Some cocktails just don’t cut it

Dear Darth Vaadhiar,

I am a fan of cocktails, and in the past, have experimented with some fairly interesting concoctions, and had it not been for my aversion towards all forms of intellectual property protection mechanisms, I would most certainly have patented my original creations. For instance,

  • Anthim Sanskaar – Beer, Mango pickle and Vodka shaken while Nirvikalpa’s Anthim Sanskaar plays in the background.
  • Raam Naam Sathya hai – Bacardi, Sprite, Passion fruit juice and 2 mysterious ingredients (determined by closing ones eyes and picking 2 random liquids from the fridge)
  • Kovil Theertham – Vodka, Sprite, Spinach juice and Vibhuti

were some of my popular creations a few years back. But, while these unseemly mixtures might make you pause for breath (no offense meant), I would like to lodge a formal protest at the unholy cocktail you and your gang have been peddling for quite a while now. I can tolerate vodka with Nannari Sharbat, Bacardi with Paanagam and Whisky with Rasna, but Religion with Science?

No way.

They don’t mix. Not even when you stir, shake, blend or make them collide here. So when you start bolstering religious superstition (like Vaastu, Astrology, Numerology, Gemmology and assorted Homams for getting US Visas) with pseudo-scientific jargon (such as radiation from Saturn, astral alignment, Cosmic vibrations, crystal vibrations and positive energy), you are doing not just grave, but electric cemetery disservice to science. Let me explain.

For the sake of clarity, religion here is referred to in terms of its visible effects on culture (superstition, ignorance, violence, caste), and not what it was meant to be ( Upanishadic wisdom, Kabbala or Sufi mysticism)

All religions went through the following three phases

1. There ain’t no science, so I am the boss. Believe in me or I shall poke you with sharp objects. Till you say “Ouch”.
2. Science, wtf? It can’t explain the true nature of the universe.
3. Damn it I’m losing revenue. People seem to be trusting science more now. So let’s co-opt it, and rebrand our offerings.

It’s phase 3 that I have a problem with. The expression “scientifically proven” is not something one can use lightly. Let me give you some specific examples

1. Mahabharatha and Advanced Nuclear Warfare – I love that epic, and to many people in this country, it is a religious artifact that is worshipped. But please, stop hinting that the Brahmastra was actually a nuclear weapon. It is embarrassing. There is a lot of history Indians can be proud of, the magnificent art, the beautiful music and the creative poetry and prose, and even the “zero”, but we did not invent nuclear bombs. So when you say that “It has now been scientifically proven that nuclear bombs were used at Kurukshetra”, you are actually saying that some accredited scientists found physical proof (such as radiation levels in that area, design blueprints for the Brahmastra, human remains that suggest effects of radiation, or Krishna’s personal, hand-held, wifi-enabled Geiger counter) and published these findings in a peer-reviewed journal. The last time I searched Nature.com for “Brahmastra nuclear missile“, I found zero results.

2. Astrology and “Radiation from planets” – I am fine with the hobby of Astrology as long as it remains a hobby and does not mess with people’s lives. But unfortunately it does, and what bothers me is the increasing throwing around of astronomical terms to “justify” astrology. The planet Saturn is (at the minimum) 1.2 billion km from earth, and as a source of “radiation”, I suspect we get more radiation from our television sets than from this ringed gas giant. Here is a list of known “radiation” sources on earth, so I propose that you alter the structure of horoscopes to include these “scientific” facts.

I currently suffer from the malefic influence of 7 and a half-year TV, and had cosmic background radiation been exalted in Aquarius, mine would have been a raja-yoga horoscope.

3. Eclipses and “Atmospheric Pollution” – Fasting in general is a bad idea. Fasting on days of eclipses is therefore also a bad idea. A renowned Sanskrit (not Science) scholar once claimed, that “scientifically speaking”, a solar eclipse results in a polluted atmosphere, and therefore people must fast. If atmospheric pollution was enough cause for skipping food, we would all have starved to death by now. In any case, how does the sun “clean” the atmosphere? I can understand that the moon can (because it causes Tide, which in turn is a detergent).

You get my point? If you have to use science to sell your ideas, you have to be ready to subject them to real scientific scrutiny. Until that happens, please do not mix methyl-alcohol laced religious bootleg sarakku with scientific champagne.

ps: Darth Vaadhiar is a caricature, and therefore, really a straw-man. Readers are requested not to consider this a well-informed tirade against religion.

98 Comments

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  1. Religion and science never mix. In the event its tried, it leaves a case of indigestion.
    Then whats your take on the “Ramsethu” issue…??
    Holding it back for environmental/security issues is acceptable, but what about the religious angle attributed to it…??

  2. Well said Ashok. Me and my friends were in fact having an argument about the eclipse fasting thing few days back. I can now forward this post. 🙂

  3. “Moon effect” was a good one (though it took me few seconds to click) 🙂

    What sellers of these “poor cocktails” don’t understand is that “The day science justifies religion/existence of god is the day when people stop needing religion/god.” (read in Angels and Demons).
    Then science itself becomes The God 🙂

  4. Ashok,
    Another fan of yours.
    Enjoyed as usual.
    But somehow found the “Anthim Sanskaar” etc . too forced. As if Just to prove your disregard of religion. Which is absolutely fine.

    I wonder why atheists have to continously mock Religion. Of course a lot of them are genuinely funny. But is it just my ignorance that I’ve very rarely come across blogs that mock aethism( the form that BELIEVES in the non-existence of Gods..only Hindu i.e. ). Or is it that they don’t need to…Or may they can’t .
    Hail Atheism ..the new opium of the Masses..

    And also, disclaimers with a tirade is an equally bad mixture…I think…but in line with your everlasting passion of “Mixing things that don’t mix”
    Ashok: Of course, Anthim Sanskar is just a fun metal song, by an amateur solo artist, very catchy riff though. The song itself had nothing to do with religion or my views on it

  5. @Ashok

    And the etc…??
    Ashok: Had to think of a reasonable reply 🙂 Well, here it is. Actually, everything is mockable, starting from oneself, so I dont think religion deserves any special respect. In fact, the whole “dont-make-of-religion-cos-its-sacred” tends to make it more of a target in an era where its relevance to day-to-day life is growing tenuous by the day.

