Religion & Religiosity

Jun 16th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Rima Fauzi Rima says religion and religiosity are to blame for much of Indonesia’s, and the world’s, troubles.

Why religion doesn’t matter at all

Once upon a time, Indonesia was well-known in the world as a nation of peace, tolerance and religious pluralism. Other countries even made us their example, a country full of people with various religious beliefs, from various ethnic and language background, people who live side by side in harmony.

Indonesia was and even more now, a very religious country, where the people live and breathe religion. It doesn’t matter what religion a person is, as long as it’s one of the six official religions. While it is unheard of in developed countries, in Indonesia identity cards bear not only name, address and sex, but also religion. Thus, religion is a must in the country of 240+ million people.

I still remember as a little girl, my Christian neighbors would come to our house in Eidl Fitr to celebrate our Ramadan victory with us, and vice versa, we would come to their houses to celebrate Christmas with them. Back then, we were not suspicious with one another, we were all like one big happy family, with real problems, none of which originated from religion. Those were good times.

I also remember being taught that religious people, specifically Muslims, go to heaven (if they’re good) and others do not. As kids, our schools taught us communism equals atheism and therefore very, very bad. This is deeply embedded in our minds which is why many Indonesians feel somewhat afraid or even disgusted towards communists and atheists.

As a little Muslim girl, at home and in Madrasah, I was taught that Jews were our enemy, never mind the fact that the Koran says otherwise. Christians weren’t mentioned, as it was politically incorrect to address them as our enemies back then. Besides, the President was close with the Christian community as well as the Muslims, making it a point that we were brothers and sisters who must fight the latent danger of communism and atheism.

Back then, I thought religious people like my dad, with his Peci, white shirt and sarong, reading the Holy Koran and doing the daily 5 obligatory prayers, Friday prayers plus the sunnahs like Dhuha and Tahajud; Or neighbors that go to church every Sunday and have bible studies once or twice a week, were perfect. Maybe they were, then. Living without a religion was something unthinkable, and most certainly a life that would doom a person to hell.

Fast forward several decades, things have changed. Not for the better, but for the worse. Now, the country is becoming more religious than ever, but tolerance is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Suspicion of Christian evangelism, for example, is rampant everywhere in the country with ridiculous accusations of lures of instant noodle to make one convert. Not only that, even sects within Islam are now attacked, despite sharing the same God and the same Holy Book.

Many of us are not obeying the law but instead take matters into our own hands. We are bypassing God as the only rightful entity to judge and condone or condemn anyone. Attacks and burning down of churches, places of worship and even mosques of different Islamic faith from Indonesia’s mainstream Islamic brand make many feel threatened to continue living in this tropical paradise. The government is weak and caves in to terrorist demands. A real shame that would make our founding fathers turn in their graves.

However, as we are growing more religious, good morals seems to have declined. There is no more shame in bribery, in prostituting the country by selling its resources to the so-called ‘infidels’ for big money while the country is short of the resources sold; there is no more shame in adultery, in human rights violations, in cheating the poor; there is no more shame in flaunting riches in front those who don’t have enough money to buy a decent meal, in attacking people for having different beliefs, in condoning immoral and violent acts; there is no more shame in oppressing ethnic and religious minority, in stealing funds intended to help those struck with earthquake/tsunami; there is no more shame in not being polite, in offending our brothers and sisters of different beliefs, of displaying behavior and attitude suitable for the middle ages, and; there is no more shame in abandoning victims of a disaster as a result of one’s greedy attempt to rich themselves, in any immoral acts in the interest of one’s self or group, being a bigot, racist and being discriminative.

We are instead fixated in pornography, women’s dress codes, dangdut singers’ dance and internet as if those are the only things in the world that could and would corrupt the moral of our future generation. We aren’t even ashamed of the fact that we are in the top 10 of most corrupt countries in the world, as if money is our new God, yet we are, without a doubt, one of the most religious nations in the world.

As I see all those above and more so-called religious people fighting with one another. Where one feels more self-righteous than the other and worse, hurting and killing people in the name of God, a God – if It exists at all – who would most likely shed a tear in sadness and frustration at all this, my opinion and feeling towards religions have changed 180 degrees.

I now strongly believe that religions are the culprit of all hurt and heartaches the people of this world has endured in the past, present and future. I believe it’s nothing but poison to the human mind. It limits our thinking, promotes hatred and violence and it tries to control us with threats of hell and lure us into doing evil things with promises of heaven. The day I know what religion God believes in, is the day I will once again believe in a religion. But until then, all the points above are the reasons why I think religion doesn’t matter at all.


