As a self proclaimed “cleanser of souls” , I often have heated debates with my agnostic pals. I must admit that I have always been slightly unfair to this breed of beings, since I was convinced that agnosticism stems from sheer ignorance as against a “detachment based on a wise sense of disenchantment”. Since the old adage, “What you are is shouting at me, I can’t hear what you are saying” is true, the antagonists can see through me and this contributes to the fire and the smoke in these debates….. (Trust me, I wouldn’t be the one to fire the first salvo, though most of the subsequent ones would have my name etched on them).
You can’t blame me completely . As caliph Ali (RA) said “You can convince a hundred scholars, but not one idiot”. And things are worse since most agnostics exude the arrogance of ignorance. They simply refuse to see things that are so bleeding obvious- or so I thought, till I read about R.A.S- The Reticular Activation System.
Research has proven that at any point of time, about 3 million bits of information hit us from all sides- eyes, nose, ears, skin and mouth. Unfortunately our brain can only process about 164 bits of information per second. So there is a gate in our brain that reads the incoming information before filtering most of it out. So what decides what goes in and out?. Well, here come our friend, RAS. This system is the gate that takes in only 164 bits and throws out the rest by either deleting, distorting or generalizing it. Now how does the RAS know, what has to be taken in or thrown out ?. Our belief system does this trick. If you believe something is important for you, RAS will let in information regarding that and will block out everything else. When you decide to buy a Camry, you will start seeing Camry cars everywhere. If you are worried that you has gastritis, you will find references of gastritis all around. Rest assured, this information was always there, but your RAS was bouncing it out till your belief system told it that it was important. This is why people staying near airports can sleep through the ordeal and yet wake up when their baby starts stirring.
Now what does this got to do with belief ? The answer is simple. If you don’t believe that there is god and accountability and heaven and hell, all the evidence that supports this (There is overwhelming evidence in the world around us that proves the omnipotence and omnipresence of god) will bypass us and no matter what the world tries to do, we will never be convinced.
It is said that if you believe what you can’t see, you will be gifted with the sight of what you believe. This can now be scientifically explained using the RAS concept. Unless the in- keeper of our conscience- our belief, opens the RAS door, enlightenment will never shine through. We will remain as ignoramuses all our lives even while wading in evidence.
This also highlights the importance of introducing the concept of religion to children when they are still young. If we are able to plant the seed of belief in their minds, at a stage when they accept our ideas readily, RAS will automatically bring in enough evidence over the years to make them ardent and passionate believers later on. The converse is also true. So it either becomes a vicious or virtuous cycle.
So make sure that you mind your RAS, its after all a question of eternal victory or damnation.