Fears and Superstitions
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It wasn't long before my thirst for knowledge led me to the realization that some of the greatest thinkers from antiquity to modernity had been addressing similar issues. I'm finding that even after twenty years of formal schooling I am only just beginning to learn how to learn, how to think, how to live.
The following quote made me think of my posts on salvation and hell. My train of thought strayed from Russell's words somewhat, but it was inspired by them.
"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." - Bertrand Russell, British mathematician & philosopher (1872 - 1970)
I used to be afraid of dying, afraid of not living with enough devotion to an entity that I had never seen, heard, felt, or otherwise sensed. There's a very simple reason why preachers who say "god is love" one minute will cry out about how our society is not "god-fearing" the next.
As soon as I took the risk of questioning my beliefs I realized that it was nonsense to fear a god that loved me, such a god would not penalize its people for not believing when it knows exactly what it would take to convince each and everyone of them.
Without the fear it suddenly became possible to see all the other inconsistencies, each and every continuity error, every hypocrisy. At some level I became angry and frustrated at god, at religion, as if it was its fault for the falsehood. But that silly notion came from the framework of the world that I'd been raised with, one deeply rooted in superstitions.
Gods are no more than fictional characters, and religions social constructs of shared mythos and mores. The more autocratic a religion the more control it can have over continuity and consistency. The more liberal a religion the less it will conform to a consistent narrative or ethical principle.
Seeing religion for what it is, culture and folklore, allows one to stop being afraid of life, of oneself, of those who are different, and start to see the best in everything.
In search of reason,