February 07, 2011

Why Religion Endures

It's lazy thinking mostly. As anyone who has seen Hitchens obliterate the illogic of religion will say, it's a crazy situation why anyone can continue to believe in this nonsense. Again, anyone who has seen the elegant Dawkins beautifully explain the logic of evolution will wonder how anyone can be left untouched by this beautiful tale. But how many people will have heard of Dawkins to begin with.

And so this ancient hogwash endures. There are many more reasons for the endurance of religion of course. People are mostly poor — that's the unfortunate reality as it applies to most parts of the world. That being the case, people are mostly busy worrying about how to put food on the table and into their tummies. Intellectual queries are a luxury that only a few can afford to indulge in ...

It's odd to see how people regress when they are faced with personal difficulties. Even in prosperous societies such as America, one sees people finding solace in religion when they are in difficulty ... such as when they are out of a job.

Of course, people respond in such different ways to tragedies ... when natural disasters strike close to home, people respond with shock and more. But when similar tragedies strike people in other countries, people are not nearly as touched by the human toll of it all.

The recent snowstorms across much of the U.S. was perhaps given way more coverage than, say, the floods in Pakistan a few months back. And yet if you look at the human toll, the floods completely uprooted the lives of a few tens of millions of people not to mention a few thousands of fatalities.

Clearly, on the whole, humans have a long way to go in terms of developing a robustly neutral approach to judging tragedies. I guess how people respond to these at present is clear enough. Family, community, region, country and beyond — that seems to be the motto. When someone in the family dies and more so, if someone in the family dies 'unexpectedly,' that leads to an awful lot of analysis including analysis about the 'purpose' and 'role' of God in that event ... people will talk about the 'inscrutable' ways of God or they will say that God's will is all-powerful and we are not to question it ... or that He must have some grand 'design' or that it's all part of His grand 'plan' ....

Of course, when just 'people' die in accidents or in other ways, we do not do so much analyzing ... Religion has this great advantage — accidents by definition are accidental and they do not occur often enough. And mostly people live through their boring lives with their mundane issues and concerns which keeps them busy enough. So, people mostly do not have any occasion to challenge or question the things they have been brought up with and they do not have much of a reason to go out of their way and do a deep study about the history of religions or learn about the ideas of evolution or the ideas of astronomy or cosmology or quantum physics.

Religion is like one of those other falsehoods .... (in some ways) like astrology or homeopathy.

Of course, religion is evil. But again, to reach that level of understanding, one will need to indulge in a deep study of these things.

Then again, how evil or otherwise is it that people mostly choose to remain silent about the Gujarat genocide of a few years back or the Rwandan genocide a decade and a half back. What about the floods of Pakistan? Can that too be termed a genocide perpetrated by nature but still in some ways humanity can be tried for genocide for being a silent spectator ...

Not much can be said really about a species that has invented many religions (thousands of them?) over millennia and above all, the absurd spectacle endures where you have simultaneously existing major different world religions (that's the jargon) which have got completely non-overlapping creation myths and more ...

How could the universe have been created in many different ways by many different gods? Clearly, beats me. And people are mostly charitable towards other religions of course (unless one is of a fanatical sort, I guess) and they will say that they believe in 'all' the religions of the world ... which is, well, it's like saying that 2 and 2 can equal 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 or zero depending on your 'belief.'

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