Having been raised in a devout Hindu household, I never had the courage or the desire to think or question my beliefs. I just performed whatever religious liturgy was expected of me, lest I end up offending one of the innumerable gods of Hinduism and be stuck forever in the cycle of life and death. Yikes! What could have transpired in the life of this hopelessly brainwashed religious retard that made him question and ultimately renounce his religion? I would love to look back on the past year of my life and pinpoint at one moment of sudden clarity and epiphany where I stepped out of the self-constricting bubble of religion and let the light of science and knowledge wash over me and transform me. The truth is, it was more of gradual change involving several events like death of a close relative, exposure to people from other religions besides my own, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (being forced to follow a religion from birth is not much different than decantation in the World State) and liberal amount of meditation and introspection.
To renounce something, you first have to understand it thoroughly. All religions, despite their proclaimed differences, when distilled down to their bare essence, can be broken down into three components.
- Rituals connecting the two
The coupling between god and religion is so strong, it’s impossible to think of one without dragging in the other. But do god and religion really need to be bundled together this tightly? I sincerely want to believe that there is a force more powerful and knowledgeable than an individual that primarily exists to guide him. Perhaps this force is just my own subconscious mind, perhaps it is the collective intelligence of mankind in a “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet” sort of way. I cannot be sure and, at this point, have no desire to pursue this question any further. I am happy being an agnostic atheist. What I am sure of is that, even in gnosticism, I wouldn’t need no stinkin’ religion attached to my idea of god.
If you look at Self from a religious perspective, your only purpose is to praise and worship the lord of your religion in hopes of seeking a place in heaven/enlightenment/liberation from life and death cycle. So, once you become an atheist and are no longer bound to submit to the will of the Almighty, what is your purpose? This is not an easy question and the difficulty of finding an answer is perhaps the reason why religion was invented in the first place – a clear cut answer to a difficult question that requires nothing more than your silent obedience. I subscribe to the philosophy that life is inherently meaningless. You are free to add whatever meaning you see fit.
Rituals connecting the two
If we do away with the worshipping aspect of a religion, they all preach the same message. From Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, “it’s nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.” I will gladly stand side by side with a religious person who is trying to do some good, but please spare me the kneel-before-the-lord-or-suffer-eternally-in-hell chicanery. Religious people have chosen to live by a protocol made by others. I have simply made my own protocol.