There is no royal road to science and only those who do not dread of its fatiguing climb have a chance of gaining its luminuos summits.
-Karl Marx

Apr 18, 2010

The Science of Religion

“Religion is the general theory of the world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in a popular form” Marx. And this statement explains the essence of religion, the general theory constructed by man of his world. The religion exists as the sum of all social relations constructed by man, his expression of social consciousness, although an inverted one. Inverted, because it is not the true expression but an unclear and subjugated consciousness of man who fails to understand his own society.
Today we live in profit motivated capitalist system. The era of capitalism converts everything into commodities, weighs everything, mind you here "thing" refers to human emotions and even humans also, in money. The religion thus is also forged through power of capital. The various godmen today compete each other in promising “sinners” to repent and give peace of mind. Everyone has his own technique; some do yoga, some develop way of living and some do not even wear clothes. Their growth in India has been astronomical both in numbers and their accounts. The long hands of law fall short as they fund various political parties. Although this is the “shining” face of religion but its other face, is its salability in politics. Religion exists as an instrument which political parties use to expand their vote bank; some use Hindu card, some Muslim and some use Dalit card and even many fundamentalist terrorists also find the support and justification through religion. Babri mosque demolition, Mumbai 1992 riots, Gujarat massacre all represent the violence and destruction which in the name of religion have been instigated on us. Religion justifies the violence and inhuman activities in favor of the governing power.
The religion has evolved with the evolution of economic relations among humans. What we see today is evolved product of history. Considering the length of our article we will try to see how it originated in order to discuss its current state and with some certainty its future.
“Religion exists as sum of human beliefs and actions, and beliefs held by the real individuals acting in a real society”- Caudwell. Thus its evolution and origin lies in evolution of man and his social relations. In the primitive society man with his understanding of external world constructed some common beliefs, rituals to express them and all this we define as magic. Ritual dance, gait or appearances of animals, imitations of sounds of rains, actions of sowing were performed; he projects his feelings into outer reality. Cause and effects were interpreted in reverse. But magic helped him gain some knowledge of nature like rains were asked for only in rainy season. This was the first attempt to understand and control the nature, although feeble and very unclear. It thus reflects the social consciousness of primitive man in relation to nature. Magic is thus parent of science. With development of science and the art it becomes unnecessary and dissolves from the picture to the background existing still in fairy tales with us. On the other hand the understanding of the social relations got further intricate. With division of labor which is caused by development of production forces, magic shows an organization, coherence, a tough visible structure as the economic production develops and evolves to take the form of religion. With division of labor, classes arise and thus arises exploitation of one by another. This division is hierarchic in nature. Chief, headman, director of labors, priests, warriors and godking arise with latter at the apex of the pyramid. The confused perception of these social relations, of hierarchy of classes, of individuals makes them external and divine. The “gods” either dwelled in through priest or had incarnation in the godking. The exact architecture of the pyramid depends on economic production level, which in turn depends on the topography of area, its history and most importantly on the internal forces of society. These factors decide society to be monotheist or polytheist in faith. This particular topic asks for another descriptive article and considering our subject of discussion we avoid going into further detail.
In the beginning of history it was the forces of nature that dominated man, and in course of further evolution they underwent most manifold and varied personifications among the various peoples. Even in the existing society man is dominated by means of production which he himself has produced, and then the production relations which stem from it, as if they are extraneous force. The economic system we live today in is capitalism. The profit motivated system. It lives on the wage labors. On their poverty, unemployment, and their starvation. Religion has its deepest roots in “… oppression of the working masses and their apparently complete helplessness in face of the blinding force of the capital, which every day and every hour inflicts upon ordinary working people the most horrible suffering and the most savage torment, a thousand times more severe than those inflicted by extraordinary events, sudden wars, earthquakes . “Fear created the gods”. Fear of blinding forces of capital….” Lenin explains. The fear is irrigated by the uncertain nature of capital, the fear is not only in labor class and peasants but even the middle man, big capitalists and landlords; all are under the danger of being displaced in this cut-throat competent market.
During fall of feudalism and victory of capitalism science propelled the struggle against religious authority of church and the moral justification given to the feudal system. The atheistic movement broke out in the Europe. Renaissance and Enlightenment cleared mists of religion from common masses, people rose up and called for every theory to be tested on litmus of reason and if a theory, through its propagators, failed to do so it was criticized and changed. In India never was there any Renaissance or Enlightenment and the extent of the dogmatism, religious, orthodox views have very deep roots in society. The society that came out of womb of colonization had lost its heritage of proud past. It was product of 200 years of slavery and the culture which it had was full of dogmas and orthodox views. Today everywhere religious shackles enslave the individual’s freedom. Superstitions, honor killings and infanticide exist in one of fastest growing economy of the world. The science we have today is what developed after capitalism got established in western countries. In Europe, Capital after defeat of feudalism forcefully dragged the religion and science out of the contradictions and fuelled them to strengthen self. Scientific attitude was sucked out of common man’s mind and was limited to classrooms, labs and books whereas the religion was again filled in to obscure the authority of the ruling class. In India never the science was common dose of a common man, the capital had to do no struggle in resolving cultural struggles against religion. Here it stood victorious, ready to serve capital.

The Science today only dwells into producing items of luxury for few plunders. Scientists today have excess to computers; have unprecedented facilities where all information is only a click away, whereas the 3/4th of population lives in poverty. On one side scientists are reaching out to find the basis of diseases by complete mapping of human gene, on the other side in Asia, Africa and Latin America every year millions of children die because of ordinary diseases whose cures were found a century ago. One side man is searching for signs of water on moon while on the other side in metros like Delhi and Mumbai millions of people are forced to drink polluted diseased water. Science which became harbinger of European revolution has now just become appendage to bourgeoisie (capitalist) economic political science and an instrument to install war toys for imperialist countries. In India it was appendage only. To take back again the science to people, to cut down the inverted consciousness of religion we need to revive the culture through social acts. “Mere knowledge, even if went much further and deeper than that of bourgeoisie economic science, is not enough to bring social forces under the control of society. What is above all necessary for this is a social act” Engels. The social act which Engels refers today will be through new series of cultural and political revolutions, of proletarian Renaissance and Enlightenment, revolutions of the working mass, of the majority of population. Religious mist will then be cleared as every social relation will be organized and then we will not need fetishisms to worship our fears.