Feature Article

Religion of Probability

by Ismael Manzano



     Many years ago, a young, wide-eyed me was introduced to the wonders of Catholicism.  I would say I was Roman-Catholic, except I don’t know if you can call it Roman-Catholic teachings when you were taught by a tiny Spanish lady.  Anyway, Roman, Spanish, or Kryptonian, the point is I was raised that way for the better part of my teenage years.  For me, back then, it was just another subject to learn in school, just another thing to memorize and be good at remembering.  Somewhere along the road, however, I really got into it.  I enjoyed going to Church on Sunday, I occasionally read the Bible, and I believed wholeheartedly in God.  Hell, there was a brief period when I was about twelve or thirteen, when I wanted to become a priest.  It’s pretty funny if you knew me now; trust me—I wouldn’t confess to me.

     Anyway, all that changed at some point in my progression from child to adult.  I think it was the freedom that finally did me in.  As I got older, my parents allowed me to choose whether or not I wanted to go to Church on Sundays.  At first, I still went, dutifully following the path that had been set before me—and because I really enjoyed it.  After a while, however, it started to get harder and harder to get up each Sunday when I wasn’t being forced to go anyway.  If I overslept, my parents would already be gone.  And I must say, extra hours of sleep felt really good back then—it still does, but that’s not the point so let’s stay on topic here shall we?  Eventually, I stopped going altogether, and as the old adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”  It wasn’t long before I forgot how important it had been to me to go to Church every Sunday and my aspirations of becoming a priest disappeared faster than Michael Jackson’s glove in a room full of altar boys. 

     So what do I believe in now?  That’s the single-soul question.  I’m writing it out to help me clear my head about where exactly I stand on the subject of Religion.  The answer is, I believe in the Religion of Probability, which is to say that I believe that anything is possible and given the right circumstances, even the most unlikely event will occur eventually.  What does that mean, you might be asking?  Well, that means that it is my belief that attributing benevolent or malevolent acts to God might not be to anyone’s benefit—although, to be honest, I’ve always been more inclined to thank God for a fortuitous event than to blame him for a horrible day, but that’s just me. 

     Maybe I could clarify this with an example:  Moses parting the Red Sea.  Most of us know the story, Moses liberated the slaves from the Pharaoh and divided the Red Sea in two so that they could escape.  I was told, by a religion teacher no less, that there are parts of the Red Sea that, during low tide, recede low enough that people can walk across it (if this information is incorrect, blame my freshman year religion teacher for lying to me so convincingly).  Anyway, the Religion of Probability (ROP) dictates that it is possible that Moses parted the sea due to some divine assistances, but it is just as likely that he happened upon the specific part of the Red Sea that was low enough to allow them to cross over, and it happened to be low tide when he did so. 

     So what does this mean for the rest of us?  It means that, for me, I see no reason to assign blame or gratitude for any benevolent or malevolent act to whatever deity you choose to worship—although, admittedly, I myself am more inclined to offer gratitude to God when things go well than I am to blame him when things go poorly.  My reasoning for this is simple:  There are six billion people on this planet broken up into hundreds of countries, a hundred or so nationalities, languages, and religions, dozens of ethnicities, a fist full of financial caste, four main races, three main sexual preferences, two sexes, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Now, even with the number of all these variations—which I mostly guessed, by the way—factored into the six billion people in this planet, the ROP dictates that nothing in this world is impossible. 

     Given enough time, enough changes and the right circumstances, eventually, you’re bound to see a man fall from an airplane without a parachute and survive without a scratch, twins separated at birth reunited when one has kidney failure and the other donates a kidney, long-lost lovers running into one another in a foreign country twenty years after both stopped looking, monkeys that smoke, dogs with vocal cords, a person get shot in the head only to later find that the bullet destroyed the tumor that would have killed him in a year, twin babies born with two different skin colors, someone throwing a rock out a window and hitting the person that used to tease them in kindergarten, or an elephant taking a dump on the one ant in the entire world with a unique allergy to elephant dun that allows it to transform into a genetically superior ant and herald the beginning of an ant-dominated Earth. 

     But before you go thinking that the ROP excludes the possibility of God or a god, let me say that nothing could be further from the truth.  This is the part where faith does come into play, the part where the individual has to decide for themselves whether the kid pulled the sword from the stone because he was destined to rule Camelot or because his back problems only allowed him to lift the sword at an odd angle that just happened to be the precise angle required to unsheathe the sword. 

     It’s up to you to decide whether the Bible—or your religion’s equivalent—was inspired by a higher deity and a direct dictation from such deity, whether it was meant as one big parable story to help mold your actions, whether it was manipulated by politics to serve man’s needs, or whether the entire thing—values and concepts and all—is a complete fabrication, never meant to be taken seriously.

      As for me, as for the question that inspired this rant in the first place—what do I believe...I probably don’t know. 

For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at imanzano@g-pop.net

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