Rationality Present Aplenty in Fiction

The above video is a clip from Firefly featuring a dialogue between characters River Tam and Shepherd Book, a preacher.

If only more people would take River’s stance in this clip. Unfortunately, most people take the view of Reverend Book.

“It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith. It fixes you.”

Want to know how I read that? “It’s not about making sense. It’s about letting disbelief take over your better judgments, and letting your muddled judgment blindly guide your life. It’s about faith. You don’t trust your better judgment. Let faith ‘fix’ you.”

6 thoughts on “Rationality Present Aplenty in Fiction

  1. “It’s not about making sense. It’s about letting disbelief take over your better judgments, and letting your muddled judgment blindly guide your life. It’s about faith. You don’t trust your better judgment. Let faith ‘fix’ you.”

    It’s kind of astonishing how many people seem to have decided this to be true. Then again, maybe not. Sense is, ultimately, a fiction, a construct of the mind to impart some sort of order upon the universe, and upon one’s own actions. Faith is much the same.

    The difference, I think, between letting faith rule you, and letting disbelief take over your better judgement, is that faith has rules. They may not seem logical, they may not seem reasonable, but they are there, and disbelief does not have rules, because once it has rules, it is no longer disbelief, but instead a supportable system of belief that can help you to make order out of the universe. Stalin let disbelief over-ride his better judgement, and killed over 20 million Russians for what basically amounts to looking at him funny. He trumped Hitler. He trumped Pol Pot. He made a credible effort to trump Mao Zedong.

    There are some who call this lack of belief progress. They are wrong. Too often, they are dead wrong. This is not progress. This is anarchy, cruelty, mayhem. Societies with no belief in God, any god, do not progress. They collapse. Rapidly, in most cases. In some, the collapse may take as long as five years. But they always collapse, and in a few generations, they are known only to historians. I do not intend to disappear from history. Others may, but I do not. And in order to ensure that, I must have faith in something beyond myself. I chose religion, but you may choose something else–that is your right as a human being. But to deny that there is anything to choose does not make you a better person…just a sad, sad mockery of true intellect.

    By the way–a final thought for those who worship the doubt of atheism: if I’m wrong in my faith, the worst I face is that which you tell me is the final end of us all, and it is an end that I will be able to meet with pride and no little accomplishment. If you’re wrong, you’re going to be in really deep shit sooner or later.

  2. The thing is, if its true there is a God and you believe (as i do) you will go to heaven and if you don’t and there is a God you will be in hell (torcher, pain suffering beyond belief) and your last day on earth is the end time for you and you don’t know when that will be, it could be today or tomorrow.
    If you go to sleep tonight and you die where will you end up(hell) and if this is so it won’t be a ride like some people believe _I’ll see you in hell- No you won’t, it will be outer darkness, fire, and you will be in such torcher that you won’t be looking for anyone my friend you will be wishing you listened to someone like me.who tried to warn you in advance.
    So for the sake of just maybe its all true, can you take that chance and live like there is no God? Pray my friend as I’m am doing for you and your soul.

  3. So in both of these comments, there is a resort to Pascal’s Wager, which is a seriously flawed reason to support any kind of religious belief. Besides all of its logical flaws, it is a cowardly “cover-your-ass” attempt at redemption.

    The societies that have collapsed under “disbelief”, as you put it, were in the past. And almost all of them were ruled by the “disbelief” of their leaders. This is not the case in a democratic form of government. You cannot compare the fallen societies of yesteryear to our present day circumstances, especially since we know volumes more about the physical world.

    If you think that religious belief is a good thing for the world, I recommend “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. It takes a philosophically pragmatic view of the role of faith as a destructive force in the world.

  4. I do not understand how believing/faith and non believing/skepticism is some kind of switch you can just decide to flick. I cannot make myself “believe” just because it’s a good investment in an afterlife I Know to the core of my being not to be real. If nothing else I would not be being true nor honest with myself … and what kind of life would that be?

    Oh and may I also say “Firefly” was ace!

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