    The disclaimer at the end was added because of my past experience with this topic. Darth Vaadhiar is a caricature of the typical holier-than-thou, conservative, religious, intolerant Indian, and not “the symbol” of all religion. But characters like him are common enough to give religion a bad name 🙂

  6. I have a different opinion regarding Astrology.
    Here it goes…

    Astrology, gemmology, numerology and the numerous other ologies may not have any scientific evidence as to how they actually work. But that doesn’t mean that they do not serve any purpose. They are keys that we have received from our past. Unfortunately, we neither know what locks they open and what secrets they uncover. We must never undermine the intelligence of our ancestors.

    It is important to understand why a person goes to an astrologer in the first place… Obviously, he’s not happy with the way things are going on in his life. In spite of his best efforts, nothing has worked out. So, he goes to an Astrologer with the hope that something will click and he lives a happier life.

    He may attribute his problems to somebody who fucked up his life… could be his wife or father or friend or just about anyone. Now, the Astrologer tells him that it’s not because of all that, it’s because of a particular star in a particular position at a particular time which is causing all these problems in his life. Our man now feels good that it’s because of some fucking star that fucked up his life, and not his wife. Now, there’s no point in getting angry or jealous at a star. It’s inanimate.

    Then, the Astrologer goes on to say, “If you go to this temple and do this puja, everything will become alright.” And our man, faithfully obeys him and does all that crap. Finally, it will turn out that his problems are getting solved and he’ll recommend this Astrologer to his friends and relatives.

    This way of solving problems can be generalized to suit the other ologies.

    Rule 1: All the problems in your life is because of XYZ.
    Rule 2: You do ABC and everything will become alright.

    Rule1 helps that person to not put the blame on any fellow human being and incur his wrath.
    Rule2 gives the man hope that what he’s undergoing is just a passing phase and there are better times awaiting him.

    Astrology really works!!! 🙂

  7. pushpa x ray center…lol
    the best part is when people explain births like pandavas and kauravas as IVF… 😐 romba advanced civilization tha apna!!!

  8. Well written…and let me say I couldn’t agree with you more 🙂

    Pushpa X-ray centre had me ROTFL.

    @Arun: I really couldn’t see how astrology solved the problem in your example. Astrology works….only for the astrologer. And deluding oneself is not a solution to any problem.

  9. My mum once made a 5-foot long bar of iron stand upright in a bucket of water without any support during a full lunar eclipse. She is by no way religious or ritualistic, and I am a practicing atheist, when my mum tells me to stay away from food during an eclipse, I think of that pestle and listen to her!

    That said, I recently became a self certified ‘spirit finder’ by replicating the camphor-swirling-in-the-water trick used to ferret out ‘restless spirits’. Must try and demystify the pestle-in-the-water trick, if only I can stay up long enough to watch a lunar eclipse!

  10. @ Ashok

    Got the answer to :why atheists have to continously mock Religion? ( I do enjoy it when its FUNNY, which you manage effortlessly(???))
    Your argument is pretty much similar to my justification of mocking Vijay/Ajith/Srk fans, on PROVOCATION.

    But still my curiosity on not mocking Aethism or what I’d like to call pseudo-aethism persists.
    This is just an observation and not a rant. If it looks like the latter, please treat the previous line as disclaimer.

    Ashok: In fact I would disagree on the notion of atheists not being mocked. At least in the US, atheists tend to be completely mistrusted and frequently mocked on TV. I guess in India, we have not reached even that sort of maturity where atheism is considered to be a valid viewpoint, this despite Hinduism’s rich history of tolerating multiple beliefs, including the Charvaka school of thought, which is pretty atheistic in its own way. This coupled with a very strong “Elders are always right” social norm generally creates an unquestioning, undoubting, no-jokes-about-god type culture, which I think needs some poking at.

    The other argument I would make is that it takes a lot of arcane knowledge of religion to actually mock atheism. I would go so much as to say that it’s hard to mock atheism because it tends to be grounded in known facts as opposed to heavenly speculation. This is not to say that atheism is some sort of a superior “cult” because that would defeat the very purpose of the whole thing. The point is that it would take an extremely well-versed person of religion to mock (funnily) even an average atheist. That’s why I suspect there isn’t much atheism mocking. The overall problem with faith is that the burden of proof is on the believer, and that is not an easy position to be in.

    That said, the Dravida movement style of atheism has been pretty well mocked by most Tambrahm commentators over the last 40 years, but even there, I mostly see a pattern of ad hominem attacks against Periyaar or MK, something that is very easy to do because like most politicians, they had a lot of character flaws, and to mock their methods (such as the public breaking of idols) again does not constitute a mocking of atheism itself.

    But I think somebody needs to start mocking atheism properly. Atheists deserve it 🙂

  11. please do not mix methyl-alcohol laced religious bootleg sarakku with scientific champagne.

    full lol moment! the PS was to avoid another flame war like the punju episode huh? Krishashok avaidin kaantravarsy!

  12. You know, Paanagam and whisky does not sound half bad. 🙂

    My mind is swirling with cocktail ideas for mixing neer more, nellika juice and jagermeister.
    Ashok: Nellika juice and Jagermeister sounds totally gilbhajak.

  13. i can’t understand why you gave these scientific religionists enough sanction to even call em moonshine. what you have dealt with is not the problem itself but the effects. the very fact that these people mint wads of money should give you a clue. even educated people, like my mom for instance, regularly cite josiyam as a reason for any unfortunate turn of events in life.

    the origin of this is obviously an attempt to hold on to their beliefs in the face of conflicting evidence. thats actually how even science works. new evidence is adjusted into existing models. but the difference is, no one holds these models as fact. they are willing to discard older models in light of new contrary evidence. this is not true with religion, partly because it is somewhat less verifiable.

    most people have their own interpretations of religion anyway to suit the world we live in. most youngsters, when asked whether they believe in god tend to give answers like :- “I believe there is some sort of higher force which I choose to call God”. Even KamalaGASan can’t be more politically correct.

    and, one mainstream religion which does not conflict any current scientific evidence significantly is however, budhism.

    I also wonder if you would have sufficient conviction to tackle the very religious among the scientist community who too tend to balance such scientific and religious principles? Don’t they somehow seem more authoritative despite talking the same b.s.?

  14. Laugh Laugh came for “Pushpa X-Ray Centre”. Also, is your special cocktail licensed to any local wine shop like “Om Shakthi Wines” (There is one is besant nagar I think, just some general Knowledge!!!).

