Author Topic: Does Factual Validity Matter?  (Read 2943 times)

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September 14, 2013, 04:50:45 PM
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Constructman

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Recently, after a while of being distracted from the occult, I restarted my studies. I decided to start researching Hermeticism, so in addition to starting Step 1 of the IIH, I also began reading other material (I've read the Kybalion, I've read the Corpus Hermetica and the Emerald Tablet but can't understand them, etc). In addition to studying the material itself, I also began researching the system from an outside point of view. It was in this research that I found that there was the possibility that Hermes Trismegistus may not have existed (probably old news to the more experienced members of this forum). In addition, when reading the Kybalion, I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow whenever the authors mentioned how modern science seemed to be validating aancient Hermetic principles to a certain extent. On some occasions I could agree, but other times I wondered whether they had a complete understanding of the subject matter and they weren't jumping to conclusions. Does this matter? Hermeticism seems to be a rich area of study and practice nonetheless, but I can't help but feel insecure if some of elements that form its base tenets are factually shaky.

One a more personal note, I'm currently going through a minor crisis of faith for this very same reason. I'm currently a non-denominational Christian, and ever since I was baptised 3 years ago, may faith was more or less absolute. There may have been times when I questioed what the leading brothers said, usually at the conferences, but for the most part I had full assurance that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Trinity, He incarnated and lived a human life, He died for our sins and was resurrected, He ascended to the heavens and then came back down on the Pentecost as the Indwelling Spirit, etc etc. However, during my studies of magic, I had a compulsion to research the Abrahamic religions as well, and found historical discrepencies that clashed with my current worldview (mostly on Wikipedia and other factual sources but some on this site as well). To make a long story short, I'm beginning to wonder if the Bible, the base of my faith and my fallback whenever I have doubts, is valid; or if large portions of it are false due to conflicting historical accounts (no evidence for a deluge, no evidence for an exodus on the scale of Israel leaving Egypt, YHVH originally being part of a polytheistic pantheon as a storm god, the Temple priests falsifying scripts in the Tenakh to maintain societal control, Zoroastrian influences on Judaism during the exile in Babylon, the gospels being 95% fairy tales, dating mistakes for the books, etc). If the Bible is indeed historically inaccurate, I feel that not only my faith, but all of Judaism and Christianity, with parts of Islam as well, being mistaken. This proposition, however, clashes with my subjective experience, as I have had numerous experiences of the Holy Spirit during my time as a Christian. As a result, I'm beginning to wonder if this is just a psychosomatic response formed by my expectations, or if the God I pray to is just a thoughtform created over 3000 years by the beliefs of hundreds of millions of people.

For the people who went TL;DR and for those who want the question phrased in an objective, impersonal matter: Does it matter of a religion/spiritual/mystic path has a faulty factual/historical basis, so long as it either provides a valid subjective experience or achieves tangible results?

September 14, 2013, 05:15:51 PM
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Mind_Bender

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Ever since I was a kid 'religion' has always been based on faith. In the negative light this means belief with a blind eye towards criticism and questioning. This is the war mongering capitalist aspect of religion. On the other hand, religion being based on faith can be very rewarding. Even if you know the bible is not historically accurate or at least question its historical validity doesn't matter. You have faith in Christ and God- why should historical inaccuracy matter if you love him/them and he/they love you?

I think intuition is the most important on the spiritual path. My intuition guides me to question and others guide them to believe.

When it comes to magic I don't care if the history is accurate or not as long as I get the results promised or am at least satisfied with the results. Historical inaccuracies, and even flat out lies for good storytelling, don't matter at all to certain magicians- I've used the Necronomicon Spell Book with good results and make up my own rituals with good and tangible results, so mystically and magically speaking, history still doesn't matter, and in some cases, neither does science or psychology because you are breaking or bending the 'normal' laws of nature.

If you want to practice the religious or mystical as close as possible to the ancients, then yeah, history is a big deal.
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September 15, 2013, 07:52:55 AM
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EllyEve

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For the people who went TL;DR and for those who want the question phrased in an objective, impersonal matter: Does it matter of a religion/spiritual/mystic path has a faulty factual/historical basis, so long as it either provides a valid subjective experience or achieves tangible results?

It doesn't matter, as long as we agree that it's a subjective experience at all. If it achieves tangible results, though, then that can be a problem if the tangible results are harmful.

