Building on Society, Science, and Belief

Photograph of a lighthouse taken through the tall grasses

Plenty of interactions between the tenets of science and faith have been kicked up during the coronavirus pandemic, especially. These muddied waters did not occur in a vacuum, however. How does one negotiate a world where belief systems are vast and ever expanding? Realistically, if there was a simple answer that everyone would accept, we would not be here. Let us discuss.

Of course, these are not new problems. Humanity has been in a thought war with each other for centuries. We can be vicious, controlling, judgmental, and sometimes we just need to feel Right. This is part of human nature. Everyone has the capacity to express the full variation of human expression and experience. When ways of doing things are challenged, some people have a track record of divide and conquer.

Foundational Beliefs

Our belief structures have a failure point, which one could argue is due to a cornerstone belief being inflexible. Things challenging your core beliefs are uncomfortable. In some cases, they are linked to social groups, family, power structures, and even our behaviors. This means that a social species – humans – will perceive breaches to these as a threat to survival. In looking for structures and foundations, we build things that can truly shake us.

Balance seems to come when your foundations are strong enough to uphold the further weight of your collective worldview, while being adaptive enough to exist in a world of changing – and increasingly challenging to navigate – world. At least, this has been my personal experience as well as lessons learned from my role models, professors, and teachers through time. Being unable to do this can bring a sense of hopelessness, detachment, or being overwhelmed.

Photograph of a lighthouse at dusk.
Strong foundations are an essential first step when it comes to building our belief.
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Certainly, it is not a perfect method, as the world does very much roll the die with lives. We can be shaken, we can experience crises of faith, our sense of self, or our relationships. Whether a person believes these forces simply an effect of the physical nature surrounding us and our biological interaction with it, or that they are a structured act of God, Fate, or anything in between – at its core, does not affect other people or society simply by being present.

Foundational Knowledge

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Photograph of a crow standing next to a tall shrub, a dark figure among a variety of greens and browns
This crow watches as I make poor life choices. Thanks, Crow of Judgment.

Foundational Needs

Photograph of a long abandoned dock, only jagged wooden foundations remaining, reaching out into the waves of the ocean and distant shores, on a cloudless summer day
At times, great foundations can outlast even the most detrimental forces.
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Within, A War

Standing in the rubble of your own making is intensely uncomfortable, and the brain does not often find this a productive state. We zone out, we turn off, we tune it out, dissociate, the brain has plenty of coping mechanisms to deal with a reality collapsing. Similarly, cleaning up this rubble becomes more challenging when those on the sidelines offer more cold criticism than support. Not to say that accountability is not a thing. It very much is a needed part of this process.

Events do not happen in a vacuum; beliefs cannot form in a vacuum. The philosophy behind how we come to know is fascinating. Inspecting where these pieces came from is also fascinating, though can lead to foundational cracks and the need to come to terms with unpleasant things. Some people are self-aware, in this fashion, others have some work to do.

So what does one do with all of this? Arguably, a person should consider their convictions regularly; are they adaptable to work with your lived experience? Does it help you or hinder you? Science itself is an exploration of how things work, advancing, adapting, and learning as it goes. As with all things, there are limitations, flaws, and biases. Most things cannot stand forever without some restoration or revisiting.

Cohesion in Society

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Photograph of a sailboat on a summer day with Charlottetown boardwalk with lantern, white fence, and trees in the forefront
Fighting the current and the wind generally proves rather futile for many things.

A Place of Our Own

This is not to say that you can just back onto that metaphorical lot of your child’s, your neighbor’s – so on and so forth for all possibilities across humanity and through time – to forcibly tear up and replace their foundations. Psychologically, this has disastrous effects, and having a brain filtering the outside world’s input through trauma, then back out through reactions and learned behaviors could become problematic under stress and pressure.

Photograph of a weathered bench on a dreary day
“I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” ~Forrest Gump
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There are many ways that we can get to a solid foundation, as well as many things that can get in the way of doing so. While frustrating, understanding our place in the world is vital. Whether the lens we apply is scientific, psychological, spiritual, or otherwise, we need to be aware that it, and others exist. That there is simply more than one single way to build a stable building.

Perhaps we need to focus on putting our energy – be it biological, spiritual, emotional, or in terms of our resources – towards activities that construct uniting bridges between us, find connections between us, and facilitate a healthy, vibrant, and diverse society. What does our structure look like? How have we constructed it from what we were given? What makes it unique in the landscape? Are there things needing to improve? How can plans and actions shift to get there?

Anything more than stability comes down to personal preference.


*Author note from TJ Rune: Not me. Oh no, I am a tragically flawed individual. Reminder that everyone is human. Oftentimes, people can be ultimately self-destructive. Now I am off to check those foundations – constantly under construction. I encourage you highly to check out some of the sources below.

Citations:

Cherry, Kendra. “How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explains Human Motivation.” Verywell Mind, 14 Feb. 2022, http://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760.

Duke University. “Team finds childhood clues to adult schizophrenia.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2010. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121135901.htm.

Ellwood, Beth. “Study Links Distinct Patterns of Childhood Trauma to Specific Eating Disorder Diagnoses.” PsyPost, 20 July 2022, http://www.psypost.org/2022/07/study-links-distinct-patterns-of-childhood-trauma-to-specific-eating-disorder-diagnoses-63547.

The Professional School of Psychology. “Psychology and the Social Construction of Reality.” The Professional School of Psychology, 2 Jan. 2020, psychology.edu/programs/the-edge-of-knowledge-psps-research-center/psychology-and-the-social-construction-of-reality.

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