Before you dismiss beliefs in God or gods or faeries or elves or nature spirits or a belief in a mechanistic universe devoid of any supernatural entities — before dismissing the beliefs of others, recognize that all human perceptions are illusory and false, all of them, pretty much by definition they are not real, they are abstract metaphors attempting to make sense of a world outside of our senses.
If you’re going to dismiss false beliefs, then start with your favorite color, your favorite music, the beauty of a sunset — these are false beliefs. The sun doesn’t set. Color and music exist only in your mind, they have no external reality and there is no scientific basis for what is known as the qualia of these experiences.
We pretend science is mechanistic and yet every scientific breakthrough happened through a creative and playful insight, a creation of a new metaphor that while useful is still as false as all the others.
All of our ambitions and our every “will to power” is as natural and as false as believing in tree spirits. We devise these metaphors in attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. We are the creators of these perceptions and there is no difference between you as the perceiver and that which you perceive.
But can you stop believing in music and color, can you truly stop believing in magic? Is it even possible not to embrace false beliefs?
Every time you think about “a life worth living” or “doing the right thing”, you are under the delusion of a false belief.
It is impossible to be human without these experiential beliefs.
But it is possible to know that a belief is false and still be uplifted by the power of that belief — it profoundly doesn’t matter that there is no external reality to the beauty you experience listening to music, or watching a sunset, or spending a quiet afternoon with a lover, or appreciating a babbling brook — to be human is to live with and of these metaphors.
The problem with beliefs is not that they are false, all beliefs are false, you may say some are useful and some are not — but even that conjecture of usefulness is itself a false belief (useful to whom? and to what end?).
The problem is when we get lost in the metaphor. The moment you see your beliefs as real, that is the problem — the moment you forget that your perceptions are only perceptions, that is the problem — this is what leads to religious fanaticism and suffering of all kinds; and while it’s natural to have false beliefs, it is wise to live with and of the beauty of beliefs. Believe in music, believe in art, believe in God if it inspires you to be kind, believe in tree spirits if it helps you to feel connected with nature, just don’t get lost in the metaphor, it’s not real, and that’s okay.