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Ignorance is the Mother of all Religions

Posted by JGJ on Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Permalink

I am reminded of a story one of my professors in college told. The story was about the power of the imagination exhibited by a little girl at play. She and her parents were on their vacation and one night at a hotel and the little girl was craving something to do. Her father retrieved three matches from the book in the ashtray near the bed and told her to use her imagination. The little girl played with them for a little while reenacting the story of Hansel and Gretal. It was not long before the little girl screamed and started crying. When her father asked what was wrong she held up one of the matches and said the witch had frightened her and she didn't want to play with that match anymore.

It is remarkable what one's imagination can do, especially in children or those with limited capacity. I have seen how capacity can be limited by lack of education or simple ignorance even in myself. Take the human body for an example. For a long time people believed, and some still do, that the simplest act of human machination or operation is a miracle. It is ignorance of physiology that creates the miracle. The same goes for natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and lighting and sometimes they are still thought to be caused by a deity when we can explain these things through plate tectonics and the gravitational effects of the sun and moon on the earth's crust, patterns of oceanic currents of warm and cold water, and electro-static dishcharge caused by the friction of clouds. Take a plastic fork and rub it on your hair and let a slow thin stream of water come out of the faucet and hold the fork near the stream. The path of the water will bend towards the fork. Is that magic? Am I god for being able to move water without any visible explanation? Not too long ago I would have been.

It is well known that the Ancient Greeks revered their heroes and legends. In Greece we found something interesting. Elephant bones that were re-buried in the form of giant men. An elephant skeleton reformed in the shape of a man would give the impression of a giant with one eye socket where the elephants trunk would be. Could this be a Cyclops? In China, bones have been found of dinosaurs, could these be the Chinese dragon? In every good lie there is a hint of truth and sometimes the unexplained and mysterious are explained through myth. Paleontologists find dinosaurs, this does not mean that people a thousand years ago did not as well. It is not new science that we have today, it is just not as crowded with religious ignorance as it used to be. Consider the elephant/Cyclops when you read the Genesis account for the Nephalim, or Leviathan. Imagine what the imagination can do with fossils exposed by the elements of no living creature that is seen today and when found by ignorant shepherds and tribesman 5000 years ago! Now imagine the stories that could be spun through the centuries from these accounts to explain what, and sometimes why, they are there.

From the time we are children we have always asked questions. Why is the sky blue? Where did we come from? Religions have always attempted to answer these questions and usually through ignorance until they are faced with irrefutable proof. The world is flat, the Sun revolves around the Earth, and the Earth is the center of the Universe were all once believed to be universal truths in religion that were infallible. People were imprisoned for thinking otherwise. Every time science shoots a hole into ignorant religious beliefs the religious either deny it outright, make up excuses and in the case of apologists today they adapt the science to explain the religion. Infallibility is consistency with truth and only religion claims infallibility.

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