A six years old boy once observed the rain. At night, he asked his mother-“Mother, how does it rain?”
The mother, being an uneducated woman with the first child, could have said,-“Son, I don’t know the answer. You should probably ask a wiser person.”
But the mother, afraid of looking stupid in front of her child, made up something to feed the little boy’s curiosity-“It rains, son, when the people living in the skies take a shower. The water that they use falls on the ground, and we call it rain.”
The boy had never heard something like that before. But at the age of six he was not sceptical. He took it as a valid answer and fell asleep.
The next morning he had plenty questions that he needed to ask to his mother. ‘Who are these people?’ ‘Are they good people?’ ‘Why do they live in skies?’ ‘Is that the better place to live or worse?’ ‘And why do they take showers only in the monsoon?’
The mother found herself in trouble as she was too dumb to either accept that she lied, or to make up further stories about the people in the skies. Therefore she said, “Well, we don’t know much about them. But I know one thing. They are not bad people.”
The boy was disappointed by his mother’s inability to help. But now he knew that there are other good people out there living in the skies.
So now, whenever the child would see something new, and he didn’t have the knowledge to understand its mechanism, he’d somehow relate that to the other people. Now he had formulated a theory that those people were very powerful. They were enormous in size. That could be the reason why it rumbled in the sky when they danced.
‘As they were so powerful, they might have created everything we see. They could make us alive. They could kill us too.’
The boy was very satisfied with the whole story as it answered all the questions he was having in his mind. Thus his imaginary world explained his doubts in the real world. And he was too innocent to have doubts about his imaginary world.
He was happy now.
The boy turned twelve. He had almost forgotten that imaginary world up above. His curiosity was dead as such. He was too busy in playing and fighting with the neighbourhood children of his age.
Once when crossing from woods when returning home, he lost his way. He was scared as the sun was setting down. He wished if someone was there to show him the way. There he remembered the other people in the skies again. He wished if they could help him. He wished they could see everything that was going on from up above. And somehow guide him his way to his home. And also, as they were powerful people, they could protect him from dangers.
The only problem was how to draw their attention to those particular woods? He made a fire. He sat there with respect, and said, “Please help me, show me the way.” The warmth of the fire and the thought that the other people are watching him, made him comfortable. He slept beneath a tree and woke up safe in the morning.
The other people in the skies were his friends now.
Doesn’t this story sound familiar?
Assuming that we are past the question of whether god created man or man created god, the origin of faith exposes two important qualities of human behaviour.
(i) Discomfort about the unexplained matters, and
(ii) Wishful thinking.
I carefully use the words faith or belief in place of the word religions; as religions, organised religions to be precise; are rather thought-out scams. I cannot blame the human behaviour for origin of multibillion dollars worth of religious empires. But the faith in a superior being is as humane as the fear of being helpless itself.
I have my inference about the organised religions too, and I do not hate to hurt the feelings of my religious friends. But here I make it my business to explain the human behaviour and not criticising the religions.
Talking about the human need of knowing everything, this is one of the most fundamental human instincts. Hunger, thirst, fear, pain, almost all mammals are capable of those feelings. But humans need to know. Curiosity is a natural milestone of a developing child. As soon as a regular child starts to observe the things around him, he starts to have questions. And as it turns out, the science is the younger child of curiosity.
A boy gets curious about the rain. He tries to get the explanation by asking his mother. Mother suggests asking someone else. But it seems nobody really knows anything about the damn thing. Now he is disappointed. And next time when it rains, he feels uneasy. He feels discomfort because he cannot understand what is going on. What else can be more convenient than to hold a superior being responsible for the things that he cannot understand? The belief, however unrealistic it might be; is better than having no answer at all, as long as it matters to the comfort of comprehension.
The other phenomenon of human behaviour is also as simple as the first one is. Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality, or reality. This is not only a philosophy or wishful thinking by someone else. Standard studies and trials have proved the authenticity of this phenomenon.
Well indeed, how nice it would be if we had a god. He would be powerful. And he would protect us all. He would watch us from above. How nice it would be, if we did something nice, God would reward us. If someone did something wrong to us, he would punish them. If we did something wrong to someone else, he would forgive us. How nice it would be if there was a life after death. How nice if there was a place with no sorrow or suffering at all, where we would wake up after death. And live there ever after, until the end of time.
Isn’t this obvious that this is all that we can wish for the messed up and substandard form of life we have to endure on the earth? The fairytales of adulthood?
Concluding this, in my defense, I like to add that what I wrote, here in this assay, does not by any means criticise the originality and authenticity of any religions or beliefs of anyone, which I intend to do someplace else. This particular assay is about my observation about human behaviour and thinking.