On the Origin of Religion…

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The Reverend Nathan Delver spoke with calm authority to the sea of heads before him. He opened his mouth and began to speak slowly and deliberately, his eyes staring with a piercing gaze at an indefinable spot above the heads before him.

“How we limit the human mind with our bland, predictable experiences,” he began, with a slight tremor in his voice. His knees were also shaking gently. “How easily we make things so much less than they really are.


“Have you ever wondered why religion has been so unbridled — pendemic even — during the development of the human race? If we think about this dispassionately, objectively and honestly, we will see that there are a number of reasons; and if we understand those reasons, we will understand ourselves. I believe those reasons are the fear of fate and death, deeply implanted guilt, the need for love and a craving for control. If people could learn to face these things as the hunted face the night, as a soldier stands before the enemy, as the mother of cubs holds fast against a predator, this world would be an infinitely better place. Instead we have chosen to fight and struggle — not only against these things but also with each other because of those things.

“Let me open up each of these areas so we can swim on the flooded plains of exploration:

“Fate. That dark mistress of flowery fruitful nights whose roots grow sharply downwards as upwardly she shoots her featherless arrows. Fate. The bringer of unspeakable jolts and wonders, bolts and bombshells. We need to accept our ignorance and our helplessness before we can ever hope to gain any knowledge or control in our whimsical lives. The adventure of the unexpected is so much more reasonable and exciting than living by numbers, where everything must be revealed and known beforehand or we take no steps. Such an adventure is the thrilling mysterythread which sews our souls to fertile riverbeds of passionate living.”

He thought fervently about every one of his words. The import. The sound. The way that they would carry across the room. The way that they would be received through the ears and in the brains of the hearers. Words, he thought, are like melting stars which stain the sky and honey the cosmos with bloodful yearning.

“Fate. That mystery of mysteries in which nothing is known except the inevitable reality of our own death. This rankles our egos. ‘Why should our futures be hidden from us?’ we think in our egocentric hearts. What right has life to rob us of foreknowledge? These are the questions we ask. Cheated of the certainty of our future we feel outdone by destiny. So we invent a future for ourselves — one in which we are the victors. And that is where religion comes in. It fills the black hole of fate with mellow-yellow-jello. No more drowning in ambiguity. No more enigma. No more sorrow-morrows. All is explained and revealed — mapped out — the route assured. Such is our response to fate. We deck it in familiar colours so that we will not stumble in waves of uncertainty”… [To be continued]

© 2012, Alan Morrison

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