You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Worldview’ category.

This post is a response, a part of what will be an ongoing conversation with my friend wwf who has given this all-too-familiar-but-wiped-under-the-rug topic a (re?)start.+

To make a case for atheism and a case against the need for organized religion*, I do have to make a few assumptions about belief:

i. Your god did, at least, direct someone to write those books, if he (ever wondered why it’s usually ‘he’?) didn’t write it himself.

ii. The books claim mutually exclusivity in being correct.

iii. That, in fact, there is a great deal of similar phrases, ideas, metaphors (oh I like this one), stories, beginnings, endings & predictions amongst all these books or as some claim: complete each other. (“Spiritualists”, yes, that one is for you).

iv. That your god somehow intervenes in the workings of this world and our lives. Even now.

There is a reason I named this blog “Infinite Ascent”.

So, lets begin, what is atheism? It is purely a rejection of belief in the supernatural, the god-of-the-gaps, the creator of any caste, creed or religion. That is all that this term dictates. It does not describe morality, scientific inquiry or political ideologies. I will come back to this, maybe later as the conversation progresses. I think at this point, quite early indeed, I should mention why I take this stance and perhaps that would be my opening statement.

“I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet, that I haven’t understood enough, that I can’t know enough, that I’m always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” – Christopher Hitchens

I am considered to be one amongst the many nerds that inhabit this planet along with the ‘normal homo-sapiens’ on this tiny planet in a rather ordinary solar system. (I resent the term nerd, by the way.). Now I have been bought up in a very normal home and a quiet neighborhood almost completely shielded from the perils of the normal world (Though, I doubt the meaning of ‘normal’ and how biased that term is), but, indeed, it did direct my approach towards many things – education, behavior towards others, view on politics, religion etc. My grandmother, who was a chemistry professor with a zeal to teach that is similar to how Dr. Feynman would explain magnetism, is my Jonathan Livingston Seagull (if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend you do.). Indirectly, without my conscious knowledge, she taught me to be inquisitive & questioning of authoritative claims. I accept that I haven’t been very vocal in my school or undergraduate days unlike now. My father, a scientist and professor,  remains a constant of source of encouragement in my pursuit for understanding this world better and my mother who, again, without ever having to directly mention any words, taught me to see all people without coloring them by their beliefs. But neither my grandmother was, nor my parents are people without faith. A lot on the liberal side, indeed. This is where I come from.

Losing my religion.

I get questioned a lot, especially these days – surprisingly from people who have been on my Facebook friend list for quite a while, who do give their opinions on topics such as sports, tech, music, humor etc. “Are you an… atheist?” they ask. (How do people actually use their Facebook app? – a topic for another post, I guess). A simple ‘yes’, of course, doesn’t suffice, and then I, yes, I have to do the justification – and not them – for disagreeing to reject the obvious: that there is no plausible & provable way a ‘allah’, ‘jesus’, ‘brahma’  or FSM can exist. Funny how the world works.

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams

Now, I have never been really ‘religious’. Though I was indeed someone with tremendous amount of respect for this divine entity that was presented to me – in various forms – many in the hindu community, one in the christian, one in the muslim. I could never really make out the difference. Even as a kid, these holy books never made any sense to me. Really, why would god need a book to communicate with? and chants and prayers? Why would he (why ‘he’? was a question too) would create us to do a role play when he knows what will happen in the end? Many questions that were never answered when I was a child, and now I know for a fact that it cannot be.

I can’t pin point from when on I never believed in a deity of any that is clearly defined. But there are several factors that have had a compounded effect in helping me conclude that I need no such belief. The first was my interest in the stars. Sometime during my 4th – 5th grades, I was gifted the “Childcraft Encyclopedia”. Book #7 – The Universe was one that absolutely blew me away. A few years later, it was the ever popular “Brief History of Time” that completely changed my understanding of the universe and gave me a small sample of what is out there and what part is still unknown. Come undergraduate, I read Dr. Michio Kaku’s “Hyperspace” – a fun read on space in higher dimensions, possible explanations for the origins of the universe. I had never connected all this to a god. I had almost no interest in any such beings, any religion. But the spark came from fiction, surprisingly: Da Vinci Code – an average piece of fiction. And this was 6 years ago.

In these past 6 years of being an atheist, I have never had a single moment where I have had to reconsider my stand.