302 Comments on “Religion & Religiosity”

  1. avatar Casasa says:

    rima, your article gives me so much pain and heart-ache – because it’s the exact same conclusion I came to a couple of years ago. It’s one I keep coming to again and again. And yet it leaves me feeling torn, because religion has endless possibilities in being a good and beautiful thing.

    If you ask me Indonesia is not becoming more religious, but less. It is turning away from its many religions to promoting only a single global version of a religion. A religion so stuck and immovable as to be the complete opposite of everything Indonesia has stood for these past few thousand years. This is what they call globalisation.

    Under this movement everything we are as human beings becomes diminished in the name of God.

  2. avatar Brett says:

    Nice piece. But it leaves me with a feeling of “now what?” Good timing one day after the report that 40% of the state budget is stolen.

  3. avatar kinch says:

    Look on the bright side, that still leaves 60% if you get in fast enough 😀

  4. avatar Rani says:

    right on, sister. I realize the same thing as what you’ve wrote above, a few years ago.

  5. avatar Delpo says:

    God never invented religion. Religion is a man-made institution and I think it’s important to distinguish between the two. Faith should compel you to do good works and living a life both in love for our neighbours and fear of God. Religion on the other hand is a man-made institution – nothing but a classification on your identity card (as rima pointed out), yet often dangerously used as an excuse to judge others into good VS bad, right VS wrong. This is not faith because rather than fearing God, one ends up playing god. So yes be sceptical about religion and religiosity, but perhaps consider giving faith a second chance?

  6. avatar billitone says:

    Poor thing, religion is now to blame for whatever human being has done.

    One should blame GOD (or whatever you think is GOD). One can try to curse GOD (see if you have the courage), instead of GOD curses one. I know I have. GOD “slapped” me, I blame me for everything eversince.

    I hope you will see some lights.

    See humanity instead of human, Seek religiousness instead of religion.

  7. avatar Shloka says:

    Somewhat agree with you but not quite. Even if religion had not existed, there would be so many other reasons to kill each other for, or for that matter die for. Take race. Not a major factor in Indonesia for sure, but the Africans’ slavery, lack of civil rights in America to the Apartheid regime in South America which only ended in 1990’s had all to do with race. Then there were and still are white superiority groups like Ku Klux Klan, which thinks all Blacks and Asians are racially inferior and will stoop to murder and lynching to prove their point. Had all the world been Christian, Muslim or Buddhist, there would be just one less reason to fight and kill. But people would still fight and kill for wealth,race and country.

    Indonesia is a very diverse developing country like mine, India and as such there are bound to be many people who, with little opportunities and choices in life, will turn passionately to their religion. The only way to limit religion’s influence in developing countries is Communism, and of course Communism has generated as much hate and violence in 50 years as religion has in millennia. One can hope that these countries will prosper quickly, as prosperity generally leads to organic atheism. The Nordic countries, Japan and Australia have turned away from religious fundamentalism and the wealth and socio economic security of these nations had a major role to play in that. Then again, wealth and fundamentalism can unfortunately co exist, like in America and oil rich Saudi.

  8. avatar Delusionir says:

    Nicely illustrated article.

    Not exactly a religious person myself, but I don’t believe that religion is the culprit of all the hurt and heartache, human nature is. Some people just use religion as a disguise/excuse to hurt others. in addition, it is not the religion that chooses people, it’s the people that chooses the religion.

  9. avatar Lairedion says:

    Faith should compel you to do good works and living a life both in love for our neighbours and fear of God.

    Why should we live a life in fear of God? Too many people still have that Big Man in the Sky notion. Always pointing to God and walk away from their own responsibilities

    I don’t know if God exists and I don’t care really. Common sense and reason should be enough to show compassion and do good. Look what the Buddha has said about this:

    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

    We should abandon the heresy of worshipping God and of praying to him. We should stop all speculation and vain talk about such matters and practice good so that good may result from our good deeds.

    rima, I can agree with your piece as I’m not a fan of religion either but I think it’s too much from a monotheistic point of view. To put all religions together as the culprit of a lot of evil is not fair to the likes of Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shintoism (whether some of these are religions is another discussion). Of course there are people who justify their violence with any of those religions/philosophies but only in Judaism, Christianity and Islam we can find violence, hatred and intolerance in their holy scriptures and teachings. Because more than half of the world population is either Christian or Muslim and continue to fight each other we can forget about world peace anytime soon.

