Environmental Ethics: 4.2 Rationality (2)

Author:  Image of S.M. JainS.M. Jain
Published: 18.02.2012
Updated: 30.07.2015

Substituted idol worship:

Idol worship though prohibited in some important religions has been contrived in different ways in form of a holy stone or tombs of saints or holy books and devotees pay obeisance and ask material boons in the same manner as idol-worshippers. In monotheist religions only one Almighty God is considered worthy of obeisance and prayer who alone can grant boons and not even the prophets or gurus. But in practice the followers besiege mortal saints, their venerated tombs, books, stones etc. This is against the very preachings of their prophets, saints and holy books. In some religious orders the concept of one almighty god being creator, controller of universe and actions and interactions of all its constituents, living and non living is not accepted. These religions subscribe to the phenomena of cause and effect and prescribe that it is ones own actions good and bad which cause happiness and misery and it is forbidden to beg boons from the idols of enlightened ones being worshiped, yet their followers by and large violate the fundamental principles and beg material boons from stone or metal idols they themselves have made, consecrated and deified. Such is the slavish psyche of mankind in general, generated by constant allurements from spurious rituals perpetrated by the selfish so-called contractors of fate of people.

Invention of God the Almighty:

Initially it was natural forces the sun, wind, water, fire, earth and its forests, rivers, mountains which were venerated, paid obeisance and worshiped as these were obviously considered important for welfare and existence. But as agriculture developed and extended and humans changed to more and more predatory and exploitative ways from earlier symbiotic relationships with nature, the problems increased. The same elements of nature water, wind, fire, rivers became harmful also. As more and more forests were cut from catchments of rivers the intensity of floods increased. In absence of extensive shelterbelts the devastating storms became more and more frequent. Droughts and famines followed. In desperation some supreme power was invented and all good and bad were attributed to him, the almighty god, though these were result of greedy, exploitative actions of human beings themselves. This concept gradually got so much entrenched in the psyche of people and was deliberately strengthened by self-styled agents of God that everything was left to will of the almighty. The various religious texts which were, as a matter of fact, result of human experience in particular circumstances were proclaimed as revelations by God to chosen ones. Surprisingly God needed help of some designated spirits to communicate as almighty God was incapable of communicating directly. Obviously God is just an alibi to answer questions and problems in a particular time or event. If God is almighty, creator and controller of all then he should be able to change minds to set things right. But he does not do that and so he does not exist.

Most of the religions preach hatred for other faiths, arrogating all truth to themselves, claiming that only their scriptures are true and of all others false. This is narcissist solipsism and not religion. Even the most revered apostles of love and compassion threatened their non-followers with dire consequences of pangs of eternal fire in hell. They promise awards and pleasures of heavens only to their followers. The natural rational phenomena of cause and effect was abandoned. Reason was lost that corrective measures can mend the wrongs done was not considered. People by and large find it expedient to attribute various phenomena to some super power rather than to reason out the causes and then plan measures to solve problems. Only a few persons ventured to oppose this irrational belief. They were the first scientists but they were opposed and even ostracised. The continuous pursuit of cause of various phenomena gradually enriched the knowledge of mankind and now causes, effects and remedial measures are available for various diseases, droughts, famines, storms, earthquakes etc. (earlier attributed to wrath of God or various deities and spirits) and the quest is on. If all phenomena are attributed to one almighty God, then there will be no inquisitiveness and urge to know truth or discover any thing. It was negation of God, may be unconsciously that led to all more and more newer discoveries.

Wily, selfish persons exploited and misguided gullible people in the mire of rituals and occult practices. Superstitious traditions are still persisting in modern era particularly in tribal and rural societies and also even in educated people. Burning by hot iron rods at various body points is still in vogue to cure diseases. Gods and goddesses are propitiated by sacrifices of innocent animals and even children and other offerings to beg cure of diseases and also for good rains, harvest, well being, fortune etc. The writings of great saints were adulterated and additions were made in the name of original authors to perpetuate superstitions. In one of most venerated holy book in India the God incarnation has been quoted that whenever there is wrong, evil and misery he will come, materialise in human from and solve the problems and vanish the evil. It implies clearly that the human beings need not bother, keep sitting, suffering and waiting for someone from somewhere to come and do things for them. No good and sensible person can advise such inaction. For example environment has been degraded by human activities and human beings by their own corrective measures can restore it and need not wait for god incarnation. This book also prescribes that people should act and work without caring for the result. It is illogical and highly impractical. No one works without an eye on result. Every action should have an aim otherwise it will be misleading harmful, useless and waste of time and energy. A student studies to achieve good success. Scientists, businessmen, industrialists all work with an aim and objective to achieve desired results. A traveller travels with an aim to reach his destination as a result. Even in every day activities if one acts without concern it may cause harm to oneself and others. In the specific example of putting a satellite in orbit or sending instrumental or human mission to moon all factors are considered and then action is planned to achieve the objective or result. Without an eye on result there will not be sincere effort in any work.