Against all gods.

That was a slight digression into my past, perhaps amusing to you. Now back to what I was talking (rather, typing) about earlier: the questions I get. I will try to answer as parts – why god, why faith & why religion.

“Why is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking a good thing?” – Bill Maher

When we were young, we have all wished for miracles – of various kinds – god to help us in exams, to win that game, to get that game you longed for etc. A year ago, my young cousin told me about her tooth-fairy to which I could only give an amused smile. I wasn’t sure if I should break the superstition. But she is still too young to understand.

What I am getting at… is that this same superstition (is there another?) is seen amongst adults. “Oh I believe that allah has this n that planned for me if I blow myself up”, “My faith tells me he made the universe in 6 days and adam n eve made us all…”. I really have to ask you – are you even thinking about what you are saying? Faith is by definition belief in that which has no proof and usually claimed by the faithful (even the liberal ones) as what we should have, to hope… or rather wish for.

I agree, we have all have faith in some or the other. I have faith in reason & the Enlightenment, in the spirited adventure of scientific discovery, in the ability of humanity to rise above itself and in love towards ones of our own species and the rest of it. I am not arguing against that which has gotten us this far. (Before you say “ah, even religion took us forward”, no, religion only slowed us down.). I am arguing against superstition and its, yes, sale in bulk. Some of you might say “Ah, we eat the flesh of christ on sunday but astrology… ah, pure hokum” and some vice-verse and others would say that both are superstition but that their god spoke to a desert nomad who was probably a schizophrenic as well. Really, aren’t you being hypocrites? Where are your critical thinking faculties which you so very correctly apply to everything else but your religion/faith?

“Religions tell children they might go to hell and must believe. Science tells children they came from the stars and presents reasoning they can believe…” – “Phil-Hell-Eenz

That one quote captures almost everything I despise about religion and why I embrace science as the only tool available to us which can reveal the deep mysteries of the cosmos and at the same time help us lead better lives.

As far as I can remember, religion has asked me to believe – in the eternal, ever existing being – the multitude of gods that are a part of the religion I had once followed. Many a times I have wondered – why do these beings seem to be an anthropomorphized versions of the natural world, only to answer to myself that maybe these are the gods taking care of all these events. Slowly these beliefs have eroded, making way for naturalistic explanations. Not for all, I will get back to the ones that have not been answered.

Similar cases can be seen in other religions as well. Like Christianity’s (rather, the church’s) vile idea of  limbo which is now taken off (it was not a core doctrine, but practiced.), its sale of indulgences, its pathetic excuses for pedophilia & Islam’s intolerant stand on free speech. Christianity’s rise also saw the end of the great library at Alexandria – and death of amongst many, the philosopher & mathematician – Hypatia (maybe for other reasons as well)  who had almost discovered what Copernicus would find out 1300 years later – displacing earth from the center. They took nearly 400 years to apologize for Galileo being right. To save their own ass (at least), they sided with Hitler. And Rwanda? How so low its teaching that some one was crucified for my sins which I may or may not make or were made? Its obsession with what marriage should be defined as as if it has some moral right to say so. This (Set aside ~40 minutes; part of a big debate which ended like this) is a better summary of why the catholic church is far from being any good unlike any claims made about its greatness.

Islam? Should I even start on this? And what about hinduism? I must praise it for coming quite close to modern cosmology, but still it too is filled with its superstitions, its vile (now mostly defunct) practices – sati, its caste system – part of the books or not, it was and is part of the culture and mostly, for its current ardent followers – its absolute obsession with making India a ‘hindu state’ (a topic I will get back later).

What has religion done other than segregate? Even today – at least in my country – religion plays a role in who you can be with, family “statuses” make and break relations – be it christian, hindu, muslim or division based on geography. Religion stopped science advances – even in the past decade – by the stupidity of the decision to ban stem cell research to take an example.

If (not A) does not imply B, so why science then?

