Pseudoscience & Religion

Moral and Virtuous People Don’t Need God Or Mindless Religion

1. The Original Intent Of Religion And God

The original intent of Hinduism (Brahmanism) was to bring Law and Order into the lawless and chaotic society. That is why religion was known as Dharma -that which holds. The original purpose of creating various gods was to fulfill one’s desires and protect one from evils, both tangible (wicked people) and intangible (vagaries of nature). Gradually vested interests took over the religion, and it became a big business. This is consistent with Law of Solutions: All noble solutions for societal problems sooner or later become problems themselves.

2. All Religions Are A Way Of Life

Hinduism evolved into what it is today by incorporating a wide array of belief systems, while it maintained the elitism of Brahmins within that amorphous entity. So today a wide spectrum of belief systems, some of which are contradictory to each other, could be found in Hinduism. Hindu religionists try to explain away this nebulous feature of Hinduism by uttering parrot-like, “Hinduism is a way of life.” This mindless utterance seems to suggest that other religions are not a way of life. The fact is all religions are more or less a way of life.

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3. Two Broad Aspects Of Hinduism: Mindful And Mindless

The Hindu way of life has two broad aspects: Mindful and mindless. The mindful part of Hinduism consists of moral values and noble virtues, which guide people’s behavior towards others in the society. This is the true aspect of Hindu Dharma. These morals and virtues are timeless and relevant to all people in the world regardless of their beliefs. Since there is no money to be made by this aspect of Hinduism, it has become an orphan. Neglect of moral values and noble virtues is evident in the antisocial and corrupt behavior of most Hindu leaders in power in India today.

Most of today’s Hinduism consists of mindless rituals and traditions, which have absolutely no relevance to the modern times. These rituals evolved over the centuries, often due to misinterpretation of scriptures, and were propagated for financial gains. Yajnas, Poojas, Abhishekas, astrological predictions and a thousand other profit-motivated superstitions have become hallmarks of today’s Hinduism. This aspect of Hinduism is thriving today, as there is a lot of money to be made by means of these shenanigans. To the vast majority of Hindus, this is Hindu Dharma.

4. Moral Values

The moral values prevent us from harming others in the society. These values arise from our conscience, which represents the values our parents put in us. These values basically tell us: You shall not be a bad person! Here is a short list:

1.    Do not steal.

2.    Do not lie.

3.    Do not hurt.

4.    Do not betray.

How do we feel when we violate our own moral values? We feel guilty. Guilt is the function of conscience. Readers could add their own pet moral values to this list.

5. Noble Virtues

Noble virtues consist of those behaviors that encourage us to be helpful to others in the society. These values basically tell us: You shall be a good person !

1.    Empathy

2.    Generosity

3.    Forgiveness

4.    Humility

5.    Kindness

6.    Gracefulness

7.    Fearlessness

Every single reader of this article is smart enough to know what these virtues stand for. How do we feel when we practice these virtues? Well, we feel good about ourselves.

6. We Don’t Need God Or Religion To Be Good

If one makes a list of these moral values and noble virtues and practices them in his daily life, s/he does not need religion, god, tradition, rituals, fasting, meditation, praying, Swamis, Babas, Gurus, magic, ash, lingam and other nonsensical stuff 99% of Hindu religion is made up of.

One simple way of inculcating noble virtues is to post writings related to them where one could read them often. For example I have the following statement on the wall where I can see it when I talk on phone. This has helped me to make conscious decision to help those who call me asking for my help:

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Stephen Grellet.

Now give me one valid reason why any moral and virtuous man or woman might need a religion or god? Now let us review a few facts why we should reject the mindless part of religion.

7. Temple-Casino Complexes

Today, thousands of glittering temples in India and abroad have become like Las Vegas casinos attracting millions of mindless devotees seeking fulfillment of their desires and protection from evil. The temple of Tirupati is the best-known temple-casino complex in India. Every year new temple-casino complexes are rising all over India. The ostentatious Swami Narayan Temple in New Delhi is a prime example. Bewildered by Brahmanic charm and trappings, Hindus throng to these temple-casinos and keep gambling away their wealth in mindless rituals hoping against hope that they would someday hit a jackpot, but getting nothing in return. The donation box you see in front of the sanctum sanctorum of every temple is like a slot machine.

