Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Change In Outlook

Since youth the world has struck me as an odd yet wonderful place. Being raised as I was in a very religious environment it was only natural that I viewed life through the prism of my religious belief system. The problem there was that when I got older and lost my religious faith I had no way to make sense of everything. I moved away from the spiritual way of thinking and moved to the material.
The interest I have shown lately in premonitions, prophetic dreams, and other forms of the manifestation of what has been called a "sixth sense" (I suppose that phrase isn't as popular now as it once was) or deep intuition made sense enough when I was knee-deep in the framework of my Christian worldview, but not so much when I moved on to a freethinking and scientific materialist one.
Perhaps most striking to me was the fact that the Cosmos seems to be designed, or at least it makes a certain sense. Again, easy enough when I thought that back of it was the Christian God, harder to think about without some idea of a creative intelligence.
So when I became a freethinker I was forced by the adoption of the materialist science outlook to dismiss the uncanniness of life as an amazing chain of coincidences and nothing more. As for the organization of the universe, literally Cosmos or harmonistic system, ah, that too had to be dismissed as an astoundingly fortunate coincidence. 
I held that stance with increasing uneasiness the more I thought back over my life, the more I listened to the experiences of others, and almost just as moving, as I started documenting the experiences that others had. I came around to suspecting that the skeptic's "magic thinking" meme was more a belittling pejorative than a serious charge.
After all, it finally occurred to me that if "magical thinking" or a more metaphysical and less materialistic worldview is so widespread and has been widespread (almost universal at one time in human evolution), perhaps it is just as natural as breathing. I'm not arguing that this is a proof of the truthfulness of "magical thinking," but that at the least it is natural - say, something "hardwired" into the human mind, as has been suggested.
In fact, it seems to take a great deal of effort to deprogram one's self from the "magical" outlook.
Now it seems that a small minority, an intelligentsia as it were, has made so-called magical thinking a symbol of credulity and simple-mindedness. I would instead call "magical thinking" a sense of wonderment and mystery, an admission that our knowledge, the greatest knowledge of the greatest human minds, is at best limited in scope by the very nature of the case.  
Perhaps, I've allowed myself to conclude, the basic concept of "magical thinking" is not against what modern science tells us about the Universe. Perhaps in time some of today's "woo woo" will become the knowledge of the future. History seems to give ample reason for that suspicion.
I can only imagine how incredible to ancient minds the idea of space travel would have been. Human flight used to be solely the domain of myth. Even as late as a few hundred years ago it was deemed a scientific impossibility. Yet today humans routinely travel around the globe at astounding speeds, and of course space travel is common. These represent achievements not only of human skill and technical savvy but human imagination as well.  

The myths of yesteryear from which the great religious traditions of the world sprang have much to tell us about the human psyche. Which brings me around to the concept of mind. I've come to embrace a suspicion that mind is all there is and that animal minds are just small manifestations of the overmind, the great Logos of the Cosmos. I've come to accept that we interact with the Cosmos and that not only do we speak to and engage it, but that it also speaks to us and engages us. (Personally, I don't think that is "woo," but protoscience awaiting further development.) Myths, then, are true in the sense that they are expressions of how we connect to the cosmos and how it connects with us. 


  1. In fact, it seems to take a great deal of effort to deprogram one's self from the "magical" outlook.

    I can see that.

    My son and I were talking about time travel yesterday. He want to invent a time machine. I wonder if we ever will be able to do that.

    1. That's a toughie because it seems illogical. But there is a line of thought that considers time to be an illusion. With the proper perspective could the past, present and future somehow be viewed as a whole? Well, greater minds than mine have grappled with the question, so I will leave such speculations to them. It is an interesting concept, though.

  2. Well said! I think you are on the right track.