What can you say about this statement: “Religion is Darkness”?  This comes from the character Mr. Kumar in the book and movie Life of Pi.  It turns out that Mr. Kumar is an atheist.


What I can say about this is that it is a meaningless statement. What does this atheist mean when he calls religion “darkness”? Does he mean physical darkness? If so, then this statement is meaningless. In what sense is religion physical darkness? Does he mean moral darkness? Again, if this is an atheist speaking, then his statement is also meaningless, because if everything is just molecules and atoms bumping into one another, then morality is a meaningless word, and so is moral darkness. In a universe of blind, random forces and collisions between atoms, then there is no objective morality and nothing to compare moral “darkness” to moral “light.” An honest atheist will admit that, according to his world view, there is no meaning to life and there is no objective right or wrong. There is no moral light or darkness.

Maybe what Mr. Kumar should be saying is something like this. I do not like religion. I find it to be repulsive. That would make sense. In this case, he is simply expressing his feeling about religion. We all have feelings, and this person has every right to express his  feelings, but it really does not carry a lot of authoritative weight.

Maybe what Kumar could say is that in history, many people have done ethically reprehensible acts in the name of religion. Religion has been used as an excuse or cover for some very reprehensible behavior. I can agree with this statement. It is a fact that bad people have used religion as an excuse for bad behavior. In this case, the Christian religion is not the problem. It is the abuse of Christianity which is in play. Jesus certainly would not have condoned things such as the Crusades or the Inquisition. That is for sure!

On the other hand, without religion, we would not even know what was right and what was wrong behavior. At least we can say that when a Christian commits a violent act, lies or steals (or goes on a Crusade or commits the heinous acts done by the Inquisition), we can say for sure this violates the moral belief of the Christian. When an atheist does what the Christian would consider evil, what standard is there to decide if the act is evil?  Is stealing darkness?  Based on what “truth” of atheism is it darkness?  If we accept atheism, then all objective right and wrong–all morality disappears. I would not want to live in this kind of world. We have had a small number of societies choose, overtly, to live according to a system which denies God. Those experiments include Red China, Soviet Russia, Revolutionary France, North Korea, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge and a couple of others. The results of the experiments to develop societies devoid of religion speaks for itself. Mankind without religion is in a world of hurt, and the data confirms this.

The statement “Religion is darkness” is meaningless. The statement “I do not like religion” is a fair statement, but I, personally, would not choose to live in a world which does not acknowledge moral absolutes.

John Oakes

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