A Saturday morning pundit on National Public Radio said he thought the Mumbai terrorists who burned the Taj Mahal Hotel were just plain, old-fashioned evil people.
I believe they were not evil, but insane. I believe they were made insane by religion.
They were indoctrinated with the belief that their religion and their God are the one true religion and the one true God. This provides yet another excuse for people to feel superior and segregate themselves. As people segregate and some loose economic opportunity, resentment boils up, and it becomes all too easy to justify killing your “enemies” or “those infidels.”
I have a World War I German army belt buckle. On it is the comforting motto “Gott Mit Uns.” It means God is with us. German soldiers in WWII wore a belt buckle with the same motto. The Germans lost both wars, and the carnage was phenomenal.
Had the Mumbai terrorists studied modern science instead of religion, they would have gotten a very different view of the world. They would have seen the world as a smallish sphere with a thin envelope of atmosphere that is not only breathable, but also moderates our climate from the incredible cold of space. They would have learned of the 1968 photograph taken by astronauts as they orbited the moon. The lunar foreground is absolutely sterile and barren rock, and in the background, a luminous and beautiful Earth is surrounded by the blackness of space. All this is hurtling through the unimaginable vastness of space, surrounded by a billion or so galaxies comparable to our own Milky Way, each composed of billions of stars.
With that science-based view of our world, one might have a different view our fellow humans, and how precious is life and the planet that sustains us.
Some people say science is fine for explaining the natural world but it does not sustain the spirit. And without God to make everything right, we are just a biological accident and life would therefore have no meaning. I’ve never had a problem with Earth being out there in the blackness of space with no sign of heaven or a celestial kingdom. That’s just the way it is – period.
I believe that if people stopped believing in religious myth with a collective belief in a grand version of Santa Clause who makes a list of who’s naughty and nice, then we would be confronted with the reality that we and our fellow humans are all in this together. We might as well work on getting along. All of us are dependent on the viability of this incredibly wonderful hunk of rock and water on which we ride through space. Then we would truly value each other and learn that the true basis of morals is love of our fellows and the environment. There would be no place for the hatred and destruction of the insane terrorists of Mumbai.