The power of the reciprocal test

Recently enjoyed a few email exchanges with a well-meaning, good-natured friend.

The communications included ideas concerning "God".

Now, as I have found in many such "arguments" there are entrenched views that aren't often swayed by counter-arguments — here's one example where simple straight-forward reasoning didn't change this person's belief one bit, it seems.

Be that as it may, there is a very helpful technique that enables one to see the bias in beliefs.

This technique, called The Reciprocal Test1 basically reverses the belief, or takes it out to an extreme extrapolation to show the bias, or absurdity of the belief. Quite simply, if the belief when taken to the extreme is absurd, well in everyday life, it must be 'a little absurd'.2

This usually works most effectively in areas of gender issues — simply reverse the "fact" — the belief about life by replacing "male" for "female" and vice versa, and watch the screaming and yelling start.

... the upsets being because they've been caught out — their beliefs are shown (usually very easily) to be "sexist".

Anyway, I digress.

On the subject of God, there's a great deal of hierarchical belief masquerading as lofty, superior airs that don't fly, when The Reciprocal Test3 is applied. You've probably seen those "smug airs" as a smile, along with a condescending "you'll understand one day".

Enter The Reciprocal Test: a very easy to apply rule that cuts through silliness and dogma like the proverbial hot-knife through butter — it's a delight to see it in action.


My friend shared a story about how one day he asked "the LORD" what His plan was for him.  He shared his experience of a wonderful out-of-body journey, learning of the deeper nature of rocks, and plants and things, and how the LORD had a plan for him, and so on.

Okay, now engage The Reciprocal Test: I asked in response, "So then, what is your plan for Him?"

Predictably no response. You see, this is where it all gets subtle (not my friend, but others who are religious can become quite "sneaky" at this). We've become so habituated to believe in a hierarchical, good-bad, right-wrong life, that there is assumed to be some superior authority who knows what's best for us.

Why is a hierarchical view of "God over man" so hugely deleterious? Well, chunk it down. Since God is without doubt the whole of all4, then chunk down "whole of all" to "community" — change the word "God" for "community"... does the community know what's best for you; or "God" for country, so your country knows what's best for you?; or God for "global community", that the global community knows what's best for you?

In each of these iterations a simple, scalable (all the way up, all the way down) principle is involved — the whole-as-the-part is part of the decision-making process of life, no matter what.  Yes, our often hugely suspect 'ego' is an indelible part of that decision-making process — as an ego by any other names, still smiles like one.

So when the question is asked, "What plan do you have for God" ... there's usually a stunned silence for the simple reason that deep down there's a belief in some sort of spiritual hierarchy, which if you think about it, in any and every case requires our cooperation and permission -- if God is great, it is because we made him so.

In terms of creativity, genuine creativity must (by virtue of simple reasoning) lead God, as in surprise Him, because it's genuinely surprising. In other words, God gets to follow YOU, as does the rest of creation. Ain't that amazing.

As I said the Reciprocal Test is a treat to use. And it's wonderfully freeing — it frees us from dogma, superstition and other silliness.

  • 1. The Reciprocal Test is really just The Paradox Rule, in another guise — either way, they kibosh the silliness of science, religion and new-age beliefs, well and truly.
  • 2. Sorry to say (for any religious folk reading this), absurdity doesn't just pop out of nowhere. If an idea or belief is hugely absurd in the extreme, it's a little-bit absurd in the mundane aspects of everyday life. More is explained in the article "The Evolution of the Human Psyche".
  • 3. The Reciprocal Test is really just The Paradox Rule, in another guise -- either way, they kibosh the silliness of science, religion and new-age beliefs, well and truly.
  • 4. God has to be the whole of all, otherwise weirdo disconnects: God by being infinite goes everywhere and is IN everything and everyone. Infinite means literally no limits, so cannot but be everywhere, otherwise "limits" which makes God small. Best not do that.


See also (this site):