We need a transition; a transition from religiosity to morality...
As a nation, we lack discipline and responsibility. Corruption is rampant, and respect for fellow citizens have hit an all time low. I am sure only a few will dispute these claims. In essence, Sri Lanka is no longer a moral state, and I am not sure if it has ever been.
Let me emphasize this: what we lack is the morality and what we have in abundance is the religiosity. The overflowing religiosity of the the nation is evident by the masses that flock to religious rituals and ceremonies all around the country. A recent ceremony at Somawathie Stupa attracted almost a million devotees. The lack of discipline and lack of respect of these devotees to fellow humans was exhibited by the near-stampede that took place there. All these events sums up the following fact. Although the religions have hijacked morality few thousands years ago, and since then purports to be the sole authority on morality, they are doing a very bad job at it. It is evident that religion, which rides the wave of the ignorance, fear of the unknowns and selfishness of individuals, is not helping in creating a moral state.
Lets me start with a question "Do you think that slavery of the mind to unproven cosmic power (God, gods or Karma) is needed to maintain morality?". Let me elaborate...
I am a person who rejects all religion. I also believe that religion inhibits humans' capacity to be more creative, open minded and moral. I know that I would be labeled as an extremist by the religious people. I am fine with that label, as my beliefs (yes, I like to call them beliefs) are unverified and they are very far from the beliefs that are accepted as "moderate" by today's standards. My beliefs could be as extreme as the belief of a medieval-era rebel who believed that people should be governed not by a 'god given' king, but people should be governed by themselves by way of representatives chosen by people. In the medieval times, this belief would have been outrageous. "What!!? peasants should be governed by peasants? Look at the people we live with? You mean these idiots to decide how to rule?" would have been the response even from a moderate, well meaning and intelligent peasant. In today's world, that rebellious peasant's belief is no longer extreme, but in mainstream. And thanks to those people who had those extreme beliefs, and acted on them despite the dire consequences, we are reaping the benefits. We are no longer governed by 'god given' kings, and nowadays we choose our 'kings' ourselves.
However, I am still fine with the extremist label on me, since I believe that it is fair to label the medieval rebel who believed in a "democracy" as an extremist too. I hail that rebel now, since what he believed worked out to be a good system. It could have gone terribly wrong too. Uneducated, less smart, superstitious peasants having a say in king making can go wrong even in today' democracies; however, in general it works fine. Having unverified extreme beliefs about the success of such a system in the medieval time is definitely extreme.
By above definition, I am an extremist. What is I propose is way off the norms and more importantly, end result of what I propose can go terribly wrong; although I do believe it will go right.
I believe that it is possible to replace the moral frameworks provided by today's world religions with ethical frameworks that does NOT require "slavery of the mind" (i.e unquestioning faith) rather those ethical frameworks could be based on worldly concepts like discipline, respect, compassion, love etc. Unlike unproven concepts such as God, Karma, Heaven, Hell, Afterlife, etc, no one can easily challenge the validity of discipline, respect, compassion, love etc. Even though religions have "hijacked" these worldly concepts and associated them with their unworldly Gods and Karma; religions' harp on allegiance to unworldly concepts, and their priority is not the worldly concepts. Due to this exact reason, religions breed more and more followers who do not care for discipline, respect, compassion, love but their allegiance are with unworldly concepts that does not serve any worldly need. The 'love' that should be directed to the fellow human beings are directed towards metaphysical entities due to the group-think promoted by organized religion. This is a LOVE that is LOST!
To those who argue that religions are part and parcel of human legacy and indispensable, well, I like to counter argue that religion (slavery of the mind) is no more part of humanity than slavery of the flesh once was; one which was abolished sometime ago from the face of the earth. However, like the slavery of the flesh made it possible the wonders like pyramids, slavery of the mind produced/producing wonders as well. And abolishing slavery of flesh at the time of pharaohs (or even in 17th century America) would have been met with same level of criticism that the abolishing of religion brings about in contemporary society.
Just like abolishing of slavery did not end the exploitation of the flesh, end of state sponsored/privileged religions will not end the slavery of the mind of other types. Yet I believe it is a correct step to take within the progression of civilization.
Anyway, Secularists need not be non-believers or extremists like I. In Secular Sri Lanka group, we do have religious people who are united with the non-believers for the cause of separation of religion from governance. One does not have to an extremist like me to understand the harm of institutionalized religion meddling with governance and politicians exploiting institutionalized religion. So I guess the ideological differences that we have within Secular Sri Lanka group is a blessing such that we as a group would not become close-minded ourselves. If everyone in here thought like me, then it would have been boring, and moreover it would have been a formula for failure, as we would become more and more self-centered and would be oblivious to the real challenges.
Original Post http://www.secularsrilanka.com/discussions/ritigala-jayasena/slavery-of-the-mind