Suspending Disbelief

how the drama outlives its utility

Understandium via pretendium.

As a reader or listener of any story we undergo what is called a willing suspension of disbelief as an attempt to understand the narration, trust the narrator, and interpret why the story is being told toward some underlying idea.

This suspension temporarily undermines suspicion. We are encouraged to have an open mind, but can we honestly do that then resurrect our senses at the end of the drama?

To enjoy any theme demands this—to let fiction entertain for a time is to insight the intent of the author to glean whatever underlying meaning for ourselves that can be siphoned off for future use or self improvement, or to simply be entertained.

This suspension of disbelief is a key point of christianity—the actors and storytellers now expect you to live in this state as a virtuous arrival at something, which is nothing at all.

In real life the story was rejected because it didn’t happen that way, but stories are as plentiful as those who believe them—and grow accordingly to the need that human foibles project into real life what lacks substance by any other view.

If there is any value in the Christ narrative it is this—to temporarily suspend doubt to repose some allegorical meaning or entertain some wishful daydream to escape the doldrums and insecurities of life and death. To demand it’s permanence is to stick humanity right where it is today—stuck in the past arguing a point that gave hope to despair, in which each is a symptom of the other.

Permanently suspending disbelief is impossible, for everyone is already an atheist. Trusting your doubt is as natural as temporarily suspending it to enjoy the show, but it isn’t meant as a permanent state of living—it doesn’t lead anywhere.

Things are not what they seem when you flip ‘em over. Our brains construct reality.

Flip the photo.

Author: jim-

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

51 thoughts on “Suspending Disbelief”

  1. What unites every single one here? Everybody wants to be loved. Nobody is going to ever say: “no I do not want to be loved”. We want to be seen, heard, appreciated and understood. So, my friend where is the love? Where is the empathy and compassion? This is my faith; You are loved, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved more than you could ever imagine ❤ Love, Isabella; Christ's girl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Isabella, I see your passion, for sure. As for Christ’s love, expressed- I’m wondering that he is able to empathize with our every specific experience. Is he not our suffering servant, asking us to go and do the same in a suffering world. I’m wondering.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. He did not promise an easy road, and yes we are to be like servants. We can add to that; God is bigger than our thoughts and hearts, and he remembers that we are dust.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Flip the photo.

    Why?
    Everyone can immediately see the eyes are inverted, right?

    I think it’s important to acknowledge all belief and value systems are built on founding principles that are faith-based. If you dig down far enough you’re eventually gonna hit suspension of disbelief.

    Maybe it’s more important to constantly interrogate your own beliefs than use them as a podium from which to denounce the beliefs of others.

    Of course denouncing blatant hypocrisy is another thing …

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jean Messlier, Mark Twain, Confucius, Democritus, Benjamin Franklin, President James Madison, Lord Byron, Arthur Schopenhauer, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe…
      With the stigma attached to atheism even today their are millions throughout history that did not believe in deities, that remained silent. Your claim is false.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pretty Eurocentric conversation you’re having there. There are and have always been a heck of a lot of people who don’t believe in the Christian god. Since the first century or so AD fhere’s also been no shortage of Christians claiming other self-described Christians don’t believe in the Christian god.

        But within the self-defined limits of your argument I don’t think it’s possible to say whether ‘nearly everyone’ believed in God 100 years ago. The vocal dissenters were a small enough minority to make ‘nearly everyone’ a fair generalisation, but considering the stigma that would have accrued to avowed disbelievers in most Christian communities I think it’s a fair bet there were a lot of them who kept their lack of faith to themselves, though I have no idea how to estimate their numbers per capita.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your last 4 paragraphs have a number of silly assumptions and false claims:

        Christ is the ONLY point of Christianity- it’s his life in me, not a state of nothing-at-all;
        history shows the story is rejected by many, not all;
        the Christ narrative is a humiliating return to God, not an escape;
        ‘permanence.. temporarily.. stuck in the past?’ Jesus Christ lived in the now. Life is now.

        If this post is satire, ya got me!

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        1. Arnold, the only place that “Christ” exists is in your “Holy” book. The fact that you believe he exists at all — least of all “in you” — is fantasy thinking propagated by faith teachers over a period of hundreds of years.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My spirit is in me, why can’t his be? I’m betting my life on a person that claimed to be One with God the Father. Right or wrong, I’m not inventing a mental fantasy.

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            1. You’ve never fantasized the second coming, where jesus comes down out of the clouds and and smites the wicked? That’s more fantastic than hope or expectation, isn’t it?

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            2. Yes, that’s beyond me and I don’t have a visual on that stuff. Life is right now, in flesh and blood, shoulder to shoulder with God. He’s my expectation.

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            3. I find this a mind-bogglingly silly argument, especially coming from you jim.

              You know all accessible reality is a construct, so arguing over whether an aspect of it is ‘fantasy’ or not strikes me as akin to the sort of theological pedantry medieval scholasticism was notorious for.