    Shloka,

    In a way Communism can be regarded as a “religion”. It needs the concept of a totalitarian state where freedom in any form is absent. It is striking to see that staunchly secular countries like Sweden and Denmark have a high level of welfare, social justice and gender equality. I do think secularism is a better way to describe them than organic atheism. In atheism I sense too much hostility to any religion while secularism is totally neutral to religion.

  10. avatar rima says:

    Casasa: A lot of people tell me ‘don’t look at the followers, look at the teachings.’ well i think that the followers or a teaching should depict the teaching itself.

    You might think Indonesia is becoming less religious, but really, Indonesians are becoming more religious than ever. I came back in 2006 and from what I saw, it has well became more religious, much more than what I remembered (I left Indonesia in 2001). But you are right, a group of people is trying to hard to turn Indonesia to one brand of religion. No room for anything else.

    Brett: Yes, ‘now what’ is exactly what I have in my head. I’m just gonna wait and see.

    Rani: Good for you 😉

    Delpo: Exactly my point. God never invented religion, and I don’t think God has a religion. But I do not intend to live in fear of God. One should love and try to appease God, not fear it. To do good for love of God is much sincere and worthy than to do good in fear of God. That’s what I think.

    billitone: (some) religions and many other things are to blame for bad things human beings have done. But nowhere in my post did I blame God. I think you’re preaching to the choir here.

    Shloka: There are many other reasons to kill each other, but in present Indonesia, although religion is one of the major reasons people are hating, suspicious and attacking one another.
    If I’m not mistaken, the whites who took african slaves even imposed their religion to the slaves and KKK are hardcore Christian white supremacists, so both has a little of religion basis.
    Actually I don’t mind religious people, as long as they do what they preach. Not preach peace when needed but attack others when deemed necessary. It’s very hypocritical and disgusting. I think if everyone has a balanced faith in a religion and logics/brains then some sort of good would finally come.

    Delusionir: Thank you. Logically I know that human nature (the 7 sins to be exact) are the culprit, but I feel as if religion, in Indonesia, has played a big part in the country’s deterioration. But again, that’s what I feel. But I think you are absolutely right about religion as a disguise to hurt others, I think it is also used as a political tool, manipulated to deliver people to power etc. Very sad.

    Lairedion: I agree with you on the quote from Buddha, it is truly wonderful and makes sense.
    When I wrote this post, I was actually thinking about the three major religions and all the sects within them, I wasn’t thinking of the likes of those you have stated, as I’m afraid I don’t know much about them.

  11. avatar Berlian Biru says:

    A small point but one worth mentioning, the biggest mass murderers of all time were pagans and atheists.

    Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, need I go on?

  12. avatar Shinte Galeshka says:

    I agree that even if all Indonesian have the same religion, we will find other reason to bicker among ourselves.

    Yet, shouldn’t religion leader take responsibility too, instead of fueling the fire like those MUI leader do when they visit the FPI leaders. People take this gesture as approval to use violence.

    That being said, i agree the main issue is not religion. It’s our democratic system that fail to fullfil our expectation is the main cause. We’ve wait for 32 year during the new regime and 10 year during the so called reformation era, but our system still fail to bring prosperity to the mass. Sure our GDP is rising but the number of poor people is also rising. Our Coordinating Minister for welfare is the wealthiest man in south east asia yet one of his company freely deprive the people in Sidoarjo. This kind of disparity make people look for other system that might bring prosperity to the mass instead of those chosen few. Therefore the syaria movement arise, sometime in extreme explosion like we’ve seen recently because the government either too weak or too dumb to do something about it. What these people fail to see is a that a system is only as good as the people running it, what we need is a total reform in government – cut one generation.

    The bright side is actually the majority understand this yet they’re either too goddamn ignorance or don’t have any methods to channel their view. The media is too busy looking for bad news they neglect these silent majority (or intentionaly keeping them dumb, that’s what i say). So what we need is to awaken these silent majority to express what they believe is right for this country.

  13. avatar billitone says:

    Thank you for your kind words.

    But I don’t believe in preaching myself. Didn’t mean to do so int my reply or anywhere.
    Should I preach, I’ll be the only one in the choir.