  15. Couldn’t help laughing thinking about how friends at work refused to eat before going home and doing thalai bathings. The positive side being it was a Friday and I got an extra large helping of the cake that was cut at 4 🙂 . Yay religion .

  16. Love your writing, You could include cell phone radiation in your astro-charts.
    Ashok: Good point. Done. Thanks 🙂

  17. philip, deluding yourself does work. See placebo. I liked Arun’s explanation of why we could continue to tolerate astrology in spite of it being complete bullshit.
    Ashok: I don’t think a placebo is the right analogy. There is a difference between using a known mind-body phenomenon to help solve medical conditions and giving people false hope

  18. There were some logical, if not scientific, explanations for things like suthardhu (I don’t remember what it’s called!) before food, pathu and the likes. I think they are excused because they make sense. And they don’t really concern religion.

  19. Have you read the book “A certain ambiguity”? It is a novel based on mathematics, and touches on religion and science. Do check it out.

  20. hey…i grew up with religion…became an atheist..than an agnostic..now i am willing to consider religion as a social construct and a mind hack. there are exaggerations everywhere..but from my personal point of view, currently i enjoy reading the upanishads and vedas(learning sanskrit finally!) and i find the ideas in it rather trippy sometimes. mindblowing, in fact..cant help but wonder if those who wrote it was smoking something really good…that opened doors of perception etc.

    as long as people keep religion personal, i think it is strikingly powerful…when it becomes a tool to form social groups and cohesion, it becomes a different animal.

    recently stumbled upon your blog….had to comment on this semi-serious subject..find you hilarious, otherwise…cheers!

  21. “pseudo-scientific jargon (such as radiation from Saturn, astral alignment, Cosmic vibrations, crystal vibrations and positive energy), ”

    Ma man mahinder does not understand when u f*&^ers say stuff like ” positive and negative energy”. Energy is a f%^& scalar.

    “All your weight
    It falls on me
    It brings me down” – Collective Soul

  22. 1. I enjoyed your cocktail recipes. The inedible ingredients, especially, lend them a synesthetic quality. Have you seen ‘A bit of Fry and Laurie’? If not, youtube them for some more recipe ideas!

    2. Recently, I saw a poster in a trendy oluthuone that said “Jagermeister is our house wine”.

    3. How come you did not attack psychotherapy? Most psychotherapy is based on Freudian or Jungian ideas of how the mind works, all of which are speculative. The only justification offered is a positive correlation between treatment and perceived success, i.e. there is no causal explanation for the reason it succeeds. How is this different from astrology? (correct me if I’m overlooking something, or refer me to a therapist!)

    4. Southpark attacks atheism. They caricature Richard Dawkins who’s atheistic propaganda leads to warring clans of organized atheists. One doesn’t need to be well read in religion to recognize that organized atheism is no different from organized religion 🙂

    5. Very original blog. Thanks! I have been visiting often, and will keep doing so.

  23. fasting is not a bad idea. its good for health, and has its benefits. lots of doctors, dieticians, yoga teachers do recommend fasting.

    i do not believe in fasting on eclipse days. also, fasting to lose weight is a bad idea though.

    religions were born to teach the way of life. the followers and preachers screwed it up.

    humourous blog. the rasi-kattangal was a masterpiece. 🙂

  24. I agree with Current. Fasting in general is not a bad idea.

    I have one curious question though. If Moon can have an effect on the ocean and create tides, can it not have effects on our body fluid? I have heard from my colleague who once worked in health care that they usually get a lot of patients/pregnant woman delivering/drunk people during full moon day.

  25. saami,budham,boochandi ellam iruku na irukku..illaina ila.Atheism,communism,Freesoftware movement ellam solli puriyavekka mudiyadhu !!….Adhu ellam oru feeling !!!!

  26. LOL.

    Damn it I’m losing revenue. People seem to be trusting science more now. So let’s co-opt it, and rebrand our offerings.”

    Is that why a ‘Visa Anjaneyar” temple has sprouted in Chennai? Great business model – building on existing proven product, assured customer base, unmet need, steady revenue stream, break even on day one…it’s all there. If Anjaneyar can’t get you a US visa, who can?

  27. Dear Ashok, my two cents:

    Ashok: In fact I would disagree on the notion of atheists not being mocked. At least in the US, atheists tend to be completely mistrusted and frequently mocked on TV.

    I do not see this at all, especially in American TV… even Bill O’Reilly on a right-wing channel such as the Fox News gave a very honorable treatment to Richard Dawkins. You can see it here, if you feel you can stand O’Reilly for 4 mins and 50 sec:

    Compare this with the the current Pope, who was mocked at by Bill Maher on HBO as a ‘Nazi’ and a ‘cult leader’. Now, can you give me a single instance (like a video link) where an Atheist is mocked at and ridiculed to this extent by a TV host?

    Hinduism’s rich history of tolerating multiple beliefs, including the Charvaka school of thought, which is pretty atheistic in its own way.

    Sure, but the context in which you use ‘Hinduism’ here is vague and a little loose. The Charvaka system, to my knowledge, died a natural death at the advent of Vedanta and later the Bhakti movement. To me, Hinduism is Vedanta-based religion, rooted in the Upanishads and the Gita. Unlike the amorphous, nameless, faceless, “all-encompassing” system that some people would want it to be, it is a very well-defined and unambiguous belief system. All that people like me would want to do is to make a good, convincing case for the Vedanta-based value system to be a guideline for the modern Indian society. I have the liberty, like everyone else, to debate with competing views. I do not have to hold everything that goes under the name of Hinduism to be ‘equally valid’. Giants like Adi Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhavacharya did argue against other competing philosophies and did win over a number of followers as a result.

    This coupled with a very strong “Elders are always right” social norm generally creates an unquestioning, undoubting, no-jokes-about-god type culture, which I think needs some poking at.

    Ashok, questioning a value-system is never the issue. Defiance and lack of regard for the same is. Yes, we hold ‘respecting the wisdom of elders’ as an important vehicle for our value-system. But we get this value-systems from our primary scriptures which do warn against blindly following elders without consulting scriptural authority. Again, questioning your elders is not a problem, defiance is – you can question someone’s belief in a civil and honorable way while still respecting them. I should add that the issue that we take with mocking God and debunking religious figures is that doing so might leave our future generations with nothing concrete to stand for. Religious figures and symbols are time-tested, effective vehicles of the value-system that I was raised in. Having said that, I also do not want anybody to be censored.

