Confirmation Bias

What does it mean to have a friend? Is a friend a person who agrees with everything you say? Are they someone who supports you in all the things you do? Is total agreement like that really friendship? Those are some difficult questions. The answers for any of them could be yes or no, and still be correct.

Instead of friendship we could ask what love is. Does unconditional love mean that the one who loves always has to suffer watching their loved one reap the rewards of actions or attitudes they knew were going to eventually pain them, without doing a thing to prevent those actions or decisions? You would not be wrong, based on my past posts, jumping to the conclusion this question is designed to make you think about religion, but that is only part of it. The general question, and how it relates to the title of this post, has to do with the nature of intimacy.

The general easily taught, handed down and understood framework for comprehending intimacy has always been hierarchical. Whether it comes from a patriarchal viewpoint, a maternally dominant mindset, tribal dynamics or pure animal Darwinism intimacy has always tagged along in a rather subservient position. It has always had to sacrifice in order to get what it needs. Yes, I will brashly say that intimacy has needs rather than wants. Insofar as intimacy is directly related to love, is probably recursively included within the definition of love, it has needs the fulfillment of which have nothing to do whatsoever with whether the cause for the need of them ever comes into existence. In other words, the  reason for the needs won’t go away simply because they are not met.

So, does real intimacy seek dominance? There’s the rub, it couldn’t or it wouldn’t be true intimacy. For how can that which seeks real knowledge of an other purposefully destroy that other in the pursuit of that knowledge? Knowledge of another is not like a snapshot, it can’t be understood in one moment or short set of moments. Destructive testing, therefore, won’t reveal what it is. Deliberate trials other than shared trials, the result of which is always violence whether the other has overcome or not, can only ever seem to reach, but actually not reach intimacy. Doing so would call into question the validity of the knowledge gained. Well, it would if the seeker were being honest with their self.  There is something that we do instead because it is easier. Generally, we ride roughshod over those we love and befriend and demand certain things from them. We want concessions rather than communication. When we see anything that looks like something we want, regardless of whether that is what the other was trying to communicate, we call it good. In this way dominance goes about satisfying itself that it has achieved intimacy, through confirmation bias.

Not everybody is into dominance. Some people like to suffer. Instead of listening to what is being said about the nature of the one they seek they insist that nature must be of a certain essence. They usually wind up twisting themselves all about into psychological, emotional or physical positions which are wholly contorted in order to keep their bias concerning the nature of the one they seek rather than allow the communication to tell them something. That too is a kind of confirmation bias.

Either way the needs don’t go away simply because they have not been met. The usual result of this is a way of engaging the world that could be referred to as dynamic. Nobody’s needs are ever truly met. The best any couple, let’s keep this narrowed to couples for now, can do is to dance around getting as close to fulfilling those needs as possible, prevented always by their own frailties from achieving success. The problem is that while it is possible to get there, this kind of relationship can’t get there. Even worse, this is how we not only meet other people, it is how we tend to meet ourselves. Even more so, it is how we meet God.

This is why any true approach to God must be a spiritual approach. Nobody can see God and live. Seeing God is not what gives life. Knowing God is what gives life because one can see God and yet not see God but one cannot know God and yet not know God. Or should we say be known by God, for the reciprocal is inherent in the understanding that there is intimacy. You can’t escape this either by retorting that you are an atheist. Confront yourself and shudder at your own lack of self-understanding. Or is it that you don’t really exist?

Of course you exist, but you are a consciousness that takes it’s nature from a set of biases. Consciousness is bias. Consciousness is judgment. This is why the first temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was to turn stones, instruments of judgment -stoning of people, into food. This is why Moses was called to take his sandals, instruments of judgment -in the case of non-fulfillment of duty, off of his feet when he stood before God at the burning bush. The answer is not bias, but listening. The answer is communication. This is the message behind another thing that transpired in the life of Moses. Moses was himself judged, for not speaking to the rock in order to bring water out of it when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. He had struck it with his staff at an earlier time, so he decided to do that again, even though God had expressly told him to speak to the rock in order to bring water forth from it. For this he was not allowed to enter the promised land. He was supposed to speak to the rock, but he struck it with his staff instead. If you can hear it the Spirit of God calls out, seeking water from you too. You have been mislead to believe that God is a bully, that He wants to send you to hell if you don’t believe him. The truth is He knows you are already in hell and he wants to see if He can get you out of it. He can’t do that by beating you, the law is not a club rather the punishment for violating it is. The law is not a conversation either, but a snapshot. The coming of the law represents order out of chaos. The coming of the law represents the arrival of the Spirit of God into a world that needs communication with that spirit. It is He who speaks to you now. He can only bring water out of you by speaking to you. Are you listening or are you contorting yourself in myriad ways in order to keep an image of God handed down to you through the generations?

 

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