Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Lure of Religion

As a non-Muslim Malaysian growing up and educated in Malaysia, it is almost impossible to isolate oneself totally from religious groups. Somehow or another, they will find a way to get to you. Most vulnerable I think, are the college and university students. Evangelical churches which is the most aggressive religious group, have set up Christian fellowships in almost all colleges and universities in Malaysia. Some institutions even have more than one fellowship because they're set up by different churches. These fellowships often operate underground, because religious societies are banned from all institutions of higher learning. Through these fellowships, they'd organize meetings, activities and etc. and if you're acquainted to any of them, you'd surely get invited to their meetings/events where they will share the 'good news' with you. Then they'd continue to follow up on your interest and then if all goes according to plan, they'll pop the question: "Are you ready to receive Jesus into your life?"

For many, uni life means leaving home for the first time. At this age, young people are highly impressionable. They begin to ask existential questions ("what is my purpose in life?"), and they no longer can depend on their parents for answers. They are lonely, they want to meet new people, make new friends. And so, these fellowships appear to meet all the needs of these young people.

The evangelical movement came largely from the US. They are different from traditional churches (Catholic or Protestant) in the sense that they are more lively in their praise and worship and often display 'manifestations' of the Holy Spirit. They are usually characterised by explosive growth partly because they do a lot of evangelising and comprise of an unusually large youth group. Since our society is so heavily influenced by Western pop culture, these churches are very appealing to young people. It would certainly appear 'cool' to these young people to embrace this American culture. I'd say the peer pressure to 'join' is unbearable. Furthermore, if a youth comes from a traditionally Buddhist or Taoist or Hindu family, embracing Christianity would signify their independence because they're taking a step different from the one their parents took. That explains why many have joined and many have accepted Christ at this stage in their lives.

Now, I'm not trying to condemn the evangelical movement. I'm not judging them, nor do I question their motives. However, I feel there is a lack of a balancing 'force' to counter this movement. The problem really is because our education system does such a lousy job at educating our youths that this balancing 'force' is pretty weak at this level. Instead of getting students to learn new ideas and learn to think critically, our universities are spoon-feeding them with tutorial solutions and exam tips. Students study their subjects but do not learn anything! If the faculties are of any standard at all, the students' minds would be open to new ideas. Why should they accept the simplistic ideas preached to them by their religious peers when there is so much more knowledge in this world for their curious minds to discover? If they'd understood the theories of evolution, mutation, genetics, probabilities, the scientific method, and various other world views, would they still stick to religion? They might, but at least they'd start to ask questions and start to THINK!

To conclude, I believe there should be balance to the dissemination of religious ideas at the tertiary level. The most effective way to counter it is to have a dynamic education system where students learn to THINK. On the issue of independence, I also believe atheism is progress resulting from improved education. For (many?) atheists, this is also a different step from the religious one our parents took.

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At 11:50 PM, November 04, 2006, Blogger The Hedonese said...

Yikes, Meursault! Who did you 'kill' this time? hehehe...

Just joking, i'm still ploughing thru 'The Stranger' for ages. :)Good to see both theists and atheists support Lim Kit siang too.

Btw i'm confused abt something. How wud knowledge of darwinism be a 'balancing force' to christian fellowships in varsities?

Perhaps a future post can illumine us on that interesting theory. I'm sure u heard of theistic evolutionists.

At 5:11 PM, October 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If students learn to think, religious assholes wont have a job.

At 5:06 PM, December 19, 2009, Anonymous Hedonese said...

I go around varsities promoting rigorous thinking, but somehow they still find theism as a much more compelling and satisfactory alternative...

are the students dumb, evil or both? hehe


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