Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Sting Operation Called God

An eminent professor, a religious scholar, and a feminist comes to class one day to enlighten the pupils about the teachings of her religion.  She was not a fundamentalist and had come to emphasize upon the point that one must love God unconditionally and that God is universal (and almighty, and loving and caring, and sharing, and so on, and so forth).  One of the couple of stories she narrated to us from her religious scriptures goes like this, "Once upon a time, there was a little shepherd, aged around 10 years old.  The boy was herding hundreds of sheep that belonged to his master.  A passerby, who was of course the messenger of God (mind you, God didn't have twitter at that time) met him on the way, and as expected in religious scriptures, tried to test the boy.  He asked the boy to sell him a couple of sheep.  The boy refused, saying that the sheep belonged to his master.  The messenger argued that the master could not see him and he would not notice a couple of sheep missing out of the flock of hundreds.  The boy was dismayed by the proposal and replied, "Sir, the master may not be watching me, but the God is."  The End.

The story has two parts - One is that the boy thinks that God is watching his actions.  In other words, God is with the boy.  The second part is that the God has told (somewhere) that one should not cheat.  Thus, it was not the boy's conscience that disallowed him to steal the sheep and sell it off, but it was because he thought he was under a 24-hour surveillance of God who disapproved stealing.  Now, as the boy was a shepherd, the chances of him having read and analyzed the religious scriptures by himself are very few.  Most probably, someone whom he trusted, like a parent or teacher or perhaps his master, had taught him what God says is right or wrong.  So, let us consider a situation wherein a trusted acquaintance convinces the  boy that God says that those who build mosques in the place of our temples are bad and should be punished or those who do not believe in our religion are bad and should be punished, and the God is watching you right now and will be offended if you do not punish those who displease him, what will the boy do?  Are there not high chances of the boy taking spades to bring down Babri Masjid or take arms and join the holy war against non-believers??

More often than not, the liberal religious scholars blame the fundamentalist religious scholars for being bigots and generating hate in the minds and hearts of young boys against other religions, but they forget that while relating virtues of a person directly to the spy-camera version of God, even they are creating water-tight compartments in the minds of people where they judge good against bad on the basis of God's command and not by applying their own minds and conscience.  It is said that ethics are what we practice when no one is looking.  This is to mean that something done under love or fear of someone else does not imply that his conscience approves of it, and someone else here is applicable to God as well.  Unfortunately, this is the fundamental error we make while teaching morality and virtues to young minds.  We relate everything to the presence of God and assume that the atheists are soul-less, conscience-less people.  The fundamentalists, or politicians for that matter, only need to disperse the seeds of hatred on the fertile fields of God-maniac or God-phobic minds, and here we get a crop of arms and ammunition waiting to kill whoever comes into their way to please God. 

It is true that terrorism is a business in itself and it is perpetuated to facilitate the sales of arms and ammunition (arguably the world's largest business), but what greases the easy flow of the arms is this God-dependent conscience.  Is it so difficult to inculcate values in young minds based on the principles of humanities? Is it not possible to develop an attitude which questions the validity of an action on the basis of its effect on fellow human beings and the larger good of society?   When an individual is taught to be self-conscious and take the ownership of his actions, he generates a scientific attitude towards his actions and weighs everything on the basis of its impact on the societal good in the long run.  A person must be trained on morality in such a way that he does not develop the courage to face himself in the mirror when he does something wrong, because even a child knows that the Judgment day when he is to face God is far away and might not come at all!  

One must note that it is very common to see people killing each other on the name of religion while it is very rare to see someone kill others because his conscience tells him to do so and even if somebody does so, he is called a psychopath.  So, we actually confirm that it is not sanely possible for an individual to do something wrong out of his own will.  But it is highly probable to do the same wrong in the name of religion or God.

It is high time we question the moral lessons we instill in our children invariably compounded with this universal God who is practically unavailable to speak to in times of confusion.  Instead, the child should be delivered the values and principles of humanities.  Stealing is bad because it bereaves the other person of his rightly-earned property, not because God said so.  It is only through a secular, humanistic morality and scientific outlook can we expect our younger generation to develop tolerance and compassion in this multicultural world.  It is time when our educators and philosophers leave their Bibles, Geetas, and Qurans at home while coming to educate the pupil about peace, nonviolence, and acceptance towards others' religion and cultures.  We must remember that all the religions speak of love as well as violence.  All Gods can be pleased or displeased in some way or the other.  So just for once, let us keep our Gods aside.  Just for once, let us not care too much about Gods and start caring about mankind for a change.