Genesis – Why They Believe
This is the last of my four part series on Genesis – Making Sense Out of Genesis, The Debate, Why Genesis Is Not Believable and lastly Why They Believe.
The origin of religious belief is simple; it’s because they were told to believe.
In Saudi Arabia, people grow up with Islam because they are told to. They are told that Islam is the Word of Allah. Questioning of their faith is not allowed. The same picture develops in other parts of the world. In India, they are primarily Hindus, in China they are Buddhists, in Israel it’s Judaism and in western civilization mostly Christianity, despite having freedom of religion. I say despite freedom of religion because where I grew up Catholics and Protestants would live next door to one another and yet their kids would also be Catholics and Protestants, respectively. So a person’s religion is simply based on the religion of their parents whose religion was based on the very same religion of their parents, and so on. It’s a social phenomenon based on cultural indoctrination. Rarely, does anyone ever question their faith.
If you’ve ever seen a video of life inside a madrassa, you know exactly what I mean. In a madrassa, young children are taught to recite from their holy book by chanting scripture. They don’t even know what the words mean. Actually, it’s not important what the words mean. It’s only important that one follows along with the mindless exercise. The same picture repeats itself at The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. As adults, these very same children who were taught to mindlessly chant from their holy book are still doing the same thing. Talk about brainwashing.
Behind every belief system is a subconscious need to believe, or perhaps more accurately – to belong. That’s how clubs and cults operate. It’s also how the family system works. People are social creatures who need to belong (whether they realize it or not). The price of belonging is to follow the rules. In religion, it’s to be true to your faith – or to be more exact, to its dogma that was formulated by who knows who a couple of thousand years ago.
The beliefs of the various religions have some similarities and some things which are totally different. However, they generally have one thing in common. The origins of their beliefs usually started with some sort of extraterrestrial intervention. That is, Joseph Smith (the Mormon religion) received writings from an angel, Mohammed (Islam) received a revelation from an angel, Zoroaster (Zoroastrianism) received his holy Commandments on the top of a sacred mountain as did Moses (Judaism) and Paul (Christianity) had an unearthly encounter with Jesus. In cults, the usual story is that the leader is supposedly the reincarnation of some holy person, as if there even is such a thing. Of course, there would have been no way for any of them to know for certain who or what they were dealing with. They simply accepted what they were told from some extraterrestrial entity. That is, that they were led to believe that they were being visited by an angel, by God or by Jesus, as the case might be.
So believing is easy. We all do it, all the time. Knowing the truth is altogether another matter. As wise a man as Socrates realized that the truth is ultimately unknowable. With respect to religion, the Pascal Wager sums this up quite nicely as follows, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” Further, in the field of science, Einstein realized that the universe (creation) was unknowable, even to him. Despite this, religions of all stripes claim that they, above all others, are privy to the Word of God and believe that their holy book is the one and only authentic Book of God. In the final analysis, religion is really a no brainer for most people. Knowingly or unknowingly, they just accept what they’re told and they have faith that it’s right. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith.
” How can you say that you are wise and that you have the LORD’s teachings? The scribes have used their pens to turn these teachings into lies.”
– Jeremiah 8:8