As many would’ve seen those status messages on gmail/facebook/twitter – saying how happy I am, and how I am really enjoying my studies, there is another side to the coin. Something disturbs me, unsettling me. I want to tell you a story, it ain’t my original idea – this is from Crazedream – shortened and abridged:

“Year 3000: Humanity has fallen, the great war, which happened 900 years ago, wiping away nearly the whole of human race. e-bombs wipe away almost the whole of the information networks and communication systems. Pushing back our life to 1500’s – so to say, technology wise, an entire generation passes away with people scattered in little pockets around the globe with no way of communicating with one another even a few 100 miles away. no radio, no morse code wires. A life spend attempting to survive – education remains on a low priority. Almost an animal way of life. With no real way of remembering how things were back before the war, those who eventually gather together try to piece together the history. Fear ran amok. Feared the black, smoke filled skies, the black waters filled with what they could guess to be garbage. There practically no to understand what has happened – atleast to fathom the change that has happened. Desparate to find a way to ward of their fears, they look for something to give them strength. There was a strange bright light that shown through the dark skies once in a day, it gave them warmth, the air felt less sooty – for a moment they felt better. There was a growing admiration amongst ‘the gathered’ for this ray of light. Everyday at around the same time of the day(or night) it would shine on a old wrecked out building which had board reading ‘library’. Inside they found some partially burnt copies of books. Some read of the amazing wizard kid who did (what we now know as) magical stunts, another showed pictures of a group of men and a women who strived to stop violence, of a man who was beyond ‘space and time’ known as dr.manhattan. They were amazed. People started making predictions. They really thought Dr. Manhattan or the Magic kid could be a divine entity. Some believed the former, some the latter…. hence there came up two races – one called themselves the ‘Watchmen’ and the other ‘Gryffindor’. The groups grew in number. Some became followers of ‘Moloch The Mystic’, some of the ‘Slytherin’. Some even of ‘Captain America’. Some of ‘Batman’! Some became absolutists and started drawing moral binary systems like those of ‘V’ and ‘Rorschach’. Eventually the population began to grow, people started to travel spreading the word. The usual order of peace was broken when, occasionally, when people started to debate the possibility of which God really existed. The worlds didn’t appear to coincide. It didn’t take long for debates to flare up, eventually rioting, fights, murders started to happen in the name of their God. No one till then had read the original copies found at the ‘library’. The copies were distributed. Once the fights started to ensue, some people protested. And requested the heads of each religion to show the original. Then people found out this that the word ‘Novel’ was written on the top left corner. Something no one had bothered to check – to dust away all that fine dust over the print. And when the religious books of other God’s were checked – they all had similar markings. There they understood the tragedy and their misunderstanding.”.

That is the story I wanted to tell you all.

I want to make a few of points here:

1.) I am sure many would’ve thought “What? Harry Potter? Dr. Manhattan? How silly can people be? Isn’t it obvious that its a story?”. Ask that to what you are believing in. Isn’t it EXACTLY based on this: Please click here. (That applies to any religion, btw).

2.) Another argument may come from the timespan, well, its a story I wanted to put across. I am not a futurist. But I do know the history. Most remain inconsistent with their origins. The Hindu books have no really specific time, but only a period in which these came into existence. The bible took almost 300 years to come out, in a  council convened by a power hungry ruler.

3.) How many of you have tried ‘dusting away’ the ‘dust’?

—-

So what is that I really want to convey here?

My point is that we are biased, almost involuntarily, to our beliefs. And I am talking about our religious beliefs. Some find that the man who walked on water and fed 100’s with a few loaves of bread is absolutely plausible whereas they find the events of Vishnu’s avatars to be clearly a parable, or that Muhammad  couldn’t have actually taken off on a flying horse is really a silly thing to say. Just because their holy books says that Christ is the only way. Its exactly what is shown in the link in Point #1.  That their beliefs are just as much a parable (not a really good story at that, btw) as the rest of them. There is something about indoctrination from childhood that makes believe so strongly that ‘our God’ really did visit earth and the rest are just making up stories. It is really childish to think so, almost as much as the belief is childish.

