In Bolivia, If You Smash a Rock, God Will Grant Your Wishes

Seriously, think about me telling you that your wishes will come true if you just smash some rocks in Bolivia. I’ll meet you at the airport.

In Bolivia, many people do believe this. They traditionally go to smash these particular (magic) rocks. As a reward, they believe their wishes will then be granted.

It is based on a legend:

“Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherd girl to instruct her to take rocks from this dried river that miraculously turned into silver when she reached home.”

It is called the ‘Blessing of the Virgin of Urkupina.”

Sure, this belief might not hurt anyone. Sure, some people who smash the rock as swiftly and successfully as they say you should, might actually get what they were wishing for.
(Is there really a way of proving whether their fortune would have been any different had they not smashed the rocks?)

Let’s say for argument’s sake, this was all true, just think about what kind of god would set this up. It is a god that decides to communicate via a virgin (the same one that this ‘spiritual’ god is supposed to have physically impregnated). God (supposedly spiritual) then decides (like a genie in a lamp) to grant materialistic wishes to the best rock smashers of the day.

There is a conundrum in philosophy, called the mind-body problem. Put simply, it goes like this:

  1. The mind is spiritual
  2. The body is physical
  3. The mind and body interact
  4.  Physical and spiritual cannot interact

The problem with these 4 statements, is they cannot all be true together. The type of philosopher you are depends on which of the above statements you deny. If for example, you deny that physical and spiritual cannot interact, then you are a dualist. This person generally believes we have a ghost in our machine, a soul within our body and these two elements interact. An idealist denies the body is physical.

If you are an atheist, you basically deny that the mind is spiritual, instead believing the mind is a ‘first person perspective’ of a physical brain.

Now back to the Bolivian belief and tradition I mentioned above. The elements of this legend are materialistic. It is a physical act that is supposed to reward material people with material things. Mary is considered an eternal sacred and blessed virgin (even though she is supposed to have birthed Jesus naturally). This again is a materialistic notion. I mean, can a soul really be a virgin? It is the physical body that has sex after all.

The main issue I have with religious traditions like this is how seemingly shallow they are, yet the people partaking consider them to be ‘spiritual’ and ‘sacred’.

I personally don’t believe in a spiritual realm. When religious beliefs such as these are so deeply entrenched in the material aspects of the world, I have come to think that these believers may not really believe in a spiritual realm either.


Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

View all posts by Kevin Davis →

3 thoughts on “In Bolivia, If You Smash a Rock, God Will Grant Your Wishes

  1. Well I have found that smashing things has been good for the mood in the past. After my divorce I took it out on a poor, unsuspecting answering machine. Demolished the machine, but I felt a WHOLE lot better. 😉

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