Faith, The Alchemist & Psychology

Tim Tebow has turned the entire football world upside down. Even though he is not the best player in the league, he is likely the most talked about NFL icon and celebrity the world has seen in years. My brother closely follows the NFL network (the media website/tv channel for the NFL) and even though Tebow is not even a starting quarterback there are more articles on him than anyone else. He was recently traded to the New York Jets, so coming to the New York has only expanded his publicity. 

Though he is an iconic figure he is very humble and the mass popularity has had very little effect on him. Perhaps this is why Tebow is so highly celebrated, he is the “good guy” almost like a superhero in a movie that everyone wants to root for. 

Tebow’s unchanging character, humble attitude and hard work are the result of numerous influences. Tebow had authoritative parents who actively important the values of hard work and emphasized the importance of character. Intrinsically, Tebow is a very determined individual who is revered by his teammates as the hardest working individual they have ever met. This demonstrates how the external construct of parenting likely only further awakened the internal biological dispositions already in Tebow’s life. 

If you were to ask Tim Tebow why He is so successful, where his motivation and hard work come from He would answer you with two words: Jesus Christ. Tim Tebow attributes all intrinsic motivation and external environmental conditions that have enabled him to attain his developmental potential to God’s help and intervention.

This is a most interesting and very difficult proposition to consider and study as psychologist. When you study his life in terms of environmental constructs, Tebow has been in just the right place, at just the right time on so many different occasions that have enabled Tebow to unleash his potential that it seems virtually and statistically impossible that all of these miraculous coincidences occurred.

There are too many people in the world who blindly follow religious beliefs. In fact, religion and a lack critical thinking is the cause of the vast majority of atrocities and problems throughout history. For centuries and even millennia individuals have used religion to manipulate and control the masses to gain political power. I am completely against religion and believe reason and science  (via critical thinking) are essential to understanding the world and living everyday life.  However, when I examine the statistical improbability of external conditions working together to enable Tebow to achieve his potential, one must wonder what is the most reasonable explination? Could Tebow be right? 

For me Tebow’s example is very minor. But after completing an in depth study on the environmental factors in Martin Luther King’s life that enabled him to achieve his potential and change history, it seems virtually impossible so many environmental constraints to work out so perfectly to land King in the very specific town at the very specific time in history to change the world. If one in a thousands details of his life went differently King likely would not have been where he would have been.  Discovering King was also a man of extreme faith, I started looking at other very influential world changers who made the greatest impacts on the world. The vast majority of them all had one thing in common, they all believe in a Divine Being who was helping them achieve these things.

I am open to the idea that perhaps belief in a Divine being might make someone mentally strong and more motivated, but their belief is merely an illusion of the mind, then how does one explain the statistical probability of this?

If this idea at all intrigues you I would highly suggest reading the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Though it is purely fiction, it is the most compelling and thought provoking book I have ever read considering how environmental constraints all “conspire” together to lead an individual to their personal legend.

I think as psychologists in a Western world we are far too quick to dismiss such ideas as child’s play or mere mystical foolishness. At the very least there is most certainly a pyschological aspect to such a phenomenon that deserves contemplation and further investigation. 

This is great example of how there are many things from Eastern psychology that may be valuable to us. 

I have appreciated the many friends and wonderful conversations we have shared during the past 12 weeks and would encourage anyone who would like to continue this most thought provoking conversation beyond this week to email me at joel.alexander.pukalo@gmail.com. 

At heart I am a philosopher really thrive on thinking and discussing such notions. 

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2 thoughts on “Faith, The Alchemist & Psychology

  1. n my experience from studying Tebow’s and King’s life through this class at some level altruism must certainly exist.

    By definition pure altruism involves the notion of sacrificing something for someone else with no ulterior motive or expectation to receive anything in return. Certainly Martin Luther King recognized advocating for social change would only put his life in great danger instead of benefiting him. However, one might contend as a very strong person of faith, he was motivated by a sense of guilt or religious duty. Though from my study of history, it seems those who are motivated by guilt or religious duty are far more likely to create greater social problems (creating holy wars) than giving themselves to help others. On the contrary history reveals many people who believed in God but were motivated by love instead of guilt to try to help people and create a better world. There is such a vast difference between these two positions or “beliefs” in God.

    It is likely the majority of individuals throughout history who are religious are motivated by guilt and religious duty and thus are more likely to create further problems in the world than solutions. Such individuals are extreme, extreme fundamentalist who are more concerned about maintaining their own religion instead of helping others. This is perfectly illustrated in the early first century where it was ironically “God’s chosen people” the Jews who killed Christ. They killed the very one they claimed to follow.

    Such is the irony and complete foolishness of religion. There are too many people in the world who blindly follow religious beliefs. In fact, religion and a lack critical thinking is the cause of the vast majority of atrocities and problems throughout history. For centuries and even millennia individuals have used religion to manipulate and control the masses to gain political power. I am completely against religion and believe reason and science (via critical thinking) are essential to understanding the world and living everyday life.

    However, from personal experience and through history many of effective individuals who have changed the world claimed their belief in God inspired (not demanded) them to love people. As I discussed in the previous posting on the Alchemist and psychology someone belief (not coersion, guilt and religious duty) in Divine Being seems to empower people to live very effective lives. Any thoughts?

    Additionally, to address karma, those who are motivated by karma, by very definition are expecting something in return so how could this truly be altruism?

  2. Wow that is really neat to hear the incredible change you are making on the world. I would really like to learn more about that do you have a website and more information on this clinic. How did you get started doing this?

    Learning to embrace and appreciate all stages of lifespan is essential to living an experiencing personal satisfaction in life and creating social change. So many people spend their lives living in the glory days of the past or dreaming of the future but very few individuals “carpe diem” and seize today. How can we encourage other individual to learn to seize today and make the greatest impact on the world by fully embracing who they are and the stage of life they are living through today?

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