Wisdom's Hiding Place




Reaching
Beyond Belief

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          Wisdom's Hiding Place

"Along with the novel, The Oxbow Revelation, we see how belief becomes a psychological condition that hinders our relationships and social progress. This unique examination of realism results in a practical 'self-help philosophy'. This short book should keep you thinking for a very long time."

"I had almost given up the hope of finding a fresh perspective within a genre saturated with offshoots of the same old viewpoints. . . best of all this book could serve the religious reader as well as the non-religious."

"Timely? I would say overdue. Every 2000 years or so, shouldn't we have a complete overhaul of how we look at and apply ancient ideas East and West? This is it!"

"A practical and intriguing look at philosophical realism, facets of Biblical Wisdom literature, and the Tao Te Ching. . . A surprisingly original read that details what realism holds in store for reason and religion."

"There is folk music and folk art. I'd call this is a timely, intense, well crafted work of folk philosophy."

"So realist philosophy could have been the foundation for the most unbelievable myths of the Bible? These myths are actually as rational as can be? For an atheist like me, I found the possibility unlikely. My Christian neighbor found the evidence presented disturbing. Not knowing what to think, we found ourselves talking about the subject—engaged in real conversation for the first time in years."

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SOME READERS REVIEWS
5.0 out of 5 stars, Posted November 24, 2012
By Smokinggum
Barnes & Noble
Reading this book I was taken back to an age of about 5 years old when I first made some determinations about religion. Those determinations said there was value to religion in general but no more so than reading fables that contained some good values to accept.
Imagine my astonishment when this book revealed the parallels of biblical references, reality and my concept of God. I no longer throw the Baby out with bath water.
Further, It's not religion on trial here, it's belief...period. I am more aware than ever of how certain beliefs of mine are not correct so much as undisputed. Looked at this way I can imagine myself to hold value constantly above systems of belief that have held me hostage.
No corner of my life can be re-examined this way and not be better served. Stubbornly held beliefs, gut wrenching reactions, and years of abysmal unexamined thought processes reach out to me like red flags warning me of their possible threat. And when held in that light become possibilities to change my perspective and liberate myself.


5.0 out of 5 stars, A Timely and Important Read, November 10, 2012
By T. Spence
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
A timely and important read; considering our nation's current struggle with understanding one's responsibility and identity within a society that is constantly trying to define our thoughts and beliefs for us. "Wisdom's Hiding Place" addresses the distinctions between faith and belief, and the importance of personal responsibility within our community and the dangers of selfish ignorance in a logical pragmatic tone. The author's discussion on "reasoned imagination" is a fascinating look at how we can successfully promote our own understanding of another's perspective by working towards a complete, intent knowledge. Chapter nine discusses one of my favorite topics: realism. Yes, realism is discussed throughout the book, but in chapter nine the author directs us towards the implications of idealism within the values of realism. The author walks you through the difficult distinctions between a realist and an idealist in a careful deliberate way. As a result, by the end of the book you find that you have an elevated understanding of where one's true beliefs are hiding because you understand what obstacles have been getting in your way.

A SAMPLING OF GOODREADS REVIEWS




Copyright © 2012 by Paul R. Gibson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

INTRODUCTION

When I was young, my fellow church members would regularly testify that our church was true. Some would claim it was the only true church. With so much importance being placed upon this belief, I asked how I could know this if I hadn't investigated other religions. I was told this wasn’t necessary; all I had to do was to pray with sincere desire to know our religion was true. Furthermore, I shouldn’t question, I should have faith. Faith, they said, doesn't rely upon proof, it requires acceptance and belief. Assuming for a moment that belief and acceptance amount to faith, how then does faith differ from the acceptance and belief that frauds and con artists require of us? How then do we determine who, when and what to believe? How do we know we aren't brainwashing ourselves? These questions were fair, they are important. What began as an innocent question gained momentum because nobody offered any reasonable reply that didn't fall back upon a circular logic that required a belief that their sacred texts are true. While calling these books true, however, they ignore the elephant in the room; There are many different religions and many different sects based upon the same books. This begs the question; How can any book be called true when the same words obviously mean different things to different people?

Let's back up and consider another circumstance . . .

At work, many of my coworkers constantly attest to the fact that Democrats are simply Socialists. “This isn't about belief”, they assure me; they know the truth and have all the facts to prove it. With so much importance being placed upon this knowledge, I ask how they can know this without talking to Democrats and investigating their reasons from their viewpoint. I am told this isn’t necessary, “The facts are before us in black and white if you have eyes to see. You don't have to question, it's obvious to your logic if you have half a brain. Democrats aren't logical. They just don't get it”. Still, since I've heard Democrats make similar claims, how do their convictions differ from conservative claims of truth? And how can any viewpoint be called true when viewpoint causes the same subjects, objects and concepts to appear so different?

All of this being said, what we are left with is inescapable while being ignored the world over: Christian or Muslim, Republican or Democrat, pick a belief, any belief; we insist upon our truths while dismissing their truths. We do this knowing full well they are doing exactly the same thing for the same reasons. So where do our reasons come from? Evidently we base our reasons more upon our sense of rightness than anything greater. Yet we dismiss this fact because, after all, we know we are right.

Now it might seem strange to laud this circumstance for the common ground it reveals, but it's there and there's more. A few steps before righteous belief, just prior to viewpoint and knowledge, more common reality exists even if we come to value our own rightness above it. So it is here we must begin.

A curious thing happened as I started to write about the problems with belief; these ideas were echoed in the Judeo-Christian Bible as well as the Chinese Tao Te Ching. I certainly didn't expect this. I thought religion and belief went hand in hand yet important verses in these texts seem to rail against belief. As I did more research on these books, the echoes developed into surprising parallels.