  14. avatar Lairedion says:

    Berlian Biru,

    The people you mention created their own kind of ideologies which have resemblances of religions but without the well-known religious characteristics like afterlife, belief in God. They substituted God with themselves (cult of personality) and there was no room for freedom.

    Secularism unlike atheism is neutral to one’s religious beliefs and is the only option for us to let the religious and non-religious live in peace next to one another.

  15. avatar mirax says:

    Agree lairderon.

    In fact secularism is not just a protection for the non-religious – the worst persecuted through the ages by all ilks of the ‘faithful’ but a protection for religions themselves against the zeal of a Pol Pot for eg.

    Human rights are universal and trump religious dictates. The state must be secular because neutrality protects all religions. Faith belongs in the private, not the public, domain.

    There are a few muslim intellectuals coming round to this point of view despite charges of heresy levelled at them by the more anally retentive of their co-religionists. Sudanese-American scholar Abdullahi An-Naim is one of them : http://www.thestar.com/News/Ideas/article/438947

  16. avatar Shloka says:

    Lairedion,

    I mentioned organic atheism rather than secularism because I think too many religious people and somehow most Muslims in today’s world believe their religious texts as the whole truth and totally free from human faults. Of the three monotheistic faiths you mentioned, Judaism actually says,” The righteous of all nations have a place in the world that is to come.” However, Christianity and Islam staunchly believe non believers will either go to Hell or to an inferior sort of heaven. Its difficult to be totally respectful of someone you’re sure is going to Hell, isn’t it? So you’ll either try to convert them to your own faith by fair or foul means, or even coerce them to accept your version of the truth, sincerely believing you’re acting in their best interests, saving them from eternal Hellfire. They also take an aggressive missionary approach, hoping that the entire world will become fully Christianized or Islamized before the Last Judgement. This will automatically lead to conflict with non believers. I think its important to develop some kind of semi belief in religious texts, and the prosperity and social justice of Nordic nations seems to have created just that. With unflinching belief, missionary, monotheistic faiths would find it very difficult to open their hearts to future Hell dwellers! At least, thats’ how I feel.

    Rima,

    Religious hypocricy is indeed disgusting, but its difficult to have logical thoughts alongside believing in virgin births, angels dictating books concerning marriage, divorce and division of property,isn’t it? Its like believing in Fairy Godmothers and Santa and being logical at the same time!Matters are further worsened by the fact that, Muslims and Christians believe that non believers in their religions will not go to Heaven.So an otherwise very good person maybe induced to convert others by force or inducements in order to “save” them from the torments of Hell.

    Mirax,

    There were a few Muslim intellectuals too with agnosticism and skepticism bordering on disbelief a millennia ago. Ibn Sinna or Averroes, regarded as one of the fathers of European secularism, Al Razi, Ibn Rushd and Omar Khayyam among others. Unfortunately, these progressive ideologies died out, and Rennaissance didn’t come to the Islamic world that time. Maybe this time it would. For the sake of both Muslims oppressed by archaic theocracies, and non Muslim tyrannized by Islamic terrorism and intolerance, I sincerely hope so.

  17. avatar Jen says:

    Very well written, Rima. I’m proud of your writing skills and keen analysis.

  18. avatar Mach Jabber says:

    Ms. Rima, I shall say a clichéd line of a fundamentalist whenever they encounter writings like these: How much are you being paid? 🙂

    Some people find it extremely hard to believe that millions of people genuinely disbelieve their vesrion of absolute truths.

  19. avatar Helen says:

    Thanks Rima. It seems that all our religious traditions can be liberating or oppressive. That has led some people to give up on religion but I tend to keep believing that we can’t do without the spiritual dimension to life and faith can be a force for good as well as the opposite. I’ve been back and forth between Indonesia and Australia the last 20 years but Indonesia but these last years Indonesia has been facing a renewed challenge in terms of how it manages its religious diversity and how the majority Muslim community is to understand its relationship with non-Muslims. I suppose in Australia we are also trying to learn to live creatively with difference and respect and value one another. By the way this is the first time I have joined ‘Indonesia Matters’ egroup. I appreciate the articles and comments. I’m a Ph D student reseaching Muslim-Christian married couples in Indonesia and Australia. I picked up a copy of Fatimah Husein’s new book today, Muslim-Christian Relations in the New Order Indonesia: The Exclusive and Inclusive Muslims’ Perspectives. It looks interesting reading…

  20. avatar Delpo says:

    I don’t know if God exists and I don’t care really. Common sense and reason should be enough to show compassion and do good. (Lairedion)

    Unfortunately though as we have seen common sense and reason has not been enough to show compassion and good.

