Thursday, November 09, 2006

My religion doesn't teach that!

I have seen a lot of religious and irreligious people who say that religion is not the evil we need to fight, rather it is the evil interpretations of religion that are the enemy. They will tell us that the Hindu philosophies revere the female and exalt her to a position of godess, that the ancient vedic texts tell us to lead a righteous life, rather than praying to stone idols and so forth. Other's will tell us that their religion is a "religion of peace" or that their messiah had acutally invalidated all the concepts of their holy book that were written before he came to earth. And then they will go on to say that all the evils we face today: sati and exploitation of women, the caste system, the suicide bombers, the fanatics who kills doctors because they are giving women control over their bodies, all these happen because the pure and loving religions were interpreted wrongly.

These people want to tell you that the religion still actually exists in the pure form that it was concieved. I don't agree. Religion is what people believe. If there is a clergy or a head of the religion, then it is also what these people decree it to be. Today, Hinduism to a majority of people is actually believing that their god Ram was born in Ayodhya, where a mosque had been built over his birthplace. They will have you believe that their gods actually live inside the marble idols and drink up the offerings of milk once in a while. Hindus will tell you that travelling thousands of miles to such and such a temple will make your wishes come true, because the god that resides there is benevolent. That is Hinduism. It is not the abstract thought of the Rigveda and the Vedantas. Hindus are as much salad-bar worshippers as most of the Christians of the western world.

Christians are the ones that will want to post their ten commandments in public buildings. They will tell you that a 3-day old bunch of cells has the same intrinsic value as an adult human being. So they would rather keep that 3-day old bunch of cells alive (preferably in a nice, safe womb, so that it can grow up to be another of their "flock") than use those cells to give an adult a chance at living a normal life after a spinal injury or loss of an organ. And when you confront them on it, they will say that their book only teaches to "love thy neighbour". These are the people who believe that the earth is 6000 years old and that we were all created as-is by some divine force. The will not believe evolution despite the very dangerous fact of drug resistant strains of diseases like tuberculosis.

And of course, let us not forget the "religion of peace". Of course, their god doesn't tell you to kill innocent people. But you are allowed to kill non-believers and apostates. Who decides who is innocent or not? Surely their god isn't here to tell them that, and so the people who take these matters into their own hands decide that according to their own understanding.

When "tolerant" atheists tell me that they are atheist but they respect other people's "freedom" to believe what they want, it is very nice to hear. But what about my freedom to believe what I want. Where I live, I have that freedom at least. But there are many other nations where I could be killed for my beliefs. Because of the interpretation of religion that their leaders are forcing upon the people. That is the religion we all deal with on a daily basis and not the sacred texts and scriptures which had been written in long-dead languages.


Mithun said...

Perfect post there...
To see another instance how Hinduism is re-interperted in the current age:

R Nicolas said...

I'm not sure that I would be classified as a "tolerant atheist", because I only tolerate religious beliefs when they aren't thrown in my face, or when they don't affect government policies that have an effect on my life or my children's lives. When these things happen, I tend to go militant, and thrash a person's beliefs until they leave me alone or start crying.

But, then again that's just my opinion, which with five bucks will get you a triple-shot Latte at Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

"Religion is what people believe."
This is absolutely true, but i would go further to say, that the moderate folks are the ones who don't follow their scripture accurately. There is only so much misinterpretation that can be done. A lot of the bible/quran is quite blatant about the atrocities it expects of its followers.

I think the main reason for so much violence, corruption and sexual exploitation is because people in power (and their sheep) simply quote scripture and get away with it.

Banning religious text wouldn't be so hard if the religious tolerants admitted that they were cherry-picking and that they don't need an ancient book/dubious god to tell them what's right. The difficulty with this is that, if you are brainwashed as a child, it is very difficult to reason against it despite the lack of evidence in favor of religion.