At first I hesitated quoting religious texts within a discussion of realism because they are so steeped in tradition and belief that my own words might be mistaken for a veiled defense of religious dogma, but this isn't my intent. Neither do I want to denigrate religious value. Furthermore, I don't quote these texts to lay claim to what they “really” mean. Regardless of what the authors intend within these texts, with no pretense I re-present what many people regard as religious myth through the eyes of realism simply for the intrigue it might inspire. When read this way, these popular religious stories look less like myth and more like psychological parables with realism weaving in and out of these narratives while threading through our subconscious. Feel free to denounce these parallels if you are so inclined because I'll show how realism stands on its own while playing an important psychological role in our moral development.

Although there was no study of psychology, as such, thousands of years ago, popular religious stories about God, commandments, original sin, faith, the virgin birth of a savior, and even resurrection, can be read as addressing the psychology of perspective. Curiously, these stories are also the most mythologized and seem least realistic to many people.

We begin by looking at how perspective becomes knowledge and belief, and how belief then divides our mind's and our societies. Needless to say, the problems inherent within belief extend far beyond religion. Belief permeates our politics by becoming inflexible ideology. Belief interferes with our relationships causing us to overvalue our personal perspective at the expense of others. By looking at how perspective begins, ends, and what this means for us psychologically, we learn how some paths lead toward greater responsibility and morality while others tend to degrade into confusion and disunity.

Many people regard religion as their main source for personal or social values so atheists are often regarded as amoral at best, immoral at worst. Agnostics are thought of as not having enough conviction to be trusted with any real moral regard. Today, in America, many people view Islam as lacking morality or essentially evil somehow. People do this while ignoring places in their own Bible that speak of holy wars and call for the righteous stoning of sinners and the killing of non-believers. Some religious groups want to impose their religious values as a way to unify society. When others point out that morality doesn't arise from majoritarian pressure, they are accused of being anti-religious. Within the world of politics, many believe truth to be exclusive to their ideology so others are accused of being unpatriotic. These attitudes are prevalent in the Mideast, and in the Midwest, and everywhere in between. Still, none of this finger pointing reaches beyond our beliefs. We seem to forget, ignore, or dismiss the fact that certain values support all of these attitudes. If we have realistic options, are these values something we really need to support?

As faith has become equated with belief, our beliefs have come to divide us, but when re-viewed through the eyes of realism, faith is opposed to belief. Faith, not belief, is an essential religious value. And as a principal of realism, faith becomes a valued part of reason as well as a valuable psychological tool whether we are religious or not. We will see how this understanding of value can affect our psychology and guide morality in lieu of belief. So, rather than disparaging religion, I intend to delineate exclusive belief from more inclusive value. This look at realism isn't concerned so much with specific values as it is with re-imagining our sense of value itself.

Once foundational value is ignored, narrowed or forgotten, important human values tend to get discounted because they then seem more arbitrary than real. American values such as liberty, personal responsibility, faith and unity are being called into question by some people because their very foundation, religious, political or otherwise, is coming to be viewed as divisive and unrealistic. With all the talk about values today, we hear plenty of people praising their beliefs and ideology but precious little about the value of humility, moderation, tolerance, patience, understanding, compassion, charity, social responsibility and graciousness. Instead we are left with a social, political and religious rhetoric that is often full of negative discourse that increasingly lacks civility. The Internet has at once broadened our ability to network cross-culturally through communities worldwide while also enabling us to efficiently search out only those who agree with and support our narrow ideas. We are like children in a great new land voicing our ideas as rudely as we would like, behind a veil of virtual anonymity. We've yet to understand that such liberty exists only in proportion to the responsibility we bring to it. We must learn to listen before we lose the ability or opportunity to share values that represent something greater than ourselves.

Ultimately I hope to point out that whether the language sounds secular or religious, stories about human values can often be told in a remarkably similar fashion. While the search for answers is popular within our culture, this book leads us to something more valuable than answers; we stumble upon secrets. The wonder that these secrets provide, leads us to a more positive way of looking at life. Instead of digging in and entrenching ourselves in the defense of our beliefs, we find common ground that can bring us together. The chasm that separates the religious and non-religious might indeed be filled with this common ground. Tragically, those not finding unity here probably cherish beliefs that keep them from doing so. It’s a difficult mission; a mission to shake ourselves out of our comfortable viewpoints, beliefs and prejudices so that we may come to better understand a realistic basis for faith and value. Because what we read will be filtered through our current beliefs and doubts, this task is very difficult to accomplish. You probably know some people who suffer from these problems of perspective but this book isn’t about them, it’s about you and me. We can do little for them but we must work on ourselves.

Though many of us favor the security provided by the certainty of our beliefs, this book is dedicated to the free spirit awakened within each of us when we explore the wonder within our questions. Remember when you were a child? The wonder? Where is your wonder now? Wonder is hidden from you. Hidden by your own doubts. Hidden by your beliefs. Before we can once again become filled with wonder, we must gain some perspective. The wonder is still there and it’s begging to be explored.

Author's note:

    Realism, as I use the term, refers to the common sense notion that reality exists outside our minds, and whatever occurs outside our view should be valued at least as much as what happens before our eyes.
    Idealism is another common sense notion suggesting that the only valuable reality is what we happen to be aware of. Idealism suggests that perception IS reality, and everything that matters exists within our minds. After all, if we didn't have a mind, nothing would exist for us. How could it?

    Both views have their merits but realism
takes us one step further. Realism suggests that my ignorance of reality beyond my senses can't negate unseen reality, it simply reveals the obvious limits of my own perspective. My ignorance of greater reality beyond my view promotes poor judgment. In order to think freely and not be bound by belief, we need to understand the deeper implications of realism and then act upon our understanding.

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