There are all kinds of Entertainment Shows in this Las Vegas-like landscape: Babas perform magic shows; Swamis perform sex shows; Yogis perform 70-year starvation shows; freaks perform hanging-by-skin-on-chariot shows, charlatans perform walk-on-fire shows, prostitutes perform dance shows, and the like. In fact the list of freak shows, such as Kumbh Mela, Amar Nath Yatras, bathing in Ganga, procession of ash-smeared naked Sadhus and the like, is very long indeed. Who are the ‘enforcers’ of this wonderland of religion? Well, you guessed it right: RSS, Sri Ram Sene, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, and other assorted hire-for-riot men whose only ‘virtue’ is hate-mongering of other religions. Really, there is absolutely no difference between today’s Hinduism and Las Vegas of bygone days when the Mafia controlled the casinos. Now Las Vegas is absolutely honest about the whole shenanigan and Hinduism is still run by hypocritical Brahmanic Mafia, often supported by the government itself, as is the case in Karnataka.

Tell me, why would anyone want to be part of this part of Hindu religion?

About the author

Prabhakar Kamath

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About To Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

Links to all articles in Dr. Kamath's earlier series on Heretics, Rebels, Reformers and Revolutionaries can be found here. Dr. Kamath' series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita can be found here.

12 Comments

  • A Proposal for Debate

    Indian Ethicist

    The term Atheist means one who does not believe in the concept of god. While this term expresses what it stands against, it does not clearly express what it stands for. Atheism implies that god and religion are not necessary for one to be a good person. Being good means living a life guided by certain moral values and noble virtues.

    I believe the correct term for a movement, which opposes god and religion and promotes goodness, is Ethicism. Even though there seems to be no such word, we can coin it for our use. The core belief of an Ethicist is: A moral and virtuous person does not need a god or religion.

    The hypothetical title of an organization such as this could be Indian Ethicist. Or, Indian Atheist-Ethicist. Ethicists should announce a list of common moral values and noble virtues shared by all good people on earth.

    It should be noted here that both Buddhism and Hinduism arose to oppose ritual-ridden Brahmanism and to promote ethics. Both of them fell prey to ritualism and greed. To prevent Ethicism movement from becoming another ritual-ridden religion, safeguards must be developed.

    • The real fun will begin when you start defining the ways to make people MORAL AND VIRTUOUS, the necessary and sufficient condition for people to not need GOD or MINDLESS RELIGION.

      ( By corrolary is MINDFUL RELIGION ok for M&V people?)

      It must be self evident to all the rationalists brothers and sisters here hat people dont grow MORAL AND VIRTUOUS automatically.

      On the contrary even in schools today, where the tuition fees runs in little less than a million rupees, per child, very few admissions would be by MORALLY earned money.

      The VIRTUOSITY then imparted would be truly verbose and not real VIRTUOSITY.

      But since we do not have an imaginary GOD to fear, I think lack of real MORALITY or VIRTUOSITY would not be a real problem either.

  • Nice article. Moral of the story is ” We Don’t Need God Or Religion To Be Good” and it is true.

  • Nice article Dr Kamath. I especially liked the term ‘temple-casino’, coz tahts what they really are. people are throwing in lots of money there, and expecting jackpots.

    Re: the search for an alternative to ‘Atheist’, perhaps Sam Harris’ similar proposal should also be noted.
    http://richarddawkins.net/videos/1805-sam-harris-at-aai-07

    I would prefer to call ourselves Rationalists (‘Reasonists’ is my first choice, but the word doesnt sound right). All we do is as simple as applying reason. (kind of like.. the second coming of the ‘Age of Enlightenment’).

  • RKK: The real fun will begin when you start defining the ways to make people MORAL AND VIRTUOUS, the necessary and sufficient condition for people to not need GOD or MINDLESS RELIGION.

    PK: All religions came into being to bring law and order in the society. The path of civilization (taming the wild man) necessitated cultivation of moral values (thou shall not) and noble virtues (thou shall) in people. Yes, all religions have mindful and mindless parts. I see nothing wrong at all in acknowledging the good part of religion while acknowledging the fact that religions have been thoroughly corrupted by vested interests. Blind opposition to religion will put us at par with dogmatic religionists.

    RKK:(By corrolary is MINDFUL RELIGION ok for M&V people?)

    PK: Once mindfulness enters into the equation, it ceases to be a religion as we know it today. Buddhism is an example. It started out as a mindful social movement and ended up as mindless religion.

    RKK: It must be self evident to all the rationalists brothers and sisters here that people don’t grow MORAL AND VIRTUOUS automatically.

    PK: No one claimed that people automatically become moral and virtuous. In fact, it is mighty hard for people to be so. That is why children need to be taught right from wrong starting at an early age. Even adults will need to train themselves to be moral and virtuous as I noted in my article. Today all over the world narcissistic children are growing up never knowing what kindness and empathy are.

