Tag Archives: Religion

Why atheism doesn’t make sense to me

I’m not a religious person in the conventional sense. I’m not into rituals, I’m not into chanting of hymns or mantras on a regular basis and I can’t even remember the last time I visited a place of religion. When I was a teenager I used to take pride in the fact that I were an atheist, but as I grew up, I realized, even that too, in the conventional sense, I was not. While I believe in God, I don’t believe in the concept of “my God is better than your God”.

Not everything that has sustained over thousands of years is good and credible. There are many traditions that are inhuman and they need to be abolished and some of them, such as the practice of Sati (the burning of the widow along with the deceased husband on the pyre) in India. The practice of Sati is not a good example because it might not have been religious, but what I’m trying to say is, everything old and ancient doesn’t have to be right, so if people have been praying in front of various gods and goddesses even for thousands of years, it doesn’t have to be right. The gods and goddesses don’t have to exist simply because of that.

In India, especially in Hinduism, what I like is there is a god associated with every element found in the nature. So you have a rain god, you have a tree god, you have a wealth God, you have a destruction God, you have a creation God, you have river goddesses, and so on. For every action, for every blessing and for every malediction there is a God or a supreme being responsible for it. I like this, I mean I like the concept. This way you appreciate things. Trees give us life, and so does water, and so do various other things around them, and we should be grateful for them and we should take care not to exploit them, not to destroy them. I’m not saying that declaring them gods and shows their safety. For instance, in India cows are sacred, still they are treated inhumanly by the very same people. The jungles are sacred, but we saw recently what destruction their senseless cutting down wrought. Declaring everything as divine can be hypocritical sometimes.

Another downside of attributing everything to Gods is that then it becomes very easy to blame someone or something for our lack of effort and initiative. Very often people in India settle for a miserable existence thinking that this or that god is not happy with them, and hence, the misfortune.

Atheists, the sort of atheists we see protesting on the roads and in the conventions, are not protesting against gods, they are protesting against humans who have devised various practices to make people believe in certain gods. So it is not “not believing in God”, it is not believing in those practices and attitudes. Most people who become atheists are disgusted by the logic given by the so-called religious people. Many indescribable atrocities are committed in the name of religion all over the world. People are driven to ruin by the practitioners of this or that religion. Many countries have gone to war because of religion. Despite many benefits, there are also many disadvantages. Primarily this is why people become atheists.

Most people believe in science. When you believe in science, you’re mostly saying that everything came from the big bang. This is the beginning of time. Everything starts from the big bang. Really? Something must had triggered the big bang. Even if it was just a molecule, from where did that molecule come? If some force was applied, from where did that force come from?

Let us say you start reading a story. This story, just like the big bang, is the beginning of everything that is happening inside the story. The characters of the story cannot think beyond the first page, beyond the first sentence, beyond the first word, and beyond the first letter. But there you are, the possessor of the book, the turner of pages and the reader of words. There is an entire world around you. There are millions of books in the world. There have been millions of books in the world. Compared to the infinity of the universe, of course the infinity of the books cannot be compared, but on the human scale, you can say that the books are unlimited. Similarly, there can be millions of big bangs.

Something constantly triggers those big bangs. What is that thing? Things don’t come on their own. They originate. They don’t originate out of vacuum. According to this logic, we can never reach that primal entity because even for that primal entity, there has to be an entity before that to give birth to it. Does it ever end? Our current knowledge doesn’t answer that.

Atheists simply base their logic on science and at the most the big bang. This is silly and very narrow. Instead, they should say that they are against religion, not against God or at least the representation of God caricatured by the various religions of the world.

The mystery that gods are

For the past couple of days we have been seeing the heartbreaking images of the Kedarnath temple totally decimated by the ongoing floods and landslides. More than 62,000 tourists and pilgrims are still missing, 100s have already died. All over the Internet you can find the image of an 80-feet Shiva statue submerged under gushing waters. Just now I was watching on TV how a few devotees (looking beaten and wretched for whatever reason) were trying to save the idol of Dhari Devi from getting swept away, risking their own lives.

Drowning Shiva Temple

Historic temples and idols have been destroyed since the time immemorial. Natural disasters, attacks from foreigners, fire, epidemics, whatever, the gods inhibiting these temples are never immortal. They are as prone to destruction as the mortals worshiping them. Then why do we deem them so powerful? Why do we believe that a mere visit to the Sabrimala Temple will take care of our afflictions? Recently I read an article from an atheist who asked, why 100s of pilgrims are killed every year, visiting their revered shrines and temples? Most of them go with their own list of problems they want their god to sort out. And their gods kills them. What irony.

Destroyed Kedarnath Temple

I won’t be hypocritical here. A couple of years ago our daughter fell critically ill. For straight three days we was sitting beside her while she cried in pain. The condition was exacerbated by the fact that we had lost trust in doctors. The last day of her illness, sitting by her side, I prayed all night. Quietly, my wife pledged a visit to Vaishno Devi.

Was our daughter cured by my prayers and my wife’s pledge? Realistically, we know why she got cured. She had reacted adversely to the antibiotic administered by the doctors at the Max hospital. I have a friend who is a doctor and for long she has been struggling with the unpredictable health of her children. The point is, she is aware of the various problems kids can go through. Although I had been talking to her and consulting her all the time, suddenly she realized what was the problem. Some kids also need to be given another medicine to counter the adverse effect of the antibiotic. We gave her that medicine and within two hours she was sitting, watching her favorite cartoon and laughing. It was nothing short of a miracle.

Despite knowing why our daughter felt well (because of the advice given by my friend), when my wife couldn’t visit Vaishno Devi, we got quite worried. I am on wheelchair and at that time our daughter was around six. We haven’t got much family support so there was nobody she could leave behind in order to visit the temple.

Then after a couple of months, when a person known to us visited the temple, we sent some money and got the prasad from him. Although logically we both know that it isn’t proven that Vaishno Devi (being a divinity she must have enough intelligence to understand our problem) would be highly upset if we didn’t carry out the pledge, something kept nagging conscience. When it comes to our daughter, we don’t want to take chances. There are some powers we don’t understand, and neither make sense of. And since they have been there – in mind or whatever – and almost in every civilization, you got to take them seriously.

Both my wife and I are not overtly religious. We are often put off by the show put up by typically religious people – giving money to the temple while never helping another human being, or living a highly immoral life despite regular visits to various temples. My wife often says that the more morally corrupt you are, the more you want to visit temples and shrines. This might not be true for everybody, but for the majority, this holds true. Instead of going to temples and shrines, we would rather spend our time and money doing something worthwhile. Now, you can say that the person going to temples and shrines thinks that he or her is also doing something worthwhile, but I’m sure you are saying that for the sake of redundant argumentation. You very well understand my basic point.

So why isn’t our faith shaken when mighty temples are destroyed by the wrath of nature and by marauding foreign armies? The group of devotees trying to save the idol of Dhari Devi from the surging waters will be praying in front of the same idol to save them from the scourge of this flood, from which they have just saved the idol.