BY Priyan Rajapaksa 

As Sri Lanka faces the prospect of imminent disintegration, shouldn’t we unite to fight the ideas that cause division? Tottering on a precipice in a fashion similar to the former Yugoslavia, we are about to fracture into many slivers of ethno-religious pockets.

But we could use the one common factor that everyone possesses – our minds – and follow the path of logic. Let us as rational human beings become the first among nations to dispose of gods, religions and afterlife theories.

This is a simple idea that’s applied  here in New Zealand where I live – a secular country that is burying religion as we speak; and where almost half the population has no religious affiliation, church attendance is declining and ‘church for sale’ on Google derives dozens of listings.

In their hour of need, Kiwis by and large turn away from gods to the welfare state. They only need to ask Work and Income New Zealand in their capacity as equals, and there’s no kowtowing required.

As a rationalist, I am against religion and the afterlife so my words are biased. The religious killings in Sri Lanka do not affect me physically. However, I’m distraught and suffer the wounds of my country of birth as do some of you.

Our leaders do not care; they think only of the next election and bulletproof limousines. Are their lives at risk? Hell, yes! That’s an occupational risk for which we pay them. Meanwhile, the clergy are stirring the pot and guarding their patch.

A non-believing mind has no space for supernatural entities. There are no gods above or demigods in parliament either. In the case of a believer, religious leaders control their minds, political leaders control their hearts and between the two conniving parties, they extract all that they can.

A believer’s remainder is in the plea ‘our daily bread’ (and pol sambola). In contrast, New Zealand’s welfare system provides a house and some other necessities.

If I pay a contractor for a job and they fail at it, I’d terminate the contract. There’s no fine print as in religious contracts where if one prays to a supernatural being, it undertakes to look after you.

Gods and religions demand absolute obedience. Shouldn’t we as rational humans demand reciprocity and absolute protection? When the gods fail, why do mortals have to bury body parts and rehabilitate those who aren’t transported to heaven?

On Easter Sunday, were the gods on sabbatical while their crazed hatchet men caused carnage? Was it a proxy crusade? Isn’t it time to fire the leaders, gods in the heavens and their henchmen on Earth? Removing the inspector general of police is a sop; let’s fire the big guns!

Methinks the gods were preparing for the G20 summit on 23 April. Perhaps G20 stands for  ‘Gods 20,’ as they seem to favour G20 and do not give a tinker’s cuss for third-rate countries other than to collect donations. We’re divided among ourselves and ripe for fanatical exploitation by politicians and religious leaders. We created and elected both; now it’s time to discard them.

The process I advocate is not a physical conflict but a pacifist movement – a personal transformation of our minds and selves, to bring peace and unity to the country. I suggest a mental transformation in the privacy of homes and the depths of our minds. We’re not born with religious chromosomes but brainwashed by religion and indoctrinated by elders.

I suggest a flush and detox. The monetary cost will be nil and the gain immediate. You’ll be free to donate to the needy rather than some corpulent clergy. We possess the weapon and means – with the weapon being knowledge and means being the internet. The battleground is our minds.

Knowledge delivery on the internet at five Mbps is faster than the speed of a cruise missile. All we need to do is read. We boast a 90 percent literacy rate. Now let’s test its efficacy.

Similar to how we do not use Wang computers, WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3 anymore, the myths of yesteryear don’t fit in with a multicultural society. Let’s read Galileo, Darwin and Einstein to understand the universe, evolution, relativity and dark matter.

When we have understood humanity’s progressive dispelling of prescientific theories, let’s look through the Hubble telescope and see a universe that continues to expand, and wasn’t created.

We created religion and gods when we started to bury our dead about 30,000 years ago. Since then, the gods and afterlife theories have been espoused, discarded and then recycled by the next attention seeker with the gift of the gab and audacity to say ‘follow me.’

Let’s consider the knowledge at hand to live this one and only life in peace, and stop martyring our countrymen, women and children in the search for an imaginary afterlife.

In the words of Yuval Noah Harari, “when a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion.”