              Asserting faith – whether faith in a god or faith there is no god – isn’t something that can be objectified and evaluated with a count of how many people agreed at some time or another or with reference to a text. Saying Christ only exists in a Holy Book because there’s no signs of him in your heart is as arrogant as claiming evolution only exists as a theory because we can’t see it happening in front of our noses. Maybe, just maybe, other people have access to means of knowing you don’t just as they may not have access to the same rationalist means of knowing that you do.

              Neither faith in Christ nor a conviction of atheism exist in consensus reality. If you don’t already ‘know’ then no-one can make you ‘know’ with objective evidence. And if you come across someone who ‘knows’ what you can’t maybe the best approach is to accept his ‘knowledge’ means nothing to you without trying to assert it means nothing to anyone.

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            4. I have been more than fair on my blog and have al types of comments and readers. Simply responding to fantasy (not my words, his) and being shoulder to shoulder with god, as well as his claim 100 years ago almost everyone was a believer in god. Some of the most notable atheists of all time precluded that, and it was a silly and ignorant comment.
              As far as arguing reality is a construct which is my view, pointing that out to someone like Arnold is pointless when he is steeped in his idolatry.

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            5. If Arnold was some sort of theistic tildeb selectively quoting from poorly understood biblical passages to try to establish his authority to tell you what to think and do you’d have a point. But as far as I can tell he’s just trying to defend his right to believe what he believes in the face of a post that seems to be trying to invalidate it.

              Yeah, his original comment was half-arsed in that it asserted something he can’t know that’s probably untrue for any reasonable definition of ‘almost everyone’. And your list of famous people you dubiously assert to be atheists – none of whom were alive 100 years ago – is an equally half-arsed refutation. But the point Arnold was clearly trying to make – that belief there is no god/christ is just as much a statement of faith as belief there is – is a valid one. To get to either position you have to start by suspending disbelief then build a circular self-sustaining ontology that’s only ever going to be ‘true’ by reference to itself. Agnosticism is doubt. Atheism is faith-based certainty.

              What I have learned from your post and subsequent comments is that some people perceive things so differently to me that an upside-down face with rightway-up eyes doesn’t immediately leap out at them as freakish. Maybe they perceive other things differently too – including things I don’t.

              Speaking personally, my faith in Kali is independent of objective evidence. That’s what makes it faith. I don’t pretend I can understand what She is, so I don’t pretend I can prove or disprove Her existence – even to myself. All I know is that having ‘seen’ Her I can’t ‘unsee’ Her. And I allow that other people may have something similar going on in their reality that I have no access to. Pretending my reality is bigger than theirs would be a pointless exercise in dick-waving as I can’t see how big theirs is.

              Liked by 1 person

            6. I really think current Christianity has a definite value by keeping the game in play by offering no arrival—just sermons. Had everyone actually learned the good news we’d have it “done on earth as it is in heaven”. We’d have to scrub this round and create a better game.
              The way I see it there are probably 2 ways out of this—we realize what we are en masse, or we blow ourselves up. The latter seems more probable at this point but you never know.

              Liked by 1 person

            7. The way I see it there are probably 2 ways out of this—we realize what we are en masse, or we blow ourselves up. The latter seems more probable at this point but you never know.

              Implicit in that is the claim we have to realise en masse what you think we are rather than what any given Christian might think we are. Surely if we all truly saw ourselves as children of God, siblings in Christ, then blowing ourselves up would no longer be an issue (except maybe by accident, like Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians). People have been flogging atheism for longer than they’ve been flogging a dead Messiah and it doesn’t seem to have succeeded in uniting us yet.

              What you seem to be doing is the same as Abrahamic fundos have been doing ever since their deity warned them he was a jealous god. Saying that unless everyone adopts your belief system Armageddon is gonna get us.

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            8. You may be overreaching a little. The difference is I honestly don’t care one way or the other. If anything I have shown over the past few years that there are multiple legitimate ways of interpreting the world and living in it. Since Christianity is my background and I live in the USA, therefore showing Christians they are not the only ones that have the goods, or the only legitimate way of being. Like Wade Davis said about the ethnosphere, sum total of all of humanity, our thoughts, language, cultures and beliefs is our greatest legacy, not failed attempts at being human. It’s a wonderful moment of our existence and the best game in town. Why else would we do it?

              Liked by 1 person

            9. haven’t you seen those NDEs of people who grew up with Christianity? they do see Jesus, and those things they want to see, angels and choirs and all that.

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            10. I have a close friend that was stuck in a snow bank and was dying of asphyxiation when Jesus gave her the strength to pull herself out of it. She said he appeared to her.
              My first question was how she knew it was Jesus, did she ask his name? No, she just knew. Apparently Jesus is after all, resurrected in his causation, blue eyed bearded self, instead of the Palestinian version.

