Belief Is a Funny Thing

Religious people throughout the world perform rituals they believe will enhance their spiritual standing with the god they believe in.

  • Hindus cover each other with colored powder and dance while taking part in Holi festival celebrations.
  • Chinese villagers perform dragon dances o celebrate the lantern festival.
  • Christian Orthodox worshippers hold up candles they believe are lit from the ‘Holy Fire.’
  • Indonesian muslims perform the Eid Al-Fitr prayer on ‘sea of sands’ at Parangkusumo beach in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
  • Hindus in Bangladesh celebrate the Hindu festival of Janmashtami, which marks the birth of the Hindu god Lord Krishna.
  • Buddhist monks release lanterns into the air during celebrations for Vesak Day.
  • Ultra-orthodox Jews perform a ritual one day before the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur in which they cast their sins into the water and the fish.

Each individual performs these rituals in the belief that it will draw them closer to their respective god.

But the example that is most striking is this one:

This expression of religious belief is said to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

While many of us find the act depicted in this image repulsive, these people are just as certain it pleases their god as (some) Christians are sure their acts of prayer, church attendance, bible reading, etc.cast them in a favorable light with their “God.”

Surely, belief is a funny thing.


40 thoughts on “Belief Is a Funny Thing

  1. Excellent post. You forgot one of my favorites, however. *Conservative Christians hate gays because they believe God wants them too. I’ve far less of an issue with people doing religious acts that simply affect only themselves than I do for the ones that spread bigotry and hatred under a religion’s banner. I’ve also a lot more respect for the piece of crap bigot who can say he or she is is a piece of crap bigot simply because that’s who they are and not because their deity demands they be one. Have a great New Year, BTW.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An amusing post, Nan! Rituals are not repulsive or ridiculous at all, I appreciate the value they can have for many people, and I respect those who practice them, but I don’t feel the urge to please any spiritual being, . The faith it takes to be sure that one’s prayers will then be heard, is astonishing.
    Familiar circumstances made it necessary for me to live for two years in a boarding house and to attend a (Protestant) church on Sundays. I was 17 and had decided that no belief “system” could possibly convince me of its virtues. In spite of my resistance to the services, I discovered something agreeable that didn’t require faith: joining the community in singing hymns, some of them with beautiful melodies that I still find myself humming- even I’m not near a churh, a mosque, a synagogue 🙂
    Wish you a healthy, wealthy (not too much) and wise 2015!


  3. I wonder if belief would exist if there wasn’t an anticipation of a reward for having that belief?

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
    — Albert Einstein —

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In a comic strip, a mother asks her son of 6, 7:
    – Cicero, why can’t you be a good boy?
    – OK, I’ll be good…. A second later: … For a quarter!
    Father: – The very idea! Young man, I heard that. When I was a boy, I never asked for money. I was a good boy!
    Mother: See? Why can’t you be like your father?
    Cicero (turning around): OK, I´ll be good for nothing!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My “prayers” go out to you, Victoria.

    Seriously, I don’t envy you. I live in a fairly progressive state overall, but the part I live in (and especially the town itself) is very conservative. There’s a regular stream of letters to the editor, as well as repeated postings on Facebook, about how we’re all going down the drain because of the “liberalists.” And Obama? Oh my. He’s the devil himself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a regular stream of letters to the editor as well as regular postings on Facebook about how we’re all going down the drain because of the ‘liberalists.’

      During the Bush administration, there was a guy who wrote letters to the closest newspaper to me, singing Bush’s praises – I sent counter-letters and tore him a new one. The more agitated he became, the more I calmly presented facts – it was good practice for here.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Nan. 🙂

      I have a great mother, a very supportive family in every area of my life except for my lack of belief in their cultural god. I am having to put my things in storage there for the time being, and I just had to laugh at the subtle (not so subtle) things they will say to me. For example, my mom called me today, all excited about finding me a storage unit. I had already looked up the price of storage and where she should go. I knew what to expect. So, my mom was beside herself to tell me what a great deal I got (which is pretty much the going rate), then she said “God is looking out for you”. 😀

      She, however, didn’t take any of the credit for going the distance (getting in the car, during a rain storm and driving to the storage facility) to secure a storage unit for me. Instead, she gave her god all the credit when she did all the leg work and paid the deposit. But, it’s those continuous comments about god that is their way of saying I should (need) believe (for their sake).

