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In today's society, in spite of sizeable advances in knowledge, technology, problem-solving tools and to a lesser extent, a better of understanding of the human mind, mankind as a collective isn't advancing accordingly. In pivotally-important ways, we are actually turning in circles or regressing!
What seems to be happening is a small segment is intellectually absorbing more accurate information and actively learning about new discoveries that correct older ideas. But, due to many factors, including overly busy lives related to work and caring for others, a lack of curiosity, closed-mindedness, and educational deficits, there is a large contingent of people who are in effect stagnated with outmoded thinking and factual information.
A most troublesome development is the concept of the "post-truth era." Post-truth is the all-out assault on objective truth seeking and the obliteration of standards for defining truth. It is a state where Relativism — that is, every point of view possesses validity — is used to defend falsity. To bolster one's point of view, people rely on "alternative facts" that conflate unsubstantiated opinion and poorly-formed beliefs that are inconsistent with well-evidenced information. Worse, people will deliberately lie and deceive to advance their own beliefs or agenda. They prey upon people's vulnerabilities in awareness, aptitudes, cognitive biases, and ability to engage in proper validation measures.
Improper and out-dated thinking is prevalent in the context of religious, spiritual, and scientific ideas. The purpose of Zeteticism is to meticulously search for the most truthful understanding of objective reality by canvassing dozens of knowledge domains and to continually update this as newer discoveries become validated, which may invalidate previous findings.
We Can't Know Everything, so we Ought to Inform our Beliefs with Speculative Faith
A common refrain is, "Nobody knows everything there is to know! Some things we have to take on faith or we should be able to believe whatever we want." A partial response to this is that the first statement is a fallacy. It relies on a derivative of the age-old Argument From Perfection, which posits that, a position of interest can be robustly defended because the opposing point of view also relies on a subset of information of more or less of the same quality.
The concept of "faith" requires a more in-depth response than can be provided here. Suffice it to say that it is incumbent on the claimant to demonstrate why their "faith-based position" is credibly evidenced and can be differentiated from fictitious superstition or nonreal imaginings of our minds. When a scientist advances a hypothesis or theory, it is initially considered invalid until sufficient credible evidence is provided to demonstrate its viability to reflect reality. That is, an abstract idea is false until proven to be a true representation of real reality!
Learn more about Zeteticism. A shorter and more in-depth description is provided below.
The origin of the word Zetetic is rooted in the two Greek words Zeteo Alétheia — pronounced Dzay-teh’-o Aleeth-ee-a—which is transliterated as “to seek or strive to find the truth by thinking or reasoning.” The word Alétheia is most commonly affiliated with the truth as it relates to God. Both of the words can be found in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.
In plain terms, Zeteticism (or Zetetics), is an exhaustive methodical effort to collect and critique the concepts, doctrinal claims, evidence, logic, metaphysics, knowledge, experiences, and beliefs surrounding the general claim that God or some ultra-powerful Source exists in greater reality. It is necessarily broad in scope, examining information from many branches within the domains of Religion, Science, Spirituality, and Philosophy. The goal is to generate and communicate the most intellectually honest answer we can assemble amidst the extravagantly complex set of information.
In even simpler terms, it is the methodical search to characterize the existence or inexistence of the catch-all term “God”.
The touchstone of Zeteticism is to discern the truth to reality and the most profound questions that confront humanity. The ultimate goal is to advantage human progress by conscientiously and respectfully moving aside false realities that impede our individual and societal evolution as a species. The practice of Zeteticism gains its primary thrust by The Zetetic Path, a rigorous methodological pursuit and philosophic enterprise.
The origin of the word Zetetic is rooted in the Greek verb Zeteo ( ζητέω ) — pronounced dzay-teh’-o—which is transliterated as “seek or strive to find by thinking or reasoning.” But without a conjunctive subject, this word alone does not inform us of what we are searching for. Hence, this word is joined by the Greek word Alétheia ( ἀλήθεια ) — pronounced Aleeth-ee-a. The shortened meaning of which is “truth.” However, the connotation of Alétheia is to further convey accessing the truth of God via human reasoning and without his supernatural intervention. These two words can also be found in the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Thus, Zeteticism is a neologism for Zeteo Alétheia. The Zetetic Path conveys the brute necessity to implement an uncompromising methodology to relentlessly seek the truth until the best possible understanding is elucidated.
A central precept of Zeteticism is that it begins with a question and any subsequent conclusions are based upon the critiquing of evidences. This contrasts with the scientific method which first postulates a theory and proceeds to find out whether evidences support the initial speculation. In most cases, scientific theories are part of the Zetetic consideration process as scientific inquiry is itself a form of evidence to produce a Zetetic conclusion.
When put into practice, Zeteticism is fundamentally a methodology as well as a new branch of philosophical undertaking. The methodology component entails the critical assessment of all relevant facets of a problem of interest. The inquirers must gather all the natural source data. The key word is “natural” which precludes the use of the supernatural. The supernatural is either the unexplainable or something derived from the non-physical or the mystical.
Natural source data can be loosely grouped into mental and physical dimensions of the problem. For instance, mental data would include the more abstract objects such as information, facts, data, and knowledge. It could also include imaginative ideas or mentally-derived concepts (e.g., logic, reasoning, mathematics or theories). The physical dimension are the concrete things such as physical objects. These would include the things we can observe through our sensorial modalities. It might be the planet, stars, and galaxies we see in the night sky or an artifact buried deep within an ancient dwelling or beneath the ground.
The philosophical side considers the articulated deductions generated from the various domains of reasoned thinking. This would include epistemology (the study of knowledge), ontology (the study of being-ness), metaphysics (the study of existence), theology (the study of God), the philosophies of mind, science, time, mathematics, language, and religion. However, philosophical treatises are much like scientific theories in that any given point of view is limited in scope and depends upon an array of assumptions. In particular, Metaphysics can be entertained, but as it is inherently a speculative endeavor, it must be subject to the highest measure of scrutiny.
Finally, we have at our disposal several forms of reasoning capacities—deductive, inductive, reductive, and abductive. These nonexclusive methods of evaluating evidences are leveraged to engage a topic from a multi-perspective viewpoint. This is characterized by the visual analogy of looking at things from the inside-out, outside-in, bottom-up, top-down, and just as important, holistically. Endemic to Zetetics is the formation of an integrative meta-synthesis to produce the most intelligible conclusions based on all the relevant information that can be accessed.
Gaining purchase of new insights on defining what is true of reality is an achievement unto itself. But its full meaning is dulled if these insights are not properly communicated to others. So, the final necessity is for Zetetics to articulate its conclusions and associated impact in a digestible manner to the general populace. When we adopt the Zetetic view of reality for things of great import or complexity, we see things for what they are and not what we might otherwise wish them to be. This provides an opportunity space to develop more effective outcomes. Ultimately, when we learn and act upon well-informed information, larger swaths of society can benefit in a more balanced and steady fashion.
One is obliged to mention that the term Zeteticism is also used by Flat Earthers — those who believe the Earth is a flat disk. The Flat Earth Society, formerly known as the Universal Zetetic Society, shares no affiliation in the present context.