    RKK: On the contrary even in schools today, where the tuition fees runs in little less than a million rupees, per child, very few admissions would be by MORALLY earned money.

    PK: This is a classic example of a Indian society steadily becoming immoral. Today, it is hard to find honest and upright rich people in India. Black money is rampant. Obviously, there is a great need for moral and virtuous people. Unfortunately, it is hard to find fearless and bold people in India who have the nerve to stand up against the injustice and immorality we see in India. Why is this the case? Well, Hindu culture places little emphasis on morals and virtues and a lot of emphasis on rituals, yoga and traditions.

    RKK: The VIRTUOSITY then imparted would be truly verbose and not real VIRTUOSITY.

    PK: When virtuosity becomes verbose, it ceases to be a virtue. True virtue is evident only in the behavior of people. For example, a truly virtuous person would not pay a million rupees as school fee regardless of consequences. Why? Well, the child of a corrupt person would turn out to be just like him, having followed his example. What use would that education be to that child when he would be as corrupt as his parent?

    RKK: But since we do not have an imaginary GOD to fear, I think lack of real MORALITY or VIRTUOSITY would not be a real problem either.

    PK: People’s bad qualities are rooted deeper than good qualities. Bad qualities have survival value and good qualities have social acceptance value. When children grow up, they learn right from wrong from their parents or society without a god being in equation. Fear of parents, not god, is the basis of learning morals. Parents’ influence remains within adults as their conscience. The feeling of having done something wrong has nothing to do with the fear of god. In Hinduism, there was never a fear of god, as the fear was always of Karma -consequence of action in the next life.Besides, shame (what others think of you), not guilt (what you think of your actions) was always the dominant theme. Shame worked wonderfully in a closed society in which everyone knew everyone else. In India today, society being is a great flux, people have neither shame nor guilt. All the more reason for us make a big issue of morals and virtues. Parents and teachers act as objects of conscience and the fear of law become the deterrent for bad behavior.

  • I want to talk about one of the values that’s popular in traditional Indian society. “Respect for elders”. This one is often in my face, coz I see it often amongst the the profiles of prospective partners on matrimonial sites, along with “God fearing”. I think its a very counter-productive “value”, and should not be propagated, and should be replaced by “Respect Wisdom” (say)

    I wanted to see what existing writeup is available on the internet, and here’s one (just for illustrative purposes, not authoritative).
    http://www.indianchild.com/respect_your_elders.htm

    One of its implications is to be compassionate to elders (esp in their times of need, for e.g in their times of discomfort, such as In buses and trains, youngsters were expected to give up their places to older people. Of course, who would disagree with a virtue like “Help the needy”. Its good.

    But the more pernicious implication is “deference to elders”, as in “It is generally the eldest who makes important decisions for the family, be it a financial matter or a relationship”.
    http://www.indianchild.com/teaching_kids_indian_values.htm

    This sometimes inculcates regular, near ritual “touching feet” of many elders, irrespective of whether they are truly respectable or not. I want to argue that this is a way of suppressing individualism, and quelling newer ideas. A way of suppressing “Adhika Prasanga” and free thought in the long run.
    We need to respect wisdom instead. wisdom amongst current generations, and previous generations as well. It would serve us very well to read history to learn about all the great people who have contributed to the world, and remember them, coz as Newton said “We stand on the shoulders of Giants”.

    • That’s a good point. Not only does blind deference to elders can thwart free thought, it can also promote superstition and other irrational beliefs. If you ask someone who is practicing a superstition on why it is being done, a likely answer is “The Elders said that it is good to do so”.

  • ” I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

    Stephen Grellet.”

    I have a question. Suppose you are driving around in your car and you see a beggar in rags. What do you do? By the way can you objectively define for me what ‘good’ is?

    It seems to me that you have a very simplistic view of what morals are. Let me give an example. What would you do if the only way not to hurt your friend is to lie to him?

    Or, suppose you and a really fat man are in a fast sinking boat 500 meters away from the coast. You can only row the boat so fast and the boat would sink before you can reach the coast unless you push the fat guy out of the boat and let crocodiles eat him. What would you do?

  • “This mindless utterance seems to suggest that other religions are not a way of life. The fact is all religions are more or less a way of life.”

    Agreed. But I hope you agree that Hinduism is not in the same category as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc. Hinduism does not have one or two main dogmas. It is ultra-pluralistic and is actually a collection of a wide range of schools of thought. For example, there were atheistic schools of thought in Hinduism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_Hinduism Can you imagine such a highly “heretical” school of thought in Christianity and Islam?

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