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The Evolution of YOUR World View

  1. May 3, 2003 #1
    So tell me beautiful PF peoples...

    How has your world view evolved to what it is now?

    And where do you think it will go?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2003 #2


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    Greetings !
    Good thread Entropia.
    Slowly, and through considrable
    intellectual effort.
    More seriously, I can say that PF certainly
    had some effect on my views. Not a great
    change, but certainly an appriciable one.
    Let's say I was mainly aware of one side of
    my philosophical perspective and didn't
    sufficiently emphasize its other side,
    though I recognized it before too, somewhere
    in the background.
    (And the relevant people who discussed
    this with me know what I'm talking about. :wink: )
    I think it won't change, in some of the
    small points maybe, from now on. (Then again,
    wouldn't you expect people to say that ? )

    Live long and prosper.
  4. May 3, 2003 #3
    As a small child I rejected both religious and scientific fundamentalism which utterly ruined what could have otherwise been a perfectly happy childhood. The US is about as fundamentalist as they come. Both the atheists and theists here tend to be the all-too-familiar foam at the mouth fundamentalist types if you know what I mean. Kill or be killed, black is never white, get in line or I'll hit you types.

    My mother was a religious fundamentalist and my father was an atheist fundamentalist and I could never decide which was worse. However I did decide early on I didn't need all the religious crap pounded into my head and became an atheist fundamentalist by default. As a result I grew up thinking the whole world was nuts and spent the next twenty years trying to figure out an alternative for myself and struggling to overcome my own fundamentalism.

    Quite by accident an episcopalean minister (note, a female minister in a non-fundamentalist liberal religion!) saw me helping some street people one day and asked me what I believed in, something fundamentalists almost never did with any sincerity. I told her physics so she loaned me a copy of "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zuckov, a book about modern physics and Asian philosophy. The physics I understood, but the philosophy drove me nuts. It was totally unlike all the western philosophy I had studied.

    I spent the next three years reading everything I could find on the subject. Frankly, I was amazed to discover that I was not the only one who thought fundamentalism was just plain nuts and mean spirited, and that people had worked out alternative philosophies in great detail thousands of years ago. After being raised and emersed in an overwhelmingly fundamentist society, it was tough going trying to understand something so radically different but if nothing else, my fundamentalist up-bringing instilled a stubborn streak in me.

    One of the few things I did comprehend fully from reading the wu li masters was the idea that in some ways we are all our own worst enemies-- that goes double for all you fundamentalists out there. Nobody knows us like ourselves and if you have an internal struggle with something it is likely to remain an unpleasent stalemate. The book suggested I find ways around this difficulty, so I asked people I know to recommend books on personal growth.

    Most of the books they recommended I thought were complete garbage, but one book hit home. It was a book by the Option Institute, a group of New Age hippy-dippies with the craziest philosophy you can imagine. Nonetheless, it drove home for me how profoundly Asian thought is focused on attitude and just how valuable that can be. It is also the exact opposite of fundamentalism which focuses on behavior. It managed to penetrate a lifetime of behavior modification to touch my heart and point the way.

    Eventually I whittled the confusing variety of Asian philosophies down to Taoism. Its the meat and potatoes, bare bones, no fundamentalists allowed branch of Asian philosophy. Currently I'm attempting to create a sort of watered down version of it for all those foam at the mouth fundamentalist atheists out there to struggle with if they want. As for where my world view will take me in the future, well, right back to where it always has-- back to that accepting place in my heart no fundamentalist has managed to kill yet.
  5. May 3, 2003 #4
    My world view has dramatically changed. I feel that the world as I see it is only real to me, and that what I see is seen completely different to someone else. The color I percieve as yellow could be the color I percieve as brown to someone else.
    Also, I have become an excellent debater.

    I dunno. I think it is all very random.
  6. May 4, 2003 #5


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    I started off in china, and atheist probably out of blind faith. The education system was pretty much geared that way, though some members of my family were buddhist, I think...

    I moved to the UK, and got converted to christianity. Didn't have much choice in that either, as the local support society for foreign immigrants was run by the church, and I got sent to a catholic-psychotically-christian primary school.

    Then I did a Religious Studies project on Buddhism in comparison to Christianity, and found that I prefer the ideas of buddhism to christianity. But I persisted in believing in a mad hybrid of christianity and buddhism for a while. Kinda pray now and then, and worry about my karma.

