Alan Duff: The more we know, the more we cling to beliefs

The more science advances, the more inclined is the human race to cling to nonsense.
Humankind can have craft venture beyond our solar system yet we still defer to an ancient book. Photo / NASA
Humankind can have craft venture beyond our solar system yet we still defer to an ancient book. Photo / NASA

I had a dream I was sitting with family and a few friends when my heart just stopped.

I toppled on my side and my last thought was: I'm gone. No parting words to say. Though later in the dreaming night I was telling a friend of this dream and we were chuckling.

I'm one for panoramic dreams and disappointed that they apparently mean nothing; just the brain having a sort-through of events, relationships, fears, hopes.

For seems to me that the often astoundingly creative process that goes on nightly in the brain should mean more than self-applied mind/emotion plumbing, as in flushing.

You dream of witnessing a plane crash and in the next day's news a passenger airliner crashed. But of course we have dream-witness to these events all the time; it's only when the stars align do we think how eerie, what a premonition.

These regular tales of people claiming to have seen heaven and hell in near-death experiences are nonsense and self-delusional. We're just atoms formed into molecules that came together organically. Just as when we die those same atoms are no longer a human life but something else.

The body is dispersed: bacteria lays greatest claim, and no need to go into the complex dispersal process. You, the individual, is just gone. Though if you have offspring, then some of your genes live on. But you don't. Really, you are gone.

Humankind's evolving brain has taken us in the last, let's say two thousand and sixteen years since Christ was born, to believing the sun and the stars revolved around our Earth.

To sending a craft to a tiny rock in distant space and landing on it. The dart thrown from Earth and hitting a flea between the eyes. The two Voyager spacecraft have left our solar system. Extraordinary.

Yet the two major opposing Muslim sects are still arguing violently over an event that took place fourteen centuries ago. Christians still quote from the book written at least a century after Jesus Christ was killed, as if not only were the words composed both before and during his time, but everything attributed to Jesus is true for all eternity: He is the Son of God and don't anyone dare challenge this absolute, irrefutable Truth.

But here's the rub - 77 per cent of Americans believe aliens have visited Earth, compared to 68 per cent who believe Jesus is the Son of God.

We all know people who swear they've seen a ghost. Not of any other form of life than a human.

Sunni and Shia sects are each so adamant they're right on Mohammad's succession plans, they've been killing each other for the last fourteen hundred years over it.
Last week the self-appointed Bishop Brian Tamaki put earthquakes down to the angry acts of God. My friend Bob Jones wrote me last week that my outrage at this ranter was off the mark: Tamaki was quoting the Bible. Good point, Bob.

We all know people who swear they've seen a ghost. Not of any other form of life than a human. As if nature evolved us alone and singular, at least as to ghostly worth. More often than not the ghost is a murdered person yet to find closure on the foul deed that took her/him from this life.

So happens there are billions of murdered people throughout human history. So why aren't they permitted to make an anguished appearance? Why did Bernadette Sourboris, a 14-year-old peasant girl of Lourdes, France, see an apparition of Mother Mary, a claim made in 1858 that went on to become a healing destination for unwell believers and going strong to this day?

If Miss Sourboris had seen an apparition of the recently departed village drunk or indeed, the village idiot? Would Lourdes exist as it does today - no, of course not. Spoon and fork-benders, mind-readers, clairvoyants, tea-leaf readers, evangelist tithers, and all other charlatans prey on human emotions and manipulate the narrative to their own ends.

Seems the more science advances, so go those of ordinary intelligence in the opposite direction. Just because you dreamed you were flying does not mean in reality that you can. But surely there are signs that defy explanation?

On the last fairway of a golf match some years ago my partner and I needed a net birdie to win the match. As I walked to my second shot, lo and behold, a fantail flitted around me; I held out a hand and it hopped onto my forearm. I got a net birdie. And swear that wee birdie spoke to me.

- NZ Herald

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Alan Duff

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