Religion is one of the forces that influence one’s worldview. Most individuals embrace the ideas and the values that their religion promotes. For instance, within the Christian and Muslim communities, such values as love, integrity and kindness are highly valued. In addition to influencing one’s worldview, religion also shapes one’s understanding of the supernatural. There are those who believe that there are other beings that roam the earth. Haitians are among these. They have adopted the practice of Voodoo and believe that it is possible to bring the dead back to life (Del Guercio, 1996). This paper offers a reflection on questions of worldview and religion. It responds to two articles which explore these questions.
The first article is by Gino Del Guercio. In this article, Gino explores voodoo as it is practiced in Haiti. He offers one intriguing case in which one man who had died came back to life and visited his sister. It is easy to dismiss this case as nothing more than unsubstantiated nonsense. However, Gino mentions that records of the man’s death survived (Del Guercio, 1996). The man had indeed died and doctors had recorded his death. According to the man, he was brought back to life together with others by a witch who then enslaved them. In addition to describing the case of this man, Gino also mentions that the Haitians believe that zombies are indeed real (Del Guercio, 1996). I must admit that I was mostly skeptical as I read Gino’s article. I think that once one has died, it is simply impossible to restore their life. However, as I read the article some more, I began to believe that it is possible for an individual to dupe people into believing that they actually died. Gino mentions that there is a drug which can be administered to make one appear as though they are dead. This drug functions by drastically reducing one’s metabolism. I think that the man in Gino’s case carried out a sick ploy to deceive people. I also think that he was successful because of the superstitious beliefs held by those in Haiti. If it were that Haitians embraced science and logic to explain events that they witness, I do not think that the man would have managed to fool people. I would advise individuals to be skeptical and ask questions before making conclusions I feel that by asking questions, individuals are able to gain clarity and understand issues that initially seem too complex or difficult to explain.
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After describing the case of the man who claimed to have risen from the dead, Gino proceeds to describe the scientific efforts to verify the man’s account. He describes how Davis set out for Haiti with the goal of understanding how the drug that lowers metabolism works (Del Guercio, 1996). One of the most upsetting experiences that Davis undergoes is unearthing the bones of a child who had died and been buried. I think that this experience underscores the damage that can result from superstition. The fact that superstitious beliefs can drive someone to dishonor a dead body is clear indication that there is need for individuals to question their beliefs. I cannot state enough that individuals should turn to science for explanations. Instead of digging up bones, why not conduct scientific inquiry that does not involve disrespecting the dead?
Stanley and Ruth Freed also authored an article in which they examine religion and the role that it plays in shaping worldviews. The duo describes the case of a young Indian bride who was believed to have been possessed by the spirit of a girl who had committed suicide years earlier (Freed & Freed, 1999). Stanley and Ruth describe the Indian culture that relegated women. They were not even allowed to work on sewing machines as this was reserved for men. Here is where I find that religion promotes inequality. It is clear that the religion practiced by these people is responsible for the belief that only men should use sewing machines. Across the world today, millions of women use these machines. It cannot be said that all these women have violated religious code. I think that communities need to take a step back and evaluate their beliefs and traditions. They need to ask themselves if their beliefs are forces for progress or they serve to derail development.
Stanley and Ruth describe the measures that were taken to rid the bride of the ghost that had allegedly possessed her. They mention that one of the measures involved physically assaulting the girl. They note that this measure was not intended to harm the girl but was only meant to drive away the ghost (Freed & Freed, 1999). While it may be true that the intentions of the villagers were noble, the effects of their actions on the girl cannot be ignored. It must be remembered that this bride is only 15 years old. How does battering her rid her of the ghost? It only causes unnecessary pain. The stress and pain that this bride endured highlights the damage that can result when an entire community blindly adopts religious beliefs. As already mentioned, logic should be the primary guiding factor when navigating through life. This is not to say that individuals should abandon their life. Instead, it is a call for individuals to ensure that their religious beliefs are in line with the principles of science and reason. In conclusion, the two articles shed light on interesting elements of religion. They examine the role that religion plays in defining the perspectives and worldviews that individuals adopt. The articles also make it clear that reason and science are the most reliable tools for shaping one’s worldview. Individuals must turn to science and use their minds when considering complex issues of life.
Del Guercio, G. (1996). The Secrets of Haiti’s Living Dead. Harvard Magazine, 31-37.
Freed, S. A., & Freed, R. S. (1999). Taraka’s Ghost . Natural History, 84-91.