Religion & Rationality

by Tipu Salman Makhdoom

Education is useless! This applies to the phenomenon we choose to call “Education” in Pakistan. Ignoring what it refers to in the far away meadows of the modern world, we dub literacy based gimmickry as Education. And then wonder why it is not producing same results that it does in other parts of the world. Degrees and the degrees upon degrees offer no help.

Thinking is a rare phenomenon in our society. Training to “Think” is simply non-existent in our Education System. By thinking I mean Rational Thinking. Our Educational Institutions are nothing but production houses of career oriented half-baked mechanics. These overly literate mechanics of their fields, be it scientific or social, are good only at earning their daily bread by applying formula solutions they were taught in their courses. As to how to deal with serious-real-life-issues, their degree oriented training is of no help; no help at all!

Historically, and genetically, we are a nation of emotionally charged brains. With rationality made to feel comfortable on back-benches, emotions are the guiding force of our lives. This is the very life-force of our existence & identity and thus naturally, we are quite sensitive about it. So sensitive, concerned and dependent are we on our emotions that this attitude has spilled-over from our social to political and from there, to the legal spheres of our lives. Killing (rationally speaking) innocent people for violating our emotional preferences (that we call “Ghairat”) is not only appreciated socially but is accepted politically and recognized legally.

Thus we kill anyone (and want to kill everyone) who violates or threatens to violate our religion. We cannot allow anyone to challenge the sanctity of our religion, our cherished world view. And we kill anyone, killing whom can secure us a place in heaven. We are so emotionally touchy about our religion that we can, and do, all of this.

Without touching the basis of the issue, at every step of our lives arise secondary issues regarding interpretation & implementation of the religious directives. Most volatile of them being as to who are the ones liable to be killed, when, how and by whom?

Is making emotional decisions bad? Psychology tells us that the most advanced part of our brain, the frontal lobes, that only humans have, is the rationally thinking part. While the lower part of our brain that we share with many other animals, is the emotional brain. Our emotional brain works on snap judgments. It works irrationally. It makes decisions without proper analysis of the situation & issue and without taking any responsibility for its future consequences. Resultantly, our emotional decisions make us feel good for the time being, but the consequences of these decisions are almost always disastrous.

Again our most effective (and most abused) tool for the justification for our emotional blunders is our Church. In order to pass-on the responsibility of our disastrous and often childish decisions, we bring religion in, quite unjustifiably. And in order to shut-up the due criticism, we declare that religion being the ultimate truth for all times to come, can only be interpreted by our Religious Lords, the Clerics (whom we can manage to pass decrees in our favour). This also suits the Clerics since they get a vast discretion and enormous power in society this way.

We can take our decisions either emotionally or rationally. Rationality is out of question as it is the Satanic force that takes us away from religion. To say the least, it raises such blasphemous questions which render the rational-thinker liable to be killed. The only option left is to make decisions emotionally. And so we do.

But the question is, can this perfectly rational Universe be created by the God who does not like or approve of rationality?

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