    But I do not intend to live in fear of God. One should love and try to appease God, not fear it. To do good for love of God is much sincere and worthy than to do good in fear of God. That’s what I think. (Rima)

    Again I’m not sure if loving God without fear of God is enough. The God of the Bible says that the greatest commandment of all is to love your neighbours as you love yourself. Without fear what would then compel one to obey this commandment? So in some ways I agree with Delusionir:

    Not exactly a religious person myself, but I don’t believe that religion is the culprit of all the hurt and heartache, human nature is. (Delusionir)

    Human nature is flawed and to me that is why we need God. Because being human is an unstable state of being. Sometimes if we are in a good mood our good conscience would compel us to care, say to stop and give some money to the beggar on the street. But most of the time we are not. Humans are by nature self-centered beings, which also is the reason behind the misconduct done under the name of God. I think the FPI members who attacked the mothers and little children in Monas were not angry because Ahmadiya members do not practice the teachings of Allah correctly, but because Ahmadiya members do not believe the same thing that they believe in. They’re not doing it for Allah, but for their own self-interest.

    Because of this I’m a big sceptic of relying on human nature. Freedom without a God is anarchy. And ideology reaches its most destructive climax when there’s an absence of law and God as Berlian Blue aptly pointed out:

    A small point but one worth mentioning, the biggest mass murderers of all time were pagans and atheists.

    Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, need I go on? (Berlian Biru)

  21. avatar Delpo says:

    Those are just my thoughts by the way, no offense intended 😉

  22. avatar rima says:

    Berlian Biru: I think Lairedion answered you on this.

    Shinte Galeshka: That wasn’t my point. Indonesians strongly believe that a religious person is a good person. Looking at Indonesia now, the previous statement just isn’t true. The people are MUCH more religious, while morality has declined. Which is why I think that religion (organized religions – more specifically – major religions) doesn’t matter.

    billitone: No, that wasn’t what I meant either. In your first comment you talked abotu God. The thing is, although I am of no religion, I still somehow believe in God. So no need to convince me, cos I’m still a believer.

    Shloka: I agree with you, logic and faith in religion don’t mix. I have said that many times to my (religious) Indonesian friends, but almost all of them disagrees with me and even goes as far as proving how logical their religion is by giving me examples of modern science breakthroughs that has apparently been written in their Holy Book. Go figure. That being said, I am giving them the benefit of a doubt and ask them to consider using their logics as well rather than depending on their religious dogma all the time. If God is as loving and merciful as they think It is, surely It won’t mind people questioning It and It’s ‘teachings’ a bit, after all It did give us brains to use.

    Jen: Thanks Jen, it’s always nice to have good feedback from a great writer such as yourself. 🙂

    Mach Jabber: Unfortunately, none at all. I wish I was paid by someone.. This is a product of being sick all weekend and not being able to get out of my apartment. And btw, if there is such a thing as absolute truth, I really don’t think it’s a religion.

    Helen: Inter faith marriages are interesting. I remember watching a show on BBC a couple of weeks ago that was about this.
    As for spiritual dimension, I am now not religious at all, but more spiritual. I feel the need for faith in something, be it God, science or myself, but I could do without religious dogmas. It’s not good for my mental health.

    Delpo: I think each of us have our own way of understanding God. But personally I don’t fear God, yet I still manage to live mylife without doing (too much) bad things. But again, I wasn’t talking about God in my article, just religion (and the dogma)
    But I have said this many times before in several forums. I think humans with all our bad traits, were also born with conscience and moral compass. So it is of course possible for atheists to be morally good. I know many who are much better morally, who has better conscience than those who claim to believe in God and religion.
    No offense were taken. 😉

  23. avatar Jakartass says:

    In history there have been Crusades, Inquisitions, and religious Reformations. In my time I’ve witnessed Protestants killing Catholics in Northern Ireland, Hindus trying to kill Muslims in Northern India and, on TV, Muslims killing Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Muslims killing Christians (and vice versa) in Poso, Ambon and New York.

    As already pointed out, much as one may talk of the ethnic cleansing carried out by monsters such as Stalin and Hitler, they were similarly insane in imposing their cultural ‘standards’ and -isms on those who lived with a different set of precepts.

