Monday 14 March 2016

Dan 7:3 In praise of made up stories

This blog is against the supernatural, but supports made up stories. There is a big difference. Made up stories can be tested.

All truth (beyond the purest logic) is made up stories. That is, we simplify a complex topic by saying "this is like something else". For example, an atom is like a ball. This is an extremely useful concept, as long as remember that it is a simplification.

All progress rests on made up stories. Nations, corporations, paper money, these are all made up stories that enable us to work together on a huge scale. Noah Harari talks about this at length in his book Sapiens. Made up stories are the greatest thing ever.

But they must be testable.*

In contrast, supernatural things, by definition, are not testable. We have to take off those supernatural goggles if we want to see clearly.

*Even the silliest story is testable. For example, a child's picture book teaching the child to read, and introduces them to ideas about the world and correct behaviour. We can test this learning in a later survey. Or a belief in the supernatural might make a person more willing to work with others, or more likely to believe in dangers: sure they are wrong most of the time, but the time they are right might save their life. These things can all be tested. But if it cannot be tested then it is not real. And if we have no interest in testing it then we have no interest in whether it is real. And by real I mean testable.

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