When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, of the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust.” -Robert Green Ingersoll

In these past 4 years, I have read, watched, listen to more about the study of the natural world than ever before. I have learnt a bit of what is already known – at least I think of it that way. And what is known is certainly hinting that we know more n more about less n less. Compare what the the last 400 years of scientific advancement and the 4000 years of religious history. Our ever increasing knowledge gained through science and reasoning has showed us our real place in vast cosmos, birth of life, our relationship to earth and the universe, improved our way of life, made us realize that beyond our color difference, beliefs, education, location on the map, age or sex – that we are all the same. It has given us a new understanding of our existence and continues to enrich us with reality – that though we may be insignificant and even the planet doesn’t consciously know of our existence – we are, as the late Dr.Carl Sagan says, a way for the cosmos to know itself. In the whole of the cosmos – though unlikely – we might be the only beings capable of understanding all this. At every stage – religion has had to recede its claims of god and his magical ways when science provides a natural explanation. flat world, wrong, (imperfect) sphere. center of universe, no, far from being significant. diseases? no witchcraft or prayer, yes medicine. religion says yes slaves, humanism & science – no, we are all the same. etc etc…

I find this path to be more enriching than to live in hopes of living past my death or praying to something for there is no evidence or even a single good reason (at least one plausible reason for any one god). Better to be living for the now and to ensure a future for our species than to let people maintain superstition and have delusion make claims in public spheres. I also find our reality to be grossly out of place with belief in organized religion out there. The fundamentalists are cuckoo into ‘believing’ nonsense over provable fact. And the liberals are already walking on thin ice attempting to be accommodating of both science and religion when clearly the two have no correlation. Really – jesus n resurrection when the bible seems to be all messed up n conveniently read as metaphor or literal so as to fit current scientific understanding? that allah spoke to a desert nomad? that gods n demons actually churned the seas? all or some of this and you agree that we are a product of astonishing natural phenomena? I am surprised anyone can call themselves rational and still have this cognitive dissonance within them. I mentioned earlier that I call this blog “infinite ascent” for a reason: its just as a celebration of the ever ascending human spirit. Victory over dogma, superstition, improving our life, and preparing ourselves for the future.

I simply reject or rather, do not even begin to accept a case for god of the books because of the implausibility of such a being ever existing. I shall go into more details as the conversations progresses.

pardon, the thoughts might be a bit mixed up. I shall make up for it in the later posts.

peace,

-Suraj

P.S

+ – It is also in response to the many arguments/debates/discussions that some notice and take part on my Facebook page.

* – This is necessary because devoid of religion, god has no ‘specific’ meaning; we would be all atheists with respect to another’s belief. A case against organized religion and its spin-offs is necessary condition, certainly not a sufficient condition for proof against a personal, interacting god.

 

Advertisements

Damn, a nice holiday spoiled by some disgusting news. Hypocrisy oozes. The double standards of the catholic church came to light – actually just news that piles on.

Here it is-

Link 1 – the Int’l version.

Link 2 – the Indian version.

I hear people praise the church for its greatness, kindness and being the cornerstone of moral values. Ah, “What a f***ing Joke?”.  When a bad news comes along – only those people involved are picked on. As can be read, nearly 4 archbishops were involved in keeping these scandals down. I wouldn’t be surprised that others are involved. These ‘Men of God’ are just humans, and evidently involved in pedophilia – how could they be the ones who pass on the word of the great santa jesus? Not that I am accusing the pope – but he too came through these ranks – ought to be a human just as much, so how can you be even sure what he is saying is something God told him (like the birth control joke)? How can be considered to be someone greater than us (of course, lesser than jebus)? Yet these very people are still looked up to. Kinda double standards, aint it? Ah, add the word ‘Religious’ to any act, and lo n behold, its an one that is beyond human control and laws of the land. Everything becomes legal. Christopher Hitchen’s made a statement in his book “God is not great”, a one liner – ‘No child’s behind left’ – pointing out the issues of child abuse within the catholic ranks (using the tag of the NCLB law that was passed in 2002 in the US). And the atrocities continue. Moderately religious people, knowingly or (most often) unknowingly become the facade/wall for these sexually repressed people, just as much it fuels the fundamentalist. Please take a look at the cost at which your solace and comfort comes.

