Why Gods Are Still Alive
After a brief study of the religious activities described in earlier chapters, it becomes obvious that during the last five thousand years, humankind invented and worshipped many divine powers. People wasted countless working hours and resources to propitiate their gods, in the hope that the appeased gods would alleviate their sufferings. However, during the last two millennia, the concept of divinities produced an exactly contrary by-product. Humans tolerated most of their miseries—diseases and social evils such as slavery, caste-ism, poverty, exploitation or injustice—due to the fear of gods. In fact, most of these evils were the result of global economic exploitation under the banner of different gods, not lack of resources. People simply waited for the divine help and did not make concerted efforts to wrestle with their miseries. From the ancient period until a few decades ago, humans committed such blunders out of ignorance: they lived in darkness.
Today, the light of science is around all humans. By virtue of science, modern people are no longer afraid of the unseen ghosts or the lightning bolts in the sky. The entire universe is not a mystery today. Humanity has discovered remedies for almost all the previous miseries, such as epidemic diseases and famines. A major part of the world has enforced strict human rights to eradicate the social evils, and their results are obvious. Thus, modern people seldom face mystery and helplessness: therefore, the concept of divine powers has lost its relevance. Our ancestors had enough reasons to imagine and worship unseen divine powers, but the present generations have none.
During the last fifty years, literacy of the masses all over the world has increased, and they are curious about each new scientific discovery. Every day, countless people explore new happenings in the world through news channels, newspapers or the Internet. On the contrary, the religious knowledge of modern educated people comprises age-old convictions only. Surprisingly, many inquisitive people about the gods they propitiate daily. There are many individuals who worship their gods for an hour or more each day. If they begin to devote only half of this time in reading the anthropology and history of religions, probably they would not require to worship any god after a few months.
Furthermore, schools of almost every nation teach its political history to each new generation. However, they rarely teach religious history of the nation. At the same time, people are not inquisitive about the evolution of religions. Today, only the anthropology and history of religions and gods can enlighten the people about the truth.
Apart from this, just a few decades ago, there were only books and newspapers to gain knowledge; these methods had their own limitations. For example, one could have wasted his lifetime reading the books of one religion only. Today, the Internet is an amazing tool for knowledge and information, and provides an answer to every question. Almost all ancient religious scriptures are available on the Internet in popular languages. Furthermore, several encyclopaedias provide a wide knowledge about religions. Surprisingly, modern people make use of the Internet to acquire all kinds of information, but for the knowledge of religions, they rely on priests. In fact, priests had their vested interests behind the religions and gods from the ancient time until today: they would never assist people in reaching the truth.
Today, one of the most perplexing subjects is the persistence of the god delusion, all over the world. Why do people still believe a fabricated concept even after enough advancements of science? Why are gods still alive despite the fact that science has not yet found any evidence of their existence? Today, people believe and utilize many scientific inventions, but they ignore the scientific opinions about gods.
For example, almost all devotees have discarded a major section of their holy scriptures that described remedies for diseases. On the contrary, they still practice rituals and worship mentioned in the same books. There must be certain concrete reasons behind this fallacy in this scientific era. In fact, many successful people consider their success as gods’ blessing. They often have a conviction that their god had created them with a purpose to worship and help alleviate the poor; priests and parents have taught them this lesson from childhood. They devote their life for this cause and spread the god’s glory among the masses. Surprisingly, they never do introspection that why their gods created the poor.
Furthermore, many not-yet-successful individuals need a benevolent protector who apparently fulfils their needs. They require some patron-or-saviour-like protective figure to act as a crutch to support them. Religion provides them an illusion of security and hope. Many people even get depressed; life seems difficult to them, without the support of some almighty power. This need for a saviour has rendered humanity to live in an illusion. The soothing darkness of religions has engulfed humankind and blocked the entry of scientific light.
Apart from these, there are four pillars of the building of the religions of today: the theory of sins, illiteracy and poverty, ancient literature and modern priests. Without any of these pillars, the imaginary building of each religion cannot survive. Increasing human ambitions, expectations of miracles and the limitations of science have also helped resuscitate the ailing concept of gods. It is necessary to explore how these factors have contributed to sustain the most cherished illusion of humanity.
The Theory of Sins
The theory of sins and good deeds has provided a strong foundation to religions. Most sacred laws are upheld due to the sanctity of such a theory. This is the soul of all religions; without this, religions are like dead bodies. After understanding the theory of sins precisely, there is no longer a need to discuss gods.
Almost all religions propagated more or less similar convictions about sins—the violation of God-made rules. When and why did the theory develop? Did some god himself descend from the heavens to imbue people with an acute sense of ethics and morals? What kind of events led to the invention of this theory?
