Three Letters

We all get to that point in our lives where we ask our parents, "How was I created?" Some of us get the blunt truth we never wanted to hear at that age—a small price to pay—but many of us usually get one of two much worse answers. Either "your father and I loved each other a lot, and we prayed to God, and we got you." Or, they give the longest possible answer ever with the most technical terms possible, so as to ensure that the question is never posed again.

In the same way, I would like to take you through my close friend's personal experience. When he was a child, he asked his father how the world was created and got a long-winded answer in which the only words he truly understood were "big," "bang," and "universe." This definition left him confused, and when he consulted a local priest, he got a simple three-letter word as an answer. That word satisfied his hunger for the truth at that time, but as he grew older, he realised something: that very word and the story behind it is just a story, one that has been passed down through word of mouth from father to son to grandson and so on. Somewhere down the line, the growing, changing story was written down. This piece of writing was then copied and copied and copied. Soon, the codified story was then translated from Hebrew to Arabic to English, and so on, until we, the believers, got the final book, which is, at the end of the day, a translation of a translation of a copy of a copy of a spoken story passed down through countless generations. And yet, we give so much importance to that three-letter word and the story behind it.

The word for which religions were founded; the word which gives many a reason to kill one another; the word for which wars were and still are declared: the word God. For centuries the progress of man has been strangulated by so-called "believers" whenever there was a chance of science overturning belief. Today, the belief in god has been confused with the practice of religion. The distinction which was once present is now blurred by fanatics who preach that the number of times you pray per day, the sacrifices you make, the amount of pain you can endure in god’s holy name and so on are the measures of your belief. Religion is not just a belief anymore, it has become a way of life. How can people now believe that barbaric acts can be justified if they are done in the name of god? How can something justify men committing mass murder and genocide? How can something tell us to listen to and obey the commands of a select few titled of a priest or guru? How can a god who taught love now have a religion created after him that practises cruelty to those who do not belong to it? Those are my questions.

God is a spirit and hence one has to connect in spirit and truth. It doesn’t matter how big your Christmas tree is, how many lamps you light on Diwali or how many goats you slaughter on Eid. What matters is how you engage in "godly" activities.

How can a god who taught love now have a religion created after him that practises cruelty to those who do not belong to it?

This disease is widespread; the fact is that it is a complete misunderstanding that god causes people to hate and kill one another. The fact is that god is an embodiment of love, a source of goodness, kindness and compassion. It is religion, which is man-made, that causes a divide among people, and these two things are completely divorced from one another.

The point I am here to drive home today is that the compulsory following and practice of religion to show that you do have a belief in god is wrong. And it is due to this very confusion that, bit by bit, humanity is slowly tearing itself apart, starting from the destruction of towering skyscrapers all the way down to the bombing of a bakery. Frankly, the practice of religion has happened not because it is needed, but because people have perceived it to be. Because just as cold is the absence of heat, just as darkness is the absence of light, the practice of religion to uphold a belief in God is the absence of reason.