Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Reason versus Religion

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 21 March 2023 “Many developed countries have achieved remarkable success in terms of scientific and rational thinking of their people. Religions in these countries have little clout. These countries are also the most democratic, egalitarian and high rankers in the happiness index. On the other hand, many developing countries are moving into the reverse direction. " Mr Ashok Sharma from “Can Rationalists Fight Religious Bigots?: Transcript Of A Speech By Ambassador Ashok Sharma In Delhi” Mr Sharma's pithy observation is spot-on. Wherever people have moved away from god and religion, the societies are peaceful and enriched. For example, Western Europe, esp. the Scandinavian countries. Look at the state of Pakistan and Bangladesh, two fanatic countries where reason has no place and religion rules the roost. In fact, reason and religion are antitheses of each other. Both have always been at loggerheads. Bigoted minds don't listen to the voice of reason because the mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it'll contract. Evolutionary biologists and anthropologists believe that the brain of an average religious person (not all) is often impervious to reasoning. That's why, no amount of logic and science can make such a hardened brain see sense. Two examples will make it clear. Hindus believe that their monkey god, Hanuman, was the son of Vaayu Dev (god of air) and Anjana. Hanuman is often referred to as Pavan Putra or Anjaneya by Hindus. Both were extremely good looking (at least, mythologically) but their son was born as a monkey with a tail. No believer has any answer or explanation to it. But ask this. Your existence will vanish into thin 'air' (pun intended). Second example is from Islam. Till 840 AD, written Arabic was extremely fluid. Arabic scholars Noldeke, Gibb and Yahya Minfirab called it ' an orthographically amorphous and ambiguous ' language. It was linguistically standardized only in the second half of the 9th century, whereas the Qur'an was written well before the said period. It stands to reason that if Arabic was script-wise not fully developed when the verses of Qur'an were being received, how can anyone be sure of their explanations and interpretations which can never be definitive? That's why, the Qur'an is so ridiculously and bafflingly interpretative. A rationalist can understand this but will a believer ever accept that much of the Qur'an is written by humans? He (believer) will verbally or physically, depending upon the level of education, challenge the rationalists because he doesn't have much wherewithal to defend his ramshackle religious views. Here lies the danger in the form of a potential threat to one's life. What happened to the rationalists like Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Kalburgi, Pansare and Gauri Lankesh? All were killed by fanatic Hindus. Rational bloggers questioning Islam, Muhammad's outlandish claims and the authenticity of Quranic verses are being killed at regular intervals, esp. in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Sudan, among others. Unless, a safe and secure space is created for a healthy discussion, involving rationalists and hard-core believers, we shall continue to witness a simmering difference between the two groups. It's, therefore, a sine qua non for both rationalists and believers to be level-headed and able to accept all types of views without resorting to violence or vitriol. Let religions also survive along with their concocted gods as humans still need them. But we can all be a bit more rational. The marriage between the reason and religion is not impossible. However, what kind of offspring will this union produce, remains to be seen. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: https://newageislam.com/spiritual-meditations/reason-religion-rational/d/129365 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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