March towards the post-religious society – the case of Norway Even Gran, Norwegian Humanist Association (NHA)

Development of secularism in Norway From monoculturalism to diversity.  A historical overview.

 
Norway has its base in a traditional, monocultural society with nearly only one ethnic group, one religion, and an economy reliant on fisheries and subsistence farming. Christianity has up to the present time been the single dominant community-buliding force. And that force hasn’t always been inclusive and tolerant. 

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News about Ghosts spread like wild fire

A major challenge to the efforts of
eradication of superstition!

Since the period of primitive life, human beings have been leading their lives with a sense of insecurity, as the culmination of their reluctance to think over the mysteries,  which remained unanswered around them. As rational thinking advanced , science got developed  and reasons were found out over such mysteries, they felt some sort of security. However the spirit of enquiry continues to remain stunted whatever be the educational background and the position, people assume. They simply become the subject of mental slavery without the application of mind. They are more concerned in justifying their opinion by merely shielding themselves in the name of ‘faith’. Prevalence of this sort of mentality in human beings is the breeding ground for the spread of superstition.

The observance according to one’s faith personally, even though it is meaningless, affects only that individual. The faith in superstition has got  societal bearing which is detrimental to the cause of the mankind and its peaceful living. In this context, the prevalence and practice of superstition must be eradicated in its entirety. Superstition of any degree that prevails in the society continues to remain as the stumbling block for human progress. It stretches back the people from the positive path – treading. Much of human time gets wasted, which could otherwise be deployed constructively.

Recently, ‘vampire is wandering in the villages’ – is the popular attention catching news in many vernacular print media in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu, India. The print media have not discharged their due social responsibility. The news spread like wild fire in many villages. The spread was restricted only to the  ‘villages’. If this stress on ‘villages’ is understood properly, then solution will be automatic.

The social relationship that exists in the society is in one way advantageous to the spread of superstition. Many people do not believe in ‘vampire’. But they have to remain as the one in the lot in the observance of protective measures from the so called deleterious effects of vampire. To the extent they are conscious about the humbug of ‘vampire’, they could not resist it and oppose the superstition from its further spread. The villagers belief falsely that by inscribing ‘trishul’ on the doors of household and writing as ‘Go back today! Come on tomorrow!’ will wean away the entry of vampire. What a fantastic deed twisted against to fortify their households from the so called attack of vampire!

The Rationalists’ Forum of Periyar Movement, an unequivocal social reform movement took earnest steps as  Fact Finding Mission, and visited the news inflicted villages. Invariably the functionaries of the Forum interacted with the villagers.

The appreciable and positive point observed out of the interaction is that no one was definitive about the prevalence of vampire. Individually, they are strong against such superstition. However they have to get along with the stream of fellow villagers. The inscriptions in the house  both ‘figurative’ and in ‘script’ are uniform with the  same style of font and colour. This itself is the  proof that the inscription was not made individually by  the inmates of the respective households but  by a team of trouble mongers and few people who do possess certain vested interests. The people in the house do not have the guts to oppose while inscribing or to  erase it afterwards. The lack of guts on the part of the villagers is not due to the ‘fear on vampire’. The reality is that they do not wish to antagonize the fellow villagers, despite its deception.

In another village visit, it came to light, that the gullible villagers have been stuck with the news of vampire in a different way. The milch animals and other livestock suffered immediate and sudden death due to some diseases, which could not be diagnosed till now by the veterinary experts. When the specimen of  the dead livestock were sent for laboratory investigation and further  study, the news was spread as if the death of the livestock was caused by the attack of the vampire. The remoteness of the geographical location of the village from the main stream,  was advantageous to the rumour mongers. The ignorant villagers who were at the heavy loss resulted due to the death of their livestock had to believe on the line of the spread of false news.

The social coherence and the ignorance that prevails in the villages is the major contributing factor for the perception and practice of superstitions like vampire, sorcery, black magic etc. Such sort of perception is not prevalent in urban areas where, the fore said elements are missing comparatively. Urbanization is welcome though not in the eradication of superstition fully but at least in ignoring the spread of news of superstition as wild fire.

Inculcation of rationality and enlightening the masses against the belief of  superstition is the ultimate agenda to be accomplished by any lover of mankind. Periyar Movement charted out a whirlwind propaganda tour to visit the villages on war footing to  wipe out the wild fire spread of vampire wandering in the illusion inflicted  villagers . This  rationalist propaganda was aimed at instilling the confidence in the minds of the villagers, instead of  being carried away by the false propaganda, made by the vested interests.

The  cunning inner plan of the gainers who  prescribe compensatory rituals to the innocent and ignorant masses were exposed. Questioning approach, inquiring mind which are unusual among the ignorant villagers got inculcated in their minds. For the time being some sort of relief from the superstitious mental make up have been carved out. Permanent solution lies in the sustained development of scientific temper, spirit of enquiry which are directed as the fundamental duty of the  citizen, enunciated in the Indian Constitution.

 Article 51 A (h) says,

‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India, to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’

Let us make the citizens duty bound fundamentally, in order to protect themselves,  enabling their escape from the mental enslavement due to superstition!

TERRORISM KNOWS NEITHER RELIGION NOR COLOUR

Look at the news item on 13-2-2012 (The Hindu). The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has held a Madhya Pradesh resident Kamal Chauhan on suspicion of having participated in the terrorist cell which carried out the attack on the Samjhauta Express the Lahore bound train on 12-02-2007, killing 68 people. “We believe Chauhan has critical information that could lead us to the rest of the plotters” an NIA official said.

Now who is this Kamal Chauhan? This Mhow-born Chauhan is a long-standing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist. He is only the second alleged perpetrator of the bombing to be held. Who is then the first one? Well. It is Lokesh Sharma an Indore-based Hindutva activist held in June 2010. The bombs,  the NIA now believes, were manufactured by fugitive Hindutva terrorist Sandeep Dange, an R.S.S. leader, who, investigators say, was the core figure in the planning of a series of Hindutva terrorirst attacks that began in 2002. Many of this gang are still at large.

The details available in this case unfold, a well organised network of conspiracy over a stretch of at least ten years. This is not, therefore, an isolated instance of an individual terrorist’s plot, but a well designed and deep rooted foundation of hatred, bias and fundamentalism. It is perhaps the strangest of ironies, that the activities of such hooligans go unchecked and have found  advocacy and patronage from many a half baked social philosophers and fanatics. The terrorism unleashed by the Hindutva fundamentalists is nothing less than that of Lakshar-e-Taiba.

Two major questions are faced by all those who still sincerely care for national harmony and peace. (1) What is the government at the Centre  doing to check and counter this menace? (2) How long will India and her fair-minded citizens putup with these atrocities?

The answers for these questions have to come from the responsible leaders and rulers of this country. The sooner they confront this evil, the better for Indian sovereignty and its security.

 

“I look forward to the death of religion” – Dawkins

Richard Dawkins – Scientist, bestselling author of “God Delusion” and the world’s foremost atheist blasted at the Jaipur Literataure Festival “lamentable disgrace” of Salma Rushdie’s enforced absence. He also launched into a broadside against the “virus of faith” and said he looked forward to the “complete death of organised religion” in his lifetime.

“Far too much sympathy is shown to people who claim to be motivated by religion – sympathy that would not be shown to people acting from mere prejudice. Continue reading