Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Magic is Everywhere

When I was young I was led to believe that the devil and his demons were behind telekinetic powers. So if someone on a TV show or a movie could move objects with their mind, demons were somehow involved. What I took away from that was that telekinesis was real. I thought that if I would only pray to Satan instead of Jesus he would grant me access to his dark powers. I never did because even if Satan was real, then God was real too and so was eternal damnation.
I won't tell you how old I was before the temptation to pray for the devil's blessing gave way to abject but, until today, private embarrassment, but I really should have known better by then. The point of this story isn't that I was stupid (I was) but that religious people truly believe in a world full of magic. The funny thing is that I was actively discouraged from calling this magic. Magic, I was told, was fiction. Witches, demons, angels, god and the devil were all real and therefore no more magic than gravity.
Of course, this is a sliding scale and not everyone believes in magical demons. There are plenty of Christians (and, I assume Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc) who treat religion as a kind of moral guide and a bit of a spiritual crutch and nothing more. 
Even still, I believe that this provides some perspective on all religious people. All religious people, simply by definition, believe that the extraordinary and otherwise impossible can and does happen. I don't mean this necessarily as criticism, but as a way of understanding how religious belief can inform a distorted perception of reality. There are people - hundreds of thousands if not millions - all over the world who deeply believe in a wide variety of supernatural phenomena. They believe that demons try to snare them and that angels try to save them. They believe that devils are responsible for temptation and that gods are responsible for all good things. They believe that their deity is good and all others are either fiction or devils in disguise.
This sounds hyperbolic. As I said above, not everyone believes to the same degree and I certainly don't intend to paint everyone with the same brush. Nevertheless there are plenty of people, people with political power, people with power in numbers who believe dangerous, ludicrous and contrary things. I think it's helpful to understand where they are coming from.
There are nearly 7 billion humans on this planet, and we can't seem to agree on a common reality.

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