This has reference to a letter (March 23) that asserted that “there will be all kinds of evil even in the absence of religion. But they will certainly be less in intensity as those committed in the name of religion.” The millions of people who died in Vietnam and Iraq did not die because of religious wars but imperialist wars disguised as ideological conflicts. The two World Wars were sophisticated forms of tribal warfare with both sides ostensibly sharing the same faith. Nearer home, the birth of Bangladesh was the result of a war that was about differences in language. All these wars have caused much more damage than religious clashes.
Tribal conflicts are part of our human nature and, according to Darwinian rules, the genes governing these traits “naturally” selected out humans with warring qualities. Therefore B.N. Kapali (March 21) was correct in blaming our conflicts on man and not on religion. We use different marshalling methods to gather the tribe around us and in some cases it is religion. More often it is nationalism, race, ideology or a sense of injustice. Further, ordinary “non-religious” ideology can take on all the hues of religion. For example, Richard Dawkins' atheism is fervently evangelistic and French secularism is as intolerant of its citizens wearing burqas or turbans as many theocracies are with regard to other religions. If religions ought to disappear for the sake of more peace in the world, so should all ideology and philosophy.
A reverent spirit is necessary to comprehend any religion. No debate should be started with a preconception that the founders and teachers of religions are deceivers, interested in self-advancement and that the rest of the people were duped to follow them. Religions that have commanded the devotion of successive generations have done so by direct personal contact at first, and then by experience handed down as tradition. The founders and teachers were known to their contemporaries to be good, sincere and deep thinking men, worthy of being followed. Undoubtedly, personal and class interests have perverted religions just as they have perverted other institutions. But to impute fraud to religion is an unscientific attitude of mind in the investigation of truth. Huge quantities of spurious drugs are circulating in the market. Gullible patients consume them and lapse into greater distress. Does that call for stoppage of production and sale of genuine medicines? In this world corruption, deceit and lies, religion is the only solace to millions of common people.