I have often said that religion is the byproduct of two conflicting characteristics of human nature, (a) an insatiable curiosity, and (b) the inability to comprehend large numbers.

Every human is fascinated by the wonders of the Universe and questions his or her place in it, but those answers are not knowable. At the same time, the very idea that life[i]14 billion years, in all its forms, could have evolved over the most recent 3.8 billion of earth’s 4.543 billion years is beyond the grasp of most people.

So superstition takes the place of reason and for centuries, people have been making up stories of magic and supernatural beings to fill in the void. While the result has been comforting to countless millions for at least the past 10,000 years, on balance, the cost to human life might well have exceeded the benefit.

The recent massacre of Jews in Isreal by Hamas terrorists from Gaza has reminded me of the familiar fable of “The Scorpion and the Frog”, and so it seems a fitting place to begin a discussion of religion.

Some say the story originated in Persia in the 1500s, but I suspect its roots go back much earlier and certainly were evident during the lifetime of Muhammad, around 1,500 years ago. The moral of the story is that there is a certain irrepressible instinct deep in humanity that can compel one individual to harm another, even when the result is counter to their own self-interest.

Countless variations of the story with different outcomes can be found online and in libraries, but I have taken the liberty here to offer my own rendition by adding the reference to Islam.

One day Scorpion, unable to swim, asks Frog to carry him across the Jordan to his Holyland, and Frog says, “It happens that I am going that way because it is also my Holyland”. Scorpion considers taking issue with Frog’s shared Holyland claim but holds his tongue, having no other way to cross the river.

Frog is a bit anxious, given Scorpion’s eccentric reputation and not being generally recognized for his intellectual prowess, but when he voices his concern, Scorpion argues that if he were to sting Frog on the trip, both would drown. Accepting this perfectly rational argument, Frog agrees, and midway across the river, Scorpion does indeed sting Frog, dooming them both. When the Frog asks why, Scorpion responds “Allahu Akbar”.

By: Jim
Written: October 11, 2023
Published: October 11, 2023
Reader feedback always appreciated[ii]. . thoughtful commentary perhaps more so than shallow thoughts
i 14 billion years
ii . . thoughtful commentary perhaps more so than shallow thoughts