Sunday, June 11, 2006

The origin of faith

Humanity has come a long way from the cave to palaces; from tree-tops to giant yachts, from a nomadic pastoral existence to the moon. One of the single most important factors influencing Man's success is faith. Why faith? Why does faith give a human being strength? Why would belief in something improve man's survival chances?

In this article we will try to rationalise divinity and show that it isn't supernatural after all!

There's security in numbers. Suppose 12 people go hunting individually (one by one). And suppose another twelve people go hunting together. It doesn't take rocket science to note that the former case would have made good meat for the animal, and the latter case would have made good meat of the animal. Humans in a group are more secure.

Consider a tribe in the Ganga valley. A tribe is essentially a set of people that reside in the same society. A leader is necessary for the survival of the tribe; leader-less tribes would have been wiped out due to the ensuing chaos! Suppose the ruler of the tribe is very sucsessful; a hero. Suppose he is a good ruler. Suppose he captures many other tribes - and becomes a tribal lord of sorts. If he rules well, will become very popular. And everybody would just idolise him. He would become a living legend (like Sachin Tendulkar is, right now).

In an era where photographs are a few millenia from invention, the only way to pass on his legacy is by word of mouth or by statue - or by book. A human being rapidly becomes a legend. And, in a millenium or so, he becomes a God. His simple deeds (like fetching a tumbler of wine from somewhere) get glorified into turning water into wine. People become passionate about him. He becomes the epitomy of good governance. All further rulers are expected to live up to an ideal established by him; kings aim to be but his re-incarinations, metaphorically speaking.

In a few millenia, Gandhi will become a God of truth and non-violence (his quirks would add to his charm!); Einstien the God of the grey cells, Angelina Jolie, the godess of love, and of course,
the rock band Metallica, the gods of painful noise.

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