I do not permit women to teach or have authority over men; she must be silent. 1 Timothy 2:12
Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” Qu’ran 8:12
To become clean after killing an unchaste woman of any of the four classes, a man should give a Brahmin a leather bag (for killing a Brahmin woman), a bow (for killing a Kshatriya woman), a billy goat (for killing a Vaishya woman), or a sheep (for a Shudra woman). Manu’s Dharma-shastra 11.132, 137, 139
These are just few of the many examples found in the scriptures of various religions. Can someone, with a sane mind, seriously believe in the literal truth or derive morals from these verses? The scriptures are filled with such contradictory, ghastly and outright immoral statements. So how do one explain and believe in the veracity of the holy books?
Not surprisingly, the religious mind has found a way out. When a passage or verse in the scriptures doesn’t make sense any more (after genuine inquiry, or a scientific rebuttal, for instance), these moderate theologians would say “Oh, we don’t actually believe in its literal truth. It is symbolic. An allegory.” And beliefs such as “God made the universe in six days” or “Mohammed ascended bodily into heaven” are suddenly transformed into emblems of divinity. Other times, they would cling dearly to beliefs like “Jesus was born of a virgin” and “The human soul survives bodily death” because, although they defy common sense and logic, science hasn’t found any strong evidence to disprove them yet (or can never disprove them, given the nature of the belief or the times of its occurrence).
But such compromises (“It’s symbolic!”) or stubbornness (“Science hasn’t disproved this yet, so it must be true.”) conveniently ignore the fact that such scriptural claims were taken literally and believed firmly by our ancestors for centuries! So what makes them think that the religious beliefs that they hold so dearly today will stand the test of time (and science)?
What they can’t, or perhaps don’t want to, see is that science has been steadily reducing the sphere of religious beliefs and claims. It was science that showed us that the Earth is not the center of the universe (contrary what the Scriptures say). It was science that enlightened us with the amazing simplicity of evolution that explains the complexity of life on earth. It is generally accepted now that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old — not 6,000 years as the Bible claims (or, as Sam Harris wittily put it: “About 1,000 years after the Sumerians invented glue.”)
Yes, science has not yet explained everything, and one can argue whether science can explain everything. But only a duplicitous or disillusioned person will deny the fact that scientific discoveries, along with a raised conciseness of human beings over the centuries, has been consistently reducing the role of religion in our lives.
The progress in our moral instincts have taught us that we shouldn’t treat women as livestock or take slavery for granted (as the Bible often did). The abolition of slavery and emancipation of women owes everything to the changing moral zeitgeist, and nothing to the religious beliefs. We have moved on from the primordial laws of the scriptures that approved of – and even propagated – things like slavery, caste system, and polygamy.
Why don’t we realize and accept the fact that we have been adjusting and repudiating our religious beliefs to accommodate scientific discoveries and moral zeitgeist for centuries now? And if we do, then why not just stop this charade once and for all, and embrace rationalism (i.e. science)? Why can’t we shake off the religious dogmatism that’s obstructing our moral and rational progress?