“I do hateful things for which people love me. I do lovable things for which people hate me. They love me for my detestability…I may be rancid butter but I am on your side of the bread.”
— Inherit The Wind
This seems to capture the essence of my emotion whilst I am contemplating the contours of religion. Let me begin by stating that I not a religious man. Far from it, I would, much rather prefer to be labelled an atheist than a man with religious propensities. Curiously enough I am not confused about the existence of God either. The agnostic label doesn’t stick either I suppose. I believe in God and as a corollary to that belief, I forbid myself from practising, preaching, professing or believing in religion let alone the dogma associated with it. My actions though are not beyond reproach as I indulge in the occasional idolatry, puritanism and customary prayers. I do close my eyes when I sit before a miniature temple installed in my house. I do remember a bluish black man occasionally smoking pot or equipped with a bow and arrow whilst I have my eyes closed. I also sport the red and yellow thread on my wrist because it is supposed to protect me from harm and bad luck. I am human and no more than any other run of the mill hypocrite. Moreover, I am not going to debate religion with my mother during Lakshmi puja or Ganesh Chaturthi. Now that I have the disclaimer out of the way to ease the purist nincompoops amongst us, I can talk about religion properly.
How can I blog about religion when I am already making excuses for my own hypocritical behaviour? Such a question is perfectly valid. However, I don’t wish to debate with the fanatics. I wish to debate with those who want to believe in God or do believe in a religious conception of the Almighty. Fanatics can never be reasoned with for they might as well be the most Godless among us. I do not believe that one is capable of perceiving God if one is capable of so much hatred merely on difference in belief systems. The agnostic and the mildly religious however, especially the ones with belief that holds the scope for doubt are the ones that may find common cause with my ramblings on religion.
I am a non-believer from the uncool brigade who thought it modern to reject God’s existence. I was also vain enough to believe in my own divinity. However, the idea of God seems tantalising if not always irksome. We have all felt the need to be servile before a higher power, an almighty being at our disposal ready to manifest itself to humour our pettiest indulgences and the tiniest of issues. I wish it were that simple. For such purposes, we familiarise ourselves with any particular brand of religion, the choice of brand being inherited from our most loving parents. Some of us pray to the blue God, some to the bleeding man on the cross and some to a nameless invisible being. The list is by no means exhaustive. There may be more Gods on the planet than there are humans and yet they manage to hide their impeccable splendour from every single one of us. When the inordinate numbers fail to muster desirable diversity and numerical strength of faithfuls, prophets, messengers and agents are born. These able bodied individuals, with their expertise in dupery help establish organised religion. They spill blood in the name of mission and proselytize in the name of their faith. By the time they are done, the seeker of faith is sent back to the drawing board, his mind filled with more clutter and confusion than before, the fog of unknowing growing denser with every religious sermon, bigotry and ritual.
I have been down this pathway and back feeling stupid and aghast at the
Religion quite certainly is in descent. If it is not vanquished altogether, it will definitely have to adapt itself to the needs of the present. We do not live in an age of unreason and dogma anymore. Religion, which was not supposed to survive this long owing to its characteristic opaqueness is in denial. It struggles to keep its sanity when faced with the mortality of its existence. It is fighting back, spilling blood the world over with no end in sight. However, its cause is terminal and so is its use and the day is not far when the world runs out of patience with manufactured Gods and gives them a rather unceremonious burial.
However, the problem of moral guidance still presents itself in new shapes and sizes and without religion we may not have all the answers we are looking for. We may be able to devise solutions to more terrestrial and temporal moral problems, but problems more spiritual and eternal in nature require a deeper philosophical underpinning which our micro-learning capabilities are not equipped for, as it is the one answer science can’t provide just yet.
While I cannot in good conscience endorse the Neitsczhian theory of religion for the elite, I can ask you to listen to that little voice inside your head. It will tell you the answers to your moral choice problems. It will help you discern and choose. The voice inside your head is the closest thing to God that we can possibly have. You ignore it or choose falsely, the voice wanes, presenting you with less and less moral dilemma and sealing your fate with every immoral option. You choose to listen to it, you will be faced with one of the toughest dilemmas many times over for such is our world, imperfect and insensitive. We can however listen to our conscience and cultivate reason, clearing the moral turgidity with every correct choice. Cultivate reason and you shall reap God for if we were created at the hands of an almighty lord, I don’t think he would have deprived us of the power to choose our own fate and balance our own scale of good and evil.