I had differences with Taslima Nasreen on Twitter today, pursuant to my appeal to non Muslims to observe one day's roza on 4th July ( and to non Hindus to observe one day's fast during Navratri ).
I admire Taslima for her bravery in highlighting the atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh in her novel ' Lajja '. Like her, I too am against atrocities on anyone, and like her, I too am an atheist.
But with respect to her I wish to say that she has no scientific understanding of the social basis of religion.
In her tweet she says " Religion is anti women, anti science, anti human and anti progress "
Even assuming that much of what she says is correct, what she overlooks are two things :
1. Most people in the world are very poor and live in such terrible and miserable conditions that were it not for religion they would go mad. Religion gives them the psychological support, without which they would go crazy or commit suicide.
So we cannot abolish religion : it will disappear automatically when people get decent lives. Then they will have no need for religion or God.
2. Even for people who are not poor, e.g. businessmen, the chance factor is such an important factor that it gives rise to the belief in supernatural forces which control our lives.
For example, there may be losses in a business for various reasons beyond the control of the businessman. So he believes in some god and propitiates him, to avoid losses.
The chance factor is still a very powerful factor in our lives. We plan something, but something else happens. So we believe that there is some supernatural force ( or forces ) controlling our lives.
The truth is that the chance factor is still important because we are still at a very primitive stage of scientific development, as compared to the situation 100 years or 200 years hence, when science will have grown enormously. Then we will be able to largely control our lives, and what we plan will happen. And then there will be no need of god or other supernatural entities.
Taslima, though a brave person, has no understanding of all this, and by her sometimes emotional intemperate remarks damages the great cause ( of women's emancipation and scientific thinking ) which she is fighting for.
I have said that all religions are superstitions. But I have also said that I respect all religions. Some people find a contradiction here. I submit there is none.
When I say I respect all religions, I mean that I respect the right of everyone to believe whatever he/she wants to believe, and therefore I am a strong supporter of religious freedom. But as for myself, I am a purely scientific person, and so have a materialistic belief