The irrelevance of religion today
Let me start by saying that this piece is not meant to be offensive towards any particular religion or sect; at least not intentionally. Despite equal disdain towards all religions, including my own, I promise to put forth my points in an entirely objective manner. The idea is to gauge the pertinence of religion in today’s world, or the lack thereof. Readers may agree or disagree. After all, it’s a free world, isn’t it?
When Copernicus proposed that the sun circled the earth, challenging the popular notion, Bartolommeo Spina (the Magister of the Holy Palace at the time), made every attempt to discredit him. After Spina’s death in 1546, the mantle was taken up by Giovanni Maria Tolosani who was a well-known theologian-astronomer who attempted to use philosophical arguments against Copernicus’ theory. And in 1633, when Galileo Galilei seemed to agree with Copernicus, he was placed under house arrest, charged with heresy. Today, people like Tolosani and Spina would be choking on their own words, had they been alive.
Traditional Islamists forbid the use of contraceptives, believing that children are Allah’s gifts. The more the merrier. That, in a world that’s already overburdened with the burgeoning human population! I mean, we’re already 7 billion strong as a species, aren’t we? Plus the tenets of Islam have been twisted repeatedly by fundamentalists leading for a large section of the non-Islamic population to believe that all terrorists are Muslims, though not essentially vice versa, creating an air of Islamophobia across the world. That doesn’t make the world a particularly friendly neighbourhood, even for the pious, peaceful and devout Muslims now, does it?
Coming to Hinduism; even today, there are places where individuals from lower castes are not allowed to draw water from the same well as those from the upper castes. They’re subjugated, looked down upon and on occasion, denied the basic right to a decent life. Moreover, they’re expected to stay that way. Any attempt to improve their standard of living is looked upon as rebellion, not progress. And particularly for Hinduism, with the sheer mind-boggling number of deities, divisions and friction are inevitable.
Speaking of divisions and friction, growing up in a devout family, I had always been told that religion is a tool to unite people under a belief system. However, my experience with religion has always proved otherwise. Various sects of different religions are jostling with each other for space and supremacy — Shias taking on Sunnis, Catholics versus Protestants, Vaishnavites facing off against Shaivites, Mahanaya followers versus Hinayana followers — the strife is endless. Religion is a factor that has consistently featured in wars, death, rapes, vandalism and many other heinous offences.
Just imagine this, without religion, there would have been no crusades, no Al Qaeda, no Holocaust and certainly far fewer invasions. Yes, as a species, we have already made those errors but do we need to keep repeating those mistakes?
Science has evolved. Religion hasn’t. And evolution is the cornerstone of progress. Simply put, religion stands in the way of progress today. As it is, between discrimination on the basis of skin colour, gender and economic affluence, we have enough inequality and disparity. We can, therefore, certainly make do with a few less factors, right?
Look, I can keep going on an on, and never run out of reasons to advocate the phasing out of religions througout the world. But I guess with this piece, if it is published, I would have sparked the ire of fanatics enough, as it is!