Is it Rational for a Person to be Irrational?
(from my Archive: January 13, 2005)
Background (the story of mass religion)
About 3000 years ago an old master speaks to his pupil:
My dear pupil. Today I am going to tell you the most remarkable story I ever told. Any and every thing around us that we feel, see and touch is creation of a Creator. He sends messengers with His wisdom and rules and regulations about how to conduct every sphere of our lives and world affairs. These messages are direct words of the Creator and are written on granite. They apply to every one independent of time and space. No matter, how much world changes. No matter how much human maturity and scientific investigation progresses. No matter what is the level of economic development and political advancement? Every dot of Holy Scripture has unquestionable relevance and universal application. They provide complete answers to all questions and quarry that human mind today and in the future will ever capable to raise.
If I ask that the story I just told you is the ultimate and only Truth, how will you respond? If one or a few of you accept it as the Truth and believe in it, people will consider you insane or lunatic. But if majority of you accept it as the ultimate Truth and go on repeating to other groups and to coming generations time after time, it will become the Truth, The Religion and its followers as true Believers. Those few who will question and deny this “mass” belief, will be considered deviants and paradoxically, insane. These deviants will be considered unfortunate as the Creator has shunned His grace and enlightenment away from them.
Cases where it makes sense to be rationally irrational:
* Majority of world population, uneducated and illiterate like farmers and labourers: Every one wants to make sense what is going around her/him. A farmer has hardly any education and time to understand environment around him, especially about nature, season, flood, draft, famine, life and death. Religion, especially a village Priest provides the wisdom of unknown (with direct quotations from the Holy Scripture) that a farmer’s level of intellect enables him to understand and accept. Therefore, given his time constraint (tough life of toiling soil or working in a factory) and level of education, it is not irrational to accept and follow a message or answer (from religion) which is rationally irrational.
* Educated and professionals: First, they are completely immersed in their daily economic and social activities. They hardly have time to ponder and do investigation on what they read and listen to. They accept what religious scholars tell them to follow. To them, it also makes sense that there must be a Creator to this world and every thing around it. Once this “belief” is accepted, religion makes lot of sense to them. Second, there may be some of those who may not be totally convinced with answers that organized religions (“organized gangs” is more appropriate) provide. Unfortunately, they do not have (time) commitment and intellectual capability to investigate “alternative” answers or some other truth.
Then, there are some of those who think it is rational and rewarding to accept answers that religion provides. For example, if I do not believe in hell/heaven, but if there is such a place like that after death, then I am in trouble or a loser as I will be condemned to hell. On the other hand, if there is NO hell or heaven but simply I believe in it as was told in the Holy Scripture, I am not going to lose any thing. Therefore, it is again rational to believe in religion whose answers are very convincing for faithful, but logically irrational.
Intellectuals and scholars: They account a very small proportion of world population, but their faith in religion appears to be rationally irrational. It seems that they have two clearly demarcated sides of their brain. One side pursues all intellectual quarries related with nature, science and humanities, while the other side is dead sleep. The opposite side of the brain is reserved for religion, where even a streak of logic or rationality is not allowed to peek. They are quite content with this dual or literally bastard way of life. This is the height of intellectual dishonesty and unexplainable to a rational mind.
A note on spirituality:
There is grave misconception among believers that religion (especially organized religions) is essential to be a spiritual person. The fact is that organized religions have very limited links with spirituality. It is Hinduism/Buddhism and tribal religions (so-called) where spirituality is the cornerstone of their rituals and daily practices. Even an agnostic accepts that any living “being” is composed of two elements: material (objects that one can explain, touch and smell) and spiritual (things that can be felt, but can not be explained — super natural phenomena etc.). An agnostic can be more spiritual than a religious person. Humanitarian works provided by Red Cross and Doctors without Borders all over the world are classic examples. These organizations are essentially secular. Morally and ethically, any religious “guru” can hardly stand in comparison with these “secular” workers, who risk their lives daily in war trodden and naturally devastated areas just for humanity, without any desire to be rewarded after death. This is the height of greatness and altruism.
© Mahmood Iqbal and ipotpourri.wordpress.com: 2012