    Adherence to dogma blinds humanity to the wonders of the world and, in particular, Mother Nature of which we are an integral part. Before organised religions took hold, the sun and sea were worshipped. Vestiges of those times remain with festivals at seeding and reaping times.

    Mayas (or was it the Incas?) and others supposedly sacrificed humans to appease their god(s), and Muslims and Christians have put sacrifice at the core of their faiths. Consider the symbolism of the Crucifixion and Idul Adha.

    It is because many of us have lost touch with our roots, another word ripe with symbolism, that alternatives are sought. At some future point, when we have finished destroying each other because there is a nirvana or heaven laden with vestal virgins or whatever turns religious adherents on, Mother Nature will continue smiling benignly.

    But the despair that Rima and others feel is surely not displaced considering the current intolerance demonstrated by varied religious groupings, and not just in Indonesia.

    We can all feel despair, although disgust is what I try to articulate, as we witness the élite gorging themselves on material goods, locking themselves away in gated communities whilst they presumably await their personal apocalypse. Those entrusted to uphold the rule of law, judges, prosecutors and police, as well as the body politique are all tarnished with the stink of corruption.

    If civil liberties cannot be upheld, some may argue that religion offers the missing sense of security and a moral way of life. That FPI is a bunch of thugs beholden to their paymaster(s) is a given. That they are willing to follow a violent path at the bidding of others is because they have been disenfranchised from the mainstream of society.

    They have been given a philosophy which gives them a sense of worth, an identity within a group. Surely this is what we all value – religious adherents, atheists and agnostics alike.

    To sum up: I disagree with Rima when she says that “religions are the culprit of all hurt and heartaches the people of this world have endured in the past, present and future.

    Religions are but a prop – a rod and staff to comfort.

    People are the culprits; religions are merely disguises.

  24. avatar Brett says:

    People are the culprits; religions are merely disguises.

    Here, here! Now who wants a drink?!

  25. avatar rima says:

    People are the culprits; religions are merely disguises.

    Yes, but I still believe that religion is the disguise that makes it all worse. One of my favorite quotes is Blaise Pascal’s’ ‘men never do evil so completely and cheerfully than when they do it out of religious conviction’

  26. avatar Patrick says:

    After reading Rina’s well written piece (however often misguided) concerning religion in Indonesia , I would like to offer an excerpt from Alvin Plantingina who some call the most important living religious philosopher in the world. The quote is taken from a paper entitled Theism, Atheism and Rationality

    What you take to be rational, at least in the sense in question, depends upon your metaphysical and religious stance. It depends upon your philosophical anthropology. Your view as to what sort of creature a human being is will determine, in whole or in part, your views as to what is rational or irrational for human beings to believe; this view will determine what you take to be natural, or normal, or healthy, with respect to belief. So the dispute as to who is rational and who is irrational here can’t be settled just by attending to epistemological considerations; it is fundamentally not an epistemological dispute, but an ontological or theological dispute. How can we tell what it is healthy for human beings to believe unless we know or have some idea about what sort of creature a human being is? If you think he is created by God in the image of God, and created with a natural tendency to see God’s hand in the world about us, a natural tendency to recognize that he has been created and is beholden to his creator, owing his worship and allegiance, then of course you will not think of belief in God as a manifestation of wishful thinking or as any kind of defect at all. It is then much more like sense perception or memory, though in some ways much more important. On the other hand, if you think of a human being as the product of blind evolutionary forces, if you think there is no God and that human beings are part of a godless universe, then you will be inclined to accept a view according to which belief in God is a sort of disease or dysfunction, due perhaps, to a sort of softening of the brain.”

  27. avatar Lairedion says:

    Of course at the end humans are the culprits. Without humans there is no religion.

    Religion is part of human nature as a way to try to find answers for questions he/she cannot explain due to the limited understanding of human brains. As time progresses we get to know more and more of our planet and cosmos. This is an ongoing never-ending process so imho it’s fairly stupid to think the truth is revealed in Biblical and Qur’anic scriptures based on the human understanding of 3,000, 2,000 or 1,400 years ago. Back then we thought the world was flat. Now we have different questions.

    Humans must be aware they are part of an Absolute Reality which itself is always evolving, changing and never-ending. Call it God, the Spinning Wheel, Rha or Nothingness, whatever you want, it’s up to you.

