Words About The Word: Proof
Our human Free Will provides us with the power of choice. We are completely free to choose what we believe in, and what we do not believe in. Understanding that Proof and Faith are two sides of a single coin can lead us to improvements in how we live out our lives. Once we begin to understand how Proof and Faith interact together, we can then learn how to balance our use of these two extreme positions in our daily lives of creation.
Proof & Faith Form a Dynamic Dyad of Potential.
Qabalah and TOL teach us that any two diametrically opposite concepts are actually unreachable extremes. We exist at some point in between the two extremes, as represented by the bracketed "x" and "o" shown above. However, it is impossible to actually reach one endpoint or the other. We may approach the extremes, but we are never "all the way there". For in a world of nothing but proof, there is no room for faith, and vice-versa. We could never move forward if we insisted that all things be proven to us, for we would spend all our time on the proof itself and achieve no benefit from the belief. Furthermore, if we were to accept anything and everything totally on faith, our probability for error becomes high because we would operate on beliefs that have no substantiation in physical reality. The key to life, as with all dyads of potential, is to maintain an appropriate balance between the two extremes.
As we will come to find in the paragraphs that follow, the concepts of Proof and Faith define a continuum from one extreme to the other. Proof needs the opposing concept of faith to provide a springboard, while faith requires some level of proof to encourage unmitigated belief. We will come to see how all formal proofs rely on a single cornerstone of faith. Alternately, whenever someone professes his or her "unconditional faith" in something, we can usually identify key events in that person's history that led to their acceptance of the stated belief. These events represent a form of proof that provide a stable foundation for this person's faith in the stated belief. We begin by examining how formal proofs derive their power from a fragment of faith.
Bootstrap Assumptions: Where All Formal Proofs Begin.
GIVEN:The Sun Produces Heat
Upon reading these statements we could immediately ask for a proof that the sun produces heat or we could simply accept it as true. The Free Will of the person considering the proof will determine whether or not any further proof is required. This example illustrates how formal proofs can be linked to one another. It is reasonable to imagine that we could find, or derive, a detailed proof that the sun does, indeed, produce heat. We could also just measure the heat for ourselves to satisfy our need for "proof". But the underlying assumption (if the proof is to make it's case) is that we will accept the bootstrap assumption as true, either with or without proof.
The assumption that the "given" statement is always true reduces a formal proof to nothing more than an agreement between two, and only two, people. This agreement is between the person who wrote the proof (and stated the bootstrap assumption), and the person who is reading the proof (who will hopefully accept the bootstrap assumption). It is ironic that this agreement between "provor" and "provee" is actually a statement of ultimate faith that the agreed-to condition or quality is always true and never false. As we discuss in our dissertation on POV (see: One), one of the easiest means to affect the truth of a given statement is to change your POV with respect to the subject of the statement. While some conditions may be true from one POV, we can often find other POVs where this condition does not hold true. The scientific concept of relative measures of velocity is the best example that illustrates this principle. (see: One)
Now that we have seen how the bootstrap assumption can have problems of its own with respect to verifying its truthfulness, let's look at a special class of bootstrap assumptions. We can form bootstrap assumptions that actually require an act of faith in order to avoid both contradiction and an inescapable logic trap!
Bootstrap Assumptions Which Can Never be Proven.
GIVEN:Everything I tell you is False.
We are stopped dead in our logical tracks once we read the given bootstrap assumption. Once I make the statement that "everything I tell you is false", how are you supposed to interpret the veracity (truth) of the statement itself? Forget about what I am trying to prove in the "proposed" statement, because you must first deal with whether you can believe the "given" statement or not. If you take at face value that everything I tell you is false, then you are immediately contradicting the premise of the "given" because you are actually believing that what I am telling you is true, when I just told you that everything I tell you is false! We have fallen into an endless loop of logic, for no matter which POV we adopt with respect to the bootstrap assumption, we run into problems. The given bootstrap assumption is contradictory to itself, and therefore it can never be verified as true. This contradiction results in giving us no way to continue (logically) with the substance of the proof. If we demand further proof, we are stuck, and can go no further.
