Faith Versus Superstition, the Theory of Randomness and Statistical Probability in Religion, Part 1

14 05 2011

Do Superstitions dominate religious devotional habit?

Faith versus superstition. The theology of randomness? Does God indeed order (command) and order (arrange) every event and occurrence in our lives? Most people believe God has a particular system or way that He goes about running things. And, although many profess to believe that God employs unconditional forgiveness, acceptance and love (through Christ) when dealing with his creatures… and that the old system of rewards and punishments based upon the “Law” has been irrevocably replaced by the new system wherein any “reward” one might receive is exclusively based upon the merits of Christ versus individual performance, merit or attribute (behavioral, emotional or cognitive)… the truth is nobody really believes it. At least nobody I know.

We believe we should believe it. We talk about believing it. We even tell others that we believe it. Perhaps we even convince ourselves, during our “best” moments, that we really do believe it.

Is Religious behavior attempting to cover our bets?

However, in actuality, I believe, we put more faith in superstition or in superstitions. Bottom-line, where the rubber meets the road, when face-to-face with life’s uncertainties, we employ our tool kit of familiar superstitions to navigate and overcome. We have an uncontrollable human tendency to use any and all means to control the uncontrollable. The illusion that this is possible is persistent and powerful.

You don’t have to look very far to see that really bad things are happening all around you all the time. Divorce, death, disease, unemployment, bankruptcy, addiction, mental illness, natural disasters, violence… only tops the long list. It’s pretty natural to want to get and keep yourself safe from such things. Since it holds that if you believe God controls it all… you wanna keep on His good side. You definitely don’t want to piss Him off. In the attempt to do such, we turn to various systems and strategies that we believe will work.

A trip to Las Vegas should convince you of this aspect of your nature. The opulent neon decked hotels, plush accruements, glittering gaming centers, attractive staff and plethora of “give aways” were not built and are not maintained from all the losses incurred by the casinos. Anyone who has a 6th grade knowledge of probability and statistics should be convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that it is impossible for them to ever win. It is a mathematical certainty that they will lose. It is a law that is as immutable and pervasive as the force of gravity. Humankind has found ways to work within the laws of gravity to “conquer” the sky employing avionic principals. However, no one can been the cold rigid laws of mathematics.