I predict majority will chose no religion

The truth is that traditional theistic faith, that is the idea of an all powerful, all knowing, benevolent ‘Lord God’ passing judgement on our thoughts and actions, is simply unbelievable to most people today who, in the age of science, have been nurtured on the idea of reason and rationality. - GURNAM SINGH

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By Gurnam Singh | OPINION |

The debate between science and religion has been raging for centuries and no doubt will for some time to come. That said, we may well be in for some interesting surprises in the coming months when we receive the data from the U.K. Census 2021. I predict that a majority of the population will chose no religion, and of those that do, especially Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, they will do so not because of belief, but cultural and group identity.

The truth is that traditional theistic faith, that is the idea of an all powerful, all knowing, benevolent ‘Lord God’ passing judgement on our thoughts and actions, is simply unbelievable to most people today who, in the age of science, have been nurtured on the idea of reason and rationality.

For me, it is not the idea of a divine transient universal consciousness that is the problem, but the idea of God as a super human being with miraculous powers sitting in judgement.

Most religions are built on the idea that their God and their Prophet represent the true path and those who follow others paths are ‘kafir’, ‘non-believers’, ‘nastiks’, etc. Some religious fanatics even claim those who reject God are devil worshipers and worse, and that therefore attacking such people would be a holy act!

Coming to science, reason and logic, it is argued that this is cold and soul less, that it cannot address existential questions associated with the purpose or meaning of life and existence. It’s like the analogy of a vehicle. Without science one could not have created the vehicle, but equally science cannot tell you where to go; you have to decide that for yourself! The role of God and religion, it is argued, is to provide you with a moral compass to help you to navigate the journey of life.

This symbiotic ying/yang conception of the relationship between science and religion is appealing, but in reality it breaks down in one fundamental sense. Religion is not only about faith, but does make its own empirical truth claims. For example, many religions promote the idea that by praying hard, with devotion, God will intervene to alleviate suffering. But there is almost zero reliable evidence of this and that the true power of prayer is realised when one is self motivated. As gurbani says, “it is with your own efforts that can ensure your own liberation”. In other words, when one uses prayer to focus ones mind to generate intrinsic motivation and nurture spiritual resilience and emotional intelligence.

As a non-religious person, my inclination is towards favouring a rational, scientific world view, though I am also am very weary that scientific discovery is no panacea for the challenges faced by humanity. I believe that wisdom is timeless and can be found amongst all cultures and religious traditions throughout human history.

And so for me the challenge for humanity is to stop investing in pointless and destructive religious beliefs and rituals and pointless and destructive science and for us to move towards a new enlightenment. That is one that is built on the principles of empirical facts, universal truths, wisdom, divinity, the rights of all species, both animate and plants, and harmonious ecological existence.

To those people who take pride in, and comfort from, adopting specific religious identity, including adopting an external appearance, I say there is nothing wrong with that but try to see beyond the surface and ones own ‘in group’. That means connecting with wider humanity and focusing on what unifies not divides. This is, for me, the most important lesson taught to me by Baba Nanak and that is why I am proud to be a Sikh, that is to be a student of wisdom, reason and logic and a seeker of universal love and divinity.

[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK. He can be contacted at Gurnam.singh.1@warwick.ac.uk]

* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The vast majority of people living on this planet will, if asked to, choose a religious belief or faith, that is already known to them.
    Hence the very low numbers of atheists or agnostics in this world.
    In any patient I have known dying in pain from a terminal disease, he will not call out for solace, from science! Human emotions at that time somehow are redirected to some supreme power who is presumed most likely, to have the ability to provide some relief.
    Here lies a simple philosophical bet which Pascal announced.
    If you believe in God, and He does not exist, you have nothing to lose.
    But if you don’t believe, and God does exist, you will have everything to lose!

  2. Agree with the prediction as most
    RELIGIOUNS MAY BE PERCEIVED TO BE USED BY LEADERSHIPS [RELIGIOUS-POLITICAL-PROFESSIONS-NGOs-SOCIETIES-ETC] MORE FOR PERSONAL GAINS AND PROFITS RATHER THAN FOR THE MORAL VALUES THE RELIGIONS TEACH OR FOR THE BENEFITS OF THE MEMBERS.
    Religiouns may have been used by most leaderships for their wealth and numbers for personal greed for power and luxurious lifestyles and those managing the funds and institurions while the numbers may be used for political purposes and personal popularity and less to provide help/assistance to communities’ members in need [including during the Covid19 pendemic] or to improve their current quality of life or future wellbeing by providing education-health-sports or other forms op amenities/oppotunties in the fast changing worlds.
    [However there are exceptions where some Managements of Gurdwaras Committees have programmes to assist in fields of health-education-needs etc]

    While Sikhi emancipated women but even today in Sikhi and most other religions and societies
    WOMEN MAY STILL CONTINUE DISCRIMINATED IN ALMOST ALL SPHERES OF LIFE BE TREATED AS PROPERTIES OF MEN AND MALE DOMINATED INSTITUTIONS-ORGANIZATIONS-RELIGIONS-SOCIETIES-LAWS-CUSTOMS.
    [Women may still be sidelined or prohibited to perform religious rituals such as washing of Hindism female deities including Durga and others]
    Management Committees may be perceived to be more interested in having luxurious prayer houses than to have development programmes for the bettermant of members especially the youth and the needy.

    Bless all

    Gur Fateh

    SIKHI AND OTHER RELGIONS NEED TO EVOLVE WITH THE CHANGING TIMES AND NOT STICK TO OLD CUSTOMS AND RITUALS.

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