I have always believed that the people of Indian sub-continent are the most emotional, touchy and an irrational lot as far as matters of religion are concerned. They can also be very sensitive on matters of language and culture, at times. And, on occasions, may even turn violent on being rubbed on the wrong side.
It was also my belief that with the spread of education, awareness about other people and other ways of life and inter-mingling , this hyper-sensitivity, and the tendency to get ‘offended’ easily, will subside with time and their religiosity would get more and more mixed, and balanced, with reason and logic. I was also of the opinion that the education system of Indian sub-continent puts too much religion into its academic textbooks in the name of moral and social education, or otherwise, and that it is actually harmful from an academic point of view.
However, I was quite surprised to learn that even in a country like Israel, which is known for its technological prowess and talented scientists and entrepreneurs, the situation is no different. Who would believe that till yesterday the Israeli schools were not allowed to teach Darwin’s evolution theory on the grounds that it goes against the religious tenets? It was shocking to learn that Israeli schools have only now been allowed to start teaching Darwin’s evolution theory. And that too with a caveat that they would not talk about humans’ common ancestry with primates.
Traditionalists believe that saying that humans are closely related to primates in the evolution tree would amount to violating the religious beliefs. So, discovery of truth shall remain suspended till such time the authorities decide that it would be worthwhile and probably safe to discover them.
Religions, all religions, are rapidly getting out-of-sync with the changing times and the progress in science and technology. Yet, we are not ready to deal with this reality.
We know that some day we will have to come to terms with the stark reality that religions, all religions, have become outdated and totally out of place in this world. Yet, we want to keep that moment of reckoning postponed for some other time, and for some other generations.
Belief in religion can, and often does, lead to many comic situations. And this is one. Imagine a teacher explaining theory of evolution to his or her class and saying that all animals have related ancestry and line of evolution and then adding a caveat that only human beings were created in a different and special way, by the creator, for some special reason.
We know that in some of our neighbouring countries history before a certain period is not even mentioned about. But why berate those countries. Even in our own country we tend to mix too much religion in our textbooks in the name of moral and social education as if morality and social skills have any connection with religion.
My own guess is that it is religion that holds most of the Asian nations back, economically, culturally, as well as socially. These nations would be in a position to chart out a path of real progress the day they decide to break free from the chains of religion.
However, at the moment, the road to reason seems too far away for most of these countries. Until then truth, knowledge and rationality would continue to be dosed. A quarter for the school students, one third for college students and half truths for fully grown up adults. The only consolation is that even these rationed dollops of truth are enough to keep the mankind on the road to progress.