“Most people would rather die than think and most people do,” said Bertrand Russell in his characteristic witty way. Professor of Philosophy and author of many books, A C Grayling, is of the opinion that religion has continued to survive even in today’s scientific world because people don’t want to think. They would rather accept readymade answers given by religion. God is the ultimate readymade answer for a whole lot of problems. And a very easy answer too.
If we really think and evolve our own moral systems instead of borrowing them from religion, we will be far better human beings, says Grayling in his latest book, The God Argument. If we think sensibly (common sense would do if we cared to use that faculty), we will realise that we all have a duty to contribute to the welfare of the entire human species. The simple logic is that when the species is “flourishing” (Grayling’s word) we too flourish.
When we ignore the welfare of the other members of the species, we indirectly inviting problems for ourselves. For example, when we allow others to be victims of injustice or other such maladies of any social system (though not created by us), the victims of such a malady may eventually become a problem for us too – “in the way of crime, revolution, conflict or breakdown of the social order.” Maoism in India, for instance, is largely a product of an unjust socio-economic system.
If every one of us thinks with what Albert Camus (philosopher and Nobel laureate novelist) called “intellectual honesty”, religion will be redundant and there will be much, much less evil in the world. But I’m left wondering which is at a greater premium: intellect or honesty?