If the given bootstrap assumption leaves us caught in a circular, unending loop of logic, how can we ever break free? What sort of mathematical or logical vehicle can we use to nullify (destroy) the contradiction? Some may claim that we simply need more information in the "given" to clear up any problem with contradiction. More information might help us understand the contradiction, but the point is that "everything I tell you is false" is a completely viable statement. It can stand on its own and you know what it means. It would not be classified as a nonsensical sentence (as would "everything I tell you is purple"). Thus, while more information may help us understand the nature of the statement, it doesn't say anything about its veracity. But to satisfy the pundits, let's add some more information and see what happens...
GIVEN:Everything I tell you, with the exception of this statement, is False.
You, the student of TOL who is reading this, can work out the "problems" that come up when this extra qualifying information is added to the fray. It may get you to the proof's proposal, but once you start thinking about that statement, you'll find some interesting logical results! J But above all of that extra thinking, just ask yourself this: If two different people came up to you, and each stated one of the two following statements, WHICH PERSON WOULD YOU BELIEVE MORE? You decide, because your decision is the only one that matters. Your free will provides you with the power to believe or to not believe.....
"Everything I tell you is False."
"Everything I tell you, with the exception of this statement, is False."
OK, so more information did not help us escape the circular logic of contradiction inherent in "everything I tell you is false." How DO we escape this loop? The answer is that there is no mathematical or logical vehicle we could use to escape this loop. There is only one thing that will get us out of this rut, and mathematics and logic have not yet seen fit (or are only now working) to incorporate it in their philosophies. We need an act of FAITH to break us out of the loop of contradiction. In other words, since the given assumption can never be proven as true, we need to look beyond the mathematical construct of proof, and have faith that the underlying intent (whatever it may be) is true. We need to jump outside the loop of contradiction. You get beyond the contradiction by simply accepting the statement as true and moving on to any further statements to see if you can learn more. By accepting the intent of the statement as true, without the ability to independently verify its veracity, you have performed an act of complete and utter FAITH.
We meet with much contradiction in our lives, and for some this contradiction results in frustration, and sometimes goes as far as hate. But a contradiction is a powerful sign from which we can learn every time we encounter it. We have shown in the above example that contradiction is circular. It is another of Nature's built-in endless cycles. Since contradiction is a circular loop, it can be said to be Of Zero. Perhaps examining contradictions in our lives could reveal some of the "secrets" of Zero, the creative force. You can learn how to make contradiction work for you by studying the TOL with us.
Our solution of using FAITH to escape the circular logic of contradiction proved to work well in the situation we were given. However, this does not mean FAITH is the solution to every problem. Since FAITH is the opposite of PROOF, there will come times when PROOF is required over FAITH.....as we will now begin to explore....
Conviction of Belief is the Cornerstone of Faith.
QUESTION: Do you possess the power to change the mind of a person who fervently believes in the existence of aliens who have visited, and possibly continue to visit, the earth?
For that matter, go ahead and consider the more general question:
Do you possess the power to forcibly change the mind of another person?
Some may suggest that tactics such as brainwashing might be able to achieve such results; however, we would think that any respectable religion would denounce such activities. Even if they didn't, we do not consider acts that rob a person of their Free Will to be within the realm of viable answers to this hypothetical question. Furthermore, both history and fables tell us of individuals with such strong characters, with such deep conviction, with such undying faith, that they could and did resist such attempts at physical mind control. People with this level of spiritual conviction were often canonized as saints by the Catholic Church for enduring the same levels of torture (or worse) as Jesus Christ.
The point we are trying to make is that anyone who believes in something with a high degree of conviction is in a different state of reality than someone who only mildly believes. Someone who is, perhaps, waiting on more evidence (proof) is operating from a different POV than those of solid conviction. An example of such conviction is demonstrated in one of the sects of Judaism: The Hasidic sect. This group of the Hebrew people is known for the level of conviction of their belief in Yahweh, as He is described in their Holy Scriptures. The conviction of their belief fixes their state of reality. From their POV, their beliefs are truths, and so they represent their reality.