    I would go so much as to say that it’s hard to mock atheism because it tends to be grounded in known facts as opposed to heavenly speculation.

    I beg to disagree. Scientific knowledge alone, is grounded in known facts. Questions about the existence of God, by definition, is unscientific. Hence, both atheism and religion ARE based on a speculation about the hereafter.

    The overall problem with faith is that the burden of proof is on the believer, and that is not an easy position to be in.

    No, a belief in God is a belief, period. It need not be supported by any kind of an empirical/theoretical proof. Nor should religious people claim that the existence of God can be proven scientifically. The relevant issue is, what kind of a society does any given value-system create, whether it is good or bad for civilization.

    To conclude, I do agree with everything that was said in the original blog post. I am responding to the specific comments that you made to a fellow netizen. It is my sincere belief that it is much more productive, together as believers and non-believers, to deal directly with relevant issues like the caste system, bad treatment of widows/women, widow remarriage, etc. By just mocking God, you would just be making Daarth Vaathiyars curse ‘abhishTu, abhishTu’, and they won’t change.

  28. @ Gandharva:

    Superb, that. I was hoping someone would say what you did. Especially ” both atheism and religion ARE based on a speculation about the hereafter.”

  29. @ Gandharva:
    Agree wid a lot of what you said.
    and //our primary scriptures which do warn against blindly following elders without consulting scriptural authority//
    I read a quote similar to this. The crux of it was something like : “Ridiculing ALL that our elders have said is as foolish as believing in ALL that they said.”

    @Ashok
    Thanks for the elaborate reply.
    I forgot to mention that my comments were very India specific. Not travelled or read as much as you have.
    //I guess in India, we have not reached even that sort of maturity where atheism is considered to be a valid viewpoint//
    I feel, its the other way round. Is it without considering atheism a valid viewpoint, that the Dravidian “movement” leaders, the Communists(of course ..all pseudos) have been given power to rule over a large number of theists. I agree that this was not the agenda that brought them to power. But neither was it hidden. And the fact that they were still accepted by theists is proof enough of the “maturity “. I suppose. Coming to the maturity of the “atheists”, why don’t they demand for a option of atheist while declaring your religion. With the number of religions in India I don’t think that adding another “option” would increase the complexities. I’m not sure if such a demand was raised. (ignorance, again). But I’m sure there wouldn’t be many takers for it, as that would mean losing out on the “reserved” seats. (excluding those who don’t benefit..rather already stand to lose by reservation in the current system).

    //The overall problem with faith is that the burden of proof is on the believer, and that is not an easy position to be in.//
    Totally depends on the believer. If its the “mythology” that he/she WANTS to believe, then proof is what they search for. If its the values I want to believe in, I need no proof. All I need is the “maturity” to understand the rationale and the conviction to follow it. And I believe there are much more who gather proof to refute “mythology” than those who search to prove it.

    //The pattern … character flaws//
    I suspect it was a more civilised form of their own “methods”. Character flaws??? I hope you are not referring to their application of atheism to Hinduism alone.

    There could be a numerous flaws in religion. But I never knew that the to kill a disease, you need to kill the victim. And what the dravidian movement has done is to treat Cancer with Human immunodeficiency virus.

  30. I love it I love it I Lurrrrrrvve wonly it

    As a practicing, confirmed, baptised and dyed in the wool atheist I zimbly have to heart this.

    And this in spite of three numbers mobile devices in NE corner, SW area and East-South-East yeddams.

    My Bible du jour is the delightfully light The da Vinci Code.It’s my crucifix that I like to throw at the born-again side on the (distant, abdeenaaka the relatives I like to keep very very distant…) distant side of La Familia

  31. @gandharva:
    Your reply posts new questions.

    “Ashok, questioning a value-system is never the issue. Defiance and lack of regard for the same is.”
    For atheists (not exactly for myself), the main problem is how they can give regard to something they consider ignorant. Why don’t you regard highly the people ashok described? Why is their belief system ignorant while yours is not? It’s got to do with judgement. Atheists judge theism to be ignorant.

    “both atheism and religion ARE based on a speculation”
    i agree with ashok that the onus is on the believer. atheists do not rule out the existence of God exactly. they only claim it is impossible to conclude in the current face of evidence. while theists are the ones who make the claim that god exists. it is up to them to prove it is not speculation.

    “a belief in God is a belief, period. It need not be supported by any kind of an empirical/theoretical proof.”
    that is called mooda nambikkai. people are perfectly free to continue having mooda nambikkais while it does not bother others significantly. but the fact remains such beliefs are dead ends which do not provide answers. you should ideally be constantly revising your opinions based on your experiences and not steadfastly hold on any conclusions you arrive at without adjusting to what you see around you. anyway, you seem to be contradicting yourself when you say you appreciate ashok’s post. after all, the people described above also have only their own beliefs.

  32. Ashok,
    Any specific reason for my comment still awaiting “Moderation”?? Did my comments offend you?
    I’m sorry if I did. But I still stand by them.

    @ Gandharva:
    Agree wid a lot of what you said.
    and //our primary scriptures which do warn against blindly following elders without consulting scriptural authority//
    I read a quote similar to this. The crux of it was something like : “Ridiculing ALL that our elders have said is as foolish as believing in ALL that they said.”

    @Ashok
    Thanks for the elaborate reply.
    I forgot to mention that my comments were very India specific. Not travelled or read as much as you have.
    //I guess in India, we have not reached even that sort of maturity where atheism is considered to be a valid viewpoint//
    I feel, its the other way round. Is it without considering atheism a valid viewpoint, that the Dravidian “movement” leaders, the Communists(of course ..all pseudos) have been given power to rule over a large number of theists. I agree that this was not the agenda that brought them to power. But neither was it hidden. And the fact that they were still accepted by theists is proof enough of the “maturity “. I suppose. Coming to the maturity of the “atheists”, why don’t they demand for a option of atheist while declaring your religion. With the number of religions in India I don’t think that adding another “option” would increase the complexities. I’m not sure if such a demand was raised. (ignorance, again). But I’m sure there wouldn’t be many takers for it, as that would mean losing out on the “reserved” seats. (excluding those who don’t benefit..rather already stand to lose by reservation in the current system).

