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Walking around Ica i came to realize that we despise religions mostly for their blind faith, but that, at the same time, it’s neither possible or desirable to get rid of blind faith. Again: not desirable.

It’s just too easy to find gruesome examples of blind faith, but there is also another dimension to it. We need blind faith — or something like it — to make us strong and beautiful. It’s a matter of pedagogy, and of politics.

The first thing is that we never really get rid of blind beliefs: we examine our ideas and we see where we taken them from, but those places by their turn are beliefs we still havent analyzed. And so on and so on. So you can’t really teach not-blind beliefs.

That’s a pedagogical problem.

On the other hand, if we naively accept that some of our beliefs will be blind and just leave it like that, we run the risk of being just plainly wrong. Our faith can come around to bite our behinds.

They might as well work too, but it’s a risk, and in my experience blind beliefs are much less trustworthy than people take then to be.

And if we, instead of applying that to the realm of ideas, if we bring this to political terms, then we’ll see how delicate this issue can be. For example, our gut feeling of what is good or wrong is almost by definition a kind of blind belief. But two persons that just act blindly on that feeling tend to end up fighting — or worse!

So, we can’t give up our blind beliefs but we can’t be slaves to them either. What can we do?

Walking around Cusco i saw something that suggests me a perspective in this issue. Many buildings there are spanish brickwork atop inka stonework. The big, tightly fit, almost cyclopic stonework just stands there, facing weather and quakes without a flinch, while the brickwork is almost fragile.

Our blind faith can be like our stonework grounding, if we dont allow it to become an anchor and a prison.

And i think we can do it by assuming our blind faith as blind faith, neither following it impulsively nor ignoring it. Using our beliefs as a rudder instead of an anchor.

My personal first step in this direction, offered here as an idea not as a rule or a guide, is what i call self-reliance. I believe in myself. I’m here in this circumstance doing my best, trying to keep afloat in the current.

I don’t have any reasons for that belief, so it is in many ways blind. Then again, i’m open to your beliefs too. It’s only in this constant effort that we can achieve a balance between faith and blind faith.

And this turns out to be an epistemological issue: if we just assume that our ideas are our responsibility, instead of basing their value in science or scripture or anything at all that’s outside ourselves, we can escape the catch. Our faith is never better than good enough, but it serves our purposes.

And after we learn to do that with knowledge we must take the same effort to a deeper level: first to our morality — what we think is right or wrong — and even further down into our attitude towards life and the world. Even if those seem to be completely different issues, the effort we must do is the same.

In this way, exploring our own faith allows us to free ourselves.

But the most difficult part of it all is that the same issue is there for groups too. The blindly faithful have always been the ones that did the most to expand religions, for example. How can we escape the trap of blind faith on a society level?

Again, this is not an issue with one clear, decisive solution, but an important process to be undertaken and discussed. I believe that the individual effort for freedom must be the first step in this process. From that there’s a lot of discussing and negotiating to be done — always remembering that we need to believe, but that we must not become slaves to our beliefs.

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  1. […] text of the zine was “a place for blind faith“, and in many ways it was the coming together of dozens of ideas and coincidences about […]

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