Sunday, August 22, 2010

No one is born with a religion

We are about to fly to the country I was born. It is a long and torturous journey, about twenty-four hours, in a cramped airbus seat.

Life is beautiful and cruel at the same time. Somehow before long flights I review my life. Our genes strive to leave a legacy of some form. What would be my legacy.. In case..

At this point in my life I am happy and content. Thanks to my ability to reason and my early realisation that you should not expect too much from life.

In fact this is almost what you really need in life as a precondition of everything else. A ‘reasoning’ mind. A ‘conscious’, ‘skeptical’, ‘inquisitive’ mind free from delusions.

My political identity is shaped by fairness, enlightenment values, and atheism.

I don’t have any problem with people who believe in a deity (or deities) and who express a peaceful, tolerant and humanistic interpretation of their religion.

This sort of personal engagement, equivalent to believing star signs or fortune telling does not irritate me so long as tolerance remains mutual even though I find the basis of their faith irrational.

My problem is with religious indoctrination of children. But before making my point we need to look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 18 and 19.

Article 18
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

No one is born with a religion.

Religion is a byproduct of human mind probably emerged early in human evolution. Our brains are wired to misinterpret natural phenomena we don’t understand in order to classify ‘the unknown and dangerous’. Humans developed rituals in the hope of controlling natural catastrophes. The Gods or the God emerged as the focal point of such misinterpretations. ‘The God’ became a black hole for everything that cannot be understood.

The core Enlightenment values that started to emerge in the 17th century have been questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, and establishing a strong belief in rationality and science.

Today religions, their arcane and narrow view towards human condition, their pathetic deficiency in quest to understand and explain the rules of the Universe and the origins of Life on our planet have made them largely outdated and irrelevant in everyday life.

Besides their diminished role religions continue to remain however powerful and overly protected by identity politics in developed and developing nations alike.

No one is born with a religion.

Yet children all over the world are indoctrinated and brain washed from infancy.

Be it a Taliban run Madrasa in Afghanistan or a so called Faith school in a Western Democracy children are systematically brain washed in little or no regard of historical, social and scientific contexts and with complete disregard of other religions, faiths or the Theory of Evolution to explain the origins of life and nature. I see this in the lightest of terms a form of ‘child abuse’.

UDHR Article 18 warrants the ticket to ‘teach’ religion. But Article 19 at the same time warrants the right to freedom of opinion. Therefore no one should have the right to take away freedom of opinion from children.

In my view in the core of our moral responsibility lies our obligation to teach our children ‘the complete picture’.

And the complete picture will not be ‘complete’ without objectively teaching other religions, their history, their legacy, Atheism and the Theory of Evolution so that children can have their opportunity to compare one to another and perhaps learn to tolerate each other’s views in due process.

My legacy is ‘freedom of choice for our children’.

No one is born with a religion.

I ask you to stand by me and get my message across to stop abuse of our children with subjective religious indoctrination.

For peace and for a better world.