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Author Name: Emmanuel Ezeagwu
Number of articles: 3

The World Youth Day was celebrated yesterday 12 August 2015. In view of this, I wish to address a... (0) Comment

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Religion: Its Implications for the Modern World
Author: Emmanuel Ezeagwu | August 14, 2013

I have come to discover and expect that the more educated or enlightened and resultantly civilised I become, the less I not only see the need for organised religion, which I once dearly held onto, but also the less I become interested in it. This is much more also true about fundamentalism. However, this interesting development has not in any way undermined my belief in a God (I am a creationist), which I feel should guide my everyday living, it has only exposed to me how simplistic, meaningless and unnecessary rituals and sacramental rites are. Most of the doctrines of religion are irrational and not supported by sufficient evidence, and for these reason, I reject them. In fact, I have now found it difficult to even accept the assertions of the religion I was born into, and once practised. Although I agree with some of its interpretations of morality or ethics, and human essence or purpose, I do not entirely agree with its creation myths; I do not agree at all on the necessity and efficacy of its sacrifices, whether bloody or not, and some other ritualistic practices. Some of these so-called sacred rituals, I must add, are inhumane and barbaric. These rituals and rites (altogether called religion) are only primitive ways designed by man to foster hope in and make sense of this dark world. They are supposed passageways fashioned by man's limited and varying interpretation of his surrounding world (and even ancient texts) to connecting to the divine. That there is a God is unquestionable. The universe or nature in general is replete with overwhelming evidences revealing him in its complex design. Man has also always believed in the supernatural from time immemorial, even as the God's personality has remained unknown to him ever since then. But to impose on oneself and on others prescribed ways of supposedly serving and appeasing him, and labelling as a savage someone who fails to comply has always been the job of the poor and uneducated man. Furthermore, cases like the one described above have led to religious intolerance and violence, and this has defeated the purpose of having a religion in the first place. Fundamentally, religion broods fundamentalism. This is because of ethnocentrism: a tendency to see one's religion as pre-eminent over others. This prompts one to 'evangelise' it, and to get irritated when one or the religion is scorned. But what God is there that supports well-orchestrated destruction of human lives he so scrupulously designed, and their properties in his name? Is the God mad or is it his soldiers that are? How can two or more opposing parties all claiming to be in the employ of the God fight one another? And they do so with well-informed zeal! Or are there more than one God? If yes, which is the one who designed nature, because it is uniformly or consistently designed? Does this not prove that the adherents are without reason? Does this not go to show and support my educated assumption that it is only the poor and uneducated that advocate religion? For no affluent, rational and civilised man will take up arms, march to the streets and begin to carefully put out like a candle flame the lives of fellow men glimmering within their flesh-covered temples, and within whom, also, warm blood pumps. To make matters worse, most of these religion preach antipathy. They teach that people who do not join them, that is non-believers, are sinful and thus should be hated, persecuted, and even killed! Even those who practise other religion than theirs. How myopic and ludricous! But that is not all of it. Even some of their believers are not spared this antagonism, albeit in a milder tone. For example, women, in many religions, are discriminated against and marginalised; and 'brothers' - as members of a religious group are called - who err in any one of their practices are excommunicated. Religious fundamentalism has never had any immediate benefit whatsoever since history. I think it is more of a curse than blessing. Candidly, I am of the opinion that it should be outlawed if possible because its essence has been negated by the damage it causes, and by the growth of science and civilisation today. But I must quickly add that these are only my opinions and I am aware that they may not reflect the views of others. Nonetheless, the fact is that religion remains almost entirely the source of modern terrorism and conflict. It is, undeniably, a threat to civilisation since it is obviously incompatible with world peace, freedom, civil rights, equality, and good government. One might ask me now, 'So you think religion is bad and should be banned?' My answer is 'yes'. With an air of incredulity, 'That it should be banned, is that not ridiculous?' 'Well, ridiculous... most certainly. But not all ridiculous ideas are unrealisable, especially in the long run.' 