After centuries of being dominated by a never-before seen entity, mankind finally had the courage to free itself from the chains for the first time during The Renaissance. A simple shift in the subject of paintings and sculptures was evidence enough for the clergy to swing into action. Scores of people renounced the church; hundreds gave up the divisive Hinduism for Buddhism. A glaring defect was visible in religions worldwide, that of division.
Such incidences have shaped the modern man. Atheists and agnostics occupy a major chunk of society today. No longer are Sunday masses, daily prayers or visiting churches, temples, mosques etc., important to the society. The average age of a nun in the US is sixty-nine. 3200 parishes in the US still yearn for a priest. Science had begun to fill the void left by religion centuries ago. No longer does the modern man require the hand of an unseen entity over his head. So how did such a massive shift take place in our minds? Restrictive mindsets of the ‘god-men’ had left mankind averse to the discoveries and inventions that surrounded it. The chain finally broke.
The major reason for mankind abandoning religion today is the restrictions it imposes on our lives. Scientists of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were ostracized by the society due to the church’s command. It set us back by centuries. Mankind was always sceptic, had the knack for great scientific discoveries but how can one forget what happened to Galileo. Imagine if religion dominated the world today! Due to the rising populations, genetically mutated (GM) crops have become a reality. Their high yield has brought about a Green Revolution to feed India’s hungry. If our political class was ruled by religion, would such an invention and its implementation have taken place? Artificial insemination has taken over today to provide eternal happiness to impotent couples. No longer does western society frown upon gays. If we were dominated by religion, would such freedoms have been available to us?
Indians have been known to spend vast amounts on their gods and temples. Why are temples in South India loaded with gold? Does the lord need this gold to show off? Why are golden crowns and thrones built for idol worship? Instead, donating such amounts to orphanages, educational institutes, cancer research etc. can assure us of a better future. In the name of religion, we spend millions on idol worship; shouldn’t we wisely spend it for someone who needs it? Liters and liters of milk is offered to Lord Shiva, can you not feed it to the hungry mendicant outside the temple gates? The truth is, we spend fortunes on such useless idol worship when we can actually make a change with this money. Tycoons and business magnates like Warren Buffest, Bill Gates, NR Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji etc. have understood this. They do not spend on churches and temples but on troubled humans. This is true religion.
Religion has also lost its significance, owing to the presence of unnecessary elements or ‘god-men’ of the society. Religion is run like a business by these modern day gurus and babas. Sathya Sai Baba’s death brought to the fore discussions about the wealth he amassed. Who knows what Baba Ramdev has stashed away? Why do vile creatures like Swami Nithyanand and Asaram Bapu exist? These men have cleverly manipulated their audiences and ruled over them. Such god-men have tarnished the name of mankind and have driven away throngs from the bosom of religion. Such vile creatures and ‘tantrics’ are still prevalent, engaging in sacrifices and driving people away from modern day science. No longer should religion be significant for us, when such men exist.
However, one might argue that it’s the belief of Karma, the presence of an entity that analyses our annual report card has kept crime in check. If we were not faced with the fear of almighty, we would become as uncivilized as we were in the Stone Age. Therefore, we have this ultimate pressure to remain model human beings and stay in the almighty’s good books. Or we shall descend into anarchy and chaos.
But, this desire to please our God has led to the pogroms and riots. Humans engage in killings of each other (especially those of other religions) to please their Gods. Persecution of Jews, Jihad against America, 2002 Godhra riots are a handful of examples of what we can do in the name of religion. Religions have played divide and rule throughout our existence and pitted us against each other. We are divided because we are Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians, not because we are Indians, Pakistanis, Israelis or Americans. We kill, rape and mutilate our brethren in order to prove the superiority of our religion.
If one still believes that religion has done more good than harm, he/she is free to study the numerous riots that happen in India. How devious politicians and god-men convince us that a person with a different religion must die is beyond me. It’s better to have no faith rather than having a faith which kills each other. At the end of the day, one may find the atheists’ stand being vindicated as one examines the evidence. Lets disown Gods and embrace humanity, give up superstition and embrace skepticism.