    If Muslims or Christians think their questions are answered in their holy books, so be it but it is solely to fulfill their own satisfaction, not of their neighbours who might have totally different questions because they are subject to different surroundings.

    So it’s safe to say humans are the culprits but when it comes to religion people are quick to state it is not religion itself but humans who causes misery whereas it’s commonly accepted to state Nazism or Communism are causes of misery in stead of humans.

    What I said here contains elements of a comment made by balibent on the post Banning Islamic Sects. His/her comment is until now the smartest and wisest I have read so far here on IM.

  28. avatar Shloka says:

    Balibent’s comments is indeed very quotable. I don’t think that the move away from Gods like Thor was such a smart idea for humans. Polytheistic Gods happily tolerated their colleagues in the same faith, and this tolerance was later extended to gods of other faiths, who were originally treated with respect and then elevated to a position of equality. While Ancient Egypt and Greece Rome often fought with each other, there were no religious Inquisitions or Crusades about my dozens of Gods\esses vs. your dozens of Gods\esses. Inquisitions, Crusades and deaths for apostates are far more prevalent in monotheism.
    Rima,
    A merciful God should indeed not mind questioning but the God of the three major monotheistic faiths seems to prefer blind obedience. Thomas the only one of the Twelve Apostles is censured rather than praised for his skepticism, and his story is told to children not to foster rational inquiry, but to teach them that, blind faith is indeed a virtue. I too have had such arguments with my religious friends and parents. I’m a cultural Hindu, agnostic, while my dad is a very practicing Hindu. However, I’m rather glad I have the freedom to question and doubt, people in many theocratic nations don’t even have that.

    Delpo,

    There are way too many good people to automatically assume that irreligion leads to immorality. Bill Gates an agnost and Warren Buffet an atheist have contributed billions to charity. A significant majority of Nobel Prize winners in science were non religious and most were decent people, contributing to both human knowledge and humanity. A significant proportion of the population of Nordic nations and Japan are non religious, and those places are extermely peaceful. On the other hand, look at devout religious nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi. Devout Christian nations like Rwanda have fought ad killed in the recent past to mould their nations according to the Christian God’s wishes. And Hitler’s faith is somewhat doubtful, while he made many statements criticizing Christianity, in the Mein Kampf he said,”Hence today I believe I’m acting in according in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator, by defending myself against the Jew, I’m fighting for the work of the Lord.” and many other anti Semitic statements from a Christian perspective. Of course, the Holocaust wouldn’t be possible without 2000 years of anti semitism.

    I don’t neccesarily hate religion or want the world to renounce it, but my point simply is its possible to lead a very moral life without religion, and equally possible to perform atrocities while being very religious, and finding justification for one’s acts in religion.

  29. avatar Patrick says:

    Lairedion says – “Of course at the end humans are the culprits. Without humans there is no religion.”

    This is an interesting concept as it is the basis of free will. Human beings have been granted by God the ability to choose right from wrong. Yes, we have free will to choose but it does come with a responsibility as we have to answer for our choices to God. Organized religion (please note for clarity I will include only the 3 great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) has a role in helping it followers by offering them guidelines and group support to make good moral choices. During the course of history has this always worked? The answer is clearly no as many examples of bad choices by religious fanatics have already been discussed at this forum. However, to be fair a greater amount of good, during the course of history, has been accomplished by organized religion than evil as man is ultimately drawn toward God (good) and rejects evil.

    What our world (flat or round doesn’t matter) has to learn is to respect the concept that God has given “Free Will” to all human beings and that each of us can choose to worship (or not) as we like and without interferences from others as long as we do it in a respectful way and without infringing on the rights of those who are different . God is the judge we are not!

  30. avatar Shloka says:

    Patrick,

    Fine if you include the three monotheistic religions for clarity, but there is a major world religion which is agnostic- Buddhism. The Buddha taught his faith without reference to God and group support in the form of the Sangha ( community of followers) was also a key concept in Buddhism. Buddhism has also accounted for a lot of good and far less evil in the world, than the major monotheistic faiths during its 2600 years long history.

    Anne Lammott said, ” You can safely say that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” I think God not only hates the same people but also loves exactly the same things man does. For instance the issue of virginity is one of man’s many obsessions, and whoa! God gives 72 virgins to every Muslim male martyr and there are numerous references to virgins in the Bible. All this makes the God of religious texts seem more and more suspect.

    In the end I can only say, cheers to free will, with or without Big Daddy in the sky to punish me.

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