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A simple logic may disapprove the Hindu and the Buddhist theories of Karma. Both the theories assert that each human has a physical body and a soul inside. Only the physical body commits the sins, not the soul, which is pure and an extension of the supreme God. Whenever a living being (the first body) dies, the body decomposes and mixes into the soil. Immediately after death, its soul becomes free; after some time, the soul takes birth in the shape of a second body. The first body and the second body do not know each other and are altogether different except they have a common soul.
Normally, God punishes the second body for the sins committed by the first body. What is the logic behind the sentence of the second body for the sins it never committed? For example, let us imagine that long ago a dacoit called Jagga committed all possible crimes, during his adult life; however, he enjoyed a sound health and afforded all the luxuries. After his death, his soul took birth as the son of a priest, Ramlal, who suffers polio in infancy and became orphan during adolescence. He began singing in the temple and spent his life following all morals. However, every year he encountered some disease or accident; at last, a female refugee asked him for shelter in the temple. She nailed the last nail in the coffin, and he became HIV positive. After this, the melancholy Ramlal must ask God: ‘Did you punish me for the deeds of Jagga? You were not capable or equipped enough to punish Jagga in his lifetime. And you are punishing an innocent for the deeds of a dacoit. Is this justice?’
No Ramlal would find opportunity to talk to God; however, this is sheer injustice. In fact, the punishment of the sins committed in other births was a fabricated concept. This conjecture had two basic purposes: to frighten the masses and to establish the kindness of God, despite human sufferings.
Illiteracy and Poverty
Illiteracy and poverty are the root causes of the majority of modern human miseries. Since time immemorial, poverty has been the scourge of humanity. Today, poverty is no longer limited to a deficiency of food and shelter, but also extends to inequality. There are enough reasons to indicate that poverty and illiteracy today are the by-products of the concept of gods and vice versa.
Almost no religious scripture encouraged its followers to become educated and rich. For example, Christian popes propagated the Bible as the sole source of knowledge and placed an effective ban on scientific books.
The great philosopher Karl Marx rightly said that religion was the opium of the masses as it could make their sufferings bearable. He further added that religion could provide only illusory happiness. The thought that some almighty up in the sky was taking care of all the creatures might help the poor psychologically. However, it made them complacent and reduced their desire to make a conscientious effort to solve their own problems.
Furthermore, priests promised and reassured the poor that if they behaved righteously and worshipped gods, they would find blessing. Thus, priests blocked their natural instincts to find a way out of their problems. Priests did nothing to cure the disease of poverty; but prescribed palliatives—the promises of a better tomorrow. Regarding this, Charles Kinsley, canon of the Church of England, wrote: ‘We have used the Bible as a book to keep the poor in order.’
Karl Marx was probably the first to foresee and dare to endorse that the ruling classes used religion as a tool to exploit the weak.
Around one hundred years ago and later, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar and other leaders made marathon efforts to abolish the caste system in India. During this period, the masses had complete faith in their religious books; therefore, Ambedkar criticized Hindu scriptures to reduce the fear of gods among lower castes people. He converted to Buddhism and advised his followers to follow him. Buddhism was a religion without a god and a caste system and considered all people equal. Thus, Ambedkar modified the religious convictions of lower-caste people: he could motivate them to ask for equal rights, only after the reduction of gods’ fear.
In fact, people may come out of their illiteracy and poverty within one generation. In short, each couple must produce only one child, work hard and educate the child without expecting any divine help. Persistent struggle is the only solution to modern human miseries, and not a miraculous intervention of some divine power.
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Ancient Divine Literature
As previously discussed, the knowledge about divine powers has guided humanity during the last three millennia. Each new generation obtained this from their parents and priests via word of mouth in place of reading themselves. What was the origin of the information about divine powers? In fact, its ultimate source was ancient holy scriptures, and these fashioned almost all the gods and religions in the world today. Let us consider the origin of these scriptures again.
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Ramayana is another classic example of the role played by the holy scriptures. The legendary poet, Valmiki, wrote this epic and introduced its hero Ram as a great king and human being. Hindus could not recognize Ram as a god for a long period, since Valmiki did not portray Ram as an incarnation of god Vishnu precisely. Around two thousand years later, the great poet, Tulsidas wrote the epic again and precisely portrayed Ram as an incarnation of god Vishnu. He transcribed the new epic some four hundred years ago: only then did Hindus designate Ram as a god. Gradually, people initiated worship of Ram and other characters of the epic. It is well evident by the fact that history rarely mentions worship of Ram before Tulsidas. Furthermore, Hindus built almost all the temples of Ram after the writing of new story.
Had the books on Harry Potter been written two thousand years ago, a large population of the world today might well be worshipping Harry and considering the books to be history.
