Recently there was an interesting discussion on my friend’s post on Facebook regarding her (not) teaching her daughter about religion. Said friend may or may not be an atheist but she felt that religion has gotten so distasteful that she’d rather not teach her daughter about it.
A few weeks back, cousin and her husband (both atheists living in the US after they moved from India) told me that they sent their daughter to shloka classes and what not because they wanted her to learn about her culture, where she came from and there were not many or actually none that were non religious avenues.
These two incidents made me think deeply. What is it about religion that scares people here and draws people there to become fed up/tolerant of religion. An interesting theory that I came up with is, any religious congregation in a minority is inherently tolerant & inclusive provided the minority does not despise the majority of the people around them.
Why do we despise people around us? What makes people think that they have to fight for their brethren who belong to the same religion. If there is injustice happening, anywhere, why is religion or nationality the biggest draw?
When G.B. Shaw said that patriotism is the vicest of all virtues, why did he ignore the religious threats that came along? My argument is, in his time, patriotism was the biggest danger for humanity (As WW1 & WW2 proved)
I had a long and interesting if not unfruitful & flustering debate with my Christian teacher in my Anglo Indian School (who I adored BTW) about how the Pope looked the other way when Hitler & Mussolini went about their slaughter. Why didn’t the Pope get any bad rep ? After all, if the Pope had only said that the Jews and Christians were brethren and any act against the Jews is against Christianity itself, maybe the final solution would not have been that easy to proceed with. There are many articles claiming that Pope Pius XII did all he could and many proclaiming he didn’t do enough. However, I don’t think, in 1939, that the Pope could not get the Christian world united against a barbarian.
I have long wondered how true the oft quoted phrase ‘Religion is the Opiate of the masses’ is. I guess it’s true for many. Religion helps give the masses hope. That is the failure of humanity. That we need something as flawed as religion to give something as beautiful as hope. Religion, in general, has blatantly misused this privilege for eons.
In the Da Vinci Code, at the end, there is a wonderful phrase ‘religion is flawed, because man is flawed’ I love this phrase. Not because it forms a part of an interesting ending but because someone saying ‘Religion is flawed’ did not bring persecution of an author. Of course, The Church banned the book. Why did they not crucify? Not because they didn’t want to, but because the people who followed that religion have become more sensible and therefore The Church could not replicate barbarism of the medieval ages.
This has happened with many many religions. Human sacrifice that was common among most pre-abrahamic religions does not exist because the people who invented the abrahamic religions thought it barbaric. The newer religions (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) don’t even talk about procedures of prayer as much as they talk about serving humanity and leading a good life where you help others. Thus proving, religions evolve.
So why do religions with dubious and barbaric pasts still survive? Because, the main aim of religion, is survival and multiplying it’s numbers. Every religion around the world specifically the abrahamic ones are built on the premise that they are on earth to ensure that the rest of the earth is following the same religion. The beauty about that philosophy is that politics approves. So it’s almost like a continuous war fought on planetary scale to conquer the hearts and minds of the world. It will not stop till there exists even 1 person who does not ascribe to their faith.
If one religion is losing numbers, it fights back aggressively to survive. It uses every dirty trick available in it’s book (you’ll go to hell, your children will inherit your sins, your parents will never enter heaven) etc etc to survive. It’ll hit you with the lowest of blows, manipulate and use the innermost of your fears, bribe you, threaten you for survival.
The only thing that is keeping the human world from killing each other are those who recognize the flaws of religion and the most unrecognized human quality ‘basic decency’ that guides us. Also known as conscience. However, religion manipulates this conscience itself to mould it on it’s image. This if done long enough and early enough creates an army of warriors who think a flawed text is perfect and are willing to kill for it. And that is why, religion must die. I don’t think God will object.