Whether you like it or not, no religion is perfect, no faith is the absolute truth, and no book or scripture can provide you with all the answers.
Why? That’s because religious thoughts all evolve from fundamentally a state of being static. Every religion is based on one or many scriptures that have remained static over hundreds and thousands of years. There have been several interpretations and value additions to these scriptures, where new thinkers have brought in fresh perspectives, but the fundamentals have remained the same.
Also knowledge is growing exponentially.
We know much more today, than yesterday, and you can bet your last penny that more knowledge will be created tomorrow.
More thoughts – good and bad; more theories – absurd and pragmatic; more literature – abstract and real is being created as I write these words. How then can scriptures stand the test of time, as new facts are being discovered; fresh concepts in morality and ethics evolve and transform? They cannot.
Most religions hence have other literature that provides a better understanding and wider interpretations of the scriptures. You have different sects in Christianity having their own set of theologians with their own gyaan. There are several Hindu texts written across centuries improving our understanding of the ancient religion, while Islam has the hadiths created again by Islamic scholars.
However, much of the subtexts have remained rooted in the ancient past. They have not been really updated, especially considering that the world of knowledge has grown at exponential rates in the past century and a half.
That’s why I believe that every religion needs to adapt and explore further, instead of being rooted in its own past glory. Though I cannot pronounce myself to be an expert, to the best of my knowledge, there has been nothing radical as far as religious thinking goes, despite huge advancements in human knowledge, our sense of morality, and social thinking.
I firmly believe, like the famous Malayalam poet Vayalar Rama Varma, that religions are man-made. He wrote,
Man created religions
Religions created Gods
Man, Religion, and God shared the Earth
Essentially, since man created religion, he should rewrite them.
Much admired Islamic thinker and orator Dr. Zakir Naik points out that religions were created for a specific purpose, for a specific region, at a specific time. I completely agree with him. I guess every religion has served the purpose for a particular time, and flourished. Very few have survived the test of time, and what has actually survived the test of time is honestly outdated.
Take Islam, for example. Islam talks of protecting women with stringent rules of Sharia and Hijab. This was probably needed in the middle ages, where men were no less than savages. A strong, strict, and moralistic religious code would have served the purpose of protecting the dignity of millions of women.
Similarly, why should only Brahmins perform rituals in a temple? Why must Catholic priests remain celibate? Why should Sikh men grow their beard and hair?
There are answers for all these questions by the defenders of faith, but none of them are completely convincing or even truly logical.
However, now the world has changed. Moral values have taken second place to what legal systems prescribe. Every country has strong legal systems that recommend protection for women. You do not really require a religious code of conduct to deliver. You can lead a great life, perfectly at peace, by simply being a law abiding citizen.
In such a scenario, the relevance of religion is definitely low. It’s time religion reinvented itself.