Do you have need for God?
ago I met in Budapest a bright socialist young man with whom I interacted for
only six days. His vast culture, unaltered balance and impeccable Spanish
opened up space for pleasant conversations. This lucky encounter occurred
during the Christian Holy Week, so the dialogue with such special character
inevitably had to go through the intricacies of faith and disbelief.
believe in God? –I asked him when the opportunity arose.
curiosity about 'my beliefs' is misconceived - he calmly replied. The proper
question should address 'my need'.
-Do you have
need for God? - I insisted then, adjusting my question to his format.
-No, I do
not - my ephemeral friend responded displaying an equanimity that I have rarely
seen in devout believers answering similar questions.
Do we have need for God? The answer would be ‘yes’ for the vast majority of devotees, and
negative for all the non-affiliated people. Although smaller than the huge mass
of believers, the non-affiliated group, around one billion people, is
large enough to assert that religious inclination is a discretionary feature in
humans with no genetic roots whatsoever.
inquisitive nature, we, humans, invariably demand answers,
and we often accept them even when they are not reasonable enough. 'God' is the
simplest explanation for all incomprehensible phenomena. Divine intervention
will always be easier to 'understand' than the big bang theory, the workings of
genetic selection, or the initial formation of the basic cells in complex
organisms (eukaryotes) that occurred about two billion years ago.
religiousness, the quality of being religious, which is personal, religion is
cultural. As physical traits are transmitted by genes, behaviors
are passed by memes, a word coined by the biologist Richard Dawkins to refer to
the 'genes' of social groups. Like genes,
although in a different way, memes also 'struggle' for survival and rely to
propagate on human predispositions and conditionings with much help from the
media and advertising. The influence of memes in a group is as powerful as the
genes in an individual. This is particularly true in the propagation and
maintenance of the memes of religion. According to American philosopher Daniel
C. Dennett, "religions themselves are extremely well designed cultural
phenomena that have evolved to survive”.
scholars argue that, with the growing understanding of matter, life and the
universe, religions are in the way to extinction. They are wrong. Religious
participation in most countries remains very high, Western Europe being the
major geographic exception, and Muslim and Christian countries, as well as
India, the strongest confirmations of the trend.
government actions, whether scorn, prohibition or persecution, nor do the
developments of science and technology seem to alter religious fervor. Long
periods of ‘spiritual abstinence' enforced by totalitarian regimes, as it
happened in Communist societies under the tutelage of Moscow, have failed to
put out the flames of faith. In the
community of nations, United States is simultaneously the leading country in
application of technology (with the consequent material progress) and the
second in religious participation.
the 'Pew Research Center', a think tank based in Washington, by 2050 there will
be 2,920 million Christians, 2,760 million Muslims, and 1,380 million adherents
to Hinduism, with respective growths of 34.6%, 72.5% and 34.0% compared to 2010.
Non-affiliates will reach by the middle of the century 1,230 million people
with a modest increase of 25.2% over the same period.
the question at the beginning of this note shall remain appropriate for many decades.
Which group do you belong to, dear reader? To the overwhelming religious
majority that faithfully believes in God, Allah or Brahman? Or, do you
follow the dissidents of that majority who, due to scientific logic, defiance
or indifference, do not believe in metaphysical entities? Or, perhaps, are you
part of the 'huge' minority which, as my thoughtful friend from Budapest, has
no need for God at all?
Atlanta, May 18, 2015
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