The need for religion

Irfan Ali 

The twentyfirst centuty man has made significant progress in the field of science and technology, bringing comfort and ease to the lives of millions of people. In this era man has conquered high mountains, explored the depth of oceans and has unveiled the mysteries of heavenly bodies.  Human rationality has given him a distinctive comprehension of the world, based on materialism, naturalism and positivism.

Certainly these isms and their associated socio-political, economic and technological advancement have benefited human being. That’s why western liberal democracy and its associated material progress Is End of History for people like Fukoyama. Despite of scientific expansion and material progress; does the modern man need religion? To what degree man has faith on God or a supernatural being?? For what purpose men need religion? These are few questions which we will address in our subsequent lines.

There is no doubt that secularism, skepticism, mechanistic naturalism and off course Atheism have posed great threats to religions after European Renaissance. Europeans escape from the clutches of Christian church and associated success of science as a new god, replacing the old God. It has questioned the authority and Validity of Religion in 16th and 17th century. Off course, religion at that time was engaged in mythological and superstitious interpretations of faith and human problems, which later own science has disproved. One example just to substantiate the argument is that of the geocentric explanation of the solar system. Which later science has invalidated and replaced it with the heliocentric explanation of solar system.

Irfan AliNeedless to say, the genius of science for the benefit and wellbeing of human beings, but still it has unable to address a large part of human existence.  Large part in a sense that all part of the spiritual dimension and some part of the material dimension of man is beyond the scope of science.

 So religion has step in to fill that gap. Man is not a mere vessel filled with blood and flesh, rather he has spiritual dimension with a soul. In other worlds, we may call, man is himself a universe, or what we may call, it as microcosm.  Like the universe outside man, the inner universe has also some requirements, something related to man’s eternal life. Questions related to human existence, human death, and life after death. These are few questions, over which, science has unable to quench the thrust of man.

Necessity always compels man to associate him towards an activity. For example medicine cures the disease, so men associate him in the field of medicine. Same is true for all activates of man in this world.  Religion also addresses some problems of man, so he bent towards religion to seek the solutions of these problems. The problems of men which religion addresses can be broadly categorized into two, the immediate problems and the ultimate problems. Immediate problems deal with man day to day activities. Such as, humans relationships with other fellow being, at individually level as well as at collectively level. The well-known quotation of the noted Greek Philosopher, Aristotle “Man is a social animal” and his explanation of the spontaneous emergence of a family, state and eventually a civilization is very natural.

 Hence, it is difficult for man to live in isolation, he seek to interact with other fellow beings.  For interactions with other human beings, men need laws.   Law is imperative for smooth flow human society. It is because it helps to avoid injustice, inequalities, preservation of human rights in society.  Now, who should make laws for human society? Certainly first response which comes to our mind is that a person or a group who is unbiased, unprejudiced, who is well aware of human nature, aware of the society for which he/ they is [are] formulating law.

Firstly these all qualities cannot be amalgamated in one person. Secondly, if a group of people muster their distinctive qualities and sit together to formulate laws. It is certain that they would not be unanimously agreed over a common law. Suppose if they do agree, they will instinctively look for his/ their interest first. Thirdly there is a change that stronger person will try to compel the law makers to mold the law, which will serve their interest. Consequently, men need a superior, unbiased, able and perfect being for formulation of laws. That being, without any doubt is God, The Creator, and Sustainer of this universe; who is omnipotent, omniscient.

Religion guides the Homo sapiens in all spheres of life. It teaches men how to behave with parents, neighbors, elders, spouse, and relatives. Needless to say, those who have adopted a profane orientation of life have tumbled the aforesaid values. Today in the non-religious societies, people send their parents to old houses, people do not know, who is living in their neighborhood. The very essence of human association, or what we may call it as civic sense or the economist translate it as social capital are absent in today’s  non religious, secular societies. Here is the gap, very wide and steep, where religion steps in, to guide humanity. Religion teaches us manner, ethics, values. It direct us how to treat parents, neighbors, elder, younger, spouse. Without religion one cannot even imagine a harmonious society based on justice, equity, equality, human and moral values and fair play, which we ourselves have witnessed in the modern societies of today.

