The Incongruous Nature of Worldviews

I have noted a fundamental (inverse) relationship between the mindset of people who become religious fanatics, and that of people who become scientists.

We all want a worldview which is both correct and stable. But there is an unfortunate kind of uncertainty here: in order for your worldview to evolve, you must first renounce aspects its current state. This makes it unstable; In order for your worldview to remain stable, it must also remain fixed. This makes it prone to inconsistencies.

The scientist strives to reduce their ignorance of the world, and is more concerned with correctness than stability. The illusion of stability comes about due to the rigour involved in building scientific knowledge.

The fanatic strives to be certain of the world, and is more concerned with stability than correctness. The illusion of correctness comes about due to the authority of the spiritual leader and the surety with which the sacred texts disclose their knowledge (gnosis).

The scientist has a living worldview, and it comes from the living; the world. The fanatic has a dead one, and it comes (apparently) from the non-living; outside the world.

Like a tree which appears to stand solid and unmoving in the short term, the scientist’s worldview is constantly growing in both height and girth over time; if it were to become petrified – rigid, as in the fanatic’s worldview – it would, like a rock, erode away instead.

Though the petrified tree may remain for a long time, it will ultimately be eroded into dust. Though the living tree may be less permanent, it will in the end triumph: for as any individual tree may eventually die, its progeny will live on.

In the same way, science has a true legacy, but cults, religions and fixed belief systems simply break and crumble into more and more pieces over time, less and less coherent; any individual offspring less and less significant; indeed even, less stable.

This is my view.


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