What Do You Believe?

For thousands of years people believed in magic.  They were simple folk – afraid and confused – unable to grasp the world around them.


They struggled to –

* explain natural events

* understand why bad things happened

* barter with fate

* accept their place and rank in society

* influence things around them

* blame unseen forces when things went wrong

* believe in, and belong to, something bigger than themselves

* grapple with supernatural forces and events

* worship a greater power as part of a divine plan

* and find solace in a harsh, unfair world.


According to Sigmund Freud, each civilization passes through three distinct stages of development.

In the Magical Phase the primitive does not understand a natural phenomenon like rainfall, but he knows he needs water to survive.  By creating a ritual – rain dancing for example – he believes he can influence the weather to obey his wishes.

As society progresses the community enters the Religious Phase.  The rain-seeking ritual develops into an intricate rite of prayer, song, dance, and sacrifice, whereby the worshippers barter with the gods for their precious water.

But once the mechanics of rainfall are understood as a scientific process of evaporation and cloud formation, that society progresses into the Scientific Phase.  At this point, Freud argues, there should be no more need for religious or  superstitious belief.  “Religion is a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality” without which the masses “could not bear the troubles of life and the cruelties of reality.”

Was Freud correct though?  Even in today’s super-scientific space age a huge portion of the globe still follows the religious beliefs of their ancestors, and paganism is on the rise.

It turns out science does not have all the answers.  It might satisfy the mind but it cannot soothe the wounded soul!


Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion.  New York: Norton, 1989.

7 responses to “What Do You Believe?

  1. I think they are different stages of anthropological evolution, but one doesn’t cease to make way for the other so they should be able to co-exist!


    • Well, it takes time. Science is a process. Only a hundred years ago, people didn’t know that germs caused disease, now we have polio and smallpox and all sorts of vaccines for diseases.
      In 1903 the Wright brothers flew the first powered flight, then just 66 years later, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon!
      Give science a few more decades, and there’ll be amazing discoveries about human beings and the way we think!
      I’ve blathered on for too long now, bye. Lol


  2. That’s an interesting point. What are the differences between spirituality and creativity v science and creativity? Science certainly leads to practical developments and technological advances. Does spirituality help create art?
    Both are equally important to me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I happen to be passionate about both, The thing is most of the time Scientists want proof before they will believe in things like magic, deities, God etc. Though science can create, it is more of a technical, functional thing. Spirituality is a personal belief that you know something is real and don’t need proof positive before you do so. I find that if you don’t try and prove one way or the other but have a deep belief that something is so, you let go and start creating. Just something I have observed during my 50+ years of studying history, religions, science and people in general. There is nothing wrong with science nor spirituality in the creation of art. Just don’t let either stop you from opening your eyes and mind to new possibilities. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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