It’s in human nature to subconsciously beat our brains out to make weird connections between unfamiliar people, things and unrelated events before trying to come up with a logical explanation to prove what our minds had falsely linked long before. We all do this as a means of gaining familiarity towards the unknown, as once we make connections that could allegedly explain the scary, the uncertain unknown in any way, our fear becomes beatable, bearable, predictable and later, even prone to manipulation for some to rule others.

When science was nonexistent or still taking its baby steps, we considered lightnings and thunderbolts to be the doings of an angry god punishing us and when we reacted in any meaningless way out of fear and sheer panic, we believed our actions were to take credit in stopping a meteorological event which would have ceased by doing nothing anyway. Soon after, we began performing meaningless rituals, like prayers, dancing and even appointed the first lightning banishers as shamans or wise men to protect our wellbeing in the times of danger. Centuries passed, and science gradually evolved to explain the mysteries of our world, but we still haven’t changed at our core. Most of us still believe a lucky shirt worn on a day expected to turn out bad would help us into changing it for the better. How else could the link between a piece of manmade fabric and a successful job interview be explained other than the shirt being a lucky shirt! The truth simply lies on ‘believing’ being the key that turns the bad day into a good one, but we also need a reference point to do so… to boost our self confidence… to feel smart… to have power upon others… And that’s where the shirt comes in and our logic goes out.

On second thought, don’t wear your lucky shirt to a job interview if it looks like this!

It’s not just lucky objects that dictate our actions in such ways. Sometimes, it’s lucky numbers that decide our fate from picking out a wedding day to jotting them down as the next hopefully winning powerball (lottery) number. How some numbers come to be lucky for us isn’t a mystery either; it has the same working principle as the lucky shirt. When we come across a formerly insignificant figure, and something good happens, the incoherent connection is already up and running in our minds. It’s no wonder that almost nobody’s lucky number is 0 as we don’t see it around much! There are no days in a month starting with a zero, nor there are house numbers we run into in our daily lives, etc. with just a plain old zero. The number ‘0’ is still lucky on its own account, as it’s not labeled as an ‘unlucky’ numeral like the unfortunate ’13’, where our malfunctioning reasoning skills took over once more! The clerical error of an early translator resulted in the omittance of the thirteenth line (law) in the Code of Hammurabi, was one of the incidents tagging the figure as ‘bad’, or ‘unlucky’. And, when two different dinner parties in ancient lore, included a thirteenth guest, the unjust link between the number and it being bad solidified: Judas betrayed Jesus after showing up as the thirteenth guest in the Last Supper and the appearance of Loki (he was evil) in Valhalla as the thirteenth entity at a dinner party, sealed the fate of the number 13. It is surprising how ancient lore still has a tight grip on our reasoning skills centuries later.

Sometimes one more is too much!

Speaking of lore, just think how religion evolved from worshipping multiple, more vicious gods derived from nature to its current form of believing in a single, invisible higher power! It’s just that our brains are wired to create links where there are none when we encounter things we can’t explain. One of the mysteries we would never be able to solve, which is what happens when we die is also explained by the concepts of heaven and hell. Do good deeds in life, and you’ll drink wine from the rivers of a breathtaking garden, do bad deeds and you’ll burn for eternity with no cable TV. Wait! Cable TV? There can’t be that in hell, or at least not according to the holy books. Heaven and hell were depicted centuries ago and their appearance seem to have not changed at all, even today. Not one bit. Why? Because the lore says so! And, this happens in the modern world where a five-year-old non-fiction book is deemed as outdated! For me, there’s no life after death, but death after life has been proven. However, it feels good, even for me, to fantasize about an immortal life in a beautiful garden upon retirement from life.

My heaven would be less wild animals, more books and a working wi-fi

Lastly, we love our built-in crooked reasoning so much that we started teaching our ‘linking the unrelated’ method to animals, such as monkeys pushing buttons to get food. Poor primates must be thinking hard to figure out the link between a magic button and a bunch of bananas! Or are they?

For the majority of us, most things we encounter in life are still mysteries. Let them be, unless we can explain the unknown by science.

One thought on “On Science, Religion, Lucky Numbers, and our Need to Link Every Unassociated Thing

  1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

    Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities

    Maybe, Tale of two ways by science

    Like

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