Is the world still flat?

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
― Isaac Asimov

Full disclosure – I used to be as closed-minded as they come. I am however trying not to be like that rehabilitated smoker many of us know …

Our assumptions are also like a prison. They often hold us captive to staying in the same place, prevent us from new experiences and stymie our development. Imagine how the world of science would continue to advance without challenging ones previous convictions or “understandings”? How often have the brilliant minds of the world when faced with protests of “that is impossible” created new “understandings”? They don’t always have to be “rocket science” examples either. Think of a practice at work that you believe can be improved by changing up the process somewhat but are faced with “we have never done it that way – it won’t work” or “we tried that once – it didn’t work”. Well as you know – it often does work with a new open-minded approach!

Where else can rigidity be found in our lives? In politics? In our personal relationships? In religion? In our belief system? I was about to ask if we have ever been wrong, but instead of being wrong, have we possibly just failed to hear a new perspective by shutting down a foreign idea or new concept? We don’t have to agree with it. We don’t have to change our minds either – but we can listen to it with an open and respectful mind.

I watched an intriguing YouTube video the other day about a young boy of ten-years old who claimed to have lived a past life. He was interviewed sitting alongside his mother as he was describing in excruciating detail what he remembered of his absorbing experience. Of course the online comments section are often more entertaining than a video or article itself and in this case there was no disappointment.

The kid is an absolute mess And should see a psychiatrist.

Its always a reincarnation of somone important. No caveman memories or brief flashes of scraping gum off a sidewalk for a living?

I have tought that you are smarter…previous live story told by a 10 year old kid wit A LOOOOT of imagination

There is no possibility whatsoever that reincarnation is real. The end.

Stuart Lewis Those with a closed mind are the ones who once believed the world to be flat.

And for the record, I am not stating that I believe one way or the other that reincarnation exists – but recently the subject matter was raised with me and it has sparked some curiosity. I am now reading more about it.

So how does that absolutist know with certainty that reincarnation does not exist? Of course he can’t, just as one also cannot prove that God does or does not exist. We can use reason, logic or a sixth sense to arrive at our personal understanding or belief, but proof? That will be difficult. What is also quite challenging is the human discourse when at minimum one of the disagreeing individuals lacks the capability of truly listening to an unfamiliar or perplexing thought. They may not be ready! Remember the last time you were confronted with a point of view that seemed to the other as indisputable fact but to you was indisputably false? Where do you go from there? The proverbial “we’ll agree to disagree”? What if alternatively we said, “I am curious, tell me more about this”.

You’ll never know what light can shine in if one doesn’t scrub off those windows of assumption once in a while …


11 thoughts on “Is the world still flat?

  1. Interesting, Stuart. It does raise the question, however, of what we mean by closed-minded versus merely gullible. Aquinas, for instance, insisted that there are two distinct modes of knowledge: reason and faith. What we know about the natural world we can know through reason (science), but other things — the existence of God, for instance — were metaphysical conjectures whose truth by their nature were inaccessible to reason and could only be known via revelation (faith). The two modes are complimentary but not equivalent. Faith cannot be used to evaluate science and science has no evaluative authority over matters of faith; as Stephen Jay Gould wrote, the two are “non-overlapping magisterium.” Two domains, two sources of truth. It would seem, then, that to deny what reason proves is true is close-minded (only an ignorant fool believes that the Earth is flat); on the other hand, to accept as true or even possibly true what science tells us is not true or probably not true (reincarnation, perhaps) is gullible. Simply, what has not been proven beyond doubt not to exist is not automatically evidence for it existing. There is no definitive proof that ghosts do not exist but the preponderance of evidence nevertheless is strongly against existence. Now, I know that some people believe in ghosts, but does that mean I am closed-minded because I do not or that they are gullible because they do?

    • Jonathan.
      Was there not a time when science declared the earth to be flat? That was the intellectual limitation of the time. It had nothing to do with gullibility then nor does our scientificly limited understanding of reincarnation invalidate its possibility today and render a believer gullible. I would love to continue this discussion over coffee. And thank you for your contribution to this dialogue as others.

    • Jonathan,
      I like the first part of your reply and the way you expressed it. However the logic of the second part I don’t agree with. Science is good at analyzing things with logical reasoning. However it cannot prove that something does not exist. And likewise, just because someone has never seen something or cannot prove that it definitely does exist, does not mean that it doesn’t. As for ghosts, what would constitute proof? If there are thousands of people who claim to have seen them, does that constitute a proof? Some people claim proof of the existence of God because they see the effects of God in the world, similar to believing in the existence of electricity because we see its effects.
      An interesting philosophy holds that God deliberately hides his existence in the world at this time so that we will not be able to prove his existence. Thus God wants us to have faith in his existence. This allows for free choice . Luzzatto explains this approach nicely.

  2. Stuart
    If you are truly interested in exploring this question with an open mind, this book is still a big seller…it has been around for quite a long time. Get a copy and read it. I certainly do not reject the premise. “Many Lives, Many Masters” (Brian Weiss M.D.)

  3. Every belief, every ideology, every identity, is a form of isolation. They are conclusions, and conclusions close the mind. To be open-minded, to be a seeker of truth, you have to understand your own prejudices, beliefs. You can’t cast your conditioning aside, as people advise. That’s because your conditioning, your conclusions, your close-mindedness is an integral part of who you are. Your mind, which is steeped in conclusion, cannot free itself from its clutches. The only way to do it is to observe your own bigotry, not with a view to ridding yourself of it, but to understand it, know its entire structure, its complete anatomy.

    That self-knowledge is the true freedom from belief, from isolation. That is truth, and the way of the truth is the understanding of falsehood.

    The self is false; and it is incapable of ridding itself. Only understanding falsehood liberates. you from it

    There is no path to the truth; truth is a pathless land.

    • Gan;
      Thank you. I am honoured that you have again taken the time to contribute in this space. The words you speak acknowledge a profound self awareness that you possess.

  4. I believe the conundrum lies in acknowledging that the cosmos operates on multiple realms simultaneously. The assumption that there is no life after death is based on a physically implicit reality, whereas most people witness physicality purely through the 5 senses that monitor this realm.On the other hand, there are individuals who feel they have access to another realm; that of spirit. Once we are open to considering spirituality despite its intangible nature, it seems reasonable that it would correspond to a very different reality. Somewhere between these poles, we have our psychological and emotional realms that each operate in a particular manner, simultaneously affecting all other levels of our being. Who would say that their emotional state has no impact on their physical wellbeing or vice-versa? We understand that emotion exists, though it too is intangible, because we have physical evidence for its validation, (i.e. I know I am anxious because I feel my heart racing). We may in fact be largely self-limiting to the physical world, so long as we choose to remain stuck in our evidence-based reality. By no means does this preclude the existence of a deeper spiritual reality, even as it remains a vast mystery to most.

  5. From the moment we are born our experiences affect how we will view the world in the future. The ‘lens’ that we see the world through is formed from our past experiences.
    “If I hadn’t believed it i wouldn’t have seen it.”
    ” There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”-Shakespeare(Hamlet)

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