If there were one salient lesson to be learned from the unsparingly cruel advent of COVID-19, it is that such horrific natural occurrences occur spontaneously and affect humans without discrimination; the secular and religiously inclined, the virtuous as well as the miscreant, the wise as much as the ignorant. The tragic advent of epidemic is universal, objective, and consummately impartial in its delivery of misery. Its defeat, as empirically shown, can be achieved, exclusively, by scientific study and the successful development of an effective remedy; in this case, an effective vaccine.
The ability of mankind, in general, to devise solutions to presenting problems, medical, scientific, and social, inarguably, derives from the primal generosity of Evolution in gifting mankind with an advanced brain, possessing the existentially useful capability of reason. Man’s progress toward enlightenment, including the ultimate understanding of himself and his ambient Planet, seems to be slow and plodding but, with the steady employment of his innate capacity for reason, such wisdom is ultimately attainable.
As our readers are aware, we are adherents to the empirical school of epistemology, espoused by the brilliant, 19th Century philosopher, John Locke. Locke famously declared that man is born with a tabula rasa (“ blank slate”) and that all knowledge and reason are acquired through learned experience. Locke and the many Enlightenment thinkers of the “Empirical School of Philosophy,” rejected the theory of the “Rationalists,” who maintained that man at birth is inspired with certain information.
We have previously written on the relevant subject of “Holy Books,” such as the King James Bible, all of which, firmly and consistently, indicate adherence to the belief that the Earth and its flora and fauna was an event of Devine creation. Reportedly, there are, in fact, no less than 4300 independent religions in the World, each, presumably, with believers in its respective Holy Book’s rendition of the origin of Man and the Planet, notably, by non-empirical means. The eternal and universal desire, to ascertain the ultimate answers, relating to the perplexing dynamics of the origin of mankind and the World, are daunting; and, it appears, have been assuaged by the plethora of diverse traditional dogma, each varying with the cultural identity and geographical history of its followers.
It is noteworthy, that in the Judaic and Christian Bibles, the apocryphal tale is that the first man, “Adam” (“Earth,” in Hebrew) committed the “Original Sin” of eating an apple from the forbidden “Tree of Knowledge,” offered by the first woman, “Eve”. The result of such “sinful” act was that they “discovered their nakedness” and were banished from Eden (we read, ignorance), forever. It is our interpretation of this remarkably symbolic story that the venerable author of Genesis may be eons ahead in his symbolic understanding. As we would interpret the legend, eating an apple from the “Tree of Knowledge” and suddenly discovering his nakedness, is all too easily understood, as Early Man, eschewing his primitive ignorance, and discovering his identity as a sentient, self -aware being. We have never understood the popular religious need to atone for homo sapiens’ awakening to his own evolved status. Especially relevant, for those who wrongfully tend to demote the status of the female of the species to secondary importance, to take note that, as we construe Genesis, Eve was the bringer of knowledge to Adam (mankind) and not an evil temptress. It might be further enlightening to some people, to point out that the image of the snake (“serpent”) in ancient mythology, has always been employed as a symbol of fertility ( See: Campbell, Bullfinch, Hamilton). The existence of a symbol of fertility, hanging from a limb of the tree of knowledge, in Genesis, should be, in secular terms, self-explanatory.
The need to associate oneself with a superhuman or superstitious agency has eternally been a primitive reaction and lazy solution to life’s existential mysteries. It seems to be unsettling for most people to live with so many unanswered questions including, the origins of Man and the Universe, mortality, the engine behind the routine mechanics of childbirth, the human body’s conjoint organ function, maturity and aging, the unknown dynamic phenomena of love, hate, jealousy and unjustified fear for personal security, and for the objectively accurate evaluation of the self. Nevertheless, the route to inner peace and the mature perception and acceptance of reality, are exclusively internal, and personal phenomena.
It is our understanding that the improved tolerance to life’s questions and unknown circumstances are best responded to by personal self-advancement, deliberative thought, and employment of whatever wisdom has been empirically garnered. Indeed, seeking the answers to many eternal questions may be beyond the present ken, still, as stated, the quest for available answers to basic esoteric questions are properly struggled with, internally. Looking to a third party- agency for assistance is not constructive or rational. Shakespeare’s Polonius’ famous advice to his son Laertes, says it all: “Our faults, Laertes, are not in the stars, but in ourselves.” Stated otherwise, and in non-Elizabethan prose: we cannot gainsay the rational process of understanding, by defaulting to an external, third-party agency.
By way of illustration, have encountered people that consult daily horoscopes for insight, self-analysis and for predictions of the future. The underlying dynamic is that the specific configuration of the heavenly bodies, at the moment of one’s birth,( his zodiac) is a reliable regular indicator of persona or, alternatively, one’s future. It is to be noted that the practice of looking to a non-human agency for any determination is futile and an obvious sign of inadequate self-reliance. Interestingly, it is to be noted that the signs of the zodiac were construed by the ancient Babylonians, many Eras before the very discovery and location of the planets; and many ages before any rudimentary understanding of the operation of our Solar System. We have Copernicus to thank, for the ultimately accepted recognition that the Earth travels around the Sun, and not the other way around (The Heliocentric Theory).
We acknowledge the many positives that religious affiliation can afford to the individual viz., a needed sense of referable provenance of identity, fraternal security and, most usefully, as a needed measure of comfort with the frightening prospect of man’s inevitable mortality. Its cultural and socially interactive aspects may, affirmatively and positively, satisfy certain societal needs, but It should, under no circumstances, replace the vital element of reason in man’s apprehension of reality.
The responsible and useful enhancement of reason and the goal of mature perspective, as frequently urged by us, are, as stated, obtained by the willing engagement in elective and enabling, worthwhile pursuits. The rewards include self-confidence which affirmatively renders one open to, and not threatened by, divergent points of view. Mature perception mitigates the pernicious impact of the taught lessons of “we” and “they,” ultimately resulting in, insular (tribal) phenomena, responsible for the seemingly eternal, religiously inspired, conflicts and tragic bloody warfare.
It is our view that the most valuable and useful faith is one dedicated to man’s developing reason.