'But', he asks further, 'do you not appear to be contradicting yourself? At one time you claim to believe in a God and yet another you denounce religion outright?' Let me now make plain my stance: I have after a while, with the scholastic and private study I have made, both directly and indirectly, on this issue in a range of subjects in the natural and social sciences, from astronomy to anthropology amongst several others, drawn up a conclusion and maintained that a belief in a God and religion are not similar and interchangeable as many would have us believe. On the one hand, a belief in a God is, well, a belief in a God. That is all there is to it. While on the other, religion is a particular system (ritual, rite) of worship of a God or possibly gods according to a set of rules or faith. The ubiquitous perception that a belief in the divine alone constitutes religion is only as a result of entrenched attitudes and traditions. Belief in a God may be the choice of any person, educated or not, impoverished or wealthy, if he so wishes. He makes his choice (remember man is a free moral agent) based on his received education or enlightenment. However, religions are perceived ways of pleasing this God or gods who seem so real and comforting to man. And they are only perceived ways, nothing more. It is simply a faith in beliefs which one has not critically and analytically considered. According to the online encyclopaedia, Wkipedia: Faith is the commitment of oneâs consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. When a man rejects reason as his standard of judgement, only one alternative standard remains to him: his feelings... To practice the âvirtueâ of faith, one must be willing to suspend oneâs sight and oneâs judgement; one must be willing to live with the unintelligible, with that which cannot be conceptualised or integrated into the rest of oneâs knowledge, and to induce a trance like illusion of understanding. One must be willing to repress oneâs critical faculty and hold it as oneâs guilt; one must be willing to drown any questions that rise in protestâto strangle any trust of reason convulsively seeking to assert its proper function as the protector of oneâs life and cognitive integrity. Besides, this supposed ways of appeasing or communicating with the God that constitutes religion are outdated. They are superstitious and mythical, and as such not based on facts now unearthed by science. What other natural 'sacrifice' could a supernatural being demand from man he designed other than to love him as he is revealed in all of creation, love the creatures and universe he designed, and tend to them? Whence, therefore, comes the relevance of religion? If any religion were the true and divinely approved religion which will it be? What then are we going to say about the Crusades, the Jihadists, violence amongst various religion most especially the ones that hypocritically preach peace to appear prestigious and deceptively recruit credulous people, terrorism that cripples civilisation and net development, and schism even amongst and within denominations of a particular religion? How shall we justify such religious vices or shall we call them blessings? If we instead term them human errors should we not conclude then that all our religions have altogether been utter waste. Or do our God and gods delight in crooked services and quench their voracious thirst with blood spilled from animals and humans killed in wars or voluntarily sacrificed? It takes sound objectivity and sincere rationalisation to concur with me and a few of other educated and intellectually enlightened ones that religion is an anachronism in this age of Enlightenment that began in the eighteenth century. It no longer serves the purpose for which it was created. In fact, it has had and does have nothing useful to offer in today's world. The hope it once offered is far outweighed by the hope, safety and comfort science has brought. The usually erroneous or substantially incomplete explanation to life and the surrounding world it once proffered is now silenced by the amazing, undeniable facts and predictions of science. The endearing pomp it once possessed has been quietened by reason. Needless to say, the popularity of religion, or rather, the number of people practising organised religion in highly developed or civilised societies, in the Western world has dwindled. Those who still are involved in one form of religion or the other in these high-class societies are mainly those who choose to do so out of respect for a long-standing family tradition, or out of curiosity, and never as a necessity. The case is even more pronounced with the younger generation, the youths, most of whom are not remotely familiar with the details of religion. The rate of conversion to any religion here is poor. However, this cannot be said of underdeveloped or developing societies where the number of religious practitioners, so to say, is alarming. Here, the level of education and the standard of living are low, and religion seems to be the only source of hope of any breakthrough for the people who are beset with unfavourable conditions for survival. Superstitious beliefs still predominate in these societies because of underdeveloped science. Although the practice of sacrificing human lives has been abolished, there are still cases of callous practices such as fasting, genital mutilation, various contortions of the body, and so on, and even ritualistic killing of animals. The incidence of religious violence in a locality can also be a criterion for determining what society still tightly embraces religion. There is obviously a high incidence of religious violence in these underdeveloped societies unlike their developed counterparts which experience a relatively high level of peace and order. This even leaves them with more opportunity to attain greater prosperity and power in tow. One could go on and on citing instances of how much of a burden religion, a primitive invention of man, is to today's sophisticated world. I do not wish to further stress the obvious.

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