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The Value of Faith?

A Google quote-of-the-day caught my eye this morning. It amounted to a backhanded slap to the arrogance of humanity. After all, we’re all so damned important or so we think.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

This particular incarnation of thought is attributed to the French author Andre Malraux. He is not the first to marvel at the folly of human arrogance. Existentialists have chided us about it for many years.

Arrogance is fear cloaked in bravado. The greater the fear, the greater and more foolish the bravado needed to disguise it. Historically, humans have had an irresistible need to make themselves the center of their universe. Apparently, it provides some survival value to the human race. I must confess, it mystifies me as to why and how it is necessary to be happy, to be successful and to be at peace.

Fear of the unknown masked in self-righteous arrogance continues to lead humanity down tragic paths of war, hate and deceit. Groups confident in the truth of their beliefs continue to battle each other on the world stage. The harvest is misery and suffering in the here and now in exchange for a promise of bliss in the hereafter. I can’t make a bit of sense of it, but millions have “faith” that the suffering is worth the “eternal reward” they fear doesn’t exist, hence their arrogance. It reminds me of another recent Google quote of the day . . .

Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.

Author Dan Barker said that, but he only echoes the thoughts of countless others on the topic. Different people have different comfort levels with thoughts of their mortality. Many of us don’t find the prospect of an end to our existence anymore discomforting than the thought of a beginning. For those with a need to hold tight to a faith in the eternal, I offer my respect. I only ask for the same courtesy from them to all others with whom they differ. That is our only hope for world peace whether it is between the Jews and Palestinians, the Muslims and the Christians, the Republicans and the Democrats, blacks, white and browns.

When you stand back and put things in perspective, we’re really not all that important. If we don’t care about our neighbors, we’re fools to hope they will care about us.

Carl Sagan was a great American scientist, author and philosopher. He had a knack for putting things in perspective. One of those things was the human race. You may find his thoughts on the matter interesting. Give them a look.

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