    //The overall problem with faith is that the burden of proof is on the believer, and that is not an easy position to be in.//
    Totally depends on the believer. If its the “mythology” that he/she WANTS to believe, then proof is what they search for. If its the values I want to believe in, I need no proof. All I need is the “maturity” to understand the rationale and the conviction to follow it. And I believe there are much more who gather proof to refute “mythology” than those who search to prove it.

    //The pattern … character flaws//
    I suspect it was a more civilised form of their own “methods”. Character flaws??? I hope you are not referring to their application of atheism to Hinduism alone.

    There could be a numerous flaws in religion. But I never knew that the to kill a disease, you need to kill the victim. And what the dravidian movement has done is to treat Cancer with Human immunodeficiency virus.

  33. Hmmm….I agree to your points in the Astrology and “Radiation from Planets”

    I remember seeing in some documentary program about the undiscovered forces in the universe.Apart from Magnetism , Gravity and Radiation there might be some other forces (yet to be discovered) that are really causing influence the lives and characters of human beings.These forces may not be coming from the CELL PHONE , TV etc.

    And I myself only a partial believer in Astrology and do feel sometimes the planets do affect us in some ways.I have seen sudden change in my friend relationship with my some of my close friends and financial status after my Kancheepuram trip on the Eclipse day (Friday).

    It could be some cosmic coincidence or could be just my Energy waves generated by my brain after reading the effects of Solar Eclipse to all Arians.

  34. Both science & religion stands on something called belief …which can never be questioned as it may just be a feeling ..Feeling are personal or may be pertaining to group of person . A theist gets a feeling on a stone called God and says he wants to pray it . If an atheist doesnt get a feeling towards the stone , it is better he minds his own business instead of ridiculing the theists feelings 🙂 Because both theist & atheist also gets feelings towards wife , children , pets etc .
    Science dont have answer for many things like
    1. What is before Big bang ?
    2. Was there a Big Bang ?
    3. What is the property of particles travelling faster than light ?
    4. Since velocity is a vector quantity can i travel at -300km/h in a particular direction ?
    5. How will a scientist explain a blind person the color of rose ?
    Science has been and will always be incomplete ..
    Religious philosphies have tried to explain a lot on the nature of human brain , universe and the absolute . All Sashtras , sutras & yogaas are ways and means to tune your mind to reach the reality …
    Why are international scientists give good weightage to Ayurveda , Siddha , Yoga etc ..?

    Knowing the core of each religion is something like teaching an uneducated country man about telecom or media technology . If he asks you how does your picture travel in the air from Delhi NDTV studio across me and enter my TV set while I am standing in front of the TV , how fast can you explain it and make him understand all terminologies !!!!!!!! Same way explaining some religious concepts are tedious unless the reader takes interest to explore it in detail …

    Many dont do , because we earn no money for exploring religion 🙂

    Also certain concepts like NAADI Jyotish are beyond scientific capabilities till date

  35. Let me see – you have no issues with religion. Organized religion, verging on or far beyond superstition, certainly.

    We’re in the same boat there. That’d be why I made it a point to eat chicken biryani during the eclipse.

    Astrology .. well, it is as reliable a method as any to predict your future. Could have a weird kind of logic in that the traditional “personality traits” do, by and large, hold good – arians are fiery and impulsive, etc [so speaks an arian..] – and your personality will certainlyhave a bearing on your actions when presented with a particular situation.

    Got a friend who is an amateur astrologer (in that his father and uncles are trained astrologers and astrology goes back in his family for generations, but he dabbles at astrology, prefers high performance databases, where he’s really very good).

    He says that a lot of the prejudice against astrology is because so many of its practitioners dont understand it in the first place, and because a minor error in your calculations (and his astrology is backed by a whole lot of abtruse mathematics) can easily lead to a major error in your predictions ..

    Not that I understand mathematics anyway, I failed maths 3 times in my BSc 1st year and scraped through the rest of my maths courses.. anyway all I need to do these days is use a calculator to add up my checkbook / do my taxes, that doesnt really need calculus and group theory. Nor does my job need me to know anything I learnt in college .. in any shape or form, lucky for me.

  36. Awesome!
    Great cocktails, better than the ones we concocted…
    But greater post… That caricature guy could bleddy well be the one on Star Plus that day.. what cartoons they were!!!

  37. lol , many religions have always been in clash with science ..

    but I am obliged to state the stand of Islam with astrology , with the following words of prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him)

    “He who goes to a soothsayer or a fortuneteller and believes what he says, exhibits disbelief in what has been sent down to me”

    “Say (O Muhammad): None in the heavens and the earth knoweth the Unseen except Allah; and they know not when they will be raised (again)”Holy Quran

    “I fear on account of my people three things after my death: (I fear that) their leaders would oppress them, (that) they would believe in astrology, and (that) they would disbelieve predestination”

    “He who goes to a fortune-teller, his Prayer will not be accepted for forty days”

    “Astrologists predict knowledge of the future, and he who does so is a sorcerer, and sorcerers are disbelievers”

  38. Everyone,
    I expected that this might eventually get down to this, but do remember that my targets are all easy targets – religious, conservative, intolerant, and unfortunately, a majority, of Indians, for whom, religion is NOT about the upanishads, the big bang, philosophy and the ultimate meaning of life. Those things, I am not going to debate. I’ll leave that to real experts like Dawkins or Sam Harris.

    My specific grouse is with Astrology, Vaastu, Numerlogy, Palmistry and other pseudoscientific, religion-laced methods of keeping people ignorant, unquestioning and fostering a culture where critical thinking is not appreciated.

    Some commentators will point out that “real” religion has nothing to do with these trivial things, but that’s a no-real-scotsman fallacy. We are talking about the lowest-common-denominator effects of religion, and clearly, there is no such thing as an atheist palmist.

  39. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Pseudoscience is everywhere and fighting it can be tricky. I have only one comment.

    In any case, how does the sun “clean” the atmosphere? I can understand that the moon can (because it causes Tide, which in turn is a detergent).

    I agree that sun can’t clean atmosphere. However, sun generates diurnal tides in the atmosphere by heating the equatorial upper atmosphere.

  40. “If you want a hellove a lot of comments…
    … You don’t go into tech. You start a religion. Or if you’re too chicken for that, you start a post mocking religion” – Yuvi

  41. i have wondered too about astrology, palmistry etc..and i came to the conclusion that it has a place in indian society where one doesnt go to shrinks, therapists or counselors. in every culture, there is some character that plays the role of therapist.

    i am actually ok with it as long as it doesnt harm others and gives a person the strength to go on with their lives. these are drastic reversals of my previous opinions on such matters, but as i get older, i realise how young/naive i used to be..to see someone through the lens of my limited life experience. one cannot question others’ coping mechanism or seed doubt about it. it just seems…so cruel.

