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A discussion with an amateur

April 17, 2012

Recently we had a visitor who discussed not only plants but also animals, language, construction, religion and he even made a stop and gasped at the Dokmai Garden antique collection. We have had over 3000 visitors over the years but I can only remember four people (1 in 750 people) paying any attention at all to our antique cabinet. Anyhow, this delightful new acquaintance opened my eyes to an interesting phenomenon: the amateur movement.

To describe the amateur movement shortly: it is science with love or flower power with brains.

The name amateur is derived from the French word ‘aimer’ which means ‘to love’. In a modern sense an amateur is a novice, a fact which further describes a humble attitude. An amateur loves anything that clearly is not a product of man, such as a wild butterfly. Instead of rituals, the amateurs simply go out in nature and ‘love’ and ‘admire’.

So, aren’t hippies true amateurs? No, although hippies may love flowers they are blinded with imaginations involving magic and spirits, misunderstandings and a general lack of factual knowledge. Like many religious people they may love their chimeras or delusional perceptions of reality more than the actual creation.

Amateurs are people who claim the religious people admire man’s creations rather than god’s creation: Man created god in his picture.

Is it religion? Yes, in the sence of the acknowledgement of a creation worthy admiration, but the amateur movement dismisses prayers as wishful thinking, it dismisses religious literature as man-made legends and it dismisses gurus and temples as worship of men and man-made objects. Based on fossils and DNA analyses they accept ‘the creation’ to be a result of Darwinian evolution.

Instead of a religious text which is mostly stories about people, the amateurs simply refer to the accumulated mass of scientific literature, explaining that the magnitude of the creation can not be condensed into one little book. Amateurs belive that anything a man says, even a statement of a scientist, is a Platonian shade or simplified model of the actual perfect reality. Amateurs see the scientific literature as beautiful and ever-changing attempts at describing and understanding the fantastic reality (night sky, flowers, oceans, birds…).

Unlike pantheists amateurs do not see religions as different cultural traditions of the original worship of god. They see the origin of religions as a result of egoistic concerns and fear of punishment and death, rather than admiration for the creation.

They dismiss anything you can not experience yourself as imaginations. They do not need dreams, fairy tales and legends, they see and admire the reality, and they accept death as an important part of evolution. The unrealistic idea of eternal life would imply stagnation.

So, aren’t all scientists amateurs? Far from it! Many people become scientists by a coincidence. Such people could have become car dealers or bakers instead. They simply took a class because friends or relatives suggested them to, a teacher needed someone to perform a study and asked them to make a project, and then it just continued. These are not very bright or devoted people, they just followed a protocol and kept going. Other people simply search for a scene to boost their own ego. Science becomes a career like any other, and ugly methods and back-stabbing are used like in any other situation of competition. Both of these types of scientists can be religious: the first group do not think so much, just follow the stream, the second tries to use or bribe god to achieve his own goals, or believes he is selected by god. A third group of scientists are atheists who ridicule religion but also passion. These are robot-like people who see a need for their research, but hardly feels love or passion for their work or objects. Their research is a necessity and moral issues would never be addressed. They follow routines while a true amateur would forget coffee and lunch over an exciting study, he would gladly share his findings with colleagues if that leads to new beautiful knowledge and he would throw up if he caused an animal pain.

The goal of many religious people is egoistic; what can I gain (eternal life, a better newborn life, tonnes of money, avoid divine wrath, admiration from the congregation)? The goal of the amateurs is to protect the creation. Satisfaction comes from admiring it, not from being admired.

Every person is unique, and we all have different perceptions of the reality. Some of the amateur ideas may suit you, some may not, but it is nice brain massage to understand their reasoning.

Eric Danell

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. John Hobday permalink
    April 17, 2012 9:22 AM

    You are getting a bit out of your depth on this subject. Stick to your profession, which you do admirably and enhance my day. We are all amateurs outside our professions and are the richer for it.

  2. David Cooke permalink
    April 17, 2012 12:32 PM

    lovely post! I agree wholeheartedly with what you have to say. But I’m not sure if the word amateur is correct in this context. Sure it comes from the Latin root meaning ‘to love’, but it has connotations of dilettantism (well, we are all dilettantes in the end).
    I am a major sinner because I don’t believe in anything, I know a few things, all stemming from not merely accepting what is told me. This has caused me untold problems throughout my life, at university the engineers around me were just accepting things and I was thinking ‘what? That’s too simple- there must be other factors involved’. For instance the concept that pressure acts equally in all directions really had me stimmied. It took me 30 years to get over a Christian education.
    Asking the horny handed sons of the soil why they do things in a certain fashion gets you onto the threshold of indignant superstition very quickly -always done it like that, can’t/won’t change, no explanations possible. -don’t water plants at midday, the water drops will form a magnifying glass and burn the leaves for instance. Look it up on Google, you will get onto the 4th or 5th page before you find someone debunking this stupid myth.
    I look forward to seeing everything when I come to visit, sceptically yours, david

    • April 17, 2012 7:51 PM

      I think the whole point with selecting the label ‘amateur’ is that you acknowledge you are a dilettante.

  3. Allen Todd permalink
    April 17, 2012 2:56 PM

    I guess that would make me an amateur!

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