The contributor can be reached at irfanali14@gamil.com 

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  1. Impossible to compare West and East! I am living in Europe and spend 3 months in a year in Pakistan, also in North, Gilgit, Fairy Meadows, Nanga Parbat region.
    Both places have advantages and disadvantages.
    It doesn’t mean that we ( West) are non believers when we don’t talk about God, or we don’t show our prayers. It certainly doesn’t mean that we do not behave well with parents, neighbors, elders, spouse, and relatives. You wrote:”Today in the non-religious societies, people send their parents to old houses” has nothing to do with religion, but with safety. My mothers life has been saved several times ( diabetic) while a doctor was always nearby. In Pakistan, hospitals are far away, it takes at least 6 hours to bring a patient from Fairy Meadows or Tatto to Gilgit. So, please don’t compare different continents.
    It’s true, we aren’t going to the church, but it doesn’t mean, that by heart, we do not believe in God. At least , we don’t have murders for religion purpose ( between different sects of religion).
    When you look the situation from both sides , you ‘ll agree : impossible to compare (blame) different cultures. Here, they also critise Eastern believe and religion and then I defend you and tell my friends:” you’ve never lived there, so stop blaming other peoples behave”. Let’s stop criticize and try to learn from each other the best things. Anyhow , I ‘ve learned a lot of good things from my friends in GB!
    Greetings from Europe.

  2. dear Irfan you took very interesting topic but the way you interpreted is not rational, How could we relate ethics with religion ? social norms , values, principles and standard are universal to every being we cant say tht these are the values given by a certain religion , that is human intellect which able us to mark between wrong and right,
    Now the question Why Religion? is well defined by Karen Armstrong in her book History of God! in which she elaborated need and reason of religion.

  3. I must say wonderful article, not in the context what you advocated as I utterly against you, but you took initiative to talk about this issue. Bravo to PamirTimes too for publishing.
    I wonder why people still try to find something out of nothing. What we have just a fraction of Renaissance and progress in all aspects of life is just because western nations (any nation thinking progress and development-from east and south and north too) got out of the clutches of religion-although not completely. Muslims are nothing but beggers and only can thank the fossil fuels like oil and gas that helped them survive for another half century or more. Otherwise they are doomed already in civil, ethnic and religious intolerence and hatred among them. Religion is a dead horse and we better not try to ride it.

  4. You could have explored the way religion is used in your own country, for starters, instead of making generalised statements that you may have picked up from the mosques eg. how foreign countries use religion to dictate to other states and fuel instability in those regions. Then there is status of women – and children, who are percieved as adults and dragged into ‘marriages’ when they cannot even give their consent. Religion has caused divisions and even fueled wars in countries, because of power struggles.

    Kindness and acts of generosity have nothing to do with religion. Those who have adoped a ‘profane way of life’ did not have the moral guidance when they needed it and hence, lost their way. Your religion does not even respect the right of animals, and birds to exist and live in peace in their own forests.

  5. The idea of God is the product of human imagination. Throughout the human history, this idea was molded and remolded by pagan and theist prophets alike. This evolution of idea of diety or supreme being over the time has been central to the survival of any religion. Unfortunately, most of the traditional religions including Islam under the servere influence of materialism and science for last few centuries have failed to re-invent the idea of God due to a permanent closure of human faculty of reason in their religious jurisprudence. The religious heads therefore have lost the sense of relevence with the modern world; the world that has outgrown the very ideas of religion.

    The big question now is – is the God dead? Yes but no.
    The idea of God is dead as it has become obsolete and has lost its relevance in the lives of men and women of the era.

    But we are humans made in such a way that we crave for the Lord the merciful. we are born with an innner thirst to worship, with a spiritual vacuum in our minds which only the religious thoughts can fill.

    If the God indeed is dead, let us invent a new one as the lesser goddess of science can no more fulfill our inherent spiritual needs. Denial of God is therefore the denial of the very excellence of human imagination. The idea of God after all is the best product the human imagination has ever produced.

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