I mean, let's say that I "believe in"... um... The Lady of Shalott, from Arthurian legend. I pick this example because I went through a rough time, and a song about her resonated with my yearning to die but somehow redirected me to a more positive way to recovery.

The Lady of Shalott probably never existed. That didn't and doesn't matter. The story, and the personal interpretation of it, was enough for me.

Now, suppose that it wasn't. If society hadn't taught me that Arthurian legend was Arthurian legend, but rather Arthurian theology, then I might have prayed to The Lady to help me through. I would have spent money, representing time and effort and work, to offer sacrifices and make donations to temples. Perhaps I would have what Pagans call "unverified personal gnosis" about her-- that she wears leather armor over her 5th century gown, that she's blonde, and speaks with a low voice giving me advice that's too smart for me to have thought up myself and that actually work in a way that means she MUST have access to some universal perspective, and thank the King that she also has a personal interest in the welfare of mere mortals! If only everybody would devote themselves to her, they would find themselves well taken care of in all the ways that matter, and guided towards her ultimate plan. If that doesn't happen, then they didn't believe enough to open their reality to this factual objective goddess-form who is REAL, as in, an OBJECTIVE FACT.

And it would have shattered my faith to realize something like... I dunno, the style of the gown I saw her in didn't come into vogue in the 12th century, but she told me 5th. If she was right to tell me to apply for a particular job, and my hiring went smoothly and came at the perfect time, then why wasn't she right about what she was wearing? Or, perhaps that the story was invented in the 19th century as some poet's metaphor about his relationship with the target audience. Or even that another devout Shalottian has unverified personal gnosis of The Lady being brunette with a high voice, and everyone else in the community agrees, and that becomes the official characterization. If I say she's blonde some particularly comfortable devotees might rudely go, "I think your real patron is Queen Guenivere..."

So, it's all good until I realize that there are people I share a world with who I do not share a worldview with.

If I extrapolated my experience with The Lady into a devotional, and even found some Pop Culture Pagan community that was cool with that, then that would be cool... we'd validate one another, and that's all that would matter. But Pagan Reconstructionists might come in and say, "We work with mythology, you work with fiction. Your faith is not valid, and it's harming our image." Abrahamic religious devotees might come in and say, "You all work with false idols, we work with the one true God. Your faith is not valid, and it's harming the natural order." Secular materialists might come in and say, "You have no repeatable empirical evidence for any of this, and your logic is fallacious. Faith is not valid, and you're all very silly people who make us sad by holding back scientific progress with your silliness."

I need a worldview to be shared with some things. That's why I join online forums.

But how much of an adjustment are we willing to make?

I suppose that's not really a conscious decision, though. If it's entered your mind that a keystone of your faith is historically inaccurate, then you might not be able to help adjusting your idea of fact and validation... and I wouldn't say the adjustment "is only as painful as you make it" but it can be on a sliding scale of difficulty determined by how much it matters to you.

I don't need the Lady of Shalott to be a fact, for example, and my ambivalence about Yahweh didn't get swayed one way or the other by contrary cosmological propositions (big bang, evolution, and Yahweh originating from a polytheist religion and having become piecemeal since then) but I must admit that I need psi phenomena to be a fact.

I highly recommend Blankets by Craig Thompson. It's a graphic novel autobiography about how he was studying to go into service until he discovered what he considered corruption in the Scripture. That historical invalidation was offset with his personal experience with the living faith: how a promise of heaven got him through his borderline abusive home life, how he reconciled carnal lust with spiritual sexuality... pretty cool stuff. It doesn't have any answers, but I think it's a good portrait of the way things can be that are good to steady personal ambiguity in these matters.

September 16, 2013, 09:00:34 PM
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Constructman

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Mind Bender:
 "In the negative light this means belief with a blind eye towards criticism and questioning." That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I just feel that I can't dodge the argument forever. What I believe is that if you simply turn a blind eye towards questioning, you're going to get progressively more stuck in your beliefs to the point that you become a straw man at best and outright delusional at worst.

The rest of your post I found very helpful. Intuition is extremely helpful when it comes to things like these.

Dancing Crow:
Sorry, but I'm not too sure what the point of that post was. It sounded like good advice, but I just couldn't tell what the advice was. I'll look into the book thjpought; thank you for the recommendation.

