I've just read an interesting article about a Bolivian who was in a plane crash in which eight others died. He survived for three days by eating insects and drinking his own urine, as well as drawing a huge arrow using his blood to make the wreckage more visible. Upon rescue, the first thing he did was fall to his knees and thank God.
Now it's wonderful that this man survived, but let's just consider whether his gratitude might be a tad misplaced? The article rightly observes that presumably the same God allowed the plane to crash, the other passengers to perish, and required the fortunate male to spend three days in fear and physical pain. Could it be that his gratitude would be better directed towards his rescuers? Or the survival skills he had acquired? When he is giving thanks to the almighty is he really right in doing so when all else is taken into consideration? Of course, we hear identical testimony in the wake of other tragedy both great and small; there is something in us that needs to feel protected, that we're being watched over, and that it will all be alright in the end. I'm not going to be critical of this man, and I hope he is now back in the arms of his family, and I expect what we're reflecting on is a very human response to fear and the realisation that we are indeed mortal.
The author of the article then asks " Does religion manufacture fools, or do fools gravitate towards religion?"
I suspect he was being deliberately mischievous in his choice of words. My experience persuades me that the answer is "Sometimes"
Religion does make bright and capable people believe some rather peculiar things, and often defend them to the death. But I won't refer to all people of faith as fools as this seems to me to focus on only a part of who they are. As people we're multi-dimensional and we have many facets to our personality. Religion is a part of some people, but not the be all and end all. They are invariably richer, deeper, and more complicated. True, the more that religion permeates a person the more they become subject to increasingly odd perspectives, but hardly any of the believers I know have gone that far down the rabbit warren. So for once I'm going to be a bit charitable. Don't get too used to it.