Why my religion is the truth
I found this extremely interesting and poignantly true. It's a bit long but so well worded, Highlites and bolds are mine!
By Yoginder Sikand
Throughout the world, the overwhelming majority of people who believe in, or otherwise feel emotionally linked to, a particular religion are those who have been born into it. This fact has crucial implications for how most ‘believers’ come to develop notions of what they regard as ‘true’ and, conversely, ‘false’, religion.
For almost all people, their religious faith is something they inherit from their immediate families. From infancy itself, they are carefully socialized by their parents and other close relatives into accepting the religious doctrines, beliefs and rituals of their families. At this stage in their lives, children are most susceptible to the influence of their parents. Unable to think for themselves about matters such as religion, they naturally accept whatever is taught to them by their parents, whom they implicitly trust. Being wholly dependent—psychologically, emotionally and materially—on their parents, they automatically imbibe the religious beliefs and prejudices of the latter. This is how blind, unquestioning belief in the religion that they inherit at birth becomes so deeply-rooted in most people as to make it almost impossible for to shake off at a later stage in life. Along with this, in many cases children are also socialized by their parents into believing that their religion alone is true and that all others are false, impure or deviant. Naturally, all these religious prejudices—about the supposed superiority of their own religion and the putative falsity of all other religions—that they inherit at this impressionable age remain with many people deep into adulthood and last till they die.
The fact of the matter, then, is that what almost all ‘believers’ —irrespective of religion—passionately regard as ultimate religious truth is simply the collection of religious beliefs, rituals and prejudices that they unthinkingly inherit from their parents, and which, through very effective indoctrination, they are trained into blindly believing as Absolute Truth. This means that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, ‘pagans’ and so on are such only because they happened to have been born into families linked to the particular religion that they grew up to believe in. If almost all ‘believers’ regard their respective religions as the best among all or as the truest or as most fully manifesting the Ultimate Truth, it is almost inevitably only because this is what they have been reared into believing by their parents from a very young age itself. Such faith in the superiority of their inherited religion is rarely, if ever, based on a careful, objective, unbiased and neutral examination of all religious, including their own.
There is more to the reality of the inherited nature of notions of religious truth that most ‘believers’ adhere than this. Every religion is susceptible to multiple interpretations, and this explains the existence of fierce sectarian divisions within each of them. Each sect within a larger religious tradition claims to monopolize religious truth in quite the same way as most religious traditions themselves do. Here, too, membership in a particular religious sect is almost always based on one’s birth in it and consequent socialization into its doctrines from a young age. Almost inevitably, a person is a Sunni or a Shia Muslim, and, then, a Deobandi Sunni or a Barelvi Sunni or an Ithna Ashari Shia or an Ismaili Shia, not on the basis of conscious, informed choice made in adulthood, when alone such a choice can be made, or as a result of a careful comparative study of the competing doctrines of these rival Islamic sects, but simply because he or she was born into a particular sect whose beliefs he or she is then socialized into believing represents the ‘true Islam’—which, in his or her mind, is equated with Absolute Truth. The same principle holds in the case of sectarian divisions in other religious communities, too.
What does all this mean for our understanding of religious truth? Quite simply, it indicates that for the vast majority of us, what we fervently regard as ‘true religion’ (which a very great many of us spend our entire lives ardently believing in, defending, and passionately seeking to convert ‘non-believers’ into accepting, through persuasion or even, sometimes, coercion) is simply the bundle of religious beliefs, rituals, traditions and prejudices of the families we happen to have been born into and which, through no fault of our own, we have been made to believe represents Absolute Truth—even if it really doesn’t!
That most people simply inherit from their families their understandings of what they regard as Ultimate Truth indicates another key aspect of their religiosity: a fundamental inability or unwillingness to search, think and experience the Truth for themselves. Being effectively drilled into accepting the religious beliefs of their families as representing the Ultimate Truth, they see no reason to search for such Truth, for, so they think, they already possess it! So effective is this indoctrination in most cases that to even contemplate such a search and to think of going beyond their inherited religion comes to be regarded as a dangerous lack of faith that supposedly merits Divine wrath. Little wonder, then, that relatively few people are able to escape the totalitarian religious brainwashing that they are subjected to as children, and relatively fewer are courageous enough to even question if their inherited religion is truly the perfect embodiment of Ultimate Truth or the Divine Will that its unthinking votaries insist it is.
Yoginder Sikand is a regular contributor to Countercurrents and the author of several books on Islam-related issues in India.
Interesting thread, thanks for posting. Indeed it never ceases to amaze me that people born into a religion, or even born into families with predisposed prejudices - many times never question those beliefs or prejudices and just run with them shaping themselves into the cookie cutter history of their families they were born into. And if those religions are abusive as well as hanging onto abusive prejudices - it just adds to more misery in the world.
It takes courage to break away from divisive belief systems that are harmful and forging your life ahead in a positive fashion while assisting yourself and others along the way towards a more peaceful course. Because if we think for ourselves - many times others will hate us for it and hate us for our independence. But like the old expression states, " opinions are like assholes- everyone has one. " I always think of that statement when someone religious is trying to push their belief systems on me. Cherishing my freedom of mind and independence is what helped me escape the mind control of Jehovah's Witnesses. I will always cherish that independence for the rest of my life. Peace out, Mr. Flipper
The only truth about religion is that religious beliefs are framed and structured in both lies and ignorance, then forced indoctrinated into people to cultivate toward power and control over others.
In these modem times this also means money. $$$
Looking at what the Watchtower Corporation did is a good reference example of that.
Without the presence of a religious "authority", believers would be at risk of thinking for themselves and they'd question the unthinkable: That their religious beliefs are not the embodiment of truth.
Why can't all religion be true? Religions differ only in details, but behind the details all religious stories/scriptures are same. What is new becomes old/decadent in time which is again made new by God Almighty. This would mean God’s role is only to renew when situation necessitates, on wholesale basis, which would mean that there is no intervention in the case of individuals and in each individual use of free-will.
This is in harmony even with two opposing isms—Theism and Atheism: Theism says “From the more comes the less,” and atheism says “from the less comes the more” [as implied by Natural Selection which is “the process ultimately capable of generating complexity out of simplicity,” God Delusion, Richard Dwakins]. Thus both agree that something comes from something. If something comes from something, it has always been true, and it has always been there—infinite into the past and infinite into the future.
It is in harmony with what we see in the nature. Nature has a rhythm and things happen in cycles such as cycle of night and day, cycle of season, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle… etc. We also see the principles of such cycles reflected around us: plants grow and die leaving seeds that ensure new lives are reborn continuously. There are cycles happening within us too—cells in our bodies become old and are being replaced with new ones at regular intervals! Even when we sleep at night, we typically go through several sleep cycles. And each one of these cycles consists of 4 different stages of sleep—awake, light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. Those cycles show A MUTUAL INTERDEPENDENCE and purpose. For example, each season emerges from the previous and gently turns into the next. Winter snows feed the ground for Spring’s blossoms. Summer’s heat ripens the plants for Fall’s harvest. While in day, we desire for night and vice versa. While in hot Summer we wish it was Fall. While in cold Winter we wish it was Spring. This is true of the greater cycle of New World and old world alternating on earth.