Posts Tagged ‘ Faith ’

An Open Letter to “Good” Atheists who Respect Religion

Dear Conformists,

Hi. Are you rolling your eyes at me for calling you a conformist? I know I shouldn’t insinuate that your admiration for religion and its beauty is a way of appeasing roughly 89% of the world population which you know is religious; that it is just a way of getting a cheap nod, because let’s face it, even if you sweep every atheist reading your book, essay, column or blog off her/his feet, the world’s applause-o-meter barely registers a sound. Make the theists happy, and that is what gets you likes on Facebook.

It could just be that you genuinely believe in religion as, not an absurdity or a pernicious force, but something benign; something we can easily coexist with. That’s your opinion, and it’s fine.

Then there are those who believe that it’s okay to be an anti-theist who criticizes religion, but we should be still be respectful towards other people’s beliefs. No argument there. That is ideally how it should be done.

Unfortunately, anti-theists cannot be expected to act more “ideally” than any other group indulging in activism, online or otherwise. What’s more unfortunate is that most theists, with their inordinately thin skin, are more likely to find the idea of anti-theism itself pretty provocative. You’re just very likely to be labelled “smug”, “arrogant” and a “troll” if you’re not diplomatically starting off every sentence of your criticism with, “Yes, religion is great and I deeply admire some of your religious personalities, but….”

Brendan O’Neil, in a recent article on The Telegraph, wonders how atheists have become “the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. History is not his strong suit, because atheists have always been regarded as the “most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. Islam calls them, “the worst of all beasts” and the bible refers to them as “corrupt fools”. And that’s how its followers have treated the godless for the past…I don’t know…about 2000 years.

That is why it is necessary to salute the valor and courage of our theists and “good-guy” atheists, defending us all against the rise of smug atheists who make disrespectful internet memes. Actually, no. You are an embarrassing redundancy, right up there with the white activists fighting for men’s rights.

In any kind of activism, there will always be a minority that resorts to tactics that may be considered distasteful. Like vegans calling you “murderers”. Socialists calling you “thieves”. Feminists calling you “misogynistic assholes”. Anti-theist atheists – those claiming (not unreasonably) that religion is a malignant force – are expected to act far more diplomatic and civilized than all other kinds of activism. It is because the subject they deal in is still considered so sensitive, the slightest pinch induces massive butt-hurt.

Atheist debaters are expected to work with teaspoons where all other activists are allowed to work with spades. And it is because of this, that atheists come off as more acerbic and abrasive than than those who criticize any other ideology or system they find harmful.

I don’t need to apologize for atheist trolls any more than feminists, Occupy folk, Democrats, liberals, LGBT and human rights activists have to apologize for the dicks they contribute to the internet.

And as for respecting religion, I don’t need to respect any religion claiming that I, as an atheist, am so vile that I deserve eternal torture. That’s like you calling me a “prick”, and demanding that I respect your belief. Sorry, can’t do; especially when you’re passing on their hateful ideas to your kids, and then scratching your heads when they grow up to be bigots.

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Religion and Essential Fanaticism

 

When a practicing Muslim meets a devout Christian, they bring an elephant into the room that nobody’s supposed to talk about. Each believes that the other is an infidel and shall be fed to the flames of hell. They may greet each other warmly and show utmost respect for one another, but there’s always a voice at the back of their heads whispering, “Oh, I know this unbeliever is going to burn in hell, but let’s not make a fuss about it right now”.

This is the essential poison coursing through the veins of most religious believers, particularly those of the Abrahamic faiths. Believing that we are righteous because we have faith in God X, and they are sinners because they believe in God Y, is a crucial part of the religious teachings. Christians claim that only through Jesus can a soul find salvation, and Muslims consider shirk (or association of other gods with Allah) is an unforgivable sin.

Needless to say, bigotry is an inseparable component of religion. The more civilized believers are able to resist this toxin, while other succumb to it, and turn to the ignominious endeavor of building barriers and dividing humanity into “believers” and “unbelievers”.

So it’s obvious that religion, at its most basic level, is a threat to the unity of mankind. I’m not talking about extremism and I’m not talking about fanatics. I’m talking about the moderates who read holy books openly condemning disbelievers as vile creatures who are to serve as fodder for hellfire, yet find nothing wrong with the religion. Promoting inter-religious harmony is a task that requires one to either ignore a vital part of his/her religious teachings, or completely wash his/her hands of any association with them.

When you inquire a moderately religious person about the scurrilous role his/her religion plays in retarding humanity’s progress, they’ll be quick to divert the blame away from religion and onto the followers.

A religion is what its followers believe. There’s no such thing as a “standard” position for a religion, hence the claim that certain believers are “misinterpreting” the holy writ is a logical fallacy. If a majority of followers believe that their religion condones violence for things like blasphemy or apostasy, then the religion does condone violence. One cannot argue why a person believes what he/she believes, because beliefs are never based on reason to begin with! Perhaps it’s the moderates who are “misinterpreting” the faith, while the extremists have it spot on!