But we do not even need to discuss religion when we discuss conviction of belief. The world of sports and sports psychology provides plenty of examples of how athletes change their reality (a sporting outcome) through a change in beliefs, a change in conviction of beliefs, or both. This is usually true in any situation where human beings find themselves "blocked" from attaining their goals. We may be doing "all the right magic" in the physical world, but if our internalized thinking about the external world (our beliefs about reality) are not aligned with our goal, then our mind will stop us from reaching our goal long before our body ever gets the chance! Evaluating and adjusting our beliefs and convictions is some of the most valuable material in the Tree-O-Life Training Tree curriculum.
Today's Beliefs Can Become Tomorrow's Fable.
ALL Human Beliefs Continually Require Re-adjustment.
When new data comes in on any particular subject, we must consider it. We cannot "hide" data from people simply because the data may not confirm our current beliefs! Hiding data that illustrates the way the universe really works does not change anyone's reality. It only deprives people of information that can help them figure out their own life paths. As with all of my writings, let me demonstrate with an example:
The Copernican Revolution:A major shift in human belief was required in order to keep our beliefs in line with our observations of our universe. Nicolas Copernicus was the first to tell us of the data he had collected which told us that the Sun is the center of our solar system. Unfortunately, this meant having to point out that Aristotle and Ptolemy were mistaken when they said the Earth was the center of the universe.
The Response of Organized Religion:At first, the Catholic Church attempted to "hide the data". Then they denied the data. Then they decried the interpreters and presenters of the data. Finally, they convicted the scientists for discovering the truth. Galileo eventually got his apology (and proved his point) only a decade or so ago when the Catholic Church formally rescinded all their criticism of him. The point to focus on: Did ANY of this nonsense played-out over the last several hundred years or so CHANGE the data, or the situation that the data describes?
The Effect on Human Evolution:Admittedly, this is a bit difficult to define with any degree of certainty, for we live with the past that has come before us, and cannot change that. However, we can compare this situation to what we know happens today when scientific data is ignored. I will comment on my personal area of expertise, which is commercial aircraft design. If data regarding an unknown aircraft failure mode, or an improper design, comes to light, and that data is ignored or suppressed, it is clearly not aiding the process of getting the system fixed! Actually, this would not only delay the system being fixed on the affected aircraft, but it would also severely delay our progress in understanding the failure mode itself. By delaying progress on understanding the true nature of the failure, we delay finding out how it may affect other things in our world. Put simply, ignoring or suppressing new data in an effort to avoid changes in our beliefs does nothing but prevent us from evolving our universal knowledge. Whether we are talking about airplanes in the 20th century or models of the universe in the 15th century, the effect on human development is the same. It slows us down from adopting beliefs that are consistent with our universe.
Round Vs. Flat Earth:The student may wish to research & examine the circumstances which surrounded how society came to shift its belief from a flat to a round earth. Investigate the people who were wrongly accused of heresy and immoral behavior. Find areas where the advance of science (and our faith) was hindered. Take a long, hard look at how BLIND FAITH, and ignorant or uninformed conviction of belief, can fail to serve mankind's evolutionary goals.
The two examples from history presented above are to illustrate where a total reliance on faith breaks down. Just as contradiction was the Achilles Heel of the formal proof, so are the results of scientific investigation the thorn in the side of preachers of "total faith." My own personal belief is that we must always revisit our human belief systems whenever new data reveals contradictions with our current beliefs. We are at such a place in history right now with respect to our establishments of both Science and Religion. We can no longer afford to ignore the mounting data that tells us these disciplines are actually one-and-the-same! A balance of PROOF and FAITH must be fashioned in order to further the goals of both of these schools of thought.
A Parable Regarding the Balance of Proof & Faith:
OK! OK! So I am NOT done with this entire section yet!
Check back for the next update where you can read this modern day parable.
And As They Always Say "The Proof is in the Pudding!"