Friday, April 29, 2011

The Bliss of Heresy

I call myself a blissful heretic. I chose that name for a reason. I disagree with the old saying that ignorance is bliss; I have found that as I eliminate ignorance from my mind, I become a much happier person. During the final stages of my belief, the cognitive dissonance was very painful and I would not have called it bliss. When I embraced the truth, the shackles of dissonance fell away from me and I was free to explore reality, unhampered by obligations to ancient superstitions and corrupt authority.

I don't use the word "heretic" flippantly. There was a time when heretics were tortured and burned alive. I consider myself infinitely lucky to live in a time and a place where the worst consequences for my heresy are disapproval and possible rejection from my family. Even that's pretty bad. It's bad enough that, as of this writing, I am still "in the closet" to my family and friends about the fact that I'm an atheist. But the worst that could happen to me really is not that bad.

I have found that there is a strange bliss in heresy. I don't mean that I go about being contrary and unpleasant. But freedom of mind is blissful in a way that is unlike any other kind of freedom I have experienced. If a question needs to be asked, I'm no longer afraid to ask it for fear of the answer. I no longer shy away from difficult philosophical questions like free will and causation. I'm no longer afraid that the conclusions will threaten my "testimony." A friend of mine once asked me if my study of philosophy ever shook my testimony. Naturally, this friend did not and does not know that I am an atheist, and therefore could not have known the irony of her question. No, philosophy does not shake my testimony. Philosophy, philo sophia, is the love of wisdom. I am delighted to pursue my search for truth and wisdom wherever it leads. Perhaps it leads me wrong sometimes, for I am a fallible human being and I don't always think things through properly or have all the available evidence in front of me. But I am not afraid of being wrong, because I am always seeking to find what is right. My best defense against error is hardly going to be blind faith. I should keep my mind as open as possible, on the chance that my view of reality might be wrong or limited. I'm not afraid of my testimony, such as it is (or rather, isn't) being "shaken" because if something is false, it ought to be dislodged from one's mind, and if it is true, then it should stand up under scrutiny. The bliss of heresy is the utter fearlessness with which one can pursue wisdom.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this! This is so how I feel. The contradiction I lived for years was so torturous, I can't believe I let myself suffer for so long. When I just let myself finally believe the truth, instead of what I wanted to be the truth, I was finally free.