Place of religion in a modern society (1)
HOW comes it, this senseless, cold-blooded killings of fellow human beings? Just what happens in their heads before and after they snuff out the lives of their innocent victims? These were some of the questions sprinting on my mind as I watched the evening news. That was more than a year ago: The infamous terrorist group Boko Haram had yet again murdered hundreds of pupils in their dormitories, and there were heartbreaking pictures of mothers crying, shedding tears of a bitter cocktail of pain and rage. The day was quite a hectic one, and all I needed now was some news to keep me abreast of the latest developments in the world and a revitalising sleep to put me in good shape for the next day. Then came this news which threw me off balance. I quickly concluded that not by their reasoning faculties were the terrorists urged to this enterprise. They were urged, evidently, by their emotions. Nothing could be more barbaric than this.
I have come to discover that the more educated, enlightened and sensible I become, the less I not only see the need for organised religion, which I once dearly practised, but also the less I become interested in it. This is so because religion involves the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no rational proof or even sensory evidence. When a man rejects reason as his standard of judgement, only one alternative standard remains to him – his emotions. I now see quite clearly the crudeness and irrelevance of religious rituals and observances. I now understand most of the doctrines of religion are irrational and unsupported by sufficient evidence. I even now find it difficult to accept the assertions of the religion I was born into. Although I agree with some of its interpretations of morality and human essence or purpose, I do not agree at all on the necessity, let alone the efficacy of its sacrifices and some other ritualistic practices, all of which demand a suspension of one’s judgement, and a willingness to live with the unintelligible. Some of these so-called sacred rituals, I must add, are inhumane and barbaric.
These religious rituals are only primitive ways designed by man to foster hope in and make sense of this unpredictable world. They are supposed passageways fashioned by man’s limited and varying interpretation of his surrounding world to connecting to the divine. Man has always believed in the supernatural from the time he appeared, even though the personality of his Creator has remained largely unknown to him ever since. But to impose on oneself and on others prescribed ways of supposedly worshipping and appeasing Him, and labelling as a savage someone who fails to comply is itself irrational in the light of modern advancement.
This case has unfortunately led to religious intolerance and violence because there are as many religions as there are many different opinions on how the Creator is to be worshipped, and this defeats the purpose of having religion in the first place. Fundamentally, religion breeds fundamentalism. This is because of a general tendency for man to drown any questions that rise in protest to his beliefs, and to see his as pre-eminent over others. This prompts him to propagate or ‘evangelise’ it, and to get irritated and violent when any of his religious beliefs and practices is derided. But what Creator is there who supports the destruction of human lives, which he so scrupulously designed, and their properties in his name? Are these His soldiers mad? How can two or more opposing parties all claiming to be in the employ of the Lord fight one another? And they do so with well-informed zeal as if there is more than one Creator? It stands to reason that there cannot be two or more different Gods because nature, as we see it, is uniform and orderly in design. Does this not then prove that the adherents and advocates of various religions are without reason? For no rational and indeed civilised man will take up arms, march to the streets and engage in the most horrendous acts.
To make matters worse, most of these religions encourage and preach antipathy. They teach that people who do not join them – that is non-believers – are sinful and thus should be held in contempt. They go to such length as having them killed in an attempt to receive divine rewards here on earth and after death. Even those who practise other religion than theirs are not spared. How myopic and ludicrous! But that is not all of it. Even some of their believers are not spared this antagonism, albeit in a milder tone. For example, women, in many religions, are discriminated against and marginalised; and “brothers” – as members of a religious group are called – who err in any one of their practices are excommunicated.
To be continued.