Superstition and reason – the evolution of religion

Superstition and reason stand on the opposite sides of the road. Superstition is based on fear of the unknown, reason embraces the unknown.

The Neolithic man lived twelve thousand years ago. All things around him seemed to conspire for his death. He did not understand nature and did not differentiate animate from inanimate objects. He was no match for nature and pleased it with the beating of crude drum-like instruments, dances, and the mumbling of words. Rituals were his only defence.

Dreams were not understood at all. They were ascribed to something sinister inside the body that spoke to them at night. What else could it be?. Dreams were spirits that spoke to him/her. Some were good and some bad. The good ones were not much to worry about, but the bad ones were feared. This is the time where “hope” was born. Time was extended into the future and could change current paths if the bad spirits were pleased. Idols were created to please both good and bad spirits. You don’t want to turn a bad spirit into a bad one! He now worshipped idols, and these idols were his gods.

The gods needed rituals and with that religion was born. Man created religion to suit his style and train of thought. So evolved Brahmanism, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism, all inspired, all supernatural, and with their myriads of followers who believed and still believe that theirs is the only true creed.

Modern believers distinguish their belief system from our savage ancestors. But it is all the same. Both worship an idol or deity, created by man. The religious factor is no less prevalent today than it was in primitive societies.

Charlatans succeeded in persuading reasonable people that the thing almost impossible to understand was the most essential for their eternal survival. People are frightened and when they are kept in fear they cease to reason. It is easier to please fear than to trust reason and face it. Reason was labelled the enemy. When the brain is troubled, we believe everything and examine nothing.

“Primitive man did not understand the natural cause of shadows, echoes, the birth and death of vegetable and animal organisms. Of this ignorance, religion was born, and theology was evolved as its art of expression.” (Draper.)

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