Posts Tagged ‘ God ’

Calm Down, Angry Atheists

“Calm down? CALM DOWN? The whole planet’s being bombed back to the stone age, and there’s no stop to anti-science campaigning, and the women are being oppressed, and the people are dying, and money’s being wasted and..”

There, I got that out of your system for you. Now huddle up and listen..

This is an angry blog by an angry atheist. Most, if not all, posts here include detailed explanations of how religion’s messing up the world. But that’s not all I do. I publish a maximum of two or three blog posts a month, and then go hang out with my Muslim friends either in person or online. I haven’t had a God debate with them in ages, even though we often disagree on things because of our markedly different perspectives. Continue reading

Gods that are made of Glass

I’m not a Hindu, nor do I have any real admiration for the philosophies of Vedanta. There is one story, however, that I’m quite fond of.

Swami Vivekananda during his journey through Kashmir, described as the “Earthly paradise”, came across a number of temples burnt to the ground by invaders. Countless images of the gods and goddesses, and other sacred relics, forever lost. It was at the temple of the Divine Mother Kali, that he fell down on his knees, overwhelmed by anguish. Anguish over his inability to prevent such desecration, and confusion over how the Goddess had allowed this sacrilege.

The Divine Mother Herself appeared before him and whispered, “Why does it it worry you, Vivekananda, if the invaders break my images? Do you protect me or do I protect you?”

In recent years, this story has gained immense popularity due to its relevancy to the raging debate on how to deal with blasphemers. I do not expect practising Muslims to be easily swayed by Hindu philosophies, but I do hope they’d  meditate on the message it bears. Continue reading

Religion: All in the Mind

Further info on these cognitive mechanisms and their propensity to “misfire”: Why Do We Believe in God?

Why It’s Hard to Defend God

Why Blame God?

Theists often accuse people of refusing to accept their own faults and blame God instead for all misery in the world. They call it escapism.

Following is a dialogue between a policeman and a witness to a horrible crime. I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out who’s right and who’s not.

Policeman: Can you explain what happened here?

Witness : Officer, I saw a man break into my house, torture my daughter for ten minutes, and then stab her in the neck.

Policeman: And where were you at the time?

Witness : Sitting right there in the room.

Policeman: I see. And what did you do?

Witness : Nothing.

Policeman: Nothing? You didn’t try to help?

Witness : Nope. It was none of my business.

Policeman: Oh. You were afraid for your own safety?

Witness : Nope. Actually, I have a powerful stun gun that I keep with me at all times. He couldn’t possibly have harmed me.

Policeman: So why didn’t you shoot the killer and save the poor girl?

Witness : Why didn’t YOU save her officer? Don’t try to blame your inefficiencies on me.

Policeman: Sir, we had to drive half way across the city to reach this place. We weren’t even aware of the crime until it was too late! You were sitting right here with your finger on the trigger! Why didn’t you help the girl?

Witness : (sighs) Escapism. I already told you, it wasn’t my responsibility to save my child. It’s your job. Get a faster mode of transport. Improve security or something. Why blaming me?

Policeman: But…but…you were right there! You didn’t even have to make any major effort! Why didn’t you do something?!

Witness : (Brief silence) Would you believe I was testing the response time of the city’s finest?

Policeman: At the risk of your beloved daughter’s own life?!!

Witness : Meh.

Policeman: Sir, what did you say your name was again?

Witness : Al Goddman, the Merciful One.

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