When inquired why people do bad things in the name of religion, a moderate believer would claim that it’s not because of religion, but a cocktail of other factors like poverty, illiteracy, political instability etc. Again, it’s a trick involving refusal to address the obvious element lying smack in the eye of the storm, and go flitting off to other factors that can be even remotely linked to the acts of intolerance.

It’s the equivalent of a discussion on respiratory disorders among smokers, with a person blaming the incidence on lack of education, poor healthcare provision, bad parenthood, inefficient laws etc – but never address the actual cigarette which forms the heart of the entire dilemma!

A moderate is an otherwise good person who has his foot placed in a door to the era of barbarism, keeping it ajar. And through this door, we have all the intolerance, bigotry, violence, terrorism, homophobia and sheer stupidity flowing freely into our world.

How many people will it take to come and scream, “Yes! We are indeed killing in the name of religion!” before the moderates start to wonder, “Hmm, know what? Maybe religion does have something to do with it.”

Organized religion and its followers are adept at leading people to believe that it’s okay to accept certain ideas without reason or evidence. It glorifies ignorance, and evil always walks in the wake of ignorance.

There’s nothing bad about believing in a personal God, if one finds comfort in such a belief. But being part of organized religion, a shameless mega-corporation responsible for openly selling hate and bigotry, is like being a mafia wife -rendering numerical and moral support to a system that is so obviously dangerous.

Atheism: Certainty or Doubt?

Atheism is a religion like “off” is a TV channel – Anonymous

Whoever wrote that, summed it all up rather eloquently. But do allow me to elaborate on that..

For a person to say, “God definitely does not exist” may be a bit of a faith-based position. For something, the absence of which we cannot verify, it’s rather unwise to say with complete certainty that it does not exist. Even for notions that are seemingly absurd, such as “there are dragons living in the center of the earth”, it’s impossible to deny them with 100% certitude.

I’m not one of such Atheists, for these are the ones who have assumed their stance not on the basis of knowledge, but an anti-social attitude. It’s their special way of holding up a middle-finger to the society that is becoming increasingly fanatical. Assuming such a stance is close to a rational one, but not fully logical.

The kind of group I belong to, and I believe a majority of my fellow “heathens” belong to, is the one with the stance, “God probably does not exist”.

Before the theist readers get too excited, I’ll quickly expand on what I mean by “probably”. Our knowledge of Physics and Biology tells us that the odds of an omnipotent being existing and controlling everything are astronomically low (and even less so for a particular version of God, like an Abrahamic one). In fact, our universe seems to be operating in precisely the way one would expect it to operate in the total absence of a divine controller. The only “gods” we know are electromagnetism, gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces.

But I would not resort to the expedient of completely dismissing the God Hypothesis, because it has technically not been disproved either. I will, however, acknowledge that the odds of this hypothesis being true are so low that they’re not even worth considering!

For example, it’s possible that you’ll get struck by lightning five times tomorrow. It’s definitely a possibility, albeit a highly unlikely one!.In fact, so unlikely that you’ll lose no sleep over it!

A reader not too familiar with the realm of the godless would likely be asking by now, “Doesn’t this sound like Agnosticism?”.

Agnosticism is a broad class of fence-sitters with varying inclinations. The usual Agnostic position is that the existence of God (or the probability of His existence) is unknowable, because human knowledge and reach is way too limited for such a task.

The position I belong to (and so do popular Atheists like Richard Dawkins), is that even though we cannot strictly rule out the probability of God’s existence, we can safely say that it is very, very low indeed. So low that worrying about spending an eternity in hell is just about as reasonable as a person strapping an armadillo’s shell onto his noggin to protect himself from the influence of an alien mind-control device. Again, it’s a possibility (since it cannot be disproved), but a very unlikely one.

So if you’re a definitive Atheist, your position is fairly rational in the sense that you may be rounding off the probability of God’s absence of 99.99…% to 100%. That makes sense, but to avoid falling into the same zone of blind certitude as the theists, it’s advisable to rethink your stance.

Why Do We Believe In God?

Theory of Mind

This is the capacity of a human mind to figure out how another organism thinks or feels. It’s not mind-reading, per se, but a set of accurate assumptions about the cognition of another being. Our mind achieves this by generating a secondary mind and associating it with the person we’re concerned with. And whatever thought processes are carried out by the secondary mind, we assume that they are the thoughts of the person in front of us. This is how we are able to tell if another person is feeling angry, or sad, or bored etc.

The problem is that sometimes, our mind tends to apply the theory of mind on non-living, inanimate objects and forces, and treats them as living beings who can think and feel different things. An example is a guy who’s computer hangs up, and in anger, he strikes the keyboard or starts clicking furiously. The guy knows that doing this won’t make the problem disappear, but his mind has tricked him into temporarily believing that the computer is a living being that is trying to mock or deliberately annoy its user.

Just like that, when we see powerful acts being carried out by insensible forces of nature, like earthquakes, or lethal diseases resolving by themselves, we generate a “mind” for these forces as well. We think that nature is angry at us and that’s why its sending down earthquakes. We think that nature is happy with the way we have behaved and is blessing us by curing our diseases. We call this self-generated secondary mind “God”. Continue reading