    Then I realised that there wasn't any real way to justify my belief in God any more, and that stuff seemed less mysterious and divine than they were before. Some niggling doubts about certain pieces of religious dogma emerged, so I switched to freethinking-agnostic/atheist.
    The rest, as they say, is history.
  7. May 4, 2003 #6
    Interesting reading Fz. But never presume that the present does not become 'old hat'. It always does. Change is inevitable. I hope you allow yourself the freedom to change again, if the reason ever forces you to do so.
  8. May 4, 2003 #7


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    I started off as a Catholic (even thought about becoming a priest when I was around 14), but luckily (as I see it now) decided not to, but stayed Catholic for some time.

    As I grew up, I started drifting towards agnosticism, and I am currently an atheist.

    In a different aspect, I started off as a determinist (thinking that there were no dice, and that some kind of hidden variables should be driving all), then got seduced by copenhagen, and now I feel closer to the "Ithaca" interpretation (David Mermin, I think).

    And I'm suspicious about Strings. I like loop variables better (I like the idea of looking for a background free theory).
  9. May 5, 2003 #8

    Another God

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    Raised in a somewhat average middle class atheistic family which didn't concern itself with Philosophy or religion at all (though my mum likes to believe in afterlife, fairies, energy, crystals etc), I am a strange case.

    I did well in primary school, went to a selective public high school, and over the course of my high school years started to actually find myself thinking about things. (something I am convinced most of the population never achieves) I enjoyed reading fantasy novels in high school, and found A brief History of Time my favourite book. But aside from that, I didn't actually read that much.

    BNrief History of Time inspired me though, and I aspired to being a cosmologist. After much thought about it though, I got disparaged at the idea that no matter how much I watch stuff, I'll never see anything change. In a universe where a million years is nothing, 100 years is almost a snap shot. I decided that I needed to live longer if I wanted to become a cosmologist. I decided to become a molecular biologist instead.

    It wasn't until I was 18 and found my first love, andshe introduced me to a variety of readings which I never gave a chance previously. I read more philosophical and political books. My mind was opened to a variety of new philosophies and concepts. My mind was finally allowed to express its thoughts which had been repressed throughout my high school years. I started to become much more analytical, and much more questioning. I wanted to understand stuff.

    That ended, as all good things do, and in the years since, Uni has continued the growth of my mind. Phiilosophical subjects have expossed me to a variety of different views and concepts, as well as a variety of interesting people with which I could discuss more stuff with. I was lucky enough to have a friend from uni, Paul, tell me about Physics Forums. Physics Forums has been one of the most influential parts of my mental evolution. Not because it changed my view so much, but rather because it refined my method questioning my view. It taught me more skills in how to critically analyse arguments. It helped my ability to therefore question my own beliefs, and how it is that I came to beleive what I do.

    It is through this sort of impact, and through the continued development down my mental evolutionary path that led me to finally realise just recently, that no longer do I need to convince other people of my point of view. My point of view is useless if it isn't the truth. I am only concerned in the truth, and as such, it is my personal duty to discover the truth. And so, every discussion I enter in, is not an argument, but my best effort to push the other parties to explain why what they believe is right, and nothing else. If someone can prove my belief, or any other belief wrong, then something has been learnt, and we can continue on down the path towards the truth.

    Another recent development in my evolution, is the realisation that our society is not the be all and end all of everything. Questions everything. Just because something 'seems' wrong, doesn't mean it is. Just because you ahve been brainwashed from birth, doesn't mean you can't undo it. Following the pack may be a necessary part of survival, but do your best every step of the way to make them question their own assumptions.

    CONCLUSION: Dogmatic is not the way to be. Expect to be wrong, and allow yourself to grow with each new lesson.

    Question everything.

    Assumptions are the mother of all F ups (quote from lock stock and two smoking barrels i think :smile:)

    Expectations ruin so much. Stop expecting, and just get on with life.

    Fight Club has an important message in it.

    And as always, read the signature:
  10. May 5, 2003 #9

    Another God

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    Of everything you've done... what has made your life better?
  11. May 5, 2003 #10


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    Hence the word "history". Still what about you? Judge not lest thee be judged thyself....

    Learning to think for myself.
  12. May 5, 2003 #11
    I can't just come straight out and say it because that would be terribly naive, aside from the fact that it's a long story. I have been accused of wanting to start my own religion though, however I doubt very much it will happen because I'm not very accessible, nor am I good at telling people what they want to hear.

