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Opinion – The Book of Eli & Atheism

The age-old debate of God and religion is something I tend to think about a lot. After having just caught the ending of The Book of Eli, which features strong performances from both Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, I got thinking about the concept of God once again, and its influence on people.

I grew up in a predominantly religious family, in that I grew up as part of a Sikh family, practicing the ways of Sikhism. I would go to classes every weekend, not only learning the Punjabi language but also about the culture and history of Sikhism. The majority of the adult figures in my life were religious, and as a result, I was, too. But like with anything, I grew older, and along the way, grew skeptical of my religious background as I began to discover more knowledge on the scientific side of life. Before I knew it, I found myself holding no religious beliefs or feelings whatsoever.

Years on, I still firmly do not believe in God. However, I say God, with a capital G, as for some reason, perhaps due to my childhood or due to the fact I have family members and friends who still firmly believe in it, find myself wholly respecting and appreciating the concept of God and religion. I have still always found it to be a fascinating aspect of life – its power over people, and how so many can completely devote their lives to an idea despite a complete lack of evidence to support it. In particular, though, the thing I appreciate about religion the most, which The Book of Eli unexpectedly reminded me of, is hope.

In all honesty, I often find myself wishing I was a more religious person. Having the firm belief that there is something more out there, in particular, beyond death, is a great thing to hold throughout life. Whilst it is debatable that such a firm devotion to religion could also hinder life, it can just as well aid life. As a result of religion, I find myself being more open to further possibilities that I may have once dismissed. For example, though I am not religious, I still often think about whether there is more to existence after death. It just seems inexplicable that one moment you are living, breathing, and thinking such potent, aware thoughts, and the next minute you’re not. And no one could say otherwise, unless they have the fortunate luck of having died and been reanimated (to all you zombies out there: I see you).

In this sense, and not to ignore negative aspects of religion (which is a different area entirely), religion is a pretty admirable thing. Whilst the first time I watched The Book of Eli and enjoyed it, the second-time around I took a lot more from it. I’m not entirely sure why it was this film in particular, but after seeing the final few scenes, it just spontaneously hit me and got me thinking once again, about how religion can have positive effects on those who do not believe in God or follow any form of religion, and can offer some form of solace to strive towards, or even merely appreciate from time to time. And anyone out there who is an atheist or has no interest in religion should perhaps take a moment to consider the optimistic and thoughtful perspective it can offer, before dismissing the concept completely.

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