Often, religious people proudly talk about being calm and collected, and attribute it to their faith. Regardless of whether it’s true (Who’s to say someone like Sam Harris is not calm?), I wish to argue that even if true, it is not a virtue, but quite the opposite: It is wicked and foul, the surrender of one’s humanity into slavery.
This happens in Abrahamic religions in general, but as you may have noticed, Islam is my particular target, since even the name “Islam” come from the Arabic root “salama” which means surrender. For centuries, Muslims have been proudly claiming that this God (Allah) has sent them all they need, the most complete religion (A verse in the Qur’an says: “Today I completed my religion for you and finished my blessings upon you” [Almaedah, verse 3]). This means that Islam dictates their lives, from how to have sex, what to do during sex, what to do after sex and so on, to how to enter somewhere (with the right foot, and no I’m not joking).
The same thing, perhaps to a milder degree, but the same in essence none the less, happens in Christianity and Judaism. Yet again that God is very concerned with what people do with each other in bed, how they live their lives and how they end it. Does this make us act better as human beings? I have argued before that such is not the case. But does this make the religious more calm, more collected? Perhaps. Is that calmness good? Not at all.
There is not a day that passes by and I (as a none believer, and a sane human being) am not in mental anguish. Every action that I prepare myself to do, every interaction that I have with others, I keep thinking to myself if I have done the right thing. I keep thinking if my reasoning was right, if I acted correctly. There is not a day that passes by and I do not regret, and take lessons from, some of the things I have done wrong in the past. Every time I make a claim, I keep weighing it, trying to make sure I say the right thing, that I do not lie or not be dishonest.
I wonder what would have happened if I had surrendered my wits, my sanity, to an authority by means of faith? Obviously I would have been sure of the things I was doing, after all, they were the commandments of someone utterly righteous. They would have been my moral duties. What if I was commanded to mutilate my baby boy’s (or girl’s) genitalia? No problem. I would have been happy to do so. What if I was commanded to behead my son (Qur’an: Assafat, verses 101-107)? No problem, I would have been more than happy to do so for such righteous being. And I would feel no guilt, no shame, no regret doing those things. In fact, I would have felt happy to please such being, my master, who literally owned me, whom I had surrendered to.
The thought of being as such makes me shiver. No, thank you. I’m glad I am in mental anguish. I’m glad my conscience is not numbed, is not surrendered into the slavery of a tyrannical sadistic master. I’m glad if I am not perfect, at least I can try.