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Religion in the age of Reason - 2

We live in an age of analysis! In an age where we are choked with news but starved of history! Where people know more & more regarding the less & less, thereby lacking a perspective which integrates wholly all these experience into a coherent belief system!

Of such a busy lifestyle arise loneliness, emptiness and purposelessness. Information that never translates into knowledge! Knowledge that can help us run machines, but fails to quench our thirst of understanding ourselves better. Intelligence that assists us in manipulating others but fails to guide us to a better living!

Science helps us understand nature in retail but when is totally clueless on understanding it in wholesale. While a scientist can explain why a certain phenomenon occurs, without coordinating it to our experiences we would not find it useful in our daily life.

Such isolated bits and pieces of information leads to more confusion than understanding. Indeed, so much is the sheer emptiness that yuppie Indians feel these days, that instead of taking the harder path of understanding by themselves, they surrender their souls to those who offer solace sans the hardship. And the classic rule of any “cult” – to insulate themselves against external influences – ensures that once trapped, these souls remain forever in the state of denial. In absence of good examples, even the wrong ones can become elevated.

Science was useful in debunking many of the religious theories, but it left the moral aspect untouched. Thus, the fundamental disconnect between the understanding of external and internal nature was hard to bridge. The rises of various variants of spiritual groups are an attempt to develop a belief system that withstands the onslaught of science. We have therefore come across various sects that endeavor to explain religion in terms of the new terminology of rationalism.

Science cannot tell us the meaning of life – that is a function of a philosopher. When philosopher speaks, heavens fall and empires shake. For instance, if not for the binding influence of philosophers, dynastic rule that found justification in “Divine Rights of Kings” would have been morally justifiable. Of course, sometimes even philosophers fail their duty – Hegel earlier wrote the revolution is at the core of history only to discover that the Monarch of Germany is God in disguise!!! ;)

MEANING OF LIFE

There is a solid ground where religion invariably scores over every other ideology– it provides the individual with meaning of life. Many of us find life full of drudgery, futility, vacillating desires, superfluous relationships that we crave to dive deeper and experience the vitality and intensity of life & thought. We feel that life has a meaning, could we but decipher our inner thoughts.

Life is rarely agnostic. Depending on the circumstances, like a cat on wall, we are bound to ascribe inexplicable events either to a supernatural power or to natural law. Few will have the temerity to remain non-committal in face of conflicting evidence.

Furthermore, religion binds individual to community like no other identity does. Science gives us tools, but not the purpose; enhances our understanding but crushes our significance; and certainly gives no unambiguous answers on origin of life, meaning, values and many others that mean much more to men than mere sophistry of technology.

Men therefore find the steady assurance of religion more soothing to their minds and body than any reasoning. They are willing to let the authority of religion to direct them. The fear of punishment in hell has been a serious deterrent to criminals of middle ages. That eventually karma overtakes all fortune/misfortune of a person makes many docile rather than go extremes. It awakens the light of hope in the heart of men like no other.

It tames the barbarian instincts of men, it kindles the hope of everlasting happiness, and it gives a perspective to our everyday activities!

Any surprise if its stays resplendent in face of debunkers ;)

Comments

  1. HI Madhav,
    I have been waiting for this piece (on religion) for some time. And you scored an ace.
    You have almost clearly elaborated the thoughts I held on this topic. To add, I believe that faith in god and faith in reasoning are both the functions of the randomness associated with this universe. The improbability of the future is the common denominator for the origin of god and the idea of rationalization. Kant's statement perfectly fits into the same line of thought.
    Most of the greatest discoveries and inventions of the past were at least to some extent associated with chance and miraculous accidents.
    In fact our science still relies on possible miracles and the probability of the experiments and their results.
    In this world of randomness, at the most we could only be able to confine the position of god with certain degree of freedom. So far the philosophy of reasoning and science had been some what successful in this. Today, faith in god is not any more the governing principle for the most people of the world.

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  2. Hi Sravan !

    faith in god and faith in reasoning are both the functions of the randomness associated with this universe.

    Superbly expressed ! Infact we may ponder if the so-called chain of events are indication of order in universe or order of human nature..A distinct possibility is that being a prisoner in human body we are imagining order & rhythm where there is none...

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