The following insightful article was written by an author with the pen name AWritingSighting. It caught my interest because I am a hard core scientist and have no room for divine revelation or the salvation promised by religion. The import of the article is that customs or beliefs that seem stupid to outsiders are around for a reason. Mores or views that have withstood the test of time can not be foolishly dismissed without further examination. For example, cows are not worshiped because they are God like, but because they provide so many survival advantages as the below article details. Please read on, it may change your world view!
Much of the material for this article comes from Howard Bloom’s excellent book The Lucifer Principle. As a young man, science was my religion and if one could not establish a claim scientifically then it was rubbish. At some point it began to dawn on me that I was just as dogmatic about my scientific method as the pulpit pounding fire and brimstone televangelists were about their benevolent God. Many things that scientist claim to be irrefutably true such as gravity and electromagnetic waves are invisible. A scientist will tell you that both of these phenomena are incontrovertibly true since you can see the effects of both everywhere AND one with faith will make a corresponding claim about seeing the effects of God everywhere.
Put a little more succinctly one either sees the evidence of God’s influence everywhere or nowhere.
Bloom states that Indians worship an invisible divinity…..the cow goddess. The cow in Hindu society is most often associated with care giving and motherhood and Hindus honor the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.
Now let’s switch to the pragmatic mode. How could an entire society benefit from worshipping a Cow Goddess? Cow milk feeds their children. Cow dung is combustible and serves as fuel. Cows pull their plows. So killing an animal that provides irreplaceable resources would not be too bright! Sure, while the cows are grazing, some Indians are starving, BUT it is quite clear that the live cow provides more long term benefit to the Indian economy.
Bloom mentions two other examples of how belief in an invisible world can help solve major practical problems. One of these beliefs helps Eskimos stay warm enough to survive and the other allows Balinese farmers to maximize their crop production.
The next time you choose to question or ridicule a custom or practice of a particular ethnic group, look a little closer and you may uncover a practical benefit.