Have you noticed that most children can easily be deceived? For instance, they can be deceived by conspiring adults who promote delusions about Santa Claus. He is a magical being with psychic powers that is constantly monitoring their behaviors (for obedience or disobedience to the directives of the social authority).
A child may presume that certain people in particular will be sincere and precise in their communications with the child. Further, lots of people who are all presumed by the children to be sincere and experienced can all repeat the same ideas or doctrines about Santa Claus with so much apparent confidence that the children never examine the logic of the assertions.
So, what if people of all ages are told that an eternal celestial being named Saint Peter is monitoring their every thought from heaven and keeping an account of their behavioral conformity to determine whether they will earn eternal torment or eternal reward? In that case, isn’t it possible that some adults will actually experience anxiety about being allegedly monitored by the all-seeing “eye in the sky?”
What if some adults also wear a cross on a necklace or put up a painting of The Holy Shepherd who is always watching over them from inside the frame on the wall? If people are programmed to associate that painting or that necklace with a particular story, then they could be reminded of that story every time they see that magic shape of that cross.
It is the shape that symbolizes a gruesome case of torture and a public ritual of human sacrifice. In fact, there have been many crucifixions, although one specific crucifixion is extremely famous. In fact, even Saint Peter was crucified, but that one is only moderately famous. (Saint Peter apparently requested to be crucified upside down because “he was not worthy of being crucified in the standard position of head up and feet down, because that was the position in which Jesus was crucified.”)
After Saint Peter was crucified and died, some legends indicate that he would have met Osiris, who had been monitoring him from the North Pole and keeping an account of his conformity to the behavioral ideals of the local cult. As for who met Osiris (after Osiris died) to let him know whether he would be assigned to heaven or hell, apparently Osiris is credited as having first told that story, so he was the first “holy scorekeeper” and there were no others prior to him.
Eventually, there were some ridiculous accusations (by someone claiming to pretend to be Santa Claus) that Osiris simply made up the story about being able to know everyone’s every thought. Perhaps he was just trying to promote anxiety and distress in the naive.
Others have suggested that it is reasonably easy to notice when a dog looks guilty as well as to manipulate a human in to revealing whether or not they have a guilty conscience. Therefore, Osiris did not really need to be constantly watching in order to assess someone’s sense of self-worth. He just needed to be perceptive.
So, an organism’s health can be compromised by curses, such as the programming of intense distress about conformity to a set of behavioral ideals (with some behaviors being glorified and some being vilified). The logical premise for glorifying certain actions is because they would not otherwise be performed as often without being glorified. The logical premise for vilifying certain actions is because they otherwise would be performed more often unless vilified.
Some social conditioning is mild (producing alertness and caution and perhaps an eventual understanding of the logic behind various behavioral guidelines). Some social conditioning is intense (producing hysteria and paranoia and shame and agony).
The result of some of the more extreme forms of social conditioning is that the targeted organisms will be indirectly programmed to agonize. They will agonize over what is the best thing to do and what is the best way to do it. Their agonizing will not result in taking objective measurements, but always by comparing their experience to an external authority (with favoritism given to the external authority as a means to invalidate or obscure their direct experience).
They will agonize over avoiding the social recognition of their shame. They continuously invalidate certain types of experience as shameful (as well as invalidating various past incidents as shameful). When they invalidate certain types of experience as shameful, we may notice it more as they show contempt and animosity toward some villain or traitor. However, they may also have had that same kind of experience in the past (or even currently).
Next, we will explore the topics of fear and faith. That will bring us to a new respect for the experience of shame.
Briefly, what I mean by faith is simply an openness to reality. In contrast to how I am using the word faith, I notice that many people seem to relate to the word faith as a possible solution to fear.
Instead, I do not relate to fear as a terrifying problem to be solved. I do not relate to fear as a shameful problem that ideally I would totally prevent (for myself and others).
That kind of hysterical fear of fear is extremely ironic. It is also a chronic state of mental instability with constant paranoia about the most shameful thing ever: fear.
However, all that distress might be rather delusional. Fear, when it reaches sufficient intensity, naturally produces alertness and caution and even courage. All of that can be very valuable.
Generally speaking, I even have faith in fear. I am open to fear being relevant and valuable. Precisely perceiving risk or danger is a useful ability that is worth developing.
Certainly, it is possible to sincerely perceive something to be dangerous or threatening when it is not. However, which is worse: to be extremely cautious and drive very slowly… Or for a driver to close their eyes and step hard on the gas pedal and race in to an intersection without looking to see if the traffic light is red or yellow or green (or if there is a stream of huge trucks speeding in from the left and the right)?
Many people have been socially programmed to experience a rather delusional shame about fear. They may relate to faith as a possible method for overcoming fear (or for pretending not to still be afraid and to hide their anxieties socially from others). But they may be talking about a very desperate hope, not faith.
Their “faith” is anxious and easily threatened. It is extremely vulnerable so they defend it furiously.
I know it because I have experience with “having” that type of “faith.” It was a coping mechanism for distracting myself from certain stressful realities and even for entertaining some comforting fantasies.
There can be value to that kind of faith. That is a terrified kind of faith in which people may even attempt to withdraw from all possible sources of fear. If mere comfort is the goal, then to rehearse comforting fantasies would be a relevant strategy, right?
But with “real faith,” there is no constant distress about avoiding all possible threats. From real faith, I am open to possible threats and assessing them precisely.
If I have any presumption which does not fit with what I observe, I am open to altering my presumptions. I am not desperately defending my presumptions as if they are not presumptive.
Faith is inherently about presumptions. If I know something with absolutely certainty, that is not called faith. Faith is when I operate as if something is true even without any clear evidence that it is true.
I am open to increased precision. I am open to correcting inaccuracy.
I am not insisting that my presumptions are not presumptions. I am not rejecting contrary evidence and ridiculing the threat posed by logic and skepticism and critical thinking.
so, when I say faith, I do not mean a fixation on a particular word or sequence of words as “the most important of all words.” I do not just mean “a faith,” like a set of concepts or doctrines to worship as the only ideas worthy of attention or respect. I also do not mean a statement made as an affirmation or claim.
I do not mean “faith in words.” I mean something quite relaxed.
This faith does not require anyone else’s validation. It does not correspond to panic over the possibility that others might be skeptical of it or even reject it.
My faith does not rely on words. However, my faith can include a variety of practices that involve words. I can use a particular sequence of words in a ritualistic way, including things as simple as consistently saying “I love you” to particular people when we are departing from each other.
Why is this kind of faith so rare? Why didn’t I have it for so long?
more related topics:
On rituals for promoting social anxiety….
Obsession with approval
Expectation of consensus
Discomfort with scientific inquiry
(Especially of the most popular dogmas of popular pseudo-science)
On the worship of diagnostic labels as demonic pathogens