Thought Experiment 2

A follow-up to yesterday.

I used to have a dog. I’d like to get one again, but my current living arrangement precludes it. My dog, Honey, was a good dog. He was not, however, a bright dog.

Honey could never understand that why we went to the vet. The notion of it escaped him. I’m not sure if dogs can comprehend ‘why’ at all, but I certainly know he didn’t understand the why of a vet. It was simply beyond his mind.

Why did he go to the vet? Because it was the best thing for him we, the humans, his loving family, could arrange. Within our abilities, in many cases, the best thing for Honey was going to the vet sometimes.

I speak not of humans as gods, but rather humans as dogs. The future was unknowable and incomprehensible to him. There was no way he could peer through it. And between him and this ineffable future was suffering in the form of the vet. Of course they were wonderful people, but he didn’t know that. He didn’t like the vet!

Humans have things we cannot understand. Why is there suffering in the world? Why are things so bad? Why can’t we see what happens on the other side of death? But like the ineffable future, all of us come to death. All dogs go forward in time. And the mere fact that Honey couldn’t comprehend it was a reflection of his own limitations, not the hateful nature of his family taking him to get his toe-nails clipped.

So is the cognitive dissonance of trying to reconcile a harsh, suffering filled world with a kind, loving God the same kind of myopia, limited by our own cognitive demesne? Is there a way forward that we just don’t understand? Honey never considered that the future might exist and that he didn’t know something. Those questions were beyond him as a dog. Likewise, we can’t imagine the questions we can’t imagine, but we can imagine that such questions could exist. Humility may be a key to unlock cognitive dissonance.

All that smacks of sophistry to me, but Honey looked at me with love and betrayal when he had to get his toenails clipped. I miss that dog.

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