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.