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Christianity Johnson on 04 Nov 2008 12:49 am

The insanity of religion

This video takes a look at religious cremation practices in India. As you watch the video, try to keep a count on the number of insane elements that religion injects into the process in just four minutes:

Transcript:

0:00 – 0:15: Varanasi, India. Stretching along the sacred Ganges, it is Hinduisms holiest city. Millions of pilgrims come to bathe in the purifying waters…

Touching the water in this river (much less immersing yourself in it) is insane because of the pollution. This page notes:

The majority of the Ganges’ pollution is organic waste – sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the Ganges have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged. Sewage systems designed near the turn of the 20th century today do little more than channel waste into the river. Some 300 million gallons of waste go into the Ganges each day, and the effects are stunning: recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal-coliform counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.

Getting into this river sounds grotesque. Religious faith brings millions of pilgrims into this fetid water.

But sewage is not the only thing that people dump into the river. There’s also the dead bodies…

0:15 – 0:30: But others come for a far different purpose. They come here to burn the dead, out in the open, in public, out in the open.

This page talks about the practice:

The sacred practice of depositing human remains in the Ganges also poses health threats because of the unsustainable rate at which partially cremated cadavers are dumped. In Varanasi, some 40,000 cremations are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganges. In addition, the carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year.

Dumping dead bodies into a river that people use for bathing is insane, but the religion demands it.

Partially burning over 100 bodies a day on smokey wood fires in a city of millions is also insane.

0:30 – 1:10: Thene Thyol (sp?) has a job that many might find appalling. Thene belongs to a unique Indian caste, or community, known as the Doms. It is the traditional role of the Doms to cremate the Hindu dead. Members of Thenes family have been burning corpses for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. For devout Hindus, touching a corpse is highly taboo. It is a ritually polluting act. Those who work with the dead are considered unclean, and therefore untouchable. They are outcasts.

The Doms are one of dozens of castes in India. Castes are insane – we could devote whole books to the appalling and brutal injustices of this form of discrimination and prejudice.

The “taboo” of touching the dead and the idea of a “ritually polluting act” are superstitions, which are insane. “Taboos” like this fuel the discrimination of the caste system.

1:10 – 1:50: But the Doms also pay a pivotal role in the Hindu approach to death, which is based on the idea of reincarnation. Hindus believe that every Hindu soul passes through many lives. The ultimate goal is to unite with the supreme being. But until they are worthy, they continue to be reborn. The holy city of Varanasi provides a sort of spiritual shortcut. Hindus believe that if they die here and their ashes are scattered in the Ganges, their souls are liberated from the cycle.

The idea of “reincarnation”, along with the idea of a “supreme being” and the idea of “uniting” with it are pure fairy tales, and therefore believing in them is insane. And the “shortcut” is insane as well. In addition, the “shortcut” is a process that pumps putrid bodies into the river every day.

We aren’t even to the two-minute point and every rational person is dumbfounded. How does such insanity take root and survive? Why would hundreds of millions of people base their lives on this insanity? Why would millions immerse themselves in such a disgusting river because of the insanity? Or why, if the river is so sacred, isn’t it kept in pristine condition out of respect for the religious beliefs?

Note also that the Christians reading this description of the Hindus are laughing at the insanity. Christians don’t believe in reincarnation at all. Meanwhile the Hindus laugh at the insanity of Christian beliefs, noting that the Christian heaven (without any reincarnation) is ridiculous. Neither party can recognize their own insanity, which is brilliantly reflected in the other.

Religion is utter insanity from beginning to end.

8 Responses to “The insanity of religion”

  1. on 05 Nov 2008 at 1:08 am 1.Hermes said …

    For wading in sewage filled with diseases, or against stem cell research and being inoculated against HPV … religion is a wonderful thing. Faith in insanity.

  2. on 06 Nov 2008 at 10:02 pm 2.Gern Blansten said …

    Does this mean I shouldn’t pee in my bathwater?

  3. on 16 Nov 2008 at 10:01 pm 3.Karen said …

    I feel so sorry for all of you. I have lived through the “near deaths” of both my children, and the diagnosis of Charcot-Marie-Tooths Disease. I don’t know how I would have made it through these situations without God. God doesn’t promise freedom from pain or tribulation, but He does provide a sanctuary for those suffering through these problems. No one can make you believe, but I do pray that someday you will, for the world will never appear more beautiful than it does when God is in it. As humans, we have freedom of choice, and because of this, most often times we create our own pain. God doesn’t promise he will protect us from the consequences of our decisions, but He does promise a shoulder to help us through those consequences. Please come to realize His love, for your sake.

  4. on 16 Nov 2008 at 10:03 pm 4.Karen said …

    By the way, religion doesn’t equal God…

  5. on 16 Nov 2008 at 11:15 pm 5.Hermes said …

    Well, Karen, the feeling is mutual. I prefer the humility of accepting what I know not what I suppose. That has lead to a bounty of positive things. For example;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0hJRM8Xzvo

  6. on 22 Nov 2008 at 1:55 am 6.jacob said …

    you will one day, stand before him and kneel, then acknowledge him…

  7. on 22 Nov 2008 at 2:20 am 7.Hermes said …

    Jacob, sounds like slavery. Why do you wish for that?

  8. on 22 Nov 2008 at 10:42 am 8.Gern Blansten said …

    We’d better wear a good shirt, then.

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