Thursday, July 11, 2019

Idealism and Ambiguities in Religions

By Saeed Qureshi

June 24, 2019

Undoubtedly the teachings and principles of all religions are good. But despite this essential goodness the religions remain as one of the leading vehicles for divisions and feuds entailing massacres, killings and genocides among the human race. Perhaps it would be pertinent to say that more humans have been killed because of religions than any other cause. The clash and conflict are not only between the adherents of different or rival religions but also between the faithful and sects within one religion such as Shias and Sunnis in Islam and Catholics and Protestants in the Christianity. The religions, instead of promoting harmony and peace among the human race, are engaged in eliminating and vanquishing each other.

To the extent of believing in God and moral and ethical precepts, religions are all right but to impose them on those who differ is not acceptable or desirable. But when it comes to the dispensation of mundane, secular, social, economic and political matters, only such religious injunctions should be allowed that are commensurate with the imperative and parameters of the modern societies. Besides the typical cultures of various religious societies, another kind of culture is emerging which can be rightly called universal culture.

The universal culture is based upon the revolutionary advancement in the information and communication domains. Now whatever happens in one part of the world is known immediately in the rest of the world. The exchange of information is now being commonly shared by all religious and secular societies. The best way out to check the bloodshed by the religious fanatics is to contain religions from having least say in the affairs of the state.

 All the religions and denominations should be allowed to function in a state and society. But it should not be binding for everyone to follow it for the sake of politics and other perks that are doled out to the followers of the religions professed by the state. The Scriptures profess and predict a great and final clash between the rival religions. Now who is faithful and who is not is yet another controversy that remains unsettled. It means religions inherently approve and augur a great and decisive clash between religions. As such the universal harmony and peace seems to be elusive and far-fetched and unattainable.

As explained earlier, the religious teachings are in their very essence absolute and ideal. According to the religious dogma, by following the beliefs and observing the religious assignments one can win the blessings of almighty God in this world and paradise that offers ideal pleasure in the hereafter. This is primarily about the Abrahamic religions. For other religions such as Hinduism, the soul survives after death and becomes part of the eternal power after it is purified of all the sins by going through various reincarnations.

The concept of punishment and reward for good and bad deeds is also ideal as can be seen in the teachings of various religions. It is the underlying idealism that at once fascinates a person who can go to any length according to his faculties, stamina and powers to follow these teachings and induce and preach others to follow them as well.

Thus, religion assumes the form of an institution or cult, which becomes rigid in its pursuits and constitution. Those among the followers can do anything in the name of religion and their beliefs, provided the interpretations by the demagogues and clerics so demand. The resistance and defiance to the extent of enmity in safeguarding one’s beliefs assume such stubborn proportions that one would be prepared to lay down one’s life or kill others if need arises.

The apostasy of the followers of other religions in contrast and comparison to the sanctity or inviolability of one’s own religion is rigidly stamped or embedded in the minds of religious believers. The religious extremism is the natural offshoot of one’s rigid belief. It further leads to bias, prejudices and bigotry. The hatred between cults and denominations within a religion and between the religions at large turn into hatred that gives them license and sanction to kill the non believers of their religion.

Irrespective of the exhortations of the founders of religions to live in peace with all and retaliate only when attacked, the religious bodies, individuals and nations engage in religious wars to stamp out the religious opponents and establish their religious fiats. In the name of religions, dreadful and genocidal wars between countries and nations have taken place which for the victorious led to the ethnic cleansing of the vanquished contenders. The humanity has seen so much bloodshed and destruction in the name of religions than for other reasons.

 The Jews versus Christians and Islam versus Christianity entails countless battles and confrontations in which horrendous crimes and massacres were committed by one segment of humanity against the other. If these wars were for territory, loot and plunder by the strong against the weak, these could be justified because that is how the human nature is all about. But many of these wars were fought in the name of God and faith. Although the religions would never condone or teach mutual destruction by the human beings.  According to the faith in all major and religions God loves all human beings and religious teachings essentially goad and exhort peace on earth.

