Four items appear
1 The Superstition Trap
2 Fact Not Superstition
3 Supernatural Spin on
Scientific Content (#126)
4 Science, Quotes and
THE SUPERSTITION TRAP
(Investigator 124, January)
I have sometimes
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 their one and
only faith is incontestable and absolute. Their indoctrination began as
soon as they were able to comprehend the fanciful and carefully
selected 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. We even
hear of some academics in this twenty-first century who fly in the face
of reason when they attempt to equate their faith with the immutable
laws of the universe, for example, the Intelligent Design hypothesis.
How can the nonsensical biblical miracles still be given credibility?
They were the invention of man to give prominence to supernatural
beliefs in the subjugation of primitive, superstitious peoples. Strange
to say, miracles haven't occurred since biblical times and no-one has
since succeeded in walking on water!
Not long ago, I received a
leaflet in my letterbox that asked: Where are you going to spend
Eternity? Its message inside was intended to literally ‘put the fear of
God' in you. It went on to ask: If you were to die right now, do you
know whether you would go to heaven or to hell for all Eternity? My
friend, I am asking you the most important question of your entire
life. Your answer will determine where you will spend Eternity ...
The concept of heaven and
hell has been the most repugnant deception to emanate from the bible;
its intention was, and still is, to ‘frighten the living daylights out
of you' and get you back into their church under their dominance. What
is their hidden agenda? Why should perfect strangers wish to save my
But there is another aspect
to consider. If you stop to really think about it and allow your
imagination free rein, the very idea of Eternity in heaven from which
there is no escape, is abhorrent. You would go insane! The way most
believers envisage heaven is epitomised in Noel Coward's brilliant
poem, Do I believe in God?
I look at the
changing sea and sky,
And try to picture
I gaze at immensities of
And say to myself it
can't be true
That somewhere up in that
Are all the people who
once were here,
Attired in white and
Sitting on clouds like
Plucking harps and
With cherubim in their
birthday suits ...
Prayer is merely
superstition. The faithful place their trust in an invisible being to
change an inevitable 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 lawless, the fortunes and misfortunes of life are completely
arbitrary. Consider for a moment the recent tsunami in which over
200,000 men, women and children lost their lives! Couldn't their god,
at least, have forewarned them?
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 although they
lean toward agnosticism, 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 an adjunct to my engineering
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 those
condemned as witches was commonplace, the sages of the time asked: How
many fairies can dance on the point of a needle? They did not first
question if fairies existed. They then concluded that since fairies do
not take up any room, an infinite number can be accommodated. That
settled the matter. It is so easy to conjure up an imaginary
‘something' and defy anyone to disprove it. And that's why there will
always be agnostics.
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 main road. I chose to take the main road
against my aunt's wishes and she warned me that God would punish me if
I disobeyed her. Sure enough, half way 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 punishment!
It is interesting to note
what several eminent free thinkers 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 on 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. ‘
Ambrose Bierce - Faith,
n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without
knowledge, of things without parallel.
Albert Einstein - ‘I do
not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics
to be an exclusive human concern with no superhuman authority behind
Thomas Jefferson -
‘Question with boldness even the existence of God, because if there be
one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than of blindfolded
And this brings up the
question, why is the subject of religion never raised at the
innumerable spiritual meetings that are conducted by mediums in
countless venues, who supposedly contact the dearly departed residing
in heaven (but, note, never in that other place)? Who better to ask
than those who have passed over whether Jesus is sitting on the right
hand of God or, for that matter, if he is there at all. And was St.
Peter there to meet them at the pearly gates?
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 alone. In New York, there are literally
hundreds, not to mention all the oddball sects and cults that are
offshoots of the mainstream churches.
Alas, will I ever discover
the true faith upon which to pin my superstitions?
FACT NOT SUPERSTITION
(Investigator 125, 2009
RELIGION and SUPERSTITION
superstitions exclude cults and religions, and dictionaries of
religions exclude superstitions. Tony Lee (Investigator 124), however,
wants to lump the two concepts together. This is an error similar to
the error of racists who lump a lot of people under one label and pick
out crimes of individuals and attribute the misdeeds to the entire
We need to keep religion
and superstition separate, and only combine them in instances where a
sect teaches what is generally known as a superstition.
MIRACLES AND SCIENCE
I investigate what Mr Lee
calls "non sensical biblical miracles" the same way that I investigate
other claims in the Bible — which is by examining whatever details are
still testable today.
To investigate the "fire
and brimstone" from the sky that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — and the
New Testament teaching that this foreshadowed the future destruction of
today's world — I went to the science of astronomy. (#62) Starting
about 1980, astronomy has shown that asteroids and comets are a threat
to Earth. Governments now spend $billions to study the threat and ways
of counteracting it.
Allan Brunt, meteorologist,
gave a largely natural explanation of how Pharoah's army was drowned at
the Red Sea during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. (#14)
In #26 I examined the
miracle of Jesus healing a blind man. (Mark 8:22-26) The testable
detail here is that the man did not at first recognize what he was
seeing and couldn't distinguish trees from men. To recognize what he
was seeing required a second miracle. Until the 1930s physiologists
believed people have an innate ability to recognize simple shapes —
that recognition of what we see is an innate ability, not learned, and
therefore doesn't take practice. Since the 1930s, however, surgery has
restored sight to some people who were blind for decades. For them to
recognize what their new eyesight was seeing usually required months of
In #58 and #59 I examined a
further seven "miracles" and found explanations or details that are now
If ten miracles correspond
fully or partly to 20th century science, then we can infer inductively,
or have faith, that:
The as yet unconfirmed details occurred also;
Corroboration of more miracles is only a matter of time.