According to inventors of God, the God is all powerful and can do whatever and whenever he wants. As such there should be no need for him to manifest, manipulate and accomplish his tasks by resorting to incarnations in human, animal or other form. If the objective of incarnation is to demonstrate and teach righteous way of living, then too he should be able to install by sitting wherever he is. In case of incarnation also he should behave as normal human being as otherwise people will take up his conduct as of super human, not possible to be followed by normal ordinary humans. In most of religious mythological texts god incarnations have exhibited superhuman abilities. At least the incarnation himself will never proclaim as such. But such incarnations have been described to have proclaimed and even manifested their supernatural huge forms (Virat Swaroop). There are many such glaring and confusing contradictions. Logically the persons described incarnations might have been good real persons or good characters in mythology to teach righteous conduct. They would have never proclaimed themselves as super humans. Such attributes and exaggerations are later additions by followers in their own selfish interest to mislead and attract the gullible people. Surprisingly supernatural powers have also been attributed by followers to good noble saints, Buddhas, Tirthankaras, who would have never exhibited such powers which are not possible by ordinary human and are beyond human experience. These saints behaved as normal humans and demonstrated by their own conduct and preached right path to free people from superstitious and irrational rituals.

As opposed to concept of one God, manifesting in all, there is now a new scientific concept of cosmic consciousness which is sum total of manifestations of all systems, subsystems, parts, organs, organelles, molecules, atoms and sub atomic particles  (according to Max Born photons and electrons are organic and possess consciousness) individually as well as collectively in symbiotic interdependent, integrated relationship, as in a massive coral reef where every polyp is a complete individual entity as well as part of integrated whole, working, manifesting as an individual and also as an integrated part in unison. This is other way round that cosmic consciousness is because of its parts and not that parts are because of one superpower. It is slavish to subscribe to autocracy of one single super power manifesting in all constituents. Instead the combined power or force of constituents making up one cosmic power is certainly a democratic concept.

Invasions-genesis of individualism, helplessness and escapism:

The sad story throughout human history is that most civilisations oldest and recent have been victim of over exploitation of natural resources which when exhausted forced the inhabitants to spread out leaving behind the depleted and degraded area. It is rightly said that men preceded and deserts followed. This resulted in fierce wars between invaders and peace loving original inhabitants. Generally the local people had better scruples and morals as compared to invaders who came from degraded areas. The recorded horrific history of atrocities committed by invaders is chilling. The victims were aghast as they could not even imagine that such cruelties can be inflicted by humans on other humans. People of invaded town or village ran helter-shelter to escape atrocities of rape, beating, killing, conversion, leaving material possessions and even dear and near ones. In such situations the instinct of survival of self prevailed as happens in case of fire in a house when the first instinctive response of residents is to run away. It is only after some time that infants, infirm people were left behind are remembered and measures to bring them out if possible are considered. Such extreme situations created by unscrupulous, recurrent invasions changed the social fabric in vanquished societies and nations and the collective effort to repulse was almost lost. People could not think of any solution and left everything to the will and in the hands of God or some deity. This gave birth to devotional surrender or Bhakticult.

Even extreme devotion, complete surrender to God or some deity, reciting its praise, its worship or any other sort of indulgence in Bhakti (devotion) has never solved any problem. It only promoted passivity and inaction. Recently prayer healing has been vehemently discussed with arguments and counter arguments by proponents and opponents. At least ten studies were done in last six years. The latest by Herbert Benson, cardiologist and director of Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston reported in the American Heart Journal have indicated that the patients who knew they are being prayed for, had a higher rate of post operation complications like abnormal heart rhythms. Obviously such intercessory prayers have no healing effect. Dr. Partha Chaudhery, Head of nuclear medicine, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, said that he had never come across a case where any terminally ill patient has recovered by such prayers. To solve any problem appropriate action, after analysing causes, is necessary. History is replete with instances that people wasting time in devotion and not preparing and taking action to meet a particular situation suffered miserably from atrocities of invaders. It is plain and simple escapism and inaction. Many religions advocate it fervently. It is responsible for negative cognition of world or cognitive distortion that world is full of bad things and events, miseries and is not worth living. This triggers psychological disorders. As a matter of fact world is beautiful offering numerous bounties for happy and peaceful life unless distorted by superstitions and by lack of symbiotic behaviour patterns. Simultaneously it gave rise to a damaging concept of extreme individualism that each one is alone and neither he or others are mutually concerned. Such a dangerous concept is being prayed in numerous devotional songs and prayers. This negates the basic aspect of nature, symbiosis and mutual cooperation. It obfuscates all the relationships like that of mother and child, teacher and students, employer and employee, soldier and army, individual and society and nation and all that manifests in daily cores of life.

