Sample text for: GOD.COM A Deity for the New Millennium (2nd edition)
CAUSE AND EFFECT
One of the most difficult tasks people face is determining cause and effect. We are constantly confronted by this perplexing problem. The fact that one thing follows another does not establish cause and effect. The fact that I awoke at 7:07 this morning and had a good day does not really prove that seven is my lucky number and that it caused my good day. Many injustices and untruths have resulted from not understanding the difficulties in establishing a causal effect.
Years ago when I was stationed in Japan, my wife was found to have an ovarian mass. Since cancer of the ovary was one of the most common causes of an ovarian tumor and the diagnosis of cancer of the ovary at that time invariably resulted in death within six months, we were very concerned.
We had planned a trip to Kyoto just before my wife’s surgery, so her surgery was much upon our minds. As we visited the sites of Kyoto, especially the Shinto Shrines and the Buddhist Temples, we found many places to place our wishes, light candles, pin a wish upon a sacred tree, or even sprinkle holy water about. The successful surgery resulted in a diagnosis of a benign ovarian cyst. Although I didn’t really believe that our wishes to the various Japanese gods caused the good result, I can understand how the human mind could believe it.
There is a story of a little boy beating on a drum in the back yard of his New York City apartment. His older brother asked him why he kept beating on the drum.
The little boy replied, “To keep the elephants away.”
His brother exclaimed, “There aren’t any elephants around here.”
To which the little boy replied, “See, it works.”
The fact that the medicine man performs a rain dance and rain follows doesn’t prove cause and effect. The fact that the doctor prescribed a pill for your medical complaint and you were relieved of that symptom doesn’t prove cause and effect.
I have had a number of patients with lumps in their breasts for which I advised biopsy and treatment depending upon the biopsy results. A number of them, especially here in the Bible Belt, would want to pray on it. For those fortunate women who were proven to have a benign lesion, they knew god had taken care of them. For those who had cancer, they knew god had something else in mind for them. Either way, god won.
There are many who believe that religion causes man to be moral. It has been proven, at least to my satisfaction, that this is not true. The pollster George Barna found that born-again Christians in the United States have a higher divorce rate (27%) than nonbelievers (23%). Fundamentalists have the highest percentage (30%). Four of the six states with the highest divorce rates are in the Bible Belt. As you may surmise, this causes great consternation for those who believe god wants them to stay married forever.
It is interesting to observe the anxiety and guilt which arises when dogma meets reality. Can you imagine the pain, suffering, and guilt an individual must have when he or she realizes that he or she is homosexual? That guilt and depression can be overwhelming for the individual, as well as the family, after being indoctrinated by the religious dogma that teaches that homosexuality is an abominable sin.
Humans, like cats, are curious animals. They are always seeking causes and reasons for what they see and feel. As they sought a cause for themselves and the universe, they created gods to explain them, never seeking a cause of god. As they sought a reason for the unknowns in their lives and experiences, they created god.
There are many unknowns in life, but we are not going to extend our wisdom by misinterpreting cause and effect. True cause and effect is difficult to ascertain and may require much scientific thought and research. Be wary of causal relationships.
This may be an appropriate place to mention the “slippery slope” theory. This concept asserts that if you do one thing, it will cause you to slide into the next action: if you smoke marijuana, you will use hard drugs; if you allow euthanasia, you will kill indiscriminately. This faulty theory prevents many worthwhile innovations and deters progress.