  42. i look up astrology, palmistry et al, out of pure curiosity. my interest in stuff such as these has rarely crossed the ‘hobby’ line, and my religious inclination depends on the context (it used to be examinations, but now things’ve moved onto other worldly contexts!). however, in my opinion… the amount humanity knows about science through exhaustive and insane study and research would probably be infinitesimally less than what we DON’T know about the supernatural.

    maybe there is a scientific basis to it all, but then again, we wouldn’t know 🙂

    good to be here again, i’ve resumed blogging. was wondering if u’d remember 🙂

  43. Protto la aarambichu “hair”la mudinja previous bloggukku apporam ippudi oru blog yezhudharuthukku DIL thaan:)..this was a great read as usual!

  44. If you want more laughs — there were a formula for calculating speed of light in an ancient sloka,
    homams are good to get rid of methyl isocayanide during the Bhopal gas leak etc. check out this book:

    Pride Of India – A Glimpse Into India’s Scientific Heritage

  45. Belief usually comes from experience. You know, the horoscope written when my mother was born gave her a life span of about 55 years and she passed away just 2 months short of her 53rd b’day. I was previously a total non believer but am now a fence sitter ( both legs on the non believing side). Probably, a few years from now, I’ll be a believer! Pseudo – science has an eerie knack of convincing people. How else will you explain its successful existance?

  46. Ashok,
    Your stand makes my first comments look “out of context”, which I agree.
    But the next posts were all replies to your replies on my comments. It had nothing to do with the Original post (which I enjoyed).

  47. Hi,
    Got your blog link from Krishnan, a fellow blogger, who has blogrolled you. Your post was a hilarious rare post I found, I would say, after some significant surfing!
    Do visit my humour blog and read all my posts!

  48. ( after reading KA’s comment of 05 Aug 2008, above):

    KrishAshok + KA Fan Club 😀 😀 :D: y’all will be perturbed/glad/? to know that I, as an Indian born well after Independance, does *not* consider the dawkins or patrick french’s or the billdarymlple chap, ‘true experts’

    Decades of some world travel, working with all sorts, from all parts ,of the world and alllll that have taught me that I’m truly better educated considering the ponderings of the natives*

    Ergo – that’s the importance I place on your blog! Some of us need the independent thought that comes from slugging it out in OurNativeLand, no? dawkins be *******d, I’d rather debate religion here 😀

    Net net, I think spirituality = v. good
    culture = v. v. good
    religion = ayyyoh! treat with extreme caution

    *natives being those who have lived continuously in the same country for, say, three consecutive generations

  49. Hey Krish,
    Check out Erich Von Daniken’s ‘Chariots of the Gods’..My guess is that even if you don’t really agree with the views of the author, you will certainly have something to contemplate on.I don’t want to elaborate much, but its got stuff related to the present topic of discussion.And oh yes…it’s loaded with ‘proof’.Cheers.

  50. Its the concotions that you have come up with which i found really hilarious and innovative. As for science and religion, if the current trends are any indications, this heady mixture is served in such heavy doses that even those who don’t believe in it end up giving it a second look. Case in point check our news (entertainment) channels. Most of them have these progs. serving the mix glamorously and running round the clock. A person involuntarily ends up watching if nothing else then atleast a glimpse of them even while he/she is just flipping through channels. Those bits n pieces keep adding up to form such a big whole that even a rational person’s thinking tends to get affected.

  51. even as a six year old, watching Ramayana and Mahabharata, i knew that a brahamastra , at best can be something like a rocket propelled grenade, the way there used to be a glowing bulb at the end of the arrow, awesome 🙂

  52. Brother, religion and science do mix very well. Some people may not believe in the Divine revelation unless and until it has something scientific to prove it.

    The Quran that we follow has numerous scientific FACTs. These facts make my faith stronger that these are the words of the Almighty and not that of a human being’s.

    Please spend some time on this link, I’m sure its worth it

    http://s1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/signal/en_quran_modern_science.pdf

    Thank you!

  53. Hi
    i hv been regularly readin your blogs…but this one is a tad disappointing! Just thought will give you my point of view here –
    This post is like most others which condemn astrology & rituals and equate them to religion. Firstly, religion is beyond just astrology or not eating during eclipses. I don’t think the origin of Hinduism is known. It is being followed for centuries now. So can we allow a slight margin of error on account of interpretational and applicability issues? Like, in my house, my grandma insisted on cleaning the post-meal table with cow dung. What she did not understand was that when such a practice was introduced, there were no glass top tables available. People ate on mud floors which were cleaned with cow dung. So, is this a fault of my grand mom or Hinduism??? Astrology is something I do not know about. True, it is not being always practiced properly but is that a good enough reason to question astrology itself? There are innumerable quacks in the country and the world today who practice medicine. We question them and not the science of medicine. Why can’t we apply the same rule to astrology? Just because it is something we do not know about, can we ridicule it? Is that fair? Just a thought

  54. Excellent post…. Master piece was “The Tide” …

    BTW the moon does have some rousing effects on the human body and its fluids. I have a friend who is psychiatrist. We had planned for a party on a friday, but she wouldn’t come. The reason being it was full moon day and she would get lots of cases of mental unrest, depression etc….as opposed to normal days….

  55. quacks? when i was in school, my mate..self learned astrologer even..decided that i will have 5 husbands because i had 5 planets in the seventh house. it was a rather rousing summer.

    good times.

  56. My first comment on your blog. I’m a huge fan of your writing. Have you read ‘Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast’? It talks about the evolutionary origins of belief.

    You know what amuses me sometimes, the widely varying standards to which we hold politicians in India and the US. Admitting that you are an atheist is commiting political suicide in the US. Only last year, the American Humanist Association identified the highest elected official in the US who was willing to admit he was an atheist, a congressman from the Bay Area, the first congressman to go on record to say he doesn’t believe in a supreme being.

    –NW

  57. The depictions and arguements are quite funny and sharply clear. From a completely physical point of view that is.

    It maybe that the Darth Vaadiyaars of the last few centuries and the jigu bugu vaadiyaars of today are entirely misinformed when it comes to scientific validation of God!This highlights only their lack of personal experience (of these subtle truths) and is not really an indicator of the actual validity of the concepts/truth.

