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  • iaindryden1


Belief is one the most harmful human traits.

You believe this, I that, you feel convinced that everything which comes with your belief is correct and only those who live with this mental package can be considered just. I totally disagree with you and this annoys us both, for we each see the other as the sinner, the philistine, the infidel, the rotter, the enemy. We have dehumanised one another. The next step, putting the other on trial, imprisoning them, dunking them in the pond or cutting off their head, seems justifiable.

I encountered this last week here in my own territory. A man I vaguely rub along with, who I respect for the effort he makes to overcome many difficulties, offered to help me get better. I was delighted, not that I think he has a magical solution, but because he stepped towards me with generosity after a period of misunderstanding.

Things got difficult for me, for he now saw me as somebody who had to comply with his belief system in order to gain anything. Sensing he held strong opinions, before we got involved in whatever was being proposed, I made it clear I question everything. For a second time in our brief relationship, this honesty was taken as a threat to his world view rather than as an aspect of my personality to be respected. I was sad, for I would never dream to change his ethics, assumptions and actions, unless they harmed others, which they don't.

I knew a man, now passed away, with whom I enjoyed philosophical conversations as we ambled the village streets in France. He was drawn to many of the beliefs I had long moved on from and our debate was always cheerfully lively. One day, he looked grey and told me his mulla had warned him a fatwa was be put on his head. "I'm not afraid of death," sighed this man who was already dying, "but a fatwa is on the family too. Being in Europe, they don't kill openly - they pick you off one by one over the years by creating apparent accidents. To protect my beloveds, this afternoon I will go against my principles. I will tell the mulla I have seen the light, am deeply flawed, seek god's forgiveness and instantly renounce interest in any other system of thought than Islam."

Belief made many British attempt to convert people across the world to Christianity. When last in my homeland Kenya, my wife who was born into a Catholic family, asked a tribal man who lead us along an elephant trail,"What do you think of Christianity?"

"It is a lovely child's story, a man born of a virgin, killed and born again to live forever in the clouds," he set down his spear, laughed, pointed at the pre-dawn sky. "I go to many churches; to that for shirts; there for paraffin; they hand out food; they give money. We enjoy singing their songs which we all find great fun, but they count our numbers and each boast they are converting many to Christianity. If only they knew!"

I believe belief is rotten. I prefer to try and find a rational, scientific explanation to things. This does not diminish the quality of my life, as somebody recently exclaimed, "How sad and empty, your life without god must be!"

No, my life is full because I do not need belief to marvel at nature, at humanity, at our extraordinary bodies and minds.

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