Religion is like bad sex: Everyone says they don’t have it, but in reality everyone does.
Which of the following do you consider true?
- Climate Change is real.
- People should stop at a red traffic light.
- You have a good life.
- Your dog is loyal to you.
The fact is, that your experiences is always embedded in a larger whole. That larger whole is made up of your culture, your history, your expectations, your thought-patterns. It’s like glasses through which you see the world, glued to your nose. Your glasses are your personal narrative that you came up with throughout your life. Unique. Personalised.
Your glasses have three different filters.
Filter 1 – What’s True
As unique as your glasses might be, they are always in some way connected with other people’s glasses. They are from the same manufacturer, forever bound together. The manufacturer has some sort of objective reality to it, independent of the specific model of your glasses. Your glasses have physical properties – the ultimate truth of physics. They have properties that any person can subscribe to.
Filter 2 – What’s Good
Through the second filter, you – and everyone else – agree on abstract properties that define what is good and bad. It’s what turns the objective experience (from filter 1) into emotions. It helps you justify your actions and thoughts. Your second filter is bound to your first filter. From what you perceive as true, you develop an ethics that is deeply embedded in your personal narrative. Your second filter – what you perceive as good and bad – generates your emotions.
Filter 3 – What’s Meaningful
The third filter is your “Meaning-Maker”. It filters what’s relevant for you, what’s not, and how relevant it is. Your third filter selects what you care about, and to what extend. Your emotions from filter 2 generate your values in filter 3. Or put more simply: filter 3 forms your values. And your values generate narratives of meaning, your own religion. Truth may be that your boss is wrongly blaming you (filter 2), if you bother at all or laugh about it, depends on filter 3.
You cannot not experience the world through these glasses. You cannot have personal experience without these glasses. You don’t see the world as it is, you see it as the glasses are. This isn’t a bad thing, your glasses help you to make sense of the world.
The problem is when you don’t know that you wear glasses and you mistake it for the one and only truth. Because when you’re not aware of your glasses, you get shortsighted. Whereas if you do know, you are able to exercise a little meta-cognition and say “Hhhm, maybe that other person didn’t buy the same glasses”.