    The brahmAstra that is oft mentioned is not a neuclear device – it is a metaphor for a mantra that produces the dissolution of the phenomenal world of duality (for the practioner). Almost always, everything mentioned in the texts are metaphors that help the masses assimilate the undiluted and subtle truth of the upanishads.

    And if one really wanted to get to the bottom of this, one would need to cultivate faculties higher and more rarefied than the average brain – wired as it is to the world of appearance.

    BTW, the reason for fasting during eclipses is quite different ( not that the atmosphere is ‘polluted’). And the effect of planets can be more accurately described by the term ‘ force of attraction’ than ‘ radiation’.

    There are those who really understand both religion and science and those are folks who can appreciate the place where these converge. Whether they need to converge or not is simply a matter of personal opinion.

  58. Amazing post Ashok! I have to forward this to my mom who decided to have “dinner” at 2 PM the other day due to solar eclipse effect! And actually, to cleanse the food, they add some sort of grass to the food (not the one which gets you to the moon ;))
    The Rasi was awesome! ROTFL over Pushpa X-Ray Centre 😀

  59. enjoyed this post very much…as usual.

    Fear of “what if there is something to it after all” takes care of perpetuating a lot of *stuff*. And it’s so cool to couch superstitions in terms of what I call PSG..Pseudo Scientific Guff. “Apparently there is a lot of radiation that affects your body during an eclipse.” Impossible to disprove this statement…so just stay indoors during an eclipse!

  60. Are you an atheist or just anti-Hinduism?
    Also, you only seem to be anti-“religious practices”, I thought atheists simply didn’t believe in God? I’m just curious…

    Anyway, you have an awesome blog here, it’s hilarious, and I love reading it 🙂

  61. Sorry for such acomment. But do you don’t support rss feeds of you blog? The subscribe to blog link is taking me to a page I can’t decipher.
    Ashok: It should take you to the feedburner page for my blog’s rss feed, where you can choose from a list of rss readers listed or simply click on the “xml” link and use that link in any reader of your choice

  62. Atheism is a human ‘disability’ to believe in things that are not proven yet! This sort of allays the fuming mama-who-does-sandhyavadhanam-thrice-a-day!

    Anyway. Right from Einstein to Mani Bhaumik have wondered and speculated on God. While Einstein is believed to be quite a spiritual person there isn’t much I have read on his religious beliefs.

    My basic problem is with people’s disability to hold religion, god and spirituality as three distinct nouns. They are mightily intermingled in both the usage and execution. My God belongs to no religion – but people have a problem with that. Your religion is very different from spirituality – spirituality is in closer keeping with Maslow’s pyramid – I guess, than with some heavenly life cycle.

    Anyway.

  63. //”In any case, how does the sun “clean” the atmosphere? I can understand that the moon can (because it causes Tide, which in turn is a detergent).”// – This one is cool!! a kitkat for u!

    btw.. I am logical and rational but still i believe in religion as much as i see science.
    When one of them doen’t explain something, the other does. doesn’t it – religion and science complement each other.

    anyways, a brilliant mock-tail!!! kudos 😀

  64. //”Your comment is awaiting moderation.” //– What saar , i thought u were an ardent supporter of freeedom of speech (even if its ur blog ) ? 😀 ogay kewl.. carry on.. moderate every post. 😀
    Ashok: Ayyo saar, No moderation. Akismet just happens to use some really weird rules and there’s nothing I can do about it because it’s on wordpress.com. In this case, I suspect it’s the use of code-style // type things.

  65. Couple of things Krish
    1. We dont really understand astrology enough to be able to blatantly say its a pseudo science, we dont understand cosmology enough to be able to again blatantly say that cosmic rays dont exist
    2. If you feel TV radiation is bigger and more powerful because it is closer i cant but feel your being too trivial. How then would you explain the change in earth’s magnetic field by change in sunspots? FYI TV radiation does not affect the magnetic field 😀 LOL
    3. Additionally horoscopes are brilliant mathematical tools to map the sky, I totally agree that we need to do away with pimps of astrology, but please understand predictions are interpretations which can be wrong or(relatively) right, even in case of “sciences” like physics.
    Again we really cannot prove that nuclear sciences did not exist because we do have treatises written by Kanada which does talk about harnessing anushakti
    My 2 pence 🙂
    Ashok: 1) Astrology is a pseudo-science, because it uses scientific terms in unscientific ways. If one makes the claim that planets and stars billions of kms away affect the course of our lives, it requires proof. Being right only 30% of the time does not make astrology right. I could just invent something like Dustology (based on the patterns of dust settling down on furniture) and make guesses about people’s lives and be right quite a few times, but that does not make Dustology science.
    2) Let me give you an analogy. A human being is an immensely complex biological entity. What’s more, the complexity of our brains coupled with the millions of variables that affect us on a day to day basis as we go through our lives is mindboggling by itself. Therefore, using the position of Mars of Venus in an arbitrarily defined part of the sky to predict that one will have a male child in 2 years time _is_ trivial. It utterly disregards the human as a complex, biological and sociological machine and uses a questionable abstraction that has no basis in any scientifically observed data or statistics. Have you read Asimov’s FOundation? He introduces a concept called Psychohistory – a simple statistical tool that predicts the behavior of large groups of people. Although that is science fiction, it has more solid science behind it than astrology
    3) Sure we cannot “prove” that nuclear sciences did not exist in the past. But simple rule of logic – the burden of proof is on the person who makes the claim. Where is the evidence that we had nukes? Pointing to obscure semantic references in ancient texts does not prove anything. It’s like saying that we know Newton discovered gravity because he used the word “gravity” in a short story he wrote. The word “anu” could have meant anything 2000 years ago. Again, Im not saying I have proof that ancient india did not have nuclear tech. Im just saying that till proof appears that it did indeed have it, Im likely to be skeptical