OTHER BIBLICAL CONTENT
Aside from alleged
"miracles" hundreds of other biblical claims have in the past century
been corroborated. Often the Bible seemed wrong because science had not
caught up — that is newer science had to refute previous science for
the Bible to be found correct.
For example in 1923
science, by studying rattlesnakes, proved that snakes do not hear
airborne sounds. L M Klauber in Rattlesnakes (1982) says, "…no rattler
ever heard another's rattle." (p. 31) I first learned that snakes are
deaf, in Year I in school — I still remember feeling astonished and sad
for the snakes! The Bible, however, implies that snakes charmed by a
snake-charmer hear the music. And so for sixty years, until improved
research came, the Bible seemed wrong and then turned out correct. In
the 1990s I got the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "Cobra"
revised. (# 94)
HEAVEN, HELL and SALVATION
That heaven and hell are,
as Lee claims, "repugnant deceptions", is a baseless opinion. In these
times when scientists speak of extra dimensions, parallel universes,
electronic recording of human minds, and "beaming" matter to new
locations almost nothing can be ruled out. Physicist Michio Kaku
writes, "Never say never." (New Scientist, 5 April, 2008, p. 36)
As regards going "insane"
in heaven, presumably from boredom, consider this:
If our three-dimensional Universe is so complex, rich and exciting that
the work of millions of scientists over centuries barely explains it,
then what's possible in higher dimensions? The Bible says: "Nothing
that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." (Genesis
11:6) We cannot imagine the incredible future that began with Jesus. (I
Corinthians 2:9) If we take Jude 25 literally we'll even praise God in
past eternity "before all time" — time travel to the infinite past!
As regards "hell" being
repugnant, I may write on "The Justification of Eternal Torment"
another time. For now, note that the Bible emphasizes the mercy of God
— (e.g. Psalm 103:8-14; 145:8; Matthew 5:7; Ephesians 2:4)
The sure way to salvation,
according to the New Testament, is to accept Jesus and live
accordingly. People ignorant of Jesus or who fail to make a direct
decision will still "inherit the kingdom" if they:
1. Did a
charitable act toward one of Christ's "brothers" (Mathew 25:31-46); or
2. Lived basic biblical
ethics although not knowing the Bible. (Romans 2:14-16)
This does not mean that
they earn their salvation since doctrine also states, "Jesus died that
the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17) Without Jesus'
mission on Earth people's good works would be inadequate, with Jesus
their good works count.
With these merciful safety
nets no one need go to where it's "repugnant" unless so deciding.
Regarding tsunamis and
Lee's question "Couldn't their God have forewarned them?" the answer
is, "Yes, God could have." For more detail on "theodicy" — reasons why
God, if he exists, allows evil — see God, Tsunamis and Evil in #104.
Finally Lee asks, "To which
religion does God award full accreditation?" and says, "If I can
discover the true faith, I'll join ‘em." Here it is:
Religion that is pure and
undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and
widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
SUPERNATURAL SPIN ON SCIENTIFIC CONTENT
(Investigator 126, 2009 May)
Normally I don't respond to
writers who haven't the intestinal fortitude to use their own name but
will in this instance. I refer to Fact Not Superstition by
Of course, some events in
the Bible can be substantiated scientifically but to put a supernatural
spin on it is sheer lunacy. Many of these biblical legends were taken
from ancient allegorical Pagan myths such as the Babylonian flood and
the god-men of old who preceded the illusory Jesus — all born of a
virgin mother on the date of the winter solstice. As for Anonymous'
advice on which is the correct religion, as Prof. Richard Dawkins might
say — barking insane!
Anonymous would do well to
read Brian de Kretser's article A brief history of Religion, in
the same issue. He couldn't have summed it up better. Remove religion
from its man-made heaven and hell concept and you eliminate
superstition and its attendant misery.
SCIENCE, QUOTES and CONDUCT
(Investigator 127, July
In accepting so quickly
that the Bible in part has scientific substantiation Lee (#126, p. 4)
shows more reasonableness than any atheist I've met.
Lee's claim that "biblical
legends were taken from Pagan myths" I've answered before. We cannot
rationally conclude that one film-producer, for example, has rehashed
another movie from the observation that both films showed saloons,
sheriffs and wagons. Even if both used names like Geronimo or Custer it
would not prove copying. Lee needs to demonstrate straight out quotes
from Pagan writings. It is by quotes, and direct reference to, that we
know the New Testament is based on the Old, and that the Koran is
largely derived from the Bible.
As regards the
"supernatural" being "lunacy" — I've made a scientific case for the
supernatural in #125 & #126. My past articles, furthermore,
hundreds of biblical points to be correct including some in which
virtually the entire world, the whole human race was wrong.
With eternity at stake, and with every human deceived, and with even
the biblical end of the world" scientifically probable — what or who
should people trust?
Jesus did not settle every
doctrinal dispute but emphasized caring actions as more important.
Anyone can rationalize and declare himself right but to be a living
example of New Testament ethics is different entirely. That's why I
cited James 1:27 to answer which religion is right. (#125 p. 56) This
is not "barking mad", but is just how things are. Peace with God and
conduct reflecting this, are primary, choice of denomination secondary.
Atheists and skeptics versus Bible defenders
on this website: