Why I hate religion – confessions of a non practising atheist

I come from a family that has a varied range where beliefs are concerned. My wife is an atheist, my mother and sister are devout / religious and my father is semi-religious (in that he goes to the temple whenever my mom goes and does not forget to do an obsequious pranam every time we pass a temple). That leaves me and our family dog, Snowy. I can not vouch for Snowy, but he has this ritualistic fervor with which he urinates daily on the sacred tulsi plant that my mother has planted in our courtyard. So I shall put him down as religious and ritualistic too.

As for me, I like to think that I am spiritual without being religious. In fact I shall take it a step further and say that I hate religion. Do not get me wrong, I am open to possibilities as far as the existence of God and strongly believe that there is some thing to this cosmos beyond the tangible. But what I hate is the arcane series of rituals built on top of that simple belief in a higher being that seems to exclude any other school of thought. I hate exclusive telecast rights on the God Thingie and all derivative rights thereafter.

I believe that there is order in the universe and there is a force behind all of this. But I stop at putting a face on it and kowtowing in public every other Saturday at 7:30 pm at a designated place of worship.

I go to a temple when my mother needs someone to drop her there. I go in and stand with her as she purchases a diya for Rs. 2 and lights it in front of an idol of a deity who is competing with about 330 million others for market share. In the beginning she used to ask me to do the “maatha teko” thing in front of the deity and after three or four flat refusals, she mercifully stopped asking. I do not for a second believe that whatever we call “God” exists within a piece of stone enclosed in a temple.

I hate religion because it tries to put a face on something that is by definition amorphous and infinite. On one hand we harp on the omniscience and omnipotence of God and on the other we expect salvation only if we do puja on certain times on certain days at certain places. I do not buy that for a second. But I keep my mouth shut unless someone pointedly asks me as to the reason why I do not like religion or rituals. I do not expect others to have the same viewpoint as me and I have always tried to encourage a healthy discussion.

That is another point why I dislike the institution of a religion built on the simple idea of believing in a higher being. Religion drives believers to try and “convert” the non believers. Forcing someone else to have a viewpoint same as yours is a sure recipe for disaster. Just pick up a map and throw a random dart at any continent. (Last I heard the penguins were fighting in Antarctica over religious beliefs pertaining to whether they are white on black or black on white). Spiritualism is an intensely personal concept, where as religion is a social extension of that which brings in socio-political dynamics which then veer away radically from the concept of the one to a “one size fits many” kind of school of thought.

Religion means organization and any organization is an organism. It fights to survive. By their very nature ideas are transient. They evolve and finally give way to better ones. So does the concept awareness of the cosmos and the way it works. But when the idea grows into an organization, it becomes rigid and sometimes functions by rote only. It tries not to yield to the natural order of death and rebirth. It opposes new ideas when it should welcome them. The status quo becomes the end point of development and all religion does is preserve the status quo.

Now let us look at the central concept in all the religions. All religions basically teach us that the Cosmos is balanced and that every action has a reaction. Call it what you may, this sounds suspiciously like Law of Conservation of Matter/Energy and Newton’s Third Law to me. May be God is an equation after all, one that balances out the whole universe. That being said, I am succumbing the same trap as the one I am trying to oppose. I am trying to put a face on something that does not have a face.

In essence, in the matters of God and Spirituality, we are like the mythical blind men who met an elephant and formed their various interpretations based on which ever body part happened to be nearest to them. May be limited by the five senses and our perception of three dimensions (+ one if we count time) we each have formed our own view of God and religion simply perpetuates one of those “snapshots”.

I do not have anything against those that are religious or atheist. To me spirituality is something that is an awareness of the insignificance of self. For others it might mean different things. Each of us blind men is welcome to grope and probe the “Elephant” that is a higher being and form our own opinion. What I really really hate about religion is it tries to take away this basic option of finding something out for yourself. In stead of trying to think about such things or presenting the arguments, we simply hide behind the mask of “Religion” “tradition” and not encourage such debates.

I admire the texts of “Ramayana” , “Mahabharata”, “The Bible”, because I take them as allegories not factual accounts. Imagine if a million years later, once humans are gone and a race of super intelligent squid-baboons is the dominant form, how silly it would be if they based their religious structure with the posit that the “Star Wars” movies were actual factual incidents. On a literary level, the basic storyline of the religious texts is not much different from any Speculative Fiction epic.

Whatever your point of view is on this topic, I would like to start a discussion via this blog entry and the comments section. Feel free to post your comments and please keep the language civil as this is a public forum.

9 Replies to “Why I hate religion – confessions of a non practising atheist”

  1. My own views are largely the same as yours on this Saurav. But I think religion is as much history as it is theology and mythology. Religions begin, grow old, rot, and die, like everything else.

    A religion is like a picture of God, taken from a certain point of view. I think different religions fight because their versions (obviously) don’t match. 🙂

    I understand your point against organised religion. My personal feeling is that religion isn’t meant for everyone. Very few people actually have the maturity to understand the message about the said creator or the said influence in our lives. The concepts live too far inside the intangible universe to make sense to most people.

    Mythology is framed to help make sense of the intangible, but most of us make the mistake of taking it literally and then fight over the details. 🙂

    To be sure much of the atheist crowd does the same. They denounce religion because they think religion requires mythology to be taken literally.

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  5. Religious and spiritual concept are not the same thing. When we burn, get the religion automatically.. That time we don’t know, what is the region. We mark the rules of religion grow up gradully. We follow some rules to get that religion beliefs.

    Spirituality is in born. When baby born, require milk from mother. Baby know his/her mother is as the God. The child know who is the actual mother. This is called pure devotion called as Spirituality.

    Ramayana, Mahavarat the Bible and the Koran, are certain rules built upon in the periods. I dont think these are change actual practice of human.. They are made to control humans nature. These are used as rules in periods.

    Fiction is a game of neuroscience, mind game. We apply skill to generate readability for text contents. But who cant read, is that technique apply. i dont think it work.. So we tell him the story as a fiction ‘ Once upen a time a king…’ it creates a visionary element . Old poet used ‘fiction’ for listening purpose, by that one lay man who can not read and write can understand..

    Atheism originated from the Greek (atheos), meaning “without gods”. People who self-identify as atheists are often assumed to be irreligious, however, some sects within major religions reject the existence of a personal.. I personally found many Atheist later believe in God.. AA AA not in pressure.

    Sankhya philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (phenomenal realm of matter). They are the experiencer and the experienced. I dont think any Atheist argue in this.

    Ok ok i am clearing saying Experienced (Prakriti) is called God and the experiencer are the object.. Ha Ha 🙂 So why we deny God.

  6. I am not against the idea that a god exists but I do hate organized religion. Where else can you find a group of people fawning over a man written book and act like it is the word of god. The last time I checked, the only thing God wrote was the 10 commandments written in stone. You don’t even need to be religious to follow these commandments because they are just common sense. The bible is mans interpretation of what they think religion is. It is a never ending series of loopholes and contradictions meant to keep people confused with hopes that they keep coming back to church looking for answers as long as they bring their money. Each time I have gone to church I have met people that judge judge and judge some more. Funny thing is that after church is over, they walk out the doors and see a woman with a nice rack and fantasize about them like every normal man. That is a sin too but they don’t judge themselves. There are so many other examples that I could go on and on about too but it is pointless. If god wanted us to all be faithful and follow without question, he shouldn’t have created a race of beings that was intelligent.

  7. I think if everyone actually read the bible they would understand that it is a piece of fiction. Problem is most people either never read the book they claim is true or they read it through eyes that are looking only for passages that make them feel good and build their testimony.

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