The significant role religion plays in the lives of Sri Lankans and many other inhabitants of the Asian continent is the reason that convinced me to share this post. Religion is deeply interwoven into their lifestyle and community fabric, holding immense importance in shaping their values, beliefs, and daily practices. Hence, although I harbor no ill will towards atheists or non-religious individuals, I feel a sense of responsibility to offer explanations and clarifications whenever my religious beliefs, or the beliefs of any other person, are subjected to challenges or inquiries. It is my sincere conviction that engaging in respectful dialogue and providing thoughtful responses fosters understanding, tolerance, and mutual respect among individuals with diverse perspectives on matters of faith and spirituality. I am confident that this post will accomplish those objectives.
Religion should be Personal
In response to a photograph on social media, showing the school rugby team of St. Peter’s College praying on their knees after a match they won, one commentator objected, saying, “Sports grounds and courts are for public sports, not for public displays of prayer. Religion is a deeply personal matter, and it should be kept separate from public spectacles.” I strongly disagree! I believe that religion is comparable to manure: when spread out, it can enhance and improve everything, but when kept in one big pile, it becomes unpleasant. Religion is indeed a personal choice, but the true value of religion lies in how it positively impacts the public. Besides, the constitution of Sri Lanka doesn’t prohibit praying in public places but ensures the freedom of speech, expression, and publication under Article 12(2), as well as the freedom of peaceful assembly under Article 14(1)(a).
There are at least 20 countries worldwide where the constitution secures the freedom to practice religion in public. One such example is the United States of America, where the National Prayer Breakfast an event managed by the “National Prayer Breakfast Foundation” is held annually and receives extensive media coverage. Moreover, numerous celebrities openly acknowledge their religious beliefs on television, with Bear Grylls being a prominent figure who openly discusses his faith. Whenever he finds himself in the wilderness, he visibly marks the cross as a symbol of his beliefs. Frankly speaking, although, some critics argue that religion should remain a personal matter, individuals still have the right to choose whether they want to practice their religion privately at home or openly in public settings as long as it doesn’t interrupt the day-to-day lives of other people.
It’s the root of all Problems
While some conflicts have been fueled by religious differences, it’s essential to recognize that many other factors, such as politics, economics, ethnicity, and power struggles, also contribute to problems. Blaming religion alone oversimplifies issues and can lead to misunderstandings and divisions. It is essential to acknowledge that the questionable behavior of certain extremist religious groups cannot be solely attributed to religion. While some extremist individuals or groups may claim to represent a particular religion, their actions often diverge from the teachings and values upheld by the majority of followers within that faith. Thus, it is important not to generalize or blame an entire religion for the actions of a small fraction of extremists. Instead, efforts should focus on addressing the underlying issues that lead to extremism and promoting tolerance and cooperation among diverse communities.
Moreover, there are numerous examples of conflicts and challenges that are entirely unrelated to religion. Issues like global poverty, environmental degradation, public health crises, and economic inequalities have little to do with religious beliefs and are shaped by diverse systemic factors. Reducing such multifaceted problems to religion ignores the root causes and hinders effective solutions. In conclusion, while religion has played a role in various problems faced by humanity, it is not accurate to attribute all issues solely to religion. The existence of harmonious and cooperative societies with diverse religious backgrounds indicates that religion alone is not the primary cause of conflicts and challenges. To address global issues effectively, a holistic approach that considers multiple factors and encourages open dialogue is essential.
It’s just spiritual Mythology
There exist certain religions that are entirely rooted in mythology, with one such example being the Babylonian Creation myth known as “Enuma Elish“. This captivating myth narrates the tale of the mighty god Marduk, who triumphs over the chaotic forces and brings about the order during the creation of the world. The story unveils the powerful deity’s journey towards establishing harmony and control over the cosmos, symbolizing the fundamental beliefs and values of this ancient religion. While the ancient Mesopotamian religion is predominantly rooted in mythology, it does not necessarily imply that we should dismiss all other religions as mere myths. While there are indeed ancient religions that have their origins solely in mythology, there are also other religions for which we possess archaeological and scientific evidence indicating their connection to real historical events or facts.
For example, the sacred writing of ancient Sumer records a global flood called the “Eridu Genesis” while ancient Babylonia is known for a poem called the “Epic of Gilgamesh” similar to Noah’s flood found in Judaism and Christianity. The historicity of this catastrophe (Noah’s Flood) may not be definitively provable, but compelling evidence suggests that a global flood likely occurred. One crucial piece of evidence is the prevalence of flood stories in various cultures worldwide. Anthropologists have documented numerous ancient flood legends from diverse civilizations. These stories bear striking similarities to the biblical account. Then we have evidence taken from Earth’s surface such as 75% sedimentary rock implying widespread water action, chaotic fossil graveyards suggesting a catastrophic force, and long-distance rock movement hinting at past geological upheavals; and marine fossils on mountain tops pointing to a global flood possibility.
In conclusion, debunking these three myths about religion provides valuable insights into the complexity of its role in society. Religion should not be confined to the private sphere, but rather, when expressed respectfully in public settings, it can contribute positively to the fabric of community life. While religion has been involved in certain conflicts, blaming it as the sole root cause oversimplifies complex issues and hinders potential solutions. By adopting a holistic approach, we can address global challenges while acknowledging that some religions hold historical and archaeological significance. Encouraging open dialogue and understanding between different beliefs can foster harmonious societies where religion enriches lives without becoming a source of conflict. Ultimately, our journey through these myths reinforces the need for critical thinking and appreciation of the diversity of religious beliefs and practices worldwide.
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