Then what went wrong? Either religions are not from God or God himself doesn’t want to meddle in human affairs. Or else even if the religions were revealed on prophets, the succeeding religious preachers, clerics and the theologians wrongly, diversely and multifariously interpreted the religious codes and precepts. We have countless sub beliefs in all the major religions that are decidedly due to the difference of opinions or because of diverse or multiple explanations of religious injunctions.

If in the jungle of various and colliding elucidations, a common man is perplexed and gets entangled into a particular sectarian belief then he or she should not be blamed for this. One mostly follows the family religion or the parents’ religion that remains embedded in his mind. By believing that the others were profaning their God and faith, the followers of the opposing sects or religions would not only vigorously dispute and resist such efforts but use force, coercion and terror against their religious rivals.

 If God’s universe is perfect and flawless and is based on absolute scientific principles, then the religions that govern the human societies and lives of the human being must also be perfect and beyond confusion and controversy. Instead that a religion should be internally divided and fragmented into divergent beliefs, there should be rather one religion with immutable guidelines for humanity. The reason for fragmentation and factionalism between religions and within religions is that these were mostly creation of human mind, unwritten, not meticulously documented or carefully preserved in original forms. If one would cram a certain saying it could carry different meanings and connotations when reaching others in subsequent times.

The religious teachings cannot cover all facets and aspects of human life or society. Primarily otherwise religions basically are confined to the belief in God and the rituals of prayers. The worldly matters such as economy, scientific discoveries, social, medical and countless other aspects of human knowledge and dimensions that are progressively expanding have been, scantily or perfunctory mentioned in the holy books of all religions.

The remedies of most of the individual or social ills are suggested in shape of prayers or at best herbal recipes. Moreover, they don’t cover all the coming times and ages, as the founders of the religions would have no idea what would be the shape of the human societies in the future. They would predict things about the future in a roundabout manner that looks foggy and far fetched and far from conditions than what we see today.

Religions are the product of the primitive ages when human societies in different parts of the world had not been so enlightened and knowledgeable as we can see in the modern times. Primarily all prophets were reformers. Their focus was on removing the immoral practices and social evils in the society of their own times. But since they did not have armies or military power at the start, they would claim to be representing God as a power that was more powerful than any earthly power or individual or a nation. With a mixture of fear and allurement of earning the pleasure of such a power they would succeed in their endeavors of reforming the society. The simple recipe was: either you accept the pleasure or wrath of God. They took God for granted and on their side because they earnestly believed that they were on the right path and were pursuing the right cause.

 Once their message was set in motion and they gained recognition, the movement or the religion would not stop but move forward. The devotees and the followers would keep the new movement alive and vibrant with the spirit of sacrifice and complete dedication. These reformers and prophets were not cheating, imposters or hypocrites. They would honestly and sincerely believe that since they wanted good of the people, they were doing the right thing with the blessings and patronage of God.

There should be only one religions that must be a scientifically and rationally irrefutable, truthful and readily acceptable for the people of all times if it was sent by God. Unless God himself wished to create this confusion and division of beliefs in the religions, the whole motif and plethora of religions, seems to be ridden with guess work and mere speculation. From the creation of God to the universe and the mankind and whatever we feel or see around in shape of matter or electromagnetic radiation and gravity etc theology has a speculative approach.

Now unless there was undeniable proof that God created the universe and all the existence in six days which only God himself can proffer, we can simply remain befuddled (if we question such a natural phenomenon) that how come this would happen in a matter of six days when before any creation there was no time or space not to speak of days. If one believes that the days were created before the matter, then it is not born out by the scriptures.

 The concept of days is relevant on earth. Therefore, should be also expect of God to do his creation according to the earthly parameters and natural phenomenon such as days and nights which are mere result from the rising and setting of the sun. The six days’ dogma of creation is written in the Bible that is believed by the Jews, the Christians and Muslims. But the Muslims also believe that God created the universe by merely uttering the word “BE” and the universe came into being at once.

