Sunday, November 2, 2008
Other Sources of Belief Outside Religious Scriptures
Until now, written sources of religious belief were mentioned, but there are other sources of a less traditional nature. Scriptures have some scientific basis, as some of them have been proved true, either in content, or by archeological findings. This is one of the reasons, why religious scriptures haven't completely lost their authority over the leading groups of society. The other reason is that their information can openly be shared by everybody. It is still considered acceptable to involve the clergy in social events like weddings. In many countries people may, even in court or in parliament, pledge their allegiance on an important religious book, or on God's name.
Other phenomena, however, usually cannot be shared by more than one person or group and appear only once. Yet, unusual events that apparently contradict the laws of nature, have a great impact on people. Some of them, for instance baby Jesus talking to the people from his crib, were written down in religious scriptures (in this case the Bible). They have been used as an example to people of how God may defy the laws of nature to show His power, or His mere existence. Other phenomena, like God's name written on fish, corn circles, crying Madonnas, and Hindu Ganesh-statues drinking milk, find a way towards the media and cause quite a stir among believers -- and skeptics. The first obvious question is: Is this truth or setup? The second question may be: What is their message, and who sent it? Is it God's way to manifest Himself to man; is it something else? These are fascinating phenomena, yet we shouldn't call them divine revelations, as their origin is unknown. Believers may call those phenomena, when written down in their scripture, a phenomenon of divine origin meant to be a sign to mankind. Therefore, a divine revelation -- where provability is another issue.
These mysterious events and phenomena have a non-religious aspect too. Some people possess qualities like clairvoyance. Sometimes, detectives of police use their services. This is, however, a danger area, as many people have commercially exploited their 'gift' when there was none. Especially the medical sector seems prone to people who use obscure tactics instead of scientifically acknowledged methods. For this reason, several religions, Islam for instance, have forbidden the use of magicians, and so does the law in many countries in the majority of necessarily–protected fields of interest. However, religion and society don't deny the existence of 'supernatural' phenomena either. There is a big difference between a magician or a quack on the one hand, and supernatural phenomena on the other. But since we usually can't prove the difference when we need it -- we only view in retrospect -- prudence is the best way to deal with the subject.
The most important source of belief other than scriptures and supernatural events, however, is life itself -- our planet with all its inhabitants, the earth, water, sky, and the other celestial bodies. Believers see nature and its delicate system as enough proof of God's existence. Only a careful, highly skilled planner–creator could produce a system as immense as nature and the universe. The miracle of birth, and the fact that each human being is made within the same complicated structure that we still don't fully comprehend, is proof of God's existence and power, they say. This is an abominable concept in non-believers' eyes. Nature is a power in itself, of which we will finally gain full academic knowledge. Then we shall see, that all those gods and scriptures were inventions of politicians. The idea that one of the many scriptures might be more truthful than others, is not very tempting to non-believers. To many people -- among whom also some who do belief in God -- religious scriptures are nothing but man–made legal and political works. Religious scriptures are a necessary prerequisite to proper belief to some -- and a mere jammer to others. And indeed the wonders of nature are enough inspiration to some to believe in a divine creator.