Dr. Francis Collins, Head of the NIH & the Genome Project, a remarkable scientist if you read his profile, makes one fallacy in his theory that there is an intelligent designer – that our morals is the most important ‘signpost’ left by God. Well, even I, a non biologist and non-psychologist and @ 25 years of age, can prove him wrong. I ask you, whoever is reading this – If you are a christian, then you must be aware that some parts of the old testament aren’t very human-friendly and pretty much violent. Right? Same – if you are a Muslim – again – many violent quotes? That is not actually what I wanted to point out. What I want to point out is – many say – “oh thats in the old testament” or “that is to be interpreted in a different way” or that “those quotes were written in their time” – do you observe an obvious fallacy on their stand regarding humanitarian values and ability to differentiate between good and bad? (Hinduism doesn’t work exactly in this way, but doesn’t mean its different) Very few may.

My friend mentioned it to me. The real question is – if you are able to find out what is good and bad about “God’s word” on your own and make a judgment to follow or reject those phrases – are you really getting your moral values from the ‘good book’?? Everytime you copy in that odd exam, or help someone with their assignment work? or trick someone into divulging information, or download a pirated software, or lie to a person, what is your moral premise? If most of us can’t justify our morality even in such trivial circumstances, how can we justify a rape, a murder, the holocaust (Hitler was a Christian, a weird one at that, and no, his books do not refer to Darwin/Evolution), the wars? And now for a really technical talk, by Dr. Andy Thomson who explains why Dr. Francis Collins and almost every who believes that they are moral because of their holy book, get it wrong. (its 51 mins long, so take time out to watch it, if you are interested. But I would insist.)

Another reason to write this entry, and to watch that video is that most of us just believe. Some to go with the tide, to be accepted in the community, some from fear, some due to pre-conceived notion of reaching heaven, some even for the money it tends to bring in. The most important factor, the one that tends to be overlooked is that just because we ‘believe’ it to be true, doesn’t make it true (as much as many have argued with me that just because I do not believe doesn’t mean that there is no God {I dunno why I use ‘G’ rather than ‘g’. Probably the last strain of ‘tolerance’ for this idea, that’s left in me. :P}). I read one page about the mail Prof. Richard Dawkins sent his daughter (ah, this site)- producing a part of it here:

“…And how do we know that Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the sun? The answer to these questions is ‘evidence.’ “.

Faith by its inherent explanation is believing without evidence. (I know you might be prompted to shout out about evolution, and astrophysics theories, hold your horses.). Answer this to yourself, do you have ANY proof outside of that ‘circular proof theory’ (link on Point#1)? Bet you don’t have anything but faith! Yes, getting back to what I wanted to say – most of the believers are just believers.  There is no real ‘reasoning’. I am not asking people to drop their faith, but analyze it. Scrutinize it. Observe if it holds with everyone. Oh, best is to apply the Baloney Detection Kit. (Its a really good way to test theories, of ANY kind.). Its both funny and sad that people who are otherwise, so knowledgeable and able to comprehend complex equations and diagrams, tend to see the irrationality of their faith.

Coming down to Darwin’s theory. Its the bicentennial year, and 150th year of publication of the Origin of Species. To be honest – I could accept this in class 6 or 7 of my school. But I didn’t connect this to what it meant to my, then theistic, beliefs. I never connected the two. I dunno if my teacher was thinking about its implication as well. Anyways. I submit that proof of evolution is not equivalent to proof that there is no higher power. But it does take apart, almost completely, the religious beliefs. Which is why its so controversial. Hell, I read about Darwin – even he couldn’t fathom, initially, what he had discovered. But now the controversy is really silly. There is almost an insurmountable proof for the theory of evolution by natural selection. Recently Ardi adding to the set already rock solid evidence. But many reject it, they have to accommodate their religious beliefs. This is absolutely criminal – to overlook evidence just because we have to accept that we were wrong in believing in something magical, if I maybe harsh. Like Prof. Dawkins call them – ‘History Deniers’. I like that term.

