All The More Reason


All aboard the reason plane
June 29, 2007, 2:11 am
Filed under: Religion, Technology

I’m fascinated by planes. I can remember as a child living by an airport for a few months and happily watching the planes coming in to land one after another. They would fly in so close I could wave to the passengers and at least plausibly imagine that they could see me and wave back. Never did I lose that amazement in watching a plane come into land. It was an awesome expression of grace and power.

The following is a link to a 747 landing in Hong Kong. What would be my first reaction if I were teleported into that plane flying into Hong Kong and asked to land it?

“Jesus!”

Perhaps after a few quick prayers I might get down to tapping a few odometers and other knick knacks whilst gently pulling side to side on the controls “to get the feel” for the plane. I wouldn’t like our chances of landing the plane in one piece. Let us be clear though, I would like our chances better if I took the 4 seconds to say a quick prayer – even if it were to Pegasus or the Wright Brothers. Interestingly, the pilots in the video don’t seem to be praying at all. Perhaps this is because they’ve had a lot of technical training and understand how a plane works.

This need for prayer in desperate times seems to be deeply innate in how we are made. Even the kernel of the idea found in the previous sentence has been used as an argument for the existence of God! Still, I’m starting to believe that the more and more we can find the clashing of reason and faith in our world and in ourselves the better we can understand ourselves and our environs.

J.S.

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1 Comment so far
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The persistence of belief in religion and other superstition in the face of such an overwhelming lack of evidence is, of itself, more than enough evidence to support what you say about its inateness. Clearly our reason is seasoned by a variety of involuntary irrationalities.

The overused line about religion being an opiate may not be a mere metaphor. I’m sure the act of clasping our hands together and whispering sweet nothings to no one releases some kind of analgesic in us. I’m equally sure that the person who tried to drive a car full of gas and nails into the Haymarket this morning had a similar sense of serenity as he put pedal to the metal.

As a species, we’ll never reason our way out of religion, but we can at least try to marginalise those who use their impulses as an excuse to interfere with others. The analogy of the pilot who foolishly tries to fly his plane on a wing and a prayer is a very good one for illuminating the pitfalls that result from allowing these impulses to go unchecked or, at the very least, unchallenged.

Comment by Michael P




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