This is what happens when moral values, religious beliefs, politics & money are conflated. “But I believe in the church” is really a stupid statement in this regard. It is based on circular reasoning. The church is the very body consisting of the clergy. and those are the very people involved. A great many number, I hear. Maybe I am wrong about the number, but still. And I also agree, there are good people as well. But lets look at it this way – when satyam computers was charged with the scams (actually its CEO), a lot many number of employees were considered to be a part of the sham. The actions of a few people in charge defamed everyone else, just because we couldn’t be sure. Why is the church so immune to this? The very clergy who are part of this atrocity are the people who ‘pass on the good message’. Just because they pass on a good message don’t make them good people. When was the last time someone went to a convicted criminal to seek some good values? Something I can’t understand is the lengths to which people go to justify these atrocities.

Take this: (from Link 2)

Dr Paul Thelekkat, a spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Catholic church said he had some sympathy for sister Jesme, and respected her freedom to express her views, but he believed her claims were trivial. “How far what she says is well-founded I can’t say, but the issues are not very serious. We’re living with human beings in a community and she should realise this is part of human life,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Just wow. :|

My point is – we are all human – even the pope/mullah/high priest. Understand that they are fallible. How silly are people when they look up to priests, esp when many are tainted by such crimes? Hence ergo, that what all the leaders of the religions say/preach should be reasoned within our current framework – morally, logically and be evidence based. Just because we find something going against our belief doesn’t mean that the evidence is wrong or fabricated, but that we may have to reevaluate our sources of reason and in this case – morality. The pillars of faith are only as strong as what the constituents of those pillars are. And we can see, now, clearly, that these break down. Hence be sure the ‘high ground’ built on these pillars might fall.

Be humble, we may fall, our beliefs might be proven wrong, but realizing that these beliefs might be replaced by new ones would help a lot in preserving our ability to reason, to be objective, to be moral, and not let such cretins and bigots run the show.

I am torn between the meaning of the day – ‘Thanksgiving’. I had great time with my friend’s at a home, the family had invited us. Yes, I did enjoy the lunch and the time there – very nice people, but these questions lingers in my head where I am unable to get a clear picture –

Do we really have to pay such a price to enjoy such a holiday? How far are we going to remain silent? Have we lost sight of our humanity in the name of the divine? Really, has evidence no more value with rise in subjective thinking, that objective truths have no value?

Most importantly – who is to blame?

Shakespeare’s quote that is apt, and true:

“But then I sigh, and with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stolen forth of holy writ,
And seem I a saint, when most I play the Devil.”

:angry & confused:

neo.

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

Forewarning: What I will be writing here, in this specific entry, will anger, sadden, frustrate, oppose and/or offend many. But that is not my intention. I am just worried. Really worried. So now that you know the emotions that this entry may evoke & has made me write this, you may continue. This one is unapologetic, there is no other way I can convey my thoughts.

These pages should be read: Which Club? & The Idea of Indignation

And 2 videos to watch:

“Religulous” – documentary by Bill Maher & “Root of all Evil?” – Documentary by Richard Dawkins.

This entry has a lot in line with this video: Marcus Brigstocke on Religion

Here we go…

I have not made an entry on my page for a long time. I really wanted to write some happy news or happening. But the there is so much wrong happening that I would have to be inhumanly ignorant to blab away about all the good things. I really wanted to write about my work which was so exciting… I wanted to write about the Discovery ad – ‘the world is just awesome’… Mr.Obama being a sign of hope. Well, a few waves did crash my mood, unsettling my mind in never before ways. Incidents relating to Mangalore, Kashmir, Orissa, Iraq … rise of partisanship, push for joining of state and religion, claims of India being a Hindu country, (im)moral policing, attempts by government to solve the wrong problems, lack of interest in being proactive, honest and transparent in taking decision about jobless hooligans like leaders of extremist organization, the treacherous level of corruption… to the deteriorating environment, the green house effect… to the bursting of the eco-bubble, to the evanescence of human values… everything seems to be going through a fall…

The Joker was right after all – “… their morals… their code, it’s a bad joke.”

This is a quote from a 1976 movie, The Network:

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, and shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it…”

These are words which a few, hopefully many, like to shout out at those trying close down our world into a controlled one, done in pure self interest.

I agree, though I am completely against religion, I have been, and still am, very much accommodative with people following it to the point where they keep it to themselves even if their book says that, pick from any of these – ‘I am the way…’, ‘The infidels must die…’ and the latest offering of people backed, hooliganism – ‘This is not Indian culture’.