    I did happen to like wuliheron's and FZ+'s stories though ...
  13. May 5, 2003 #12

    Tom Mattson

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    I grew up in the church of Christ. I learned the Bible inside and out, and attempted to learn it in its original languages (was successful with NT Greek, not so good with OT Hebrew). I was convinced my faith was *the* correct one and did not question it until age 23, when I lost my first family member. It was my grandfather, a non-practicing Catholic (and we in the church of Christ all knew where those blasphemous Catholics would end up!). I started to question my faith because I could not accept that my grandfather would spend an eternity in hell.

    At that same time, I was finishing my first year of graduate work in physics, and I started to really acquire a scientific eye. Spurred on by the death of my grandfather, I started for the first time to look at god just as critically as anything else, and found that there was no reason to believe in such a thing.

    I am now 30, an atheist, studying to be a particle physicist. As you all know, I also have a newly acquired interest in philosophy, specifically logic, epistemology, and philosophy of science.
    Last edited: May 5, 2003
  14. May 5, 2003 #13
    Becoming more aware of how I keep returning to the issue of acceptance has changed my life in a number of ways, but the really important ones for me all involve attitudes. I used to be scared and angry with religion in general. Now the religious don't frighten or anger me much at all. I have learned to accept them as possessing some modest amount of positive attributes and to essentially be no better or worse than any other kind of organized activity, just less progressive than most.

    Likewise, I've learned to accept the uncertainties of life and existence in general. Instead of viewing everything as demanding some sort of concrete answers, I've learned to accept ambiguity and vagueness as being just as useful and desirable as anything else. Basically, I guess you could say I've expanded my horizons and become more content with contentment. :0)
  15. May 5, 2003 #14
    Just a working-class city-boy from the north of England. My mother was protestant; my father catholic. Neither of them cared about religion or philosophy, but I was sent to protestant-schools (where religion wasn't drummed into me), and had to do my own thinking about things. I remember questioning Christian-concepts at a very early age, and pondering philosophical-questions about universal-origins, etc.. When I say "very early age", I'm talking about being 5/6+.
    But by the time I left school (didn't go to university) I was more interested in 'living', than in anything else. I wanted to know what life was all about. I forgot about academic matters. To be honest, school bored the hell out of me. I was glad to get away from it. With hindsight, I of course recognise the recklessness of my youthful decisions and emotions. But I have no regrets about my life. I still squirm inside every time I contemplate 'going back to school' to improve my education. I like having the freedom to learn what I want to learn. This may or may not mean that I am a fool. But I am what I am.
    My old acquitance with philosophical-musings was only rekindled fairly recently. Physics-forums has been an outpouring of my thoughts.
    I'm grateful to have found such a place. Having no academic credibility, and not knowing people such as yourself in real-life, I have nowhere else to express myself - philosophically.
    I cannot explain the source of my philosophy. I have never even studied philosophy. And I've read less philosophy books than you have fingers.
    Is my philosophy worthless if it carries no academic credibility? Certainly not to me.
  16. May 5, 2003 #15
    My parents were both agnostic/atheist. Religion wasn't important to them and they never talked about it. Father was a socialist, mother was a social democrat, a milder kind of socialism which fully accepts the free market and wants to reform by redistributing wealth via taxation. It's the standard socialist position in Scandinavia.

    I started reading philosophy at about 15 or 16, beginning with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Sartre, a bit of Hegel and lots of Marx. Became active in the British Labour Part Young Socialists, left that and joined the Communist Party of Great Britain, which was Eurocommunist, ie anti-soviet and considerably to the right of the Labour Party Young Socialists, who at the time were mainly Trotskyists.

    Lived in Denmark for a while and joined the Danish Communist Party, which was very pro-Soviet. They sent me to the then DDR, East Germany, for education in international relations and political philosophy. I liked East Berlin and my young communist friends a lot but never warmed to the Soviet system and left the Danish CP.

    I read a lot of leftist thought, Althusser, Sartre again, Hobsbawm, Nicos Poulantzas, Gramsci, etc. It was good stuff and I enjoyed it.

    Got sick of big city life in London, Athens and Copenhagen and bought a house in the Scandinavian Arctic. Left active politics to write and photograph. Met my current wife in Africa. She's a priest, I'm an atheist.

    Have lived for about three years in the Bible Belt but am shortly on my way back to the Arctic to spend a year photographing the aurora and other phenomena. After that it's Mali and Kenya for a year.

    I still read plenty of philosophy: Dennett, Derrida, Spivak and Rorty are favorites. If I can be said to belong to any school of philosophy, it's pragmatism. Politically I'm a social democrat.
  17. May 5, 2003 #16


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    Re: Re: The Evolution of YOUR World View

    Hmm... Did I mention I was, am and will be
    an atheist ?
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