God and other myths

What gives humans an advantage over other species? Why have humans been able to dominate Earth? What makes us different from other organisms?

The answer to all the above questions is our brain and our insatiable curiosity. We have always wanted to understand the world around us. Our ability to ask questions and the desire for answers has taken us a long way from the clueless first human around 1 million years ago to the much more sophisticated and knowledgeable present day humans. Or has it?

Forces of nature like lightening, rain or storms must have been quite intimidating to the early humans with no knowledge of how and why they occur. Its easy to believe that thus most humans started worshipping them, holding them in awe. We humans are very social beings, we tend to give life to things we deal with everyday. For example, I treat my laptop as if it might have emotions. Therefore, its no wonder that these worshippers gave life to these forces of nature. Slowly these superstitions turned into full fledged religions, ranging from Pagans, who worship nature, to Hindus, who worship more than 330 million deities! But is that all? Of course not, otherwise we would still be hunting and living in caves. Some people were not satisfied with the explanation that nature or God is someone to be worshipped and not questioned.

There has always been a section of society which questioned all explanations even if questioning them was considered blasphemy. Blasphemy is never taken lightly by so called pious people. When Copernicus questioned the Biblical theory of Earth being the center of universe and proposed instead that Sun is at the center, there was a huge uproar. Even today questioning the existence of Jesus, Prophet or other deities brings the ire of religious fundamentalists, not to mention sometimes death in some countries. This however has not stopped rebels from questioning the assumptions. So why do some people still believe in the existence of some supernatural being without any need for a rationale?

A character in the movie “Waking Life” asked:

Which is the most universal human characteristic: fear or laziness?

A discussion of this question deserves a separate essay, but the fact that fear made it to the top 2 contestants deserves some pondering. The nature of religion is such that it plays upon this basic human instinct. God is taught to be an omnipotent and omniscient immortal being who controls everything. This discourages people to even attempt rational thought due to fear of God who knows your every thought and can do anything to punish you if you even think about questioning him.

Fanatics abhor rational debates and justify their beliefs from religious texts. Often their arguments sound like astrological claims — so general that they will always be true, but sometimes their claims are so radical that only extremists agree but others remain silent in fear. This is not to say that religious preaching is illegal. Any modern society would give freedom of speech to its citizens and thus religious preaching is as legal as any rational debate questioning them.

Another strange thing about religion is how their followers get so blindsided by faith that they fail to demonstrate basic logical reasoning. It is a commonly accepted belief that the burden of proof should lie upon the party claiming something’s existence. A scientist claiming existence of a newly discovered species on the claim that no one could disprove its existence would be ridiculed, but a religious person doing exactly that, but with God, is a common sight. Also how to decide which theory of God to accept? People are usually born into a religion and throughout their life they stay in that releigion. Isn’t it odd? If people did give religion some thought wouldn’t a larger percentage of people change their religion? Statistically it doesn’t make sense for such a large percentage of people to remain a follower of the same religion as your parents even if you inherited your genes from them.

I cannot force someone to change his beliefs but I would urge people to at least try to think about their beliefs, question the assumptions and come to a conclusion. If God is in fact real, he would surely not care so much about some collection of carbon molecules contemplating his existence on a small planet in one of billions of galaxies to punish them.

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