What, then, is the eternal power in a human being? It is faith.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses p.19
Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re forgiven for thinking that this is a poetic or philosophical post, given the long and metaphorically dubious title. The truth is, the title—as always—is a bit misleading. Just a bit, though.
So last Saturday we had a penalty shootout. It was a tense moment because it would decide the fate of our team: progress or disqualification. For all that the team has gone through, we were restless and there was an air of uneasiness in the breath of each and every player. All of a sudden, like in all penalty shootout, everybody grew religious and spiritual. The tension was just unbearable, to think that what the team had sacrificed so far would be decided by a simple roll of dice. Penalty shootout mostly consists of luck, so everybody—including me, too, by the way, if that piece of information concerns you—seemed to pray and ask and beg and plead.
The result doesn’t correlate much to what this post is about. Instead, this post is a continuation of two thoughts that occurred to me during the shootout. Do people need God only when they have one or two things in their wish-list? And are prayers relevant to the final results?
Let me, this humble sailor of yours, propose my view on this matter.
First question: do people view God only as a personal Santa Claus? Ah, this one is a bit tricky and I care to go to a great extent to talk about this. I’ve read somewhere that we, human, desperately need control of the future. So we made God, as a means—albeit a strange one—to gain an upper hand. I’ve also read somewhere that we, human, desperately need an authority, just like dogs need their master. So we made God. And I’ve also read somewhere that we, human, can’t stand the morbid fact that there is no afterlife, that life is just void of any purpose. So we made God, as supreme ruler of the afterlife, deciding who go to where.
Do you, ladies and gentlemen, realize the implication of these propositions? It means that THERE IS ACTUALLY NO GOD. It screams to the shell-shocked mind: “There’s your cold bitter truth, have the courage to swallow that up!”
But is it, really? Is there actually no God? Well, to a healthy rationalist, the answer is quite clear: yes, there is actually no reason whatsoever to believe in God. There is no scientific evidence that properly proves that God does exist. Well, if you blind yourself to the facts, maybe you’re keeping Pascal’s wager in your mind. You are an opportunistic, cowardly, unreasonable form of life.
Now, on to the second question: are prayers relevant to the final results? Well, this one is easier because if there is no God, it follows that prayers are just futile efforts to exert control over the future. If the future turns out as you would like it, then you’d think that your prayer worked. If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s not in His plan. To a healthy rationalist, this is just wishful thinking. No way a mere utterance of words can veto the Laws of Nature.
“So you really think there is actually no God and you don’t believe in prayer?” some of you might ask. Well, us sailors do believe that even though the night is pitch black and the sea is restless, there exists a Hand that constantly guards our ship, that we’ll eventually cruise through the storm. That faith we have, and for whatever is left of that fragment of faith, we thank Him. Oh, we do believe in prayers, too, by the way.