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Humanist's Guide to Religion: Hinduism

Updated on June 26, 2014
Shiva, a Hindu god
Shiva, a Hindu god

Religion versus Humanism

The purpose of this series is to develop a reference guide for how the various religions of the world rank against humanist values. Humanism for this purpose is a secular worldview that values human happiness, knowledge and physical wellbeing, exclusively in this life and this world. We will analyze religions according to their effect on three areas: the body (safety), the mind (knowledge, rationality), and the world (material goods).

The analysis uses as much quantification as possible. Each of the religions, cults and faith communities will be considered on the following criteria:

  1. Safety: deaths and violence caused for religious reasons; weighted as 50% of the total score
  2. Rigidity: openness to and support for rational inquiry, skepticism and doubt, including natural science and its findings; weighted as 30%
  3. Material wealth: income and GDP per capita; weighted as 20%

For more information on the methodology used to compute the scores, please see the first entry in the series, the Humanist's Guide to Christianity.

In this hub, we look at Hinduism, the third largest religion on earth.

BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, the largest Hindu temple in the world
BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, the largest Hindu temple in the world
Ganesh, a Hindu god
Ganesh, a Hindu god

HINDUISM: Total Score=37%

Safety:

  • December 1992: In the infamous Babri Mosque incident, 2,000 people were killed in riots between Muslims and Hindus after a Hindu mob destroyed a 500-year old Mosque in Ayodhya. Exact numbers cannot be determined, but it is safe to assume the majority (at least 1,000) of those killed were Muslims, killed by Hindus.
  • January 1999: An Australian missionary and his two sons were burned alive by Hindu militants in Orissa.
  • February 2002: About 70 Muslims were killed by Hindus in attacks on Islamic buildings in Gujarat.
  • March 2002: Over 1,000 Muslims killed by Hindu rioters in Gujarat.
  • January 2006: 18 Christians killed by a Hindu mob in Madhya Pradesh.
  • August 2008: A nun was killed by a Hindu mob that burned a church orphanage.
  • The total of these deaths is 2,092, which is well over the 1,000 deaths that results in an automatic weight of 0% on religious killings. Of course there have been many more deaths caused by Hindus for religious reasons in the last 20 years.
  • The average Social Hostility Index (SHI) for countries where Hinduism is the majority religion (India, Nepal and Mauritius) is a very high 53%
  • Score=19%

Rigidity:

  • Among American Hindus:
  • An amazing 84% of American Hindus have at least some college education (almost half have postgraduate degrees).
  • Absolutely certain God exists: 57%
  • Seldom or never pray: 17%
  • Holy text is written by men, not God: 47%
  • Homosexuality should be accepted by society: 48%
  • Hinduism is the oldest religion, and is associated with arguably the greatest human philosophical tradition. Hinduism today includes a wide variety of monotheistic, polytheistic and even atheistic tendencies. It is a particularly flexible religion in matters of doctrine. Extra factor: 70%
  • Score=69%

Wealth:

  • 80% of American Hindus earn over $50,000
  • The average GDP per capita for countries where Hinduism is the majority religion (India, Nepal and Mauritius) is $5,767 which is 5.7% of $100,000.
  • Score=35%

Conclusions

Hinduism ranks as more humanist than Islam, but less so than Christianity. It is heavily harmed by the thousands of people that have been killed in its name, as well as the very high level of religious social hostility. India, where the vast majority of Hindus live, has a Social Hostility Index of 100%--the highest possible mark, indicating the highest level of religious social hostility.

Hinduism is marked by a very high level of flexibility and openness to reason and skepticism, according to this analysis, with a high rank of 69%. However on wealth, Hinduism underperforms. Although a whopping 80% of American Hindus earn $50,000 or more, nevertheless the average per capita income of Hindu-majority countries significantly undermines the wealth score.

The next hub in this series will be the Humanist's Guide to Buddhism and Judaism.

Brahma, a Hindu god
Brahma, a Hindu god

Comments

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    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      7 years ago from New York City

      I don't claim that this series is uncontroversial. Nobody should read any of my articles unless they are ready to have their beliefs challenged, and think about a different perspective on things.

      I try to be as non-offensive and respectful as possible, but at the same time it is important to be critical of all ideas, and I happily subject my own beliefs to others' criticism.

      I do have adequate knowledge of religion, at least for the purpose of this series. As I stated at the very beginning, this is an attempt to measure how well these religions conform to humanist ideals. The only way to measure that is to get beyond the "theory" that religious people talk about, and investigate the real world *consequences* of their beliefs--i.e. do they kill people? Do they enhance material wealth and wellbeing? Do they contribute to human knowledge and understanding?

      These are real, important questions that affect the fate of our species. Anyone not ready to discuss these critical questions should not get involved in the discussion at all.

      See the article about Christianity for the full explanation of the sources and methodology. I already said that in the article.

    • All_is_well profile image

      All_is_well 

      7 years ago from London, England

      Hmm, your take on certain things about religion is quite upsetting. You are comparing religions without actually having the knowledge of it, you DO NOT investigate the fact that people are PEOPLE and not the embassador of their respective religion. One thing i do not understand is WHERE IN GODS' GOOD NAME DO YOU GET YOUR STATISTICS FROM?

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Begging? Hmmm... it would be a first, I'm not in the habit of begging a woman for anything.

      Next you're going to call me a "good boy" when you should know by now I'm a bad boy ;)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Haha..okay, I'll try and arrange that, but you might have to do some begging first.

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Jane, the one on Christianity is one of my highest-read hubs ever, despite being up for only a few weeks to this point.

      BTW I will only accept gourmet doggie treats... brought to me on a silver platter... by beautiful young women.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      1992 was a bad year. More sterling work secularist. I hope these get read.

      I'm getting you a dog treat...;)

      @Austin, that is too funny...haha

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Haha, so you have. Or was that your doppelganger? :)

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      7 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      Oh wow, getting old-timers disease. I've already been here. But it was worth a second read. :-)

    • secularist10 profile imageAUTHOR

      secularist10 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Haha, could be. There are definitely plenty of irrational people in Hinduism, just like all religions (just take the violent ones persecuting Muslims and Christians, for example). The religion overall, though, I think is quite flexible as religions go.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      7 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      My boss is Hindu and quite unreasonable at work, perhaps less so in her religion. I would be surprised though.

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