Many say people should accommodate others ideas. No, not the absurd ones!! When did you last accommodate the theory of a flat earth in your science class?? When did you last accept that ‘witch-hunting’ is good or ‘sati’ is acceptable or honor killings??

I am not sure if you’ve noticed, but we are, by nature & even choice, inherently ‘programmed’/prone to resist change. It is like the force of friction. A sense of fear. It opposes motion by acting against the applied force. But little given thought to,  is the fact that it is friction that allows for any motion. Overcoming that frictional force  is change. Evolution by Natural Selection is a prime example of the forward moving force, and our ‘resistance to change’ the necessary frictional force. Maybe our ability to lead an anti-Darwinian lifestyle where we actually are more altruistic than competitive (only in our capacity. But, to watch competition – look at a job fair :P). Its because of our highly evolved brain that we are able to do so. If you are altruistic because of your God, then how do you justify this? If only your religion is right, how was what happened inthe video possible? and how about the capability of elephants and dolphins to be astonishingly altruistic?  Any effort to point out that ‘God made them too’, I direct you to the picture on ‘Point# 1’ above in this post. If you continue to reject Evolution, you are just being ignorant with some desperate hopes. Get used to it – there is probably no one up there.

I talked to couple of my friends before writing this. Both theists and very close friends of mine. 1 person asked me to go ahead with this. The person didn’t reply due to a busy schedule. I have decided to go ahead with posting this because, though, this may sound unpleasant and grating on ones ‘closely held beliefs’ – there is something to be told – respect and tolerance are two different things. I have only the latter towards religious beliefs, but not much of the former if there is no way to question it. and it is important to question faith, religion and their gods just as much as any theory out there. (think I am getting over using the ‘G’!) Its important to know and to understand. Critique of a long held belief should happen and only with evidence should it be accepted.

To those who still doubt (not that I could convince you otherwise), should read the book ‘The greatest show on earth’ by Prof Dawkins, and ‘Why Evolution is True’ by Prof Jerry Coyne. Keep yourself informed and THEN if its still not a plausible theory to you, then you can continue with your 6000/2000/1400 year old belief systems. There is no real other way to explain to people than by presenting evidence. Evolution by Natural Selection is not a hypothesis. Its a fact. Just because we cannot gauge 4, 5, 60 million years, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. It happened. And what we see around us and the change we see every minute is a proof affirming that theory. We think 2000 years was a long time ago when it was possible for a magic man to have done a lot of things, but 60 million – na! How absurd of you. Even the Church of England accepts evolution (I agree with it a little in its content.).

To question like why are we here, I honestly don’t think there is a reason why we are here, as in a pre ordained purpose. We create a purpose for ourselves by using our brains and skills to understand our world. The reason of our existence is a part of continuous process of evolution, this is our time. Don’t assume.

I am an atheist, not because I know everything, but because I accept facts for what they are, not due to any emotional inclinations. I find it irrational to overlook at the advancement of our specie, how much we now know from what we knew a few 100 years ago. I find it inhuman to accept a loving God of any religion when I see the state of many countries in Africa. Facts remain facts. Avoiding reasoning and  ignoring them for emotions/beliefs is a crime and the victim is our own integrity.

I always wanted to quote Bill Maher (this cannot be phrased better) (I think I have mentioned this before as well), from Religulous:

Religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state, not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. Faith means making a virtue of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it, are our intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings, who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Let’s remember what the real problem was: that we learned to precipatate mass death, before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That’s it. Grow up or die.”

Its not far from the truth, if you think about it.

“Wonder. Think. Reason. Understand.”

peace.

-neo

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