Illusory hypothetical concepts:

The height of such escapism is the concept that all the existing real world, the matter, the earth, oceans, rivers, mountains, living beings are illusions and unreal and that the questionable, imaginary and only the articulated Brahman or ‘God’ is real. Whatever be the conceptualisation it is the mind and body that feels pangs of hunger, thirst, disease, violence, cruelty and not the so-called god or its derivation the immortal soul which is supposed to be impervious to any sort of harm or pain. Many so-called saints pretend to see ‘God’ and experience ecstatic happiness in complete surrender. These are mere hallucinations and illusions and are now established as mental obsessive compulsive disorders. In the near death experiences when brain is starved of oxygen the person can see himself out of body. He may suffer from “cortards syndrome”. In tunnel vision patients see bright beautiful light at the end of tunnel and is convinced that he is dead and does not exist. According to V.S. Ramchandran, Director, Centre for Brain and Cognition, California such out of body experience can be seen if right parital cortex is stimulated while person is conscious and awake. Francis Crick who was a great biologists of 20th century, discovered double helix, genetic code and did intensive research for 10 years on functions of human brain and then published. “The astonishing hypothesis on human consciousness and neuropsychiatry”. He has established neural correlates of consciousness and discarded metaphysical route to understand it, According to him subjective experiences arise from cerebral processes and ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) etc. are all baloney. Uri Geller supposed to possess power to bend spoons etc. from a distance was proved wrong. Geller used to say that bended articles would be found in a particular kitchen whereas the fact is that such one or two articles are always there in every kitchen. Miracles claimed by pseudo-saints like materialising articles from air are all slates of hand and can be performed by ordinary magicians, tricksters. The stories of previous life supposed to be remembered and told with precise details of persons and places by some exceptional children were all found concocted mostly with the objective of usurping property of others. In University of Rajasthan, Jaipur (India) the department of “Para-Psychology” functioned for about 10 years in sixties of last century and its head Dr. Banerjee collected evidence on about 1000 cases. On subsequent scrutiny all were found wrong and Dr. Banerjee was expelled disgracefully.

The fact is that consciousness pretended to be function of soul alone can be very well explained as a function of brain. If the ‘Soul’ is the repository of consciousness then what happens when brain or part of neuro system is made unconscious by anaesthesia. Soul is not supposed to be affected. Most functions and properties attributed to soul can be explained as functions of brain. Proponents of soul attribute indestructibility, indivisibility, piety, supreme knowledge, happiness and many such characteristics to it which are questionable and do not stand the test of scientific scrutiny. Many organisms such as amoeba etc. can be cut and divided in two and both survive as two separate organisms. This would mean that soul can be divided in two or more similar complete entities. Likewise male and female genetic material i.e. sperm and ovum are both living beings i.e. each possessing individual soul and when they fuse to make one individual entity human, animal, insect etc. the two souls become one. This is incompatible to the very fundamental attributes of soul itself as conceptualised by soul theorists themselves. All life forms have a certain span of life. Soul theorists also agree that soul resides in a particular body and leaves after a specific span. But spermatozoa, ovum, blood and live tissues can be stored for prolonged periods at sub zero temperatures more than their normal span without losing their quality called life. According to Noble laureate Ilya Prigogine, the self organisation as in living beings also occurs in certain chemical systems called “dissipate structures” which maintain and develop structure by breaking down other structures in process of metabolism and exhibit most of the phenomena of characteristics of life i.e. self renewal, adaptation, evolution and even primitive mental process. This system represent a link between animate and inanimate matter and the only difference is that they do not produce cells and do not reproduce and are therefore not considered life form. Jean Baptiste, Lamarck, Gregory Batson proposed the theory that evolution of all living beings is from earlier simpler forms in conducive environment. The property called life and consciousness might have evolved in organic molecules in evolutionary process. Scientists have created synthetic life forms e.g. synthetic polio virus and trying to create evolutionary cycle through random stringing of nucleotides to form RNA molecules and specialized ribosomes. These when mixed with clay cell prototypes begin to grow and divide rapidly. In near future convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology will create molecular machines capable of replicating themselves. (Scientists Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School and Lyell Watson). The cognitive power through sensory perceptions, attributed to soul is just the function of brain and its neurons assisted by chemicals and enzymes. There are hundred thousand molecules in a single cell carrying out their respective functions with precision. The human leukocyte antigen recognises intruder and tells the immune system to destroy it. There are metallic, chemical and electronic sensors far more sensitive and efficient than cognition power of even human brain. Specific restrictive enzymes are used to recognise specific genes and to separate such genes for transferring to other organisms. There are many such examples.