Modern people worship their gods and thus waste countless valuable hours of their life; however, they do not even bother to read their religious books. Today, most devotees have not read the ancient book of their religion in the language known to them. In fact, science could only develop after scientists came out of the darkness of holy books. This is evident in the fact that over the last century, humanity discovered and created much more science and technology in comparison to the last three millennia, the period ruled by the holy scriptures. Thus, the ancient holy books deferred the scientific progress of humankind.
As discussed earlier, the wisest people, throughout different periods and locations, worked as priests. Until several decades ago, all those wise priests and even prophets lived in profound darkness; they were not even aware of basic science. They did not know whether the sun revolved around the earth or vice versa. No one under the sun knew the cause of diseases: before Pasteur, no priest could comprehend that unseen bacteria living on pets were responsible for deadly human illnesses. However, priests did whatever they could to wrestle with the sufferings. Since they had no remedy for many human ailments, they wisely invented and blamed several divine powers.
Apart from common priests, the most enlightened prophets of the world also lived in darkness. For example, Moses endeavoured to identify the cause of plague, and he could not imagine that unseen bacteria living on rats were the reason behind the mighty plague. He would probably have meditated and invented some divine power in the sky to inflict such a mass killing. Moses proclaimed that the wrath of God Yahweh caused the plagues.
The Buddha, a genius of his time, could not visualize that unseen organisms living comfortably on the domestic animals were causing human diseases. He meditated for years just to discover the cause of human sufferings. At last, he concluded that all human miseries were punishments for their karma—the sins committed in previous births.
Jesus worked as a doctor or faith healer throughout his life and was popular for his healing touch. His divine powers lay in his ability to cure disease. Jesus also could not dream that leprosy was the infection of billions of small-unseen bacteria. Jesus propagated that entry of demons into human bodies caused the diseases. Authors of the Bible wrote that Jesus himself cast the demons out by his divine powers and cured many patients.
However, today’s priests are different. They teach ancient knowledge to the people, but rely on modern medicine for themselves. Many modern priests prefer to use well-equipped five-star hospitals for their treatments. On the contrary, they preach the theory of sins and advise prayers, donations and meditation to the devotees. They take their children for polio vaccination in the morning, and in the evening, they may teach a polio patient that his disease is a result of his bad karma. Generally, in India for example, priests themselves have only two children, but advise people that children are God’s gift. For many years, Catholic priests have preached to women that every sperm is sacred, and they must not use birth control. After such an advice, many a poor woman produces more children than she could cope with; and the priest is not allowed to have one—how convenient for priests!
There are many examples, where modern priests are seen enjoying various inventions of science but do not advise their disciples to be scientific. Priests, on television channels, communicate their lectures through scientific apparatus; therefore, they must have a basic knowledge of science. Considering this, how can they claim that God gave birth to Adam and Eve six thousand years ago? Why don’t they know or choose to accept that science has discarded the theory of special creation? Why don’t they acknowledge that scientists have excavated human skeletons dating back some two hundred thousand years ago?
There are two kinds of darkness. First, there is the darkness of night without any source of light, and ancient priests lived in such darkness. The second type of darkness may be perceived in broad daylight if one has closed the eyes. Modern priests are living in the second type of darkness and are persuading their followers to do the same.
Modern priests propagate themselves as religious scholars. On the contrary, they do not even know the meaning of holy books and the period of their writing; they have not studied the history of religions. For example, many modern priests claim to cure almost all mental and physical illnesses through prayers. They precisely narrate how the sins of a previous life are behind human diseases. Modern science has discovered the cause of almost all human ailments and has discarded the theory of sins, gods and demons behind these. Thus, most modern priests advocating the sin theory are intentionally fooling people.
Expectation of Magic in Human Mind
During ancient time, humans created and worshipped many gods to struggle with climatic vicissitudes and fulfil basic needs. Modern people are facing different challenge and fears; they look to their gods for prosperity, career, ambition, love or revenge. Most of them are not satisfied with the results in proportion to their efforts, and wish to seek some divine help. They look towards some divine miracles in order to achieve their never-ending wishes overnight.
Today, many people are waiting for some miracle to happen; whenever they hear about a miracle happening somewhere, they simply rush towards that place. Moreover, they believe such rumours, since they have already heard about several divine miracles in ancient time.
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Limitations of Science
Modern science and technology has come a long way since the days of Hippocrates. Science has solved almost all the mysteries and miseries of humanity. People have come out of age-old darkness; however, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Medical scientists have increased human lifespan significantly; however, they have not been able to avert death. They have not yet found the remedy for several diseases, despite their ability to diagnose almost all diseases. For example, cancers, psychosis, AIDS and many such diseases are still the dark field of modern medicine.
These limitations of science help resuscitate the ailing concept of gods. This is reason behind the persistence of the God illusion. As long as science does not invent remedies for all the human sufferings, people will continue to believe in gods. Advancement of science in the future would further open the eyes of the masses, and make them realize the truth behind gods and religions.