Robert Maynard Pirsig, an American writer and philosopher, says “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion”.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word delusion as “an idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder”. Does that mean the people who believe in the existence of God almighty are all suffering from delusions? Well, it is a difficult question to answer. However, it is extremely difficult to prove the existence of God. The clergymen, who are the middlemen between God and humans, keep saying that God is very much existent, but to be able to perceive his presence one needs to be spiritually enlightened. And, people like me keep feeling that may be I’m not spiritually enlightened enough to see him and that is why he is invisible to me.
People often slip into mass hysteria after they hear rumors that certain idol started drinking milk or shedding tears. Religion and rationality are poles apart, and if you want to be a believer you need to blindly follow what the clergy says. You can question them only at the risk of being branded as a heretic. In religions such as Islam you can’t even question the existence of God, and if you muster up enough courage to do it, you will immediately be branded as a ‘Kafir’ and will be accused of indulging in blasphemy. And, in many Islamic theocracies, blasphemy is punishable by death.
Every religion promotes its own God and the pagan faiths such as Hinduism offer a new God to the humankind on a daily basis by deifying even humans as Gods. So there is no clarity as far as who the real God is and who is fake.
The scriptural literature is full of ludicrously unscientific things such as God created this universe in six days and on the seventh day he took rest, whereas the evolutionists say that this universe took some millenniums to evolve to this present stage and the evolutionary process is a constant and continuous thing. Another religion says that its Prophet flew to heaven on the back of a winged horse. The scriptural literature of the pagan faiths such as Hinduism is full of myths, which are incredulous but passed off as truths.
The puzzling thing is even the people who gained mastery over science set aside their scientific temper and keep visiting shrines. What drives humans towards religion and God is a difficult question to answer. However, one of the reasons could be that humans, by nature, feel intensely insecure. As they grow old and near the death their feelings of insecurity only get intensified and they start searching for a redeemer. And exactly at that moment the clergymen come into the picture and exploit the situation to tighten their grip over the society.
There are many who say that religion actually played a great role in infusing morality among the humans. Really? The Vatican Bank, which is considered to be the custodian of God’s money has often been the center of corruption. The Catholic clergy are often embroiled in pedophilia allegations and the Pope is finding it difficult to purge the church of malaise. The Muslim religious organizations, which are fighting for the restoration of ‘purity’ in Islam, often run their affairs on counterfeit currency and drug peddling and even by selling women as sex slaves. The black money stashers in India are notorious for dumping wads of currency into temple ‘hundis’ to attract God’s attention in the expectation that he would forgive their sins and grant them ‘moksha’. So one of the cornerstones of the religion business, which is mostly run by the clergy, is to exploit the innate human propensity to ‘sin’ and accumulate money. There are some people who say that religion plays a role in establishing peace on the earth. This argument also sounds feeble if we look back into the history of crusades, the holocaust, discrimination against Dalits and apartheid. And even today, in this technologically advanced 21st century, religion inspired terror, especially the Islamist terror, is playing havoc with human lives.
Can a human lead a morally upright and peaceful life even without following any of the organized or pagan faiths? The answer is yes. Richard Dawkins, the well-known evolutionary biologist, states that morality does not originate from the Bible, rather our moral progress informs what part of the Bible Christians accept and what they now dismiss. He also argues that there is a moral Zeitgeist that continually evolves in society, generally progressing toward liberalism. He is right. Yesterday’s morality may be considered immoral today and today’s moral things may cease to be so tomorrow.