I love Stevie Wonder. Yeah, he proselytizes at the end of his concerts. They're his concerts, he can do what he wants. He's still one hell of a musician.
As you may have guessed, this post is not about Stevie Wonder. It's about superstitions. And it may be somewhat disjointed and hard to follow, because I have several concepts fighting for top spot in my head. And I'm drinking rum.
When I was a christian, I claimed that I was not superstitious. Of course, I did not consider Christianity to be superstition; that was faith. It was different. Superstition was believing in something based on intangibles such as folklore and hearsay, notable coincidence, and random trial-and-error. My religion was nothing like that.
[pausing for laughter]
Of course religion is superstition. Prayer has no more effect on the physical world than a black cat crossing your path; but there are those who believe in one or the other, or both, and can cite you several accounts to back it up.
"I prayed that the mole would be benign, and it was! Praise Jesus for answered prayer!"
"That cat crossed in front of me this morning, and I got a speeding ticket! Damn cat!"
Both of those statements sound ludicrous to me now; but there was a time in my life when I gave much credence to prayer, and at least some consideration to the traditional "old wives' tale" superstitions. In fact, the most difficult step for me after becoming an atheist was giving up prayer. There were things I prayed for every night when I believed in God: my mother's health, my daughter's continued health and well-being, and safety and protection for my entire family to name a few (it just occured to me that there's a theme there). My nightly prayers were long, and I could not fall asleep without doing them. Once I came to terms with the fact that there was no one in any mystical place called Heaven who was listening, I had to learn to sleep without that nightly ritual. It took a while. For a very long time, when my daughter was going to go do something without me, I would almost instinctively think, "God, keep her safe." It was just a learned thought pattern for when I wanted something very, very much. I haven't prayed for a long time now, but it took a lot of retraining of my brain.
The thing is, once I let go of religion and prayer, I easily let go of all the other superstitions that I had once casually held. I no longer avoid opals (they are supposed to be bad luck); in fact, I recently bought an opal ring that I now wear every day. I'm not afraid of ghosts, or "haunted" places (though I still won't go through a Halloween haunted house because I can't stand the idea of putting my hand on something gross and slimy in the dark; THAT'S A LEGITIMATE FEAR). I don't worry about what shirt I wear on the day my favorite team is playing. In fact, I can't think of a single superstition I still hold.
I have heard several of my atheist friends talk about silly superstitions they still have. They understand that they're irrational and can't possibly be real; but they just can't ignore them. I find that fascinating. I wonder why humans are wired to think that way?
Do any of you still have any lingering superstitions, despite your embrace of reason? What are they? Why do you still believe it?
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