Evolution: The Good and Bad

Evolution has given us a blessing and a curse.

It has given us empathy so that we cooperate, and it is given us selfishness that we might survive.

The empathy allows us to love, the selfishness allows us to hurt and harm.

We can think of evolution as given us a good side and a bad side. Empathy is the good of human nature, selfishness is the bad of human nature.

Even Christianity recognizes that we have the higher nature and the lower nature, which it calls flesh and spirit.

Taoism as well talks about the light side of the dark side, the yin and the yang.

All this can be traced back to evolution giving us empathy and selfishness.

Rationality

Rationality means “thinking and acting according to reason. It is thinking with reasons, good reasons.

To be rational does not only depend on what you believe but more importantly on how you believe it; that ism, the way you have thought it out, the reasons you have provided, and the clarity and courage with which you have approached the problem.

To be rational is to use our ability to sift through the evidence and weight arguments and formulate reasons in the most efficient way. Rationality points to the manner of thinking rather than its ultimate conclusions.

Rationality, therefore, does not require truth; it only requires that one make the best possible use of all the information and reason at one’s disposal. Truth is that which is most rational to believe at a given time and in a given situation, on the basis of the best available evidence and the most careful thinking possible.

Rationality, unlike faith, is always open to being wrong. It follows the evidence, not the authority of a person or institution.

Being Reasonable

Every so often I talk to someone with a mystical tendency. And what I observed is interesting.

Being reasonable isn’t sexy. It isn’t easy. And the answers of reason are not always positive.

Everyone says they want to know the truth, but this is mere words. Most people will take comfort, excitement, and meaning over truth any day.

Here is a test.

Do you follow your feelings, or do you follow the evidence. And just to be clear, by evidence I mean objective and verifiable data that supports a claim.

You you put experience, feeling, or meaning first then you do not want to know the truth.

Truth is the judgment that a claim correspond to the way something is. The ONLY way to judge such corresponds is by the evidence for or against a claim. Intuition is not evidence, Personal mystical experiences are not evidence. Evidence can be checked by other people.

A claim that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.

One dedicated to truth and reason asks, show me the evidence.

Possibility and Probability

Hold possibility in one hand and probability in the other.

Then accept what’s in the hand of probability, but do not reject what is in the hand of possibility.

The possible is to be doubted, but not rejected. Only the impossible and the improbable is to be rejected.

This is the path to the truth.

Truth is not a pathless land, it is just that the path differs depending on one’s point of departure.

 

Knowing What Ain’t So

It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so. – Artemus Ward

It’s amazing how sure someone can be about what they think they know, but which they actually don’t know.

Knowing what ain’t so is a big problem. So many people are afflicted with this disease.

Are you?

Understanding Belief

A belief is a claim that is accepted as true, which then becomes a rule of action.

A claim not acted on is not believed.

Belief requires that the claim becomes a rule of action. Not becoming a rule of action is sufficient proof that the claim is not believed.

It is amazing how many people get this wrong.

Have you ever heard someone say that what you believe doesn’t matter? They could not be more wrong.

All you do is based on what you believe, whether conscious of this belief or not. Unconscious beliefs are called assumptions.

Meditation is About Observation

The way to meditate it’s the sit up straight, relax the body, and focus on the breath.

Meditation is an not about clearing the mind, or not thinking.

What you’re wanting to do in meditation is to pay attention to what’s going on in your body, mind, and feelings.

Meditation is about observation.

You’re trying to learn about your own mind. You’re trying to understand how it works and doesn’t work. You’re trying to know yourself, as the ancients advised.

You’re never going to know yourself if you don’t spend time with yourself, alone, and observant.

Selfishness vs Self-Care

Selfishness is caring for yourself because it is yourself. Self-care is caring for self because you have the greatest influence to do so.

Selfishness is loving yourself first, putting yourself before others. Self-care is loving others equally with yourself.

Selfishness will inevitably harm others. Self-care does not harm others if at all possible.

In selfishness the self is above others, in self-care the self is equal to others.

Writer’s Reflections

There is no use writing anything that has been written before unless you can beat it. What a writer in our time has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done. -Ernest Hemingway

I confess, Ernest Hemingway’s words hit home. I think to myself, is what I’ve written what needed to be written? Was it written better than others?

The answer is probably no.

So I reflect on the future of my writing. What can I write that hasn’t been written before? How can I write better than “dead men at what they have done”?

I hope you were not expecting an answer. I am making this up as I go.