Author: Richard Carter
Luckily we live in a world built upon foundations of fact. It’s a place where all our realities are concrete, things you can see and hold in your hand. Everything is either proved out in science or the belief systems that vary throughout the world.
First only a portion of the above is true. Much of history is records of warriors of various peoples representing one belief system or another, trying to elevate one form of piety above the other. Though interests, today, lay in fuel and land acquisition as well, there are underlying bitterness that can, none the less, be traced back to the crusades and further back still.
Our history and growth is laced with contradictions. We are a paradox as a species and really quite comical when we honestly evaluate our selves. There are sureties of course. We can analyze materials before us and know with some certainty just what we’re dealing with. We can make compounds and devise better ways to make things, and history is full of the proofs of our ascension.
Yet one of our strengths or weaknesses is our ability to so proficiently hedge on our bets, to double back in our logic, trying to cover all the bases. Belief sometimes seems more a potpourri of idiocy, a hit of an intoxicating drug than a decisions based on reason.
We put our lives in the hands of science every day. We ingest the compounds and foodstuffs science proclaims fit for our consumption. We ride in machines made of tons of metal and plastic at high rates of speed trusting the knowledge of engineers in the world of automotive design and construction.
Our lives are so molded by the staples and trinkets of science that when the power for them is temporarily lost, some of us, on one level or another, all but panic. It must be concrete in our world, have substance in either mold-able material or proven theory, but, at the same time the second half of man’s growth; his cultural ascension proclaims the exact opposite to be true. Here lies the twist, the crux that makes us so odd.
That which is real in our world must have substance- it must be measurable and detectable by instruments we have devised to prove out such things, but Religion has none of these qualities, none of these requirements. Still it has immeasurable power in our world of facts and figures and updated technologies.
On one hand we are told not to believe in supernatural beings sometimes seen with our own eyes, yet we’re told as well to get up Sunday morning and get dressed to go worship not just (another being) but one considered all powerful.
There are no fairies or spirits of the air. They are the childish dreams inspired by bed time stories, but we are told not only that there are Angels (winged beings, of the air,) but that each of us has one, our guardian Angel. God himself is a truckload of contradictions to the assumptions in our world based on facts. He can appear as a mist, as a column of fire, as a burning bush, or in a number of different ways. Just take away his title and suggest you’ve seen similar anomalies and you’re not far from the 72 hour visit to the hospital or the drunk tank.
You could lose your family, your friends, your career, for passionately testifying of your experience with something fantastic, but if you claim it is a religious experience you’re thought, by most, to be blessed.
So, why is it we have such a hard time, are so inconsistent in our guidelines? Why can a once crippled man casting away his crutch as he dances away from the healing preacher at a revival or someone talking in tongues carried away filled with spirit, be that much more believable than a person relating their strange experience with bright lights and an almost euphoric abduction?
There is a Holy city in Italy because the early leaders of the church were closet generals, on a much larger scale. They found a weapon stronger than the edge of a sharp sword or axe, excommunication. They knew that as the belief grew so did the dedication to it by its followers. The larger the faith, the more concrete it looked from the outside to others and so man’s general need to be part of a group aided these leaders in every pronouncement , and verdict leveled at Europe and the surrounding world. The churches blessing was often tantamount to the success or failure of a venture, whether that outing was the expanded trade routes of a merchant or the campaign of a war lord.
Today the Holy city has its own police force and I believe unit of military like security. This and the millions of churches throughout the world, the countless followers all a product of a being we cannot see or touch, one whose only link with reality lies not in the requirements of science and the mature world, but in a feeling in our hearts, a conviction in our minds.
The things seen and experienced by the ever growing number of us, that have no place in our grown up mentally stable world, are no less fantastic , no less heart felt and believed than the teachings and beliefs in our religion that suffuses many of our lives.
Not so long ago an ex-preacher, responding to one of our articles, claimed if it’s not in the Bible it doesn’t exist. If he had the time or willingness to listen, I’d show him the multiple places where the bible proves out the very events in our days that he denies are possible.
So finally those of us who claim to be believers need to bear our mantel with pride and not half-heartedness. We need to use the same logic and open mind we apply to our God, the Supreme Being who lives in the clouds with his armies of winged creatures much like us. That is what we’re taught, right?