Knowledge de luxe

“Consciousness is a disease.” –Miguel de Unamuno

Let’s blame it on my co-worker. After all, he is the one that shared the link with me. Go ahead, read it. Then you’ll wonder how much Joan Osbourne really knew.

Assuming you’ve already read the piece, I’ll carry on. A few years ago, around the time Joey passed away, I had a sick revelation – after living a nice chunk of my life accepting that I would one day not exist, my mind decided to rebel. Suddenly, I – or actually, mind – could no longer imagine a world in which I didn’t exist. It’s not like looking at the past, a time before you existed. That’s easy. But a time somewhere in the future? Those of you who believe in an immortal soul fear nothing – you will be rewarded or punished justly. But, what if you place your life in the hands of logic and science? What then? We’re giving the “Omega Point” and are expected to swallow such malarkey.

Often, in the past, I’ve said how grand it would be to revert to not question everything. So why is it then that I have a strong negative feeling toward Miguel de Unamuno’s treatise of blind faith? Forget the wisdom, let’s not learn more than we need to! (FYI, I’m only two chapters in, so I’m only guessing that the theme continues on.)

And similarly there are social parasites, as Mr. A. J. Balfour admirably observes, who, receiving from society in which they live the motives of their social conduct and for a tolerable life, society having prepared for them the spiritual nutriment by which they live. An isolated individual can endure life and live it well and even heroically without in any sort believing either in the immortality of the soul or in God, but he lives the life of a spiritual parasite. What we call the sense of honour is, even in non-Christians, a Christian product.

Not only am I a social parasite, but apparently I’m a social one, as well. But hold the phone! Does he state that honor never existed pre-Christian times? Or does he mean that Christian products predate Christ, who we consider the father of Christianity? Either way, my mind is boggled. And it boggles my mind that people like Unamuno still exist.

One of my biggest qualms about Unamuno’s arguments is his inability to accept those made by people of different faiths. Example, he calls Spinoza the Portuguese Jew. Or when a philosopher actually shares the same faith, his status as a Christian is put into question when his philosophy differs.

According to Unamuno, a Christian isn’t a Christian if said Christian believes that knowledge is key. It doesn’t matter if this Christian entwined god in his philosophy – if the end is the quest for knowledge, then he isn’t a Christian at all. He states the only knowledge that we need is the first hand knowledge – think instinctual, but not quite. I’ll attempt an example. Let’s say your stomach growls and a pang of pain hits you. You know from instinctual knowledge that you’re hungry so, therefore, you should eat something. Any food would be sufficient because you’re stomach doesn’t care. You have the choice of eating the food rotting in your refrigerator  or you can go out and eat a buffet. Unamuno would rather you eat the rotting food because your stomach only needs nutrients and anything extravagant is by no means worth it.

Of course, instinctual knowledge is important. We need to know how to survive. But to say that acquiring knowledge for the sake of knowledge is wrong, well, that’s just hogwash. Where would the medical field be if they didn’t pursue further? Or where would our technology be if we abandoned it completely to pray to an archaic deity?

The fear, of course, is if Homo sapiens begin to acquire too much knowledge, the realization that god is no longer important will finally set in. Perhaps, future generations will continue unhindered by blind faith to finally meet the ranks of beings who surpassed us eons ago.

Maybe god does exist. And maybe Harry Stottle did speak to him. But the truth point is, we shouldn’t let religion hold us back. We’re a species of potential and for far too long we’ve killed, hindered, enslaved ourselves because of our faith. I’m not saying we abandoned god(s). But I am stating it’s time we abandoned religion.

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