              Liked by 1 person

            11. My first question was how she knew it was Jesus, did she ask his name? No, she just knew.

              The giveaway is the t-shirt saying “Resurrection. Ask me how.”

              Liked by 3 people

            12. haha! One thing i learned along the way (and it’s not an easy thing to accept) is that conscisouness (or god) can take any form, shape or name we WANT to see it as.
              That’s why christians will see Jesus, buddhists will see their dieties, Krishna followers will see Krishna, and those who worship the formless Self (like Ramana and Nisargadatta) will get that.

              As they say, IT (god) has all forms, but is itself formless. The form is merely a vehicle.

              (one of the most interesting NDEs i saw was of an Indian man who was non-believer, very intellectual, who spend years actively denying the existence of god, going out of his way and literally burning books on god.

              He sufferend kidney failure, had an NDE and the voice (many people hear voices during their experience) called him “You dog”. He wondered why dog, and the voice replied “You spend so much time trying to deny my existence”.
              He never felt an instance of judgement.

              Incredibly, he came back from his NDE, was healthier than ever before in his life, but he still didn’t fully accept the existence of god. BUT, he became more open. 😆

              You can listen to it. His name is Jang Jaswal. It’s quite unique

              YouTube video

              Liked by 1 person

            13. I still like Krishnamurti on this—“ Now with the word ‘god’ there is nothing to which it refers, so each man creates his own image of that for which there is no reference.

              Liked by 2 people

            14. To me, you have an orderly, exhaustive thought process. I don’t. My love (passion) is kids, so I volunteer in an elementary school. Anyway, thank you for tolerating this “silly argument.” Your thoughts are valuable.

              “Maybe, just maybe,” may be going far out on a limb for you, yet I see it as an open-minded challenge to yourself, to your furtherance, your sensual development. I don’t know.

              Christ once told a religious fellow, “You must be born again,” herein, an ability, a spiritual sense, a life that “sees” and “hears” him. That’s this life I’m developing, that is, he’s developing. Whatever.

              I’m in this for relationship with God, that I see as only possible via Christ, being born of his Spirit. ‘God in me.’ I see daily circumstances as ordered by God, mundane to miraculous, just as he ordered his Son’s circumstances. And although I can’t make warp or woof of his strategies, all my eggs are in his basket.

              Liked by 1 person

            15. “Maybe, just maybe,” may be going far out on a limb for you, yet I see it as an open-minded challenge to yourself, to your furtherance, your sensual development. I don’t know.

              Gotta admit I was being a little sarcastic with the “Maybe, just maybe”.

              I’m told I’m supposed to call myself ‘neurodiverse’ these days, but I grew up at a time people didn’t use euphemisms so much, so I still think of myself as crazy. I’ve long known I see and think things other people don’t and can’t see or think things other people can. And I’ve long been told I have to either see and think their way or shut up and pretend I do. Except when I see problems and their solutions that others can’t and get money and praise thrown at me for fixing them.

              So to me it’s a given that people have different ways of perceiving and understanding the world and there’s no absolute measure by which to judge one as superior to another. If being open-minded is seeing things as other people do then yeah, that’s often a challenge for me. But if it’s accepting that people see things differently and it doesn’t make some of them better than others, then no, it comes naturally. Unless others try to impose their way of seeing and thinking on me that is.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. Conversation in the Womb – A Parable of Life After Delivery

    In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
    “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

    The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

    The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

    The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

    The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

    “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

    The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

    The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

    Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

    To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

    – a parable from Your Sacred Self by Dr. Wayne Dyer

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Being as it was “written” from outside the womb, I cannot see how it can be undifferent from those conversations outside the womb.
        What do fetuses know about delivery, really. Nothing, it comes as a total surprise, as will anything that comes after death, IF THERE IS ANYTHING.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Faith in life-after-birth is one thing, but it’s pretty discouraging to think there might be dogmatism-before-birth.

      Here in omicron infested Newcastle life-after-6pm requires a huge leap of faith.

      Liked by 3 people

            1. I think we put up the ‘no vacancy’ sign for misbegotten miscreants a few generations ago.
              If only my ancestors had the foresight to hang it out in 1788.

              Liked by 3 people

  4. Not sure how you will take this, Jim, but my personal experience with the “suspension of disbelief” started with my early introduction to Science Fiction in the late 50s. I came across a book called “The Ant Men.” I was asked to believe for a short while that men could be shrunk to the size of ants. So I did. I have no idea what that story was really about, but it triggered in me a need for more SF, and learning how to “suspend disbelief,” the motto of science fiction, actually taught me how to better look at the so-called real world around me through a different lens.And that was how I first learned to question the “facts” given to me by my religious authorities.
    As I have said before, in other words, I was taught to believe God was real. Science fiction at least taught me he might not be. Then experience taught me he was not.

    Liked by 2 people

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