Phil Cook: Why I don't make sacrifices to the gods

Phil Cook is a Retired Primary School Head

Occasionally it begins to rain when I open my front door to go out. I assume it’s a conspiracy against me, and - looking up to the heavens - utter a curse. On a good day I then have a laugh at myself for being so self-centred. The reason I can laugh is I know from evidence gleaned through my life that weather - good or bad - is not sent by the gods, but by physical weather systems.

If I had been born in a time when ordinary folk like me knew nothing of the scientific method, I would probably have thought weather was sent by the gods, and would have felt aghast at my cursing them. Would the gods punish me for my lack of respect? I would have quickly said sorry, and asked nicely for better weather next time. Not too much harm so far, I suppose.

But I might also have felt the need to curry favour by carrying out a propitiation ceremony. Again, not so bad: maybe. But if the ceremony included giving a gift to the gods (like we might give a bunch of flowers after a quarrel) I could be on a slippery slope. A few grains of wheat - ok? A few drops of wine - ok? A sheep, or a goat? How about something really valuable, like a human life? These things have all been offered in sacrifice, and probably still are.

So - although I feel like cursing ill luck (and do) I think it’s nonsense to do so. I think in this way because I am the product of a scientific education. Therefore I don’t carry out anti-rain ceremonies or make sacrifices to the gods. Not since I retired.

One Comment

  1. disdaniel
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 9:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Human sacrifice continues today. Today's gods are alternately called terror and freedom. But we send our young (virgins even?) men and women to die "over there" regardless.

    When I was young, I couldn't imagine a society so barbaric that it would allow (let alone "celebrate") human sacrifice...alas no longer need I imagine.

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