Faith vs. Superstition

Artwork by Elhanan ben Avraham

Miracles are not an end in themselves, but that which occurs between the miracles.

When I was a child I was told that black cats bring bad luck, which I half-believed until I met a decent black cat, and decided the superstition is ridiculous. How many wretched souls throughout the centuries were locked away in dungeons to die because their grand mal epileptic seizures were believed superstitiously to be caused by demons? Now we have medication to help prevent and relieve that known disease. There are those even today who attribute all illness and death to a Devil*, never mind viruses, bacteria and pollution of our environment, and the inevitable entropy of the second law of thermodynamics.

Do we join the ranks of the mediaeval Catholic church that excommunicated the devout scientists Copernicus and Galileo for declaring the Earth to be orbiting the sun, rather than the geocentric belief of the time? Do we perhaps take the priceless treasure of the ancient Genesis scroll of the Hebrews, written in a language that few understood until our own time, and at a time three thousand years ago in a very different world from our own, and interpret it according to our own language, after a dozen translations, from our post-Enlightenment worldview? Do we do it justice by applying our own modern analytical paradigm and standards to those texts, asking them to be literal scientific descriptions of the creation of the world? Or do we take the poetic forms of the ancient Hebrews that speak to us in hints of those great mysteries of the Creation that cannot be fully expressed in words, things that can be known only by the Creator, and in effect turn it into myth and superstition? This disservice has created antipathy and irreconcilable division between the wisdom found in the Bible and that found in the sciences, and thus has helped push many sincere thinking people away from the great message found in the Holy Scriptures.  This was not the case with earlier great scientists as Newton, Kepler, Pasteur and many others to our own day who saw science as a revelation of God’s great creation.

Today, when there is an inordinate seeking for miracles and signs and wonders, it more than ever behooves us to seek and use wisdom and discernment, that faith be not seen as mere superstition, and spoken against by a world much in need of the truly miraculous.

*’I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death’- Yeshua, Revelation 1:18.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.