As a child, my Methodist parents paid lip service to respecting others’ beliefs as long as they didn’t conflict with their own. I was to respect other people’s tastes, political opinions and allegiances, but they also warned me to be suspicious of the Catholic family living next door, the Spiritualists across the road, men with long hair, all foreigners and anyone wearing a turban!
But are we supposed to respect people who blow themselves up in crowded places taking dozens of innocent bystanders with them, or those who behead blameless people in the Syrian desert believing that they’ll be venerated as martyrs in the next life? Or even someone who dies when meddling with poisonous snakes in accordance with a nonsensical passage of scripture written 1,900 years ago.
A few year ago author David Icke achieved notoriety for claiming – in all seriousness – that the world is run by a family of giant lizards who disguise themselves as humans, including both George Bushes, the Queen of England, Tony Blair and many leading industrialists. Mr Icke, who has sold shitloads of books around the world, vehemently defends this position. How much respect should we accord to this belief?
Similarly, there are people all over the world who believe that a man came back to life two thousand years ago after being nailed to a cross. He was last seen floating skyward on a cloud and will one day return to Earth and rescue us from our misery and sin.
We consigned Odin, Jupiter, Zeus and Thor to mythology years ago – yet Elohim, YHWH, Jehovah, Abba – whatever you want to call it – is still venerated.
Religion and superstition are essentially the same. They are both types of belief. The only difference is that religion is taken seriously and has much higher status. People readily apply logic to most areas of their lives, but religion is not subjected to the same standards of proof as, say, science, mathematics and psychology.
©David Lawrence Preston, 30.8.2016
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Balboa Press, 2015