“Imagine there’s No Heaven” is a letter written by Salman Rushdie who is a British Indian novelist and essayist. He is an atheist and is known for his unflinching criticism of religion. Rushdie contributed this letter to a UN-sponsored anthology, addressed to the six-billionth human child who was expected to be born that year. He attempts to discuss and answer two fundamental questions of life. “How did we get here? And, now that we are here, how shall we live?” However he diverts from his central thesis and most of his text malign and smear all religions while the two questions go almost completely unanswered. His tone is demeaning, scornful and he presents religious beliefs as being ridiculous. He makes absolute statements without any clarification and supporting evidence and his arguments lack logic.
While trying to answer the question of ‘origins’, Rushdie starts with making a mockery of most of the religious beliefs about the creation of universe and life. He calls other people faiths as ‘stories’ and then mentions some mythological beliefs like Bumba, creator god in African mythology vomited the universe ,Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance danced to create the world in Tamil mythology or another polytheistic belief that god stirred the matter of universe in a giant pot. He declares the primary impulse of creation as lust but then quickly adds love as another motivation. He delves deeper in the mythologies when only a small number of people in particular regions believe in them. He chooses to ignore Christianity and Islam, the most practiced religions in the world both of which agree that God created the universe and God can be understood and identified by His creation.
Rushdie portrays religion as something which imprisons its followers. According to him, all religious people are bound by inescapable shackles of their faith and beliefs. He says, “They may at some point come to feel inescapable, not in the way that the truth is inescapable, but in the way that a jail is”. He then tries to scare people by bringing in the ‘rituals of worship’ that must be followed and which become a vital part of life of religious people. What he fails to mention is the purpose of the so called rituals of worship. Every religion entails some methods of worship but their purpose is to express reverence, praise and adoration for the creator and to get solace and comfort in it. People choose religion not to get ‘imprisoned’ by its teachings but to be ‘guided’ by its teachings and to live a meaningful life by following something they believe in.
Mr. Rushdie claims that, “In the opinion of religious people, the private comfort that religion brings more than compensates for the evil done in its name.” First he fails to clarify the evil that is being done in the name of religion. However it needs to be understood that when people use religion as an excuse to justify evil than it’s not the fault of religion. Christian, Muslim, Jewish Buddhist, and Hindu...