false, given that every thing I say, and I said that, is false? If it's false, then something I have said is true. Quite a conundrum. But something such as this shows the limits of our minds, and of our ability to know propositions beyond our experience with any certainty.
I am at peace with the limits of my ability to know the truth. I am what I am. I am a mere imperfect human who is saddened by the fact that people use artificial boundaries of race, religion, and national borders to divide people against the fact that we have what could be a wonderful world for us all to mutually experience during our time here. I do not want to adopt an unprovable exclusionary philosophy that hopes for better times after my time here is finished. I would rather enjoy the gift of life and consciousness that I have been given, regardless of my ability to know the specific identity of the grantor of that gift.
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