I have been reading David Bohm’s wonderful book ‘On Creativity’. His discussion of clear thought, unencumbered by false assumptions is fascinating:

‘… let us go back to the ancient Greeks, who regarded the key or essential difference as being between the imperfection and corruption of earthly matter and the perfection and purity of heavenly matter (and who thus generalized the moral notion of difference between imperfection and perfection as the fundamental one, relevant for the whole of existence). The complicated movements of earthly matter were taken as revealing its imperfect nature. On the other hand, heavenly matter should express the perfection of its nature by moving in a circle, which was considered to be the most perfect of geometrical figures.
If observation had disclosed that heavenly bodies do, in fact, move in perfect circles, this would have been a tremendous discovery, tending strongly to confirm the notion that a key difference in the universe is between the perfection of heavenly matter and the imperfection of earthly matter. But when observations did not disclose this, astronomers began to accommodate the differences between fact and theory by fitting the fact to a set of circles within circles as epicycles. If a few epicycles had been enough, this too would have been a significant discovery. But when the number of epicycles began to increase greatly, one should have begun to suspect that the distinction between heavenly matter and earthly matter was not a fundamental one. But for various reasons (religious, political, psychological, etc.) this notion was not seriously entertained for a long time. Instead, there arose a tendency to focus on the utilitarian aspects of the theory of epicycles (e.g. they were useful for astrological and navigational purposes).

It seems clear that the creative development of science depends quite generally on the perception of the irrelevance of an already known set of differences and similarities. Psychologically speaking, this is the hardest step of all. But once it has takes place, it frees the mind to be attentive, alert, aware, and sensitive so it can discover a new order and thus create new structures of ideas and concepts.’

The parallels with religious thought are striking.

Sigmund (http://atheistprinciples.tripod.com)

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