Monday, September 1, 2014

Cricket & Religious Faith

Dr. Carlo Fonseka, writing to the Sunday Island on the 30th of August, hypothesizes that “religion can be rationally understood as the expression of tribalism which evolved because it has survival value for the tribe.” To prove his hypothesis he points to the recently concluded test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan where Sri Lanka had to score rapidly to beat the impending rain on the final day. He argues that the fact that Angelo Mathews prayed to the God he believes in to delay the rain and the fact that the rain actually did not come until the final run was scored enabling Sri Lanka to win the match shows that his hypothesis is true.

Whether he proves them or not Dr. Fonseka’s stories are published in national news papers therefore a value must be attributed to them. What Dr. Fonseka seems to say is that even though the beliefs embedded in religions do not make any sense or have any value, religions as institutions make sense because it has survival value for the tribe (and occasionally helps them win cricket matches). 

Sure, religious faith can be used to whip up team spirit but there was no reason for that in this cricket match nor would it have helped. What actually helped Sri Lanka was that rain was delayed. So if religion had anything to do with it, then it must be acknowledged that it was Mathews' God who helped Sri Lanka and not just Mathews’ religious faith. Therefore Dr. Fonseka errs when he uses this particular example as a proof of his hypothesis. Religion by itself wouldn’t have been of any value in this particular case without the God that actually delivered the goods. 

We will have to wait until Dr. Fonseka comes up with proper biological evidence relating faith and the survivability of man; that is after he sort out the relation between Katharagama deviyo and gini pageema.

But can religions be rational as Dr. Fonseka thinks if the beliefs are thought to be irrational? At least in the case of this particular cricket match, the answer is no. There was another event that happened in the village of Polpithigama during the same time where prayers to the Gale Bandara deviyo by the villagers were answered bringing in rain. Here too the faith alone would not have been beneficial to the “tribe” if Gale Bandara deviyo was irrational. 

As a believer of Budu dahama, I think all man made concepts and theories including religions and sciences are cyclically related to man’s existence, meaning concepts are there because man exist and man exist because concepts are there. In this sense a religion is neither rational nor irrational just as science is not.

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