Five Is A Magic Number

I used to think so as a child, at least for a time. I also thought that perhaps 7 was a magic number too. By magic I thought that there was some special significance to the number. I didn’t have any knowledge of numerology or the significance of numbers in Judaism. I simply looked at the  world around me and all of the animal life I knew of had five extremities on their torso. Yeah, I knew about spiders but they were creepy crawly things so they didn’t count. Little did I know then that they didn’t count because they were on the wrong branch of the tree. So many animals and humans have the same basic body plan that I thought there must be some magic significance. Well, there is and it’s called evolution. It’s not magic but to a 5 year old or some theists it might as well be. It’s one of the successful body plans for life on this planet. It’s not magic yet it is magical on some level that so many species should have the same basic plan.

There are a number of things that I have thought must have some magic quality in the time I’ve been alive. As it turns out none of them had magic qualities. It’s just how life is, how it evolved. Even whales have that body plan but several of the limbs  have been re-purposed over time as fins because it’s more effective. It seems like I’ve been doing science all my life. Observe, hypothesize, test, learn, change the hypothesis and repeat. Evolution made immediate sense to me when I realized (some years older) that the 5 point body plan is so popular because we all started out with a common ancestor that had a 5 point body. Why it is that this can make sense to a child but not adults baffled me for a very long time. To me it simply ‘just made sense’ that evolution explained the commonalities.

It doesn’t take long to find out why:

US Religious denominations that dispute evolution

On the other hand, in the U.S., many Protestant denominations promote creationism, preach against evolution from the pulpits, and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call “Darwinism” or evolution include the Assemblies of God,[80] the Free Methodist Church, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,[81] Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches,[82] Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention,[83] and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.[84] Jehovah’s Witnesses reject both evolution and creationism.[85]

That’s right. Religion makes it okay to believe in magic. Take that in. Believing in your imaginary friend as a child is one thing but believing in magic as an adult means that you must deny the truth if it conflicts with your imaginary friend no matter how much evidence there is to support the truth. Those listed above do not simply deny the truth and facts, they actively admonish people to not believe them. This is akin to teaching children that the world is flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth. It is knowingly wrong and people who believe these things (flat-earthers etc.) are properly ridiculed and ostracized.

It’s time we stopped believing in magic and started ridiculing those who do and rebuking those who teach it to children. It is harmful to our future well being and currently deprives millions of people their right to happiness, health, or life.

What an unimaginative creator this supposed god of Christianity is. He only came up with a short list of body plans and made some of them so poorly that those animals are no longer in existence. Everything he is supposed to have created is messed up and so haphazard as to look like an accidental mutation of previous things. Evolution is the only explanation that makes sense. It’s not magic, it’s biology. How fortunate I am that I live in a time when this is understood and I don’t have to accept the idea of an invisible sky daddy who works in mysterious ways. We humans have worked for hundreds of thousands of years to acquire this knowledge and I go through my days thinking of it a birthright, a debt owed to me. In the next hundred years we’ll learn more than has been learned in all of human existence so far. I’m sad that I probably won’t be around to know it too.

Life is not magical, but the experiencing of it has a kind of magical feeling. For me, numbers are no longer magic, but there is a wonderment I feel when I read about how many stars there are in this universe. Billions and billions of chances that there is someone, perhaps a lot like me, somewhere else in this universe thinking thoughts much like my own: knowing that the universe is not made for us and our best hope is to reach out and work together to find better ways to survive, thrive, and build great things.


  1. Ridicule we must. I do try and do my bit.

    • I have to say that I like your ‘try’ very much. I try to try like you try… m’kay

      • Hehehe. Hey, I loved “5” too when i was kid. I would draw it incessantly. Hundreds of them, over and over. I liked the design of it.

        • There was about a year when I tried to figure out why some numbers kept showing up everywhere… fortunately I got over that and started learning science

  2. You might enjoy this article, the gist of which is you don’t need to believe in evolution, you just need to understand it.

    The article’s author cleverly notes, “So if someone asks, “Do you believe in evolution,” they are framing it wrong. That’s like asking, “Do you believe in blue?”

  3. Well, you should know how I react to this es aitch one T by now, and I climb into those that would teach this to kids.
    Sadly. even though I struggle to contain my ire with these SOBs they are , in most cases, simply products of their parents, communities, schools etc.
    And they truly believe

    I am having a discussion with some fundies at the moment on another blog about the Exodus and related topics..
    One of them flatly refuses to acknowledge even certain Christian archaeologists ( Kathleen Kenyon for one) because she cast aspersions on the dating at Jericho.
    How on earth does one deal with this?

    And of course, they in turn pass this crap onto their kids, fully believing they are guided by their god and at all times doing the right thing.
    One only has to talk t a deconvertee ( Ruth for instance or Nate) to realise they were almost exactly like this during their own ”Fundie” days.see.
    And of course, the Young Earthers are even worse.
    This is the type of brain-washing that political leaders used – Hitler for instance.

    I have no clue as to how to break this cycle, especially when there is still legitimacy attached to religion.

    And while we ridicule the Fundamentalists so do the ordinary, mainstream churches who do believe in evolution, yet they believe a man walked on water and rose from the dead or received the word of god through a vision or consider every human is born into a life of sin.
    And these are considered the ‘normal’ ones! WTF!
    Go figure.

    I have almost become resigned that there is no way to rectify this on a wide-scale basis. Although banning, or at least severely curtailing, private ACE schools would be a start.

    If deconvertees are the model to follow, then people just have to work through this stuff on their own and those on the outside must be there to support them when the decision arrives to kick this crap in the fork.

    • I agree with your frustrations. All I know is that education is the key and it must be in the public sphere if we can’t get it into schools, or at least get religion out of schools. The patina of legitimacy of religion needs to be destroyed. Without it the claims of religion have no footing except the claims they make. Things that need to be acceptable to say and think:

      – No, everyone does not believe in god.
      – What does an un-designed universe look like?
      – The probability of all gods existing is equal.
      – Religious texts are not reliable.
      – Belief in gods is delusional.
      – Religions do not warrant special consideration. Bad and dangerous ideas should be stopped.
      – Only being a little religious is just as bad as being fundamentalist.

      I could go on, I haven’t even gotten to politics yet. It will take a lot of work by a lot of people, much of it done on a personal level, to get the majority of the world making decisions with critical thinking.

      Look for the first television advertisements which ridicule religion to know the tide is turning. When it doesn’t hurt your bank account to ridicule religion the tide is going the right direction.

      • TV Ads What a splendid idea. And of course it is the better medium to break the choke hold.Probably better (initially) than the internet.

        Whether the impact will be that profound is difficult to gauge.
        Could we compare it to cigarette advertising, I wonder?
        Ads, or lack of, never made me quit, ( I did it off my own bat) but i have no way to judge any subtleties that may have been at work.

        • The lack of smoking ads was fairly effective in the US coupled with anti-smoking ads.

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