Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We each of us reach for beliefs beyond explanation: "Why Kaká has God on the substitutes' bench"

Matthew Syed in The Times on "Why Kaká has God on the substitutes' bench":
"Sports psychology was invented to help non-faith sportsmen to garner some of the psychic power of religion, and its potency - like that of religion - derives from the placebo effect... to instil beliefs that are not true but that create results (which are a different kind of truth). That is why sports psychologists are not technicians, but articulate and often charismatic advocates for their methods. I guess I am not the only one to have noticed their similarity to Christian evangelists.
It is not just sportsmen: none of us can get by without carefully constructed myths. We accentuate the positives, suppress the negatives, block out the traumas, create mini-narratives about our lives and loves that, on honest reflection, have little basis in reality; we do this not merely to win, but to survive. Reason without inhibition is a perilous thing, as anyone who has studied the lives of the philosophers will testify.
In that sense the religious apologists are right: we all make assumptions that cannot be justified, even mathematicians. The problem is that, for me at least, religion fails the test of minimalism - it attempts to explain the lesser (the world) in terms of the greater (God) and thereby provides no explanation at all.
Yet even as I dispute the beliefs of Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and other believers, I cannot help but acknowledge the unreason of my atheism. We each of us reach for beliefs beyond explanation."
What do you think?

Syed has some kind of Christian background, and (I think) his brother is a Christian. He was an Olympic Table Tennis player and is a columnist for The Times. 

(Perhaps the greatest belief beyond explanation and inhibition was the possibility that Kaká would sign for Manchester City - they reached and they landed with Craig Bellamy - which could be the making or the breaking of Bellamy... )