There is no need to conjecture something like soul. The concept of soul and rebirth might have been articulated in many religious beliefs in order to impress upon the followers their code of conduct by instilling fear of bad deeds and punishment in next life. The concept of heaven and hell is also based on the same premise. The concept of soul and its continuousness after death also gives psychological relief from fear of death which otherwise is most agonising. Whatever be the truth about soul whether it is or not, should not deflect a rationalist from its duties towards society and environment. Even if there is no life after death, the present life will be happy for all if people are rational. The present generation has inherited environment from previous ones and suffer from follies of past. Rationally we should not repeat follies and ensure happy life and good environment for our future progenies as we wished from our ancestors not only on ethical ground but on the basis of inherent instinct for welfare of offspring in all living beings. In order to establish ‘soul’ as an entity and not merely a phenomenon of mind or belief it is necessary to proceed on scientific lines rather than existing metaphysical concepts and collect facts, build hypothesis and then put it to scientific scrutiny by intensive and extensive experiments.

Some religions though do not subscribe to the theory of one almighty God, creator, controller and destroyer of the universe, yet accept the eternal entity, the soul and the continuity of births and deaths and ascribe destiny of good and bad, happiness and sorrow of a person, animal or other life form as a result of deeds in the previous life. Accordingly if a person is poor, disabled, suffers from diseases, hunger or other deprivations it is because of his misdeeds in his previous life. The facts are otherwise. If a person is born in a poor and deprived family, it is not his fault and children born in poorest families if given proper opportunities, do as good or even better than others who are born in affluent families. Poverty is a man - made social problem and can be rectified by symbiotic life-style. Naturally or accidentally disabled also have in-built capabilities to perform most of the jobs if given proper opportunity and training. Natural genetic disorders are also because of short or long term environmental impact. In symbiotic environment there are no harmful genetic mutations. The accidental disabilities are caused mainly by carelessness of person himself or others viz. non-observance of traffic rules. The positive aspect of theory of Karma (deeds) is that effect of past karma (deeds) can be rectified or minimized by appropriate deeds in present life. However attributing poverty, deprivation etc. to Karma (deeds) of past life is negating its real cause which is exploitative social system which can be corrected by symbiotic social order. It may be worth noting that life spans of people are increasing because of medical advances and facilities. The life span of any living organism is certainly not because of good or bad deeds in the previous birth of a particular soul. Scientists are now conceptualising to increase the life span up to 5000 years and more by nano-bots, the tiny machines which when inserted in body will be cleaning the body from materials responsible for aging and death. According to Ian Pearson at British Telecommunications death would become a thing of past as by mid 21st century computer technology becomes sophisticated enough for the contents of brain to be down loaded on to a super computer. Next computing goal would be to replicate consciousness.

People under the spell of occultists, astrologers are enslaved so much that they seek their permission and ask for propitious or auspicious time to the precision of month, day and even hour to begin any activity viz. construction of house, factory, starting industry or business, marriage or other ceremonies and even construction of temples and consecration of idols of so called all powerful god and other deities. People get so much chained to irrational beliefs and omens that they would not travel in a particular direction on particular days. This hampers all activity and is slavery of worst form. Mischievous people take advantage, befool people and charge hefty amounts to tell articulated auspicious timings for various activities. There are silly superstitious beliefs regarding innocent animals, cats, birds, crows etc., their crossing of one’s way, chirpings and sittings some times taken as good and sometimes as bad omens and the connotations vary from country to country. Innocent animals, birds are still sacrificed to propitiate various non existent spirits for cure from illness, for good rains, better crops etc. in tribal and village communities and even by educated people. Many innocent women are victim of atrocities being falsely implicated as practising witch craft or black magic and the truth behind is often conspiracy of relatives to oust the widowed women from property. Rationally the world we live in, its rivers, mountains, all living beings, their actions, interactions are real and unless superimposed by human ego and its anthropocentric attitude, are all symbiotic and mutually beneficial. Human beings by their behaviour can make this world good for bad for present and future generations according to their good or bad deeds.

Sources

Environmental Ethics

Publishers:

Prakrit Bharati Academy, Jaipur

Society for Scientific & Ethical Living, Jaipur

Edition:   

1st edition 2006

HN4U Online edition:

Dr. Rudi Jansma


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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bhakti
  2. Body
  3. Brahman
  4. Brain
  5. Concept of Soul
  6. Consciousness
  7. Cooperation
  8. ESP
  9. Environment
  10. Fear
  11. Genes
  12. Jaipur
  13. Karma
  14. RNA
  15. Rajasthan
  16. Ribosomes
  17. Soul
  18. Tirthankaras
  19. Violence
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