I was born and spent my youthful years in a holy town populated by Mosques with tall minarets, parochial schools, Islamic clerics with black and white turbines, and plenty of shrines of allegedly decedents of original Shia Imams. I remember life was quite simplistic, immensely fate-driven and faith-stricken. Being born to and raised by an absolutely devout family left me with no choice but to become a pious man by default. My folks were so religious that they were concerned mostly about the afterlife world utterly ignoring their life in this one. We were constantly exposed to religious tutelages and our life was completely governed by the magisterial teaching of the Mosque and the rhythm of religion permeated every aspects of our culture and every facet of our lives.
As I think about it now, I realize that my earlier religiosity, just like many other Iranians, was not only the product of the milieu but also my own mental predisposition. It wasn’t until later on in my life when I learned that people have a genetic inclination for spirituality and its outward manifestation, religion. Perhaps, that explains why some of us are so adamant about our religious beliefs even though there is no scientific validation for them. We pray for sick, for example, despite scientific evidence that prayers do not have any tangible effect. With such a pervasive exposure to religion, it is not unusual for some of us to become reactionary and overwhelmed by vicissitudes of our life later on, turn our back on religiosity when doctrinal doubt begins to set in ad stirring profane ideas in us. Especially, the secular environment of academia, in modern country like the US, may overtake many of us.
Religion, it seems, does not set well with intellectuals in universities more so now than any other time because religion has historically triggered animal spirit in man. Backed by historical evidence, religion has not diminished the urge for violence and other misdeeds. It may, in fact, have fostered them. It is not, therefore, unusual to see so many Iranians, especially those living in democratic countries like America, to eschew their religious tradition especially in reaction to the atrocities being committed in the name of their religion and God. They may be persuaded to distance themselves from the ideas they have held on to for so long because they no longer dispense anything worth ingesting anymore. The dilemma for many of them today is whether to let their rational side to overcome, or to be overtaken, by their longing for faith?
Let's say if science eventuality proves that there is no God and all the hypes about supernatural, prophets, revelations, holy books, and etc are in fact the figments of human imagination, then what? Will we be better off without God? Can we live without the benefits of religion? Can societies hold on to gather without the nexus of religion? Can we survive tragic events, like the death of a loved one, without the consoling effects of religion? Can we bring heaven down to earth? Can we construct a religion without its essential core ingredients: prophets, revelation, rituals, holy book, and miracles? Is it too early for a “humanist” religion?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any ways a religious apologist; there are already many of them out there. However I am thinking that religion has certain attributes, the benefits that are needed by masses even today regardless of whether the central tenets of religion are valid or not. The time-tested benefits developed and perfected throughout thousands of years and transmitted from one generation to the next. They can help the bourgeoning world of atheism to become an appealing substitute for religion. If it becomes indeed proven that God does not exist or we can sever religion from its supernatural source, then we can focus on our mundane life, because it is the only one we have, and free the time, the energy, and other resources that are no longer tied to the proof or rejection of God or the religious rituals and devote them to nurturing our earthy life instead. What do you think?