Our Dada, who art in heaven

As strange as it may seem, I take it as a given that religious rituals are as bizarre and inexplicable as they are because this is the most effective way to transmit culture from one generation to another. And I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing, considering their purpose. I’ll explain.

If you have a sensible religious ritual – one that is based on common sense, reason, some connection to our higher brain function – then your religion will quickly die out. When your children grow up they will find it easy to ignore the rites and rituals of your particular spiritual group.

But if you have strange rituals – dietary restrictions, days of the week when you’re not allowed to work, eating fish on Fridays, snacking on little wafers that transform in your mouth into the flesh of a human god who died two thousand years ago (you might think I’m making that last one up, but it turns out there’s a major religion that actually works this way), then your children will become transfixed.

Your kids’ little brains will go on overload from the stimulus of ostensibly insane rituals that their parents seem to take seriously. By the time they are, say, five years old, their ability to reason logically about this stuff will be completely gone, and they may well be ready to Jihad at a moment’s notice.

In a sense, religious rituals are like the Dada art movement. The entire idea is to surprise people, to wake them up at an early age by engaging in something that appears so insane that they will have no choice, as their brains develop, but to embrace it.

In a world with religion, perhaps Dada is redundant. What is a mere ironic urinal by “R. Mutt”, compared with the Holy Ghost? Admit it, Marcel Duchamp was way behind the curve on this one.

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