 This Islamic dogma comes closer to the theory of big bang. Both these theories militate against the contention that universe and God are eternal and therefore there was no beginning and no end. Then the controversy and the divergence whether God was a spirit as believed in some oriental religions or he is a being as believed in three main Abrahamic religions or else that God didn’t exist as believed by atheists or agnostics. If God had created religions or sponsored religions to manifest him in existence, then all these religions must have known the exact nature of God and the way the universe was created. So, either all the religions are merely resorting to kite flying or one of them is right. But how far right no one can say with certainly as there is no evidence whether their interpretation of God’s nature and the creation of the universe were right or wrong.

May be God likes diversity instead of uniformity, as manifested in case of a galore of religions and cults that abound in the human society. But then it puts into doubt and shatters the belief that God created the universe in a particular way but did not spell out or disclose to his chosen apostles the way he did it. At least on the question of creation of the universe there should be no differing opinions as God created the universe only in one way. But if the creation of the universe was a recurring and continuing phenomenon then it should have also been known to the prophets who claim to know the secrets of the universe and the nature of the genesis.

The more the number of religions and cults, the more the number of vested interests, such as clergy, papal authorities, the theologians, the clerics and the bigots and the ascetics thriving on them with a crowd of dedicated followers. They enjoy privileged positions and reverence that an ordinary person or even a ruler cannot command. But since conflict and divergence is in the very nature of all existence God cannot meddle into ironing out the differences and discords in religious as all these religious doctrines are purely human. God would not interfere in human affairs because if he does, he should eliminate all bad spots and make the world a heaven that should be free from all ideological conflicts. But at least the divine authority must spell out some how that the diversity of beliefs carried his approval or at least he does not view the divisions of religions with disapproval.

In that situation then all the religions must be right as God allows them to exist side by side, each one offering speculations about the start of the universe and our own existence. But if God approves one or more than one religion, then there must be some divine intervention or way-out to know which was right and which was not or how far one was right and in what proportions was it wrong. In the conflicting or confusing situation religions vie with each other and in a bid to outsmart each other they would go to any extent for establishing their bona-fide and prove others as fake and phony. Hence all this bloodshed and continuing militancy between the religions

Religions get rid of the extremely thorny and tedious questions such as the creation of the universe by saying that God made it at such and such time. For instance, Islam says that it was created in a moment when God said let it be and it came into existence although it is also written in the Quran that it was created in six days’ period which corresponds to the dogma held by both Christianity and the Judaism about the creation of the universe. But beyond that the religions have no explanation about the intricacies of existence and the absolute scientific principles involved in it.

Of course, the creation of all life, matter and space is the work of God but what scientific formulae were involved any religion has no answer. It is the science itself that has unraveled (not entirely) the amazing information, intelligence and the interplay of countless forces, time period and rigid principles that were applied and that form the basis of the creation or whatever we see or can perceive. The science as compared to the religious dogmas, has much better understood the intelligent design and the creation by giving the modus-operandi and the conditions under which all creation came into being. So, we can say that science, instead of religion was more of divine nature as the latter compels one to blindly believe instead of questioning. While the religions are subjective, the science is thoroughly and essentially based on query, investigation and objective analysis of the phenomena. Religions tend to be perfunctory and superficial, and speculative about the mysteries behind the creation while science gives us calculations, rationale, concrete information and data to prove as to how the universe came into being and how it progressed and when the life started.

the religions merely explain this world of ours in terms of days and nights, weathers and seasons, sky, stars, oceans and water, trees flowers, birds, animals etc. What makes most of the religious dogmas debatable and shorn of actuality is that all these have been explained or mentioned by the humans themselves. Whether the dogma is about the creation of God, universe, human beings and the phenomenon of birth and death and the life thereafter, every aspect of belief and reasoning is shrouded in mystery and tantamount to mere bland statements. The religious conception that before existence there was darkness is a subject of contradiction because the existence of darkness itself is a proof of something that was already in existence. The darkness must have existed within a space, which means that space was also there. As such to believe that there was nothing before the creation of the world is certainly not true.

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