Unfortunately, that may very well be true. We would be deluding ourselves if we were thinking otherwise, unless we really do something about it. When I say ‘do something about it’, I don’t mean religion-bashing, blame game or talking condescendingly to people who do not share your belief system. Those who pride themselves as rational, free thinkers and atheist who value reason and evidence have to think long and hard before we go on a “crusade” to rid the world of the misery that is religion. Initially when I read this article that ‘Religion may not survive the Internet’, I was amused and even happy for a while, but then my skepticism kicked in. The internet is something that was created by humans and as long as there are humans, history will repeat itself and religion will survive.
History is a very good teacher but we are all not very bright students. We may point out inconsistencies and instances crimes that are perpetrated by religion but religion does not stand by itself; it is a part of a superstructure that has offered stability and solace for millions and millions of people for thousands of years. I’m not defending religion here but merely stating the fact; the time the Egyptians who worshiped their emperor as a god, when the roman church held the fate of whole Europe in it is hands, to the Islamic republics, to the caste system that is still practiced in India, in spite of all it is setbacks religion has offered stability and an illusion of authority and purpose. That is why it is not easy as we think to vanquish it. We cannot just wish away religion and hope that some dreamy thing will fill the void that is left by it, that would be yet another failed Utopian dream. We need something that will replace religion!
Sounds funny doesn’t it? This too is not a new idea many religions that exist today with all it is moronic dogmas and superstitions started as an alternative to something that was tyrannical and exploitative. Take the Buddha for example, he did not set out to start a religion, he told people how ridiculous worshiping idols was and taught reason. Now, Buddhism in all it is glory is yet another religion with rituals and ceremonies.
In the aftermath of the French revolution, when the king who had the divine authority to rule over them had failed them, when god himself had deserted the people, when the royal family was beheaded, there was this one idea which sought to replace religion and offer the utopia that everybody had dreamed of. An idea so powerful, that it took over half the world. It was then, that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published their ‘Communist Manifesto’. If we examine the conditions from which the Communist Manifesto came, we will understand that the tremendous success of communism was because it was there to fill the theological void left by it is predecessor, it gave people something to believe in. The same thing happened in Russia when the Tsars and the royal family were executed and we came to know of Vladimir Lenin and the infamous Joseph Stalin. Again, I’m not arguing for communism, I very much like my private property. Religion is an idea, a way of life, it is not just enough to point out the inconsistencies and pitfalls of it. Unless a viable and a far better way of life, an idea emerges, religion is here to stay.
The caste system that is still prevalent in India is the heart of the Vedic religion that is Hinduism. Various eminent personalities from the Buddha to myriad of social thinkers have tried to abolish it but in vain. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who rejected religions, says the same about the caste system.
“We cannot just disrupt and hope for something better without having some vision of the future we are working for, however vague that vision may be. We cannot just create a vacuum, or else that vacuum will fill itself up in a way that we may have to deplore. In the constructive schemes that we may make, we have to pay attention to the human material we have to deal with, to the background of its thought and urges, and to the environment in which we have to function. To ignore all this and to fashion some idealistic scheme in the air, or merely to think in terms of imitating what others have done elsewhere, would be folly. It becomes desirable therefore to examine and understand the old Indian social structure which has so powerfully influenced our people.”
Religion offers something to be transcendent about; something to behold; something to marvel at; something so mystique that you cannot even begin to comprehend. There is another thing that will do the same thing to you; it will blow your mind at every opportunity available; it is science! Ponder for a moment here, every champion of atheism is a man of science in one way or another, at least he or she will be an admirer of science.
Next time, don’t just insult somebody for their ignorance, educate them! Make them marvel at the magnitude of events in the cosmic scale. Let them behold the vastness of the universe. Give them something awe-inspiring. Give them something to believe in. Enchant them with the intricacies and genius of evolution. Fascinate by taking them into the world of atoms and molecules, further into protons and neutrons, still further into the quarks and may be let them listen to the symphony of string theory. And all this follows simple laws of physics which a human mind has the audacity to make sense of! Is there anything else more breathtakingly marvelous to behold?
It took some of us 200,000 years to realize that we don’t need a nanny to watch over us day and night to be a moral human being. Plant an Idea in their mind that their humanity is far superior than the faith that they so dearly behold. Make them realize that it is their innate sense of right and wrong that makes them who they are, make them understand that people are generally good and they don’t need God to set them in the right path, give them hope.