The Clasping and Laying On of Hands – A Scientific and Religious Experience

A scientist clasps his hands, awaiting the outcome of an experiment. A worshipper clasps his hands in prayer, awaiting a divine answer. Two scenarios, each one producing a very different mental image.

One produces an image of joy, excitement, eagerness, self-belief, wonderment, fulfillment, and expectations of a result that may prove a hypothesis. The other image is one of despair, fear, self-doubt, and expectations of a magical intervention that addresses the request.

A palaeontologist, sitting cross-legged, in an excavation site, lays her hands on an ancient fossil she’s just unearthed. A preacher in a crowded church lays his hands on the head of a new member who has decided to join the congregation.

One produces an image of excitement, joy, wonderment, eagerness to learn more, passion, and expectations of further scientific results that the discovery may lead to. The other produces an image of superstitious fear, deception, irrational behaviour, and expectations of a magical intervention that improves your life.

It’s not too hard to see which hand gesture fits which scenario. It’s also not that hard to choose which hand gesture you want to be associated with; I won’t offer you a hand, I trust your mind will show you the way.

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