A Hallucination is a Fact

A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.

Bertrand Russell

This is an interesting quote from one of the historical agnostics. A hallucination is a perception in the absence of apparent stimulus that has qualities of a real perception. The perception is a factual experience for the person experiencing the hallucination. The error comes when you compare your individual facts to the perception of others and to what’s logical for the circumstances.

Along the same vein, I could say Santa Claus has been perceived and experienced. A child’s perception of the provided stimulus implying Santa Claus is real can develop self-generated biases. I saw this in action many years ago with my young son. The promotion of Santa Claus as a real person caused his very young mind to truly believe my Dad was Santa Claus when he came in dressed up in a red suit and carrying presents.

The perception of Santa Claus was a fact. The belief that it was the mythical character was the erroneous judgement. My son eventually discovered his error when he found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. Other people told him the myth wasn’t real and he was able to better observe the actions of others propping up the illusion for everyone else.

Santa Claus is a training ground for understanding religions. Experiencing and perceiving God and Jesus was as real to me as Santa Claus. Fortunately, I was able to make better judgments about my perceptions as I learned more about religions. I now see the religious hallucinations for what they are even though they are very real to other people that experience them.

Faith isn’t knowledge but faith definitely exist. On the face of it, having a faith in a god is a fact. It’s a perception in the absence of apparent stimulus that has qualities of a real perception. Blind faith without any basis in knowledge is the same as a hallucination.

This is why I don’t tell people they shouldn’t believe in gods simply because I say it’s unbelievable. We have to figure out hallucinations for ourselves since it’s our self-generated biases that have to be corrected for us to stop generating false perceptions in the absence of legitimate stimulus.

For something as important as a proposed creator of the universe, we should compare our perception to the perception of the billions of humans around us. Here’s the top 6 religious perceptions according to adherents.com:

Christianity: 2.1 billion
Islam: 1.5 billion
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
Hinduism: 900 million
Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
Buddhism: 376 million

There’s an obvious lack of consensus across humanity for any of the current religions to be considered a fact or real perception. Agnostics are sitting there lumped in with the #3 position. I observe many human actions propping up the religious experiences on the rest of the list. Religious groups routinely talk each other into experiencing the same hallucinations just like we do with the Santa Claus myth. I experienced it myself as a child growing up in a religion.

We don’t have to actively reject and prove all of our hallucinations are verified as false. We need to simply admit the true limits of our knowledge and live within the boundaries of what we know. Theism and religious beliefs aren’t knowledge. Not being able to imagine any other cause than a god says more about the limits of your imagination than it does about the truth of the claim.

The only “sin” in agnosticism is to claim knowledge of the unknown and possibly unknowable. We should quit judging our lives and each other on hallucinations and just stick with what we actually KNOW and collectively agree are verifiable truths. For me, this is the essence of agnosticism and the reason why I lack religious beliefs. I’d much rather live using knowledge instead of blind faith.

One thought on “A Hallucination is a Fact

  1. This is so true. The nature of reality and it’s relationship to consciousness is still so far off from being explained and understood. Do you ever feel like you’re in a dream or that you really truly have no grip on time and how it’s passing by? These kinds of experiences make me feel like there is a lot out there that is unknowable. In that respect, even us agnostics have faith in our existence to some degree. Faith that we’ll wake up, faith that the person sitting across from us is really autonomous like we are, faith in our own autonomy for that matter.

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