Selective Faith

Why is it that those who most loudly proclaim that the Earth is a personal expression of God’s creativity and artistry often do the least to protect the rape of that art by humanity?

Isn’t it strange how many religious people have no qualms declaring that the world will go to hell if women wear spaghetti straps or go to a bar or go to work, while at the same time blithely assuming that God will simply fix the damage we are doing to our planet?

Isn’t saving the environment a moral fight?

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11 thoughts on “Selective Faith

  1. It’s not a contradiction. Most religions hold that man’s (also women of course, but for convenience) nature is sinful and that this physical world must die in order to attain paradise.

    I know many christians who would love the world to be destroyed (as the bible claims it will) so that they can finally get to where they want. I believe the muslims believe the same thing – so do the hindus, jews etc.

    So if anything, being religious means you care even less about the planet.

    Me: And what is paradise? Has anybody seen it? So, it’s better to be selfish and destroy the paradise we already have so that we might get entry into a paradise which does not exist…Wah, kya logic…No wonder I don’t believe in religion…

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  2. To correct Bhagwad Jal Park, I don’t think any of the Indic religions believe that “man’s nature is sinful”. On the contrary, scriptures say man’s nature is divine but some of us have forgotten about it. They also say that even devatas cannot attain moksha, for that they have to take birth as humans.

    The price of environmental damage will have to be paid, I believe. But as yet I am not sure whether everything that is being done is damage and to the extent we believe it is. I hope our survival instincts will take over and technology will help undo much of what has been done.

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    • Hinduism is probably more fatalistic than any other religion. With a strong emphasis on rebirth and karma, the srimad bhagavatham constantly calls life a torture that one must endure for years before attaining moksha. A belief like that isn’t exactly conducive to taking scrupulous care of our planet.

      Basically any religion has to denigrate the current world in order to make people aim for god’s house. If not, then there’s no motivation for people to prefer the afterlife to our life here. And since all religion focuses on paying for sins after death or being rewarded for good deeds after death, no religion can advocate enjoying this world too much.

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  3. At an individual level, religions play 2 major roles:

    1. Assuring that the man’s existence has a ‘purpose’ beyond the mundane.

    2. To explain away & compensate for the gaps between the desired world & the real one. E.g., we naturally expect good things to happen to ‘nice’ people & bad to ‘bad’ ones, and when they don’t, to compensate for our lack of control, we attribute them to a just, but unknowable God. And then we seek to establish indirect control over those events by controlling God (prayers, rituals, ‘good’ behavior). But simplest thing is, there’s no logical reason why one type of behavior will lead to one kind of ‘fate’!

    So, directly or indirectly religion is a highly personal (and by extension, selfish affair, though nothing wrong).

    Partly agreeing with Bhagwad, belief in the supernatural realm (personal God, Hell, Heaven, afterlife, etc.) dilutes the value of human life, at least subconsciously so. Religion blunts the impact of the fact – this earth and the life on it is all that we have! In terms of attitude towards environment, this realization can be good & bad. Some would be drawn closer to the affairs of humanity, & the Earth would become their divine – they’d feel more responsible for their choices (as there’s no higher power or pre-determined fate) & the impact on current & subsequent generations. Others turn ruthlessly hedonistic in their desperate pursuit of happiness in one ‘given’ lifetime. This category is likely to damage the Earth.

    In terms of environment, religions do one good thing – they uniformly prescribe ascetism & attach guilt with enjoyment of worldly pleasures. But honestly, this is the most anti-life prescription possible. This renunciation of means is expressed merely symbolically through fasts & rituals, etc. It isn’t surprising, some of the richest & the so called page 3-people are very religious as religions also provide this assurance that whatever wrong you do can be undone through luring God into forgiving!

    I know, you were not talking of religiosity of common people, but of the moral police, but lowest common denominator that determines attitude towards environment & human affairs are common people only….

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  4. …I also agree with Vinod that we do not know for sure what’s good/bad for environment. Not all, but many things said by environmentalists are sensationalist, in their attempt to justify media space they get (just how 24h-news channels do so by sensationalizing news). Also, a lot they say is speculative. http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2010/04/uns-ipcc-brand-new-global-warming-screw.html

    But of course, this is not to mean we must not strive for greener technologies, but greatest impediment in that direction is huge population of countries like India! In that direction I must say, all major religions have uniformly played a destructive role. We cannot talk of organic farming, using solar energy (very costly & highly inefficient) & shunning of nuclear energy as long as a vast proportion of our population is deprived of food & basic amenities.

    Somewhat related issues I had blogged on:

    Are (a few) religious leaders atheists? (click) – self-explanatory.

    A few responses to criticism of atheism (click) – where I largely try to explain why religions cannot make people better humans than they otherwise would be.

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  5. Sraboney,

    Second part of my comment has not appeared, yet. Am getting the notification that its awaiting moderation.

    Thanks!

    Me: Sorry about that…Sometimes some comments go into moderation…

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    • I agree with Kanagu. There is a very conceited and convenient belief that the Earth and all the resources everywhere belong to humans and human life is more valuable than all other life forms. I don’t think nature thinks we are special at all. I find these beautiful lines very apt here (found on Amit Varma’s India Uncut Blog)…

      There Will Come Soft Rains
      by Sara Teasdale

      There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
      And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

      And frogs in the pool singing at night,
      And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

      Robins will wear their feathery fire,
      Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

      And not one will know of the war, not one
      Will care at last when it is done.

      Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
      If mankind perished utterly;

      And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
      Would scarcely know that we were gone.

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