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Humanist's Guide to Religion: Hinduism
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:
- Safety: deaths and violence caused for religious reasons; weighted as 50% of the total score
- Rigidity: openness to and support for rational inquiry, skepticism and doubt, including natural science and its findings; weighted as 30%
- 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.
HINDUISM: Total Score=37%
- 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%
- 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%
- 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.
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.