“Why Blame Religion?” asks Matthew Adukanil in an article of that title published in the Open Page of The Hindu (Oct 13). [In the online edition of the paper the title is Blame it on politics, not religion.] The article is a response to an earlier article by Vasant Natarajan, Let’s aim for a post-theistic society. While Prof Natarajan’s article was a rational and sensible argument why we should strive to create a world without religions, Prof Adukanil’s is sheer trivia fit for catechism classes.
Religion and science “are twins, one imparting wisdom and the other knowledge,” argues Adukanil. There are many problems with such statements. For example: Does religion really provide wisdom? If it does, why is it the cause of so much misery in the world? Why has it engendered so many crusades, holy wars, jihads, terrorists, and other appalling evils? What about the numerous atheists and agnostics who were/are wise? Aren’t they proof that religion is not at all necessary for acquiring wisdom? How many people, in fact, become wise because of religion? If we examine wise people who are also religious, we are likely to find that their wisdom is a product of their character rather than their religion, though religion might have played some (minimal, most probably) role in the formation of that character.
According to Adukanil, the problem lies in mixing religion with politics. What good is religion if it does not suffuse the entire life of the believer? “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is,” said Mahatma Gandhi. If religion indeed makes people as wise as Adukanil claims, it should be the guiding force behind the entire continuum of an individual’s actions as well as thinking. That’s why religion was meaningful for people like Gandhi. The truth is that people like Gandhi would have been eminently good people even without their religion.
And that’s precisely my argument. Religion is redundant. It does no good to anyone really. Good people will be good even without their religion. Bad people will use their religion for politics and other evils. So who needs religion?