      Yes, belief is a funny thing.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, I agree, Jeff. The more they can get people to believe, the more effective the placebo effect is. My daughter and I had some last minute running around to do on Tuesday before I move. We got into a discussion about how most people (where we live) would get offended if you asserted your lack of beliefs on others.

          The reason the conversation came up was because while we were at Walmart looking for moving supplies, I overhead a Walmart employing witnessing to a customer at the paint counter. He was also going on and on about how he hated working for Walmart, but God got him this job and he should be grateful, blah, blah, blah. But he kept going on and on about “Da Lord” well after he had already mixed the paint for the customer.

          I stood and eavedropped for a few minutes and the woman (victim) who had to put up with this had a WTF smile on her face and didn’t say a word to him. Finally another guy came to the counter and she made her escape. This employee crossed boundaries and was unprofessional, but gets away with this invasive behavior, like so many do, because Christianity is the default belief system in America and they apparently thing they always have the right-a-way.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Perfectly stated, Victoria. If that employee had been going on and on about how he was an atheist and thought belief in god was silly, he’d have been fired. People’s personal beliefs in fantastical, invisible magical guys needs to be kept private and not shoved onto others. Aggravating. Very aggravating.

          Liked by 2 people

        • You know what Jeff? You don’t even have to go on and on about your lack of belief. You don’t even have to say a word. I was “laid off” from a job (before I could collect unemployment) because I didn’t attend the companies weekly bible study which was on my dime and time, even though they told me that attending was voluntary.

          How do I know this was the reason? Because I had recently been given an “excellent” performance review before being laid off. I never once talked about my non-belief, but I had to listen to “praise the lord” and “amen to that” and “the lord told me” on a daily basis.

          The next job I got was the same religious rhetoric from a very conservative Catholic guy who hated Obama, “fags”, and “niggers”. Now mind you, I had no idea he was like this until I’d been there a couple of weeks. I’d get emails from him, too, sharing conservative news articles. I felt like he was testing me. I just kept my mouth shut because I needed the job.

          Then, for about a week, I had to borrow my daughter’s car because my car went into the shop for repair. She had a Darwin fish symbol bumper sticker and a car tag that said “In Reason We Trust”. That’s all it took for me to get “laid off”, again before I could collect unemployment. I’ve worked for the government in Washington, DC and for Fortune 500 companies, and I was never “laid off” or fired — not until I became an unbeliever.

          Sometimes belief is not so funny. Think you’d still have a job, Jeff, had your religious employer found out you were a non-believer?

          Liked by 2 people

        • I worked for a Catholic institution for 18 years. Though they weren’t as bad as what you’ve described, had I been outspoken about my non-belief, I’m sure there’d have been issues. My non-belief has been more pronounced in the past 3 or 4 years. A great deal of that comes from a particular religious ass I worked with at that job. He and his conservative Catholic girlfriend are the coffin, the nails, and the hammer that buried any shred of theistic belief left in me. Most of the satire I write about bigotry and religion, I write with those two in mind. So, they help me make people laugh. I guess that’s good, but working with them, at that place, was deeply unpleasant. I’ve really come to despise “faith” and religion because of it. Humans matter, not belief in invisible guys. If we ever learn and value that as a species, we’ll thrive. But I’m not hopeful that will ever happen.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve been working over the concepts of opinion, belief, and knowing for a long time now. Possibly because of a cultural bias, we tend to use the verb believe to express things that we know instead. I don’t believe that the sun will rise in the morning. I know it will, and in the East as well! There are events that could change that, but they are so massive that I would already be well aware of them and their potential. Still no “belief” needed. This whole idea will require a lot more brain grinding!
    As for what pleases one’s gods, well, after asking several of my co-religionists, the most common answer I got was something along the idea of recycling. That’s probably what I would answer as well, so I seriously hope that various energy efficiency and recycling laws won’t get challenged because they are religious ritual!


    • Thank you for accepting and understanding the funny, but true, belief, that everything is always about me simply because I said it is. Oh. And I’ve got, like, this old-ass book that says in it, if you read it backwards in moonlight, that everything is about me, too. So. There. If anyone needs proof that everything is about me, I just offered it. $Amen$


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