The recent attacks on a group of journalists in Paris is appalling undoubtedly, but should we really be surprised or shocked at what happened? Religious groups have had an history of violent reaction towards art and science they did not conform to their views. From the catholic church condemning Galileo, to the destruction of the library in Alexandria to the violent protests against M F Hussain by the Hindus.
Surely it seems simply as a problem of few extremist nuts in every religious group that behave in such despicable ways. And as some moderates often say, “They are not true Muslims, Islam preaches peace” or “they are not true Hindus” etc. But it would be an obvious folly to say all religions are just as bad or good and only few extremists are to be blamed. We don’t see many acts of terrorism by say Mormons or Scientologists or Buddhists, do we? It is a false supposition that all religions are equally bad or malignant. The number of armed attacks by Muslim terrorists far outnumber any other religious organisation. And this tendency of violent retaliation is a tendency largely common with some religious belief systems, more often than not the three Abrahamic ones, but not just exclusive to these.
When Nietzsche said god is dead, he didn’t mean the death of a certain all mighty powerful being, but death of certain sorts of ideals and morals. Gods in most of religions are a culmination of projections of behaviours and properties that some consider ideal. In the Abrahamic religions, which are monotheistic, their gods have been for the most part kind and forgiving, but there have been instances when they have laid upon their own creations punishments of unspeakable brutality.
This for the followers is a way to act, they are obliged to follow as closely as possible to this ideal and protect their honour and pride. There is glory in war and violent victory that cannot be matched by simple debate or satire. there is honour in being a soldier, in fighting for what you believe and in dying for it. The idea or martyrdom has been a romantic one in many cultures if not all. What better way to die than trying to imitate the most perfect entity you know of? What better way to die that doing what he would have done anyway, that is banish all heathens, unbelievers and kaffirs? It is not a huge leap of faith from where they already are. These are not ideas that people have developed out of thin air, there are in the very least a severe dislike for people of other religions and unbelievers in these three monotheistic ones. And if the non-believers are anyway going to be condemned by god, why not end their miserable lives early and protect the honour and integrity of my religion?
But the Hindu mythology is based on a pantheon of god each with his own characteristic nature, usually unpredictable ranging from the comic, tragic or violent or even ignorant and indifferent. There seems no singular ideal to strive for. But the hindu mythology has in its numerous wars and conflicts still the idea that war is glorious. There have been countless holy wars in the hindu mythology against what are called “rakshas”, or even the great epics Mahabharata or the Ramayana have a central war. It may not say that war is the duty of every hindu, Krishna did remind Arjun that it is his duty to wage war on his own family members and thousands of other people, when Arjun himself wasn’t sure if it was a good idea.
Here is a sense of misplaced duty and courage in battle and dying in battle. How come a demigod like Krishna who did in more than one occasions perform supernatural acts not do something along the lines to stop the war? The same is true for the gods and demigods in Ramayana who failed to protect their worlds from violence and in most cases were fuels to only more violence. In fictional myths like these, it provides an indication of hierarchy of duties, a duty to protect our beliefs and possessions even by violence supersedes any other duty that involves the avoidance of any violence at all. It is not easy to conceive of mighty pantheon of 33 millions gods that have not the faintest idea of diplomacy and negotiations.
Contrast this with religious ideas like Buddhism, and you see there is a clear difference in the way how things are perceived. Being devoid of and ideal being or entity, there is no need to imitate any ideals, and in the process people are forced to rationalize their own morals and ethics. And even though there might be beliefs that seem irrational, there is very little in Buddhism that might manifest itself into a violent action. It is very hard to recall a buddhist militant or an act of violence done in the name of buddhism, whereas one could easily name handful of violent acts committed in the name of islam in just past few months. The only reason i can see why history favours some religious ideas in this way is the way these ideas have been conceived and not how these ideas have been manipulated by people of malicious intent.
Moreover I find it almost absurd to lay blame on fellow humans who are all born more or less the same, none more distorted than the other. To condemn some people as just terrorists and to lift the blame from malicious ideas that lie within these archaic vitriolic beliefs systems seem unnecessarily cruel. The inspiration, the motivation all lie within these belief systems which have in them explicit passages of intolerance towards groups of people unlike the ones specifically preferred by specific gods.
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