Last updated on March 27th, 2019 at 09:38 pm
There are some topics that are said to be inappropriate to bring up in conversation: money, sex and religion are a few that come to mind. For better or for worse, the Internet is a place where such rules of politeness are gone, giving way to a torrent of discourse that can be absurd, brilliant, hateful, but most importantly: safe from real confrontation.
The debate between religion and atheism is one that has been born into full fruition online, with prominent thinkers like Dr. Richard Dawkins at the forefront of atheism, championing for science and rational thought in the face of regressive religious thinkers—at least this is one way he is perceived.
You don’t need a PhD to join the debate. Online anyone with an opinion can sound off—and it’s starting to get quite noisy, begging the question: Does this endless debate lead to any human progress?
Of course, ideological differences cut deeper than online arguments. During such arguments the actual atrocities committed in the name of religion are inevitably brought up. Such examples, however, make a better case against extremism than religion, as extreme interpretations of any ideology, including atheism, are dangerous.
As such, extreme atheism would make any kind of spiritual inquiry forbidden, taking mystery and humility out of life, leaving us cold, unimaginative, and more like the machines that run our lives.
For better or for worse, atheism is the ideology of our time—a reflection of the value we have placed in scientific thought. This value permeates all things, shaping the way we perceive reality. This is why one faces ridicule when entertaining new perspectives or older religious ones, as we have been led to believe that technological progress, and the continuation of the scientific perspective, is the only path towards human evolution.
While we can thank this type of thinking for extending human life (and making it more convenient than ever) we can also thank it for the ever more complex world around us—one that has us drowning in information and endless distraction.
Looking inward is where wisdom is found. Buddhism teaches us about insatiable desire, really important given the state of modern consumerism, environmental devastation and spiritual emptiness.
It is only with an open mind that we can identify with the “Hungry Ghost”—a concept in Buddhism of a wretched creature that’s stuck in a state of endless seeking, never finding fulfillment. In Buddhism the realm of the Hungry Ghost is only one level better than hell.
Have we become too cynical to take anything from Hindu texts like the Bhagavata Purana? This text foretells a future when the ability to acquire money is considered the highest achievement, a future when leaders will be corrupt and self serving, and a future when truthfulness will diminish day by day.
Beyond the ideas of religion, and the problems we have created out of them, remain the words themselves. And by putting everything else aside and just being open to these words new worlds open up.
If we could for a moment look inward, as our ancestors once did, it would become quiet, and the message that unites all religions and every human being would be reheard: we are all one.