When an 8-year old, in wonderment at the beauty and complexity of nature and the firmament (the sky and its ever-changing presentation), asked where it all came from, he received an answer that made sense to him. “It was always here” his parents said. In the meanwhile, they prayed to God about matters which caused anxiety or uncertainty in their lives. Things up there could obviously cause great troubles to those on the ground or at sea. An appeal to God, through prayer and propitiation (via appropriate rituals) might prevent or assuage disaster. So we believed. By and large, belief equated to knowledge.
Did the lack of verifiable knowledge make any difference to their lives? During my boyhood in pre-war British Malaya, I saw how Malay subsistence-farmers carried out work to be done, and then rested. I assume that my ancestors in Jaffna, north Ceylon, had also lived like that. It seems strange to me that the Hindu Ceylon Tamils, part of the Dravidian-language family of Hindu Tamils of South India should have chosen to settle in the arid north of the island. But then the origin of the Dravidian peoples and languages is not known.
Moving away from:
- the geographic dispersal of ethno-cultures (ethnography and language are not always matched);
- the origin of mankind – were we created (refer ‘the Adam’ in Sumerian writing, and Sitchin’s 223 genes in Man not found on Earth) or did we evolve from chimpanzees (with about 1.5% difference in genetic structure);
- whether the ancient Hindus had learnt their cosmology from extraterrestrials;
- the wisdom of the Vedas’ agnostic presentation of genesis (the origin of everything of import);
God appears as the bulwark of all cultures (those individuals and sects who know better excepted). Faith (belief) over-rides claimed knowledge (which seems to be mostly speculative, anyway).
Mankind clearly needs God, whether of substance or ethereal. This could reflect the soul reaching out to its origin. Just as psychic phenomena co-exist with the claimed knowledge of the sciences, perhaps we ordinary folk can live with not knowing whether ‘self-creation’ in the Cosmos is enabled by an unfathomable and unprovable Creator of all that is, and who might also be unidentifiable!