  66. Few things to be mentioned here
    1.Science and Religion both originated from Philosophy.Science is an analytical approach and religion is an emotional approach.That’s the difference, Of course unless your definition of science is putting things into test tubes or building exotic devices and taking measurements and religion is defined by worshiping and rituals.Read the history of science and you will find most of them are philosophers as well. It was Emmy Noether’s proof of a philosophic concept which paved way to most of modern physics and maths you find today.
    Relativity did not logically stem down from science.It came from philosophy as well and hence people are surprised time and again to find same concept hidden in religious texts.
    2.Science is incomplete and not fail proof and sometimes makes no sense. True scientists know this.:)
    Science gives say 1500 theories about same thing and all of them have proof. One phenomenon interpreted by numerous people and proving from their angle.What should be considered? Same for astrology. It has some brilliant calendar and mapping systems (probably the best) some use it right and some do gimmicks.That does not make the theory wrong.
    3.There have been proofs on effects of moon/sun/planets on us esp Jupiter. We are where we are because of gravity and its not just between sun and earth or moon and earth.So logically our system could be governed by other bodies as well.
    I have known people (not professional) whose accuracy in prediction is near 100%.Even then there can be no conclusion but the best to do is to give benefit of doubt for now as we can neither prove right nor wrong.
    3.Religion is a personal choice by the way and is even enshrined that way in our constitution.Raising awareness on concerns of social practices and stupidities is totally ok but questioning beliefs inclining to religiousness amounts to commenting on a person’s underwear.
    Just because one believes in atheism does not mean one can ridicule/hurt another person’s belief.To each his own.This I will say being a hardcore atheist.
    4.What I dislike is the fact that atheism is often linked to intellectualism.Intelligence is independent of belief it’s brain’s capacity and will to scale up and tune.If not the commies must be flying ion jets by now:).Butterfly effect was a fancy way of explaining chaos theory.I think its typical Indian mindset to buy firangi stories with no strings attached. Everyone is ok to buy that a Butterfly flutter in Tunisia will cause a traffic blockage in Trinidad and Tobago.(if proved it will amount to predicting future!Thats not what chaos theory wants to convey.)
    We are ok with infinite universes and wormholes.We are ok with existence of multiple dimensions and strings. They have not been comprehensively proved to this day but thats respectful science while these so called pseudo sciences are not.Lol.

  67. Few things to be mentioned here
    1.Science and Religion both originated from Philosophy.Science is an analytical approach and religion is an emotional approach.That’s the difference, Of course unless your definition of science is putting things into test tubes or building exotic devices and taking measurements and religion is defined by worshiping and rituals.Read the history of science and you will find most of them are philosophers as well. It was Emmy Noether’s proof of a philosophic concept which paved way to most of modern physics and maths you find today.
    Relativity did not logically stem down from science.It came from philosophy as well and hence people are surprised time and again to find same concept hidden in religious texts.
    2.Science is incomplete and not fail proof and sometimes makes no sense. True scientists know this.:)
    Science gives say 1500 theories about same thing and all of them have proof. One phenomenon interpreted by numerous people and proving from their angle.What should be considered? Same for astrology. It has some brilliant calendar and mapping systems (probably the best) some use it right and some do gimmicks.That does not make the theory wrong.
    3.There have been proofs on effects of moon/sun/planets on us esp Jupiter. We are where we are because of gravity and its not just between sun and earth or moon and earth.So logically our system could be governed by other bodies as well.
    I have known people (not professional) whose accuracy in prediction is near 100%.Even then there can be no conclusion but the best to do is to give benefit of doubt for now as we can neither prove right nor wrong.
    3.Religion is a personal choice by the way and is even enshrined that way in our constitution.Raising awareness on concerns of social practices and stupidities is totally ok but questioning beliefs inclining to religiousness amounts to commenting on a person’s underwear.
    Just because one believes in atheism does not mean one can ridicule/hurt another person’s belief.To each his own.This I will say being a hardcore atheist.
    4.What I dislike is the fact that atheism is often linked to intellectualism.Intelligence is independent of belief it’s brain’s capacity and will to scale up and tune.If not the commies must be flying ion jets by now:).Butterfly effect was a fancy way of explaining chaos theory.I think its typical Indian mindset to buy firangi stories with no strings attached. Everyone is ok to buy that a Butterfly flutter in Tunisia will cause a traffic blockage in Trinidad and Tobago.(if proved it will amount to predicting future!Thats not what chaos theory wants to convey.)
    We are ok with infinite universes and wormholes.We are ok with existence of multiple dimensions and strings. They have not been comprehensively proved to this day but thats respectful science while these so called pseudo sciences and stories are not.Lol.

  68. Atheism is also a religion. To think that the scientific method can disprove the existence of God is absurd. But to the extent that it allows us to make the choice among the various options (incl. atheism) that most corresponds to reality it is helpful.

    The only difference with atheism is that it hasn’t become wide scale organized enough to cause harm yet. But there is still time. Yet its proponents use this fact to try and gain the high ground again and again. They cite the visible effects of regimes and authorities based on religion (wars, killings etc) as proof of the fact that religion is universally harmful. But we often forget that we also evidence of atheistic regimes and its effects (Communist Russia, China). The violence and repression propagated are more than on par with the examples used by atheists.

    Therefore I feel that regardless of man’s belief he is imperfect and will cause harm. Any religion or irrelegion that can help him must therefore be external. And anything external would require faith.

    For my part i believe it requires more faith to be an atheist than a theist. And so I am a theist.

  69. But the funny part is most atheists are completely convinced that science is a tool of atheism and that there is no scope for science to support any other religion.

    We ask ourselves what are the observable claims of religion, but we should also ask what are the observable claims of atheism.

  70. everything argument is fine except that the ancestors tried to accumulate every form of knowledge they had in the only thing that bound them all, the religion…
    the ancestors imho were lot smarter as they had the time and patience to learn from the source , Nature, itself unlike the modern education corrupt people like us…
    originally religion was but a respect the more powerful Nature…looking up at the original Hindu gods might strike the point… I’m still in awe at how the panjangam gets the exact time of eclipse every year right… I still think it would have been some people’s life time work to get the trajectory equations to be able to predict such a thing…
    everything was just a perspective until a new one more pronounced replaces that… so was the ancestral identification of planets(nobody’s at blame here) with demigods… what perspective that we hold today might be replaced with a better one sometime in future…
    u might have heard of Einstein arguing against the probabilistic model of the atom, although he was one of the initiators of such a theory(the famous God does not play dice)…it appears to be probabilistic merely because of our inability to model it right…
    one can use the same argument for God…
    and lastly, but irrelevant to the above discussion, i dunno if i’m theist still….

  71. Good post!
    I fail to understand why people equate scientific thinking with atheism.
    Also when did religion stop being about God and start involving superstition, eclipses, astrology and the like?

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