October 11, 2013, 01:56:48 AM
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Collidescope

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Publicly Verifiable Evidence.
That is the most important aspect in the Consensus of Science.
The apparent fact remains that you can't validate with proof to yourself that anyone else even exists outside of your own mind. That goes for every-one.

The classic question of:
If a tree falls down in the forest, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

There are various aspects of evidence for an answer or two out there, depending upon your interpretation of what the question is actually asking.
But It to make you think.. and even if you find an answer, can you prove it with any direct evidence to yourself and another person?

Anything you experience, whether it is an accurate depiction of objective reality, or just your subjective projection/interpretation, how can you ever prove one way or the other without other outside examples of evidence that corresponds. That is why Publicly Verifiable Evidence is so important, but even that does not mean absolute proof.. There is only more evidence for... or against..  It's just a consensus of agreement based on the best rules we have for discovery and investigation of the natural world (which we are a part of ourselves)- ie, the Scientific Method.

Anyway.. I am pretty mentally clouded right now..
Check out this video series, it is one of the most influential perspectives I have recently come across, and I can see how it is resolving a lot of potential for doubt as I filter it through my associations and beliefs and ideas.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-i-am-no-longer-a-christian/

I was born into an Anglican family, and baptized at a young age, but as I questioned my reality and became a seeker, I followed an agnostic atheistic path, until I connected to the Bible again, with influence of Entheogens, I had such mystical experiences that I was re-invigorated with a powerful feeling and energy of Inspiration and Ambition.. Of Faith..

The Brain is a powerful and incredible technology, the entire Body/Mind/Spirit system.. .. Understand how it works, and you can use it to create true relevance and efficiency :D

Over-analyse, and Understand- That a thing in itself, is only going to suffer to the degree to which it's view of itself is not accurate with reality. Become Relevant to what your world view is now.. Understand it, and you will begin to see how you don't see....
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 02:12:13 AM by Collidescope »

October 11, 2013, 10:30:13 PM
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Koujiryuu

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So, Constructman, as you probably know I'm a philosophical Daoist.

Lao Tzu never existed; he never rode a water buffalo to the west mountains of China and disappeared, after dictating the Tao Teh Ching to an Imperial gate guard, like the legend says. Instead, the collection of writing that constitutes the Tao Teh Ching was probably formulated and put together from various authors around 220BC. This was right during the beginning of the Warring States period in China. The book was probably heavily edited and changed by the Imperial historians to suit Imperial needs and beliefs.

This brings into doubt the existence of the other Daoist authors, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu, who may have never existed historically, but instead the writings were taken from a whole host of authors and edited to form a coherent message, and that's what we have today.

Chang San Feng, the historical creator of Tai Chi Chuan, who supposedly invented Tai Chi after watching a snake and a crane fight on Mount Wudang, never existed either. The oldest evidence we have of Tai Chi as a martial art comes from the Yang family.

However, none of this bothers me, knowing that the writings were altered, or that a legendary figure never existed. Why? Simple. Because the message I find in the writings is one I agree with, and gives me a good way try and live my life. It also gives me something to aspire to.

Jesus Christ, or Yeshua if you prefer.... that was his real name, after all- most certainly existed. I don't doubt that for one second. I may not believe in him- that is not my path- but I still appreciate the positivity and good works of his followers. There are even sections of the Bible I find much wisdom in, mostly in Ecclesiastes. From everything I know of Hermetics, and I've done much research, it gives you a clear goal to work toward, in becoming filled with Divine Light and able to do good works in the name of your Lord. If this is what you have been doing, then you should continue doing it. Who cares about all the discrepancies and alterations in the Bible? The Bible is just a book. It was written by men. It was altered over the ages to suit the needs of the papacy. The Church on Earth, the Catholic Church, is not the real Church of your God. That church is in your heart. So don't let it bother you, if you believe in Jesus and find happiness and contentment in that path, that is all you need. It is pointless to ask questions you will never find the answer to.

I hope this helps.
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October 18, 2013, 02:02:22 AM
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EllyEve

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Check out this video series, it is one of the most influential perspectives I have recently come across, and I can see how it is resolving a lot of potential for doubt as I filter it through my associations and beliefs and ideas.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-i-am-no-longer-a-christian/

Thanks for the link! I'm on episode 13 now. The simulacrum-simulation psychology is very fascinating.

EDIT TO ADD: HA! "Flight of the One-Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy 7 scores episode 14 xDD This guy's awesome.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2013, 02:23:58 AM by EllyEve »