I have often facetiously remarked: “If I can discover the true faith, I’ll join ’em!” My non-believing friends just grin and see the absurdity of it. My ‘churchy’ friends shake their heads and also see the absurdity of it – but for different reasons.
They know that their one and only faith is in contestable and absolute. Their indoctrination began as soon as they were able to comprehend the fanciful biblical stories read to them in storybook language as a child. Their conditioning was complete by the time they were seven or eight years old, the most impressionable years, we are told, that set the pattern of thinking for life.
In adulthood, they are ensnared in the superstition of religion, from which few escape. Even in this day and age we hear of some academics who fly in the face of reason when they attempt to equate their faith with the fundamental laws of the universe. How can the nonsensical biblical miracles be given credibility? They were the invention of humans to give prominence to supernatural beliefs for the subjugation of primitive, superstitious people. Strange to say, miracles have not occurred since the Bible days and nobody has since succeeded in walking on water!
Prayer is merely superstition. The faithful place their trust in an invisible being to change the course of events while conveniently ignoring their day-to-day experience, which tells them that life’s occurrences are purely indiscriminate and circumstantial. Regardless of who we are, what we believe, young or old, compassionate or uncaring, law-abiding or law breaking, the fortunes and misfortunes of life are completely arbitrary.
The fear of questioning one’s belief is superstition at its worst and the major stumbling block to freedom of thought. Friends have often admitted that they lean towards agnosticism but they draw the line at atheism ‘just in case there is something up there’! Faith (read superstition) is a destructive force; it makes a mockery of logic and obstructs our ability to reason intelligently. I learned this while studying industrial psychology as a subject for my profession. The textbook defined the meaning of inductive/deductive thinking and subjective/objective thinking using the following example: During the medieval period in England when superstition was at its height and the burning of women on trumped-up charges was commonplace, the church fathers asked the question: “How many fairies can dance on the point of a needle?” They did not first question whether fairies existed. They then concluded that, since fairies do not take up any room, an infinite number could therefore be accommodated. That settled the matter! It is easy to conjure up a fictional entity and challenge anyone to disprove its existence.
I fell into the superstition trap when I was about eight years old. I was walking home with my sister and aunt and the usual route was through a quiet back lane rather than the busy high street. I chose to take the high street against my aunt’s wishes and she warned me that God would punish me if I disobeyed her. Sure enough, halfway along I fell over and badly grazed my knee. I looked down at the pavement and saw nothing to cause my fall. It was God’s will.
Let’s see what several eminent writers had to say on the subject.
Rupert Owen – “Finding that no religion is based on fact and cannot therefore be true, I began to reflect what must be the condition of mankind trained from infancy to believe in error.”
Mark Twain – “It’s best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.”
Ambroise Bierce – “Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, things without parallel.”
Thomas Jefferson – “Question with boldness even the existence of God because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of Reason rather than blindfolded fear.”
It is interesting to note that religion never crops up at the innumerable spiritual meetings conducted by mediums in countless venues who supposedly contact the dearly departed residing in heaven. What better opportunity for the faithful to prove their particular belief to be the true one?
Why is the subject of religion never raised at these spiritual meetings? Who better to ask than those who have ‘passed over’ whether Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God or, for that matter, whether he is there at all? More to the point for the people living on Earth, to which religion does God award full accreditation? Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism? In our modest Adelaide street directory are listed fifty or more branches of the Christian church. In the USA there are literally hundreds, not to mention all the oddball sects and cults that are offshoots of the main church. The way most of us envisage heaven is as follows, in an excerpt from Noel Coward’s light-hearted poem:
Do I believe In God?
I look at the changing sea and sky
And try to picture eternity.
I gaze at the immensities of blue
And say to myself it can’t be true
That somewhere up there in that abstract sphere
Are all the people who once were here,
Attired in white and shapeless gowns,
Sitting on clouds like eiderdowns,
Plucking harps and twanging lutes
With cherubim in their birthday suits
Alas, will I ever discover which is the true faith upon which to pin my superstitions?
By Tony Lee