I really don’t understand this: we are living in an age of technology which is supposed to bring us peace, prosperity, better life etc. But somehow none of that exists. We are forever running to make a living usually forgetting to live. There is violence at home, in the streets, unrest in the state, a government interested only in ‘condemning terrorist acts’ ALL the time. But that’s it. Nobody knows what to do, at least those who should are conveniently ignorant and very well the backbone support for these extremists. We are living in a community which depends on new technology – 3G phone, internet connectivity, personal computers and vehicles. We embrace all of it; we crave for it yet are plagued by our unshakeable want to stick to primitive, inane, Stone Age beliefs. Yes, the atrocities of the ‘Sri Rama Sene’ are not acceptable. And this was the tipping point for me. I was further shocked and agitated by support it received from the govt., other extremist groups and even some from the common (?!?) public. Our leading parties are so involved in them that it’s quite not possible to shake them off. Like a parasite, these groups along with corruption, greed has all grown roots so deep into our core system. Change is necessary. Not the sort being spoken about by Mr. Advani, Mr. Muthalik or the sort by Mr. Manmohan. The communist party too is marred by many charges of corruption – they; too, don’t show the way to change.

The one I am expecting come from each and every one of us. It comes from within. The simple view that each has right to freedom, of course, within the boundaries of the law. That this can be practiced without fear. That there is no difference between man and woman. The ‘she’ is just as good, and like statistics say – ‘she’ is better than ‘he’. Equality is not bound to man. It’s the right of every human being on planet earth. Same follows with other living beings. Our country’s issues with this are many. Killing of female babies, dowry related issues (I am shocked that people give & take it, openly).

Well, those pro-Hindu’s – if you did be a bit more knowledgeable, as the Hindu is supposed to be – very brilliant, astute, analytical and humble – then you should understand that human beings evolve. Which plainly and clearly means – culture changes. Seriously – what do you mean: ‘This is not Indian Culture’? A culture is only constant within the confines of an age. And I really don’t understand which time period you are pointing to? Even if you point to a particular age – are you, all who a part of the emerging India, planning on taking us back in time from which we escaped? A world which was mired in shackles of the caste system? One which promoted honor killings? One which carried out Sati? I honestly believe some of the followers of the pro-Hindutva culture are seriously blinded by their faith. I must say – many are severely and seriously misinformed and so ignorantly, no ready to think and break their baseless faith. Do they even believe in Ram? This is one character, of the books, who is upright, and absolutely gracious. These people, the sene and the likes, are contradicting their own value system by acting like this. They are also mimicking the same extremist attitudes of other religions they profess are wrong. This is more than enough proof that they are driven by hatred and not by love for their deity. Also, these people seem to be lacking the simplest understanding of human tendency to revolt against force.

That ideas are best conveyed and received by others through dialogue and giving respect and not through force, violence, fear is an understanding lacking in all these fringe groups who are all collective-brawn and not brain.

If I were to define “India” – at least what it ought to be – ‘A democratic country, free of prejudice, favoring progress of life, embracing various cultures, one that promises to curb corruption, look over personal greed and usher in a new hope that human life will continue to co-exist, peacefully – all this on choice, not on force.”. How many of us can comply with this? Many would say this is way too idealistic. But for one, should we always be trying to create order, move towards perfection, and one step at a time? Yes, we should. Many would say they can’t go past their religious views or give up on the competition on which religion maintains the majority… Can’t we realize that what matters is one’s own faith, if ever it is that important? Yes, we should.

I am sure many wont. For, they can’t. They are far too ‘patriotic’ (Some use that word, very wrongly). They are too religious. They are too self righteous & zealous. Some plainly claim our country to be a religious state – rules set by one, rest of them let to live. This is the land of Aryabhatta, of Akbar, of Ramanujam, of Tipu Sultan, of Shivaji, of Bhagat Singh, of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, of Mahatma Gandhi, of Jawaharlal Nehru, of a million sacrifices, of you, of me, of our friends, of those who disagree with us. Like very few other nations, we are nation that lets each one of us be them. So not for one moment is Mr. Muthalik and his aides and followers and supporters right when they say this is a Hindu Nation. If you agree with Mr. Mutalik Ignoramus, you are not patriotic – you are fundamentalist, blind, and only accelerating an almost inevitable break down of humanity.

Continuing on the issue at hand, the issue of such extremists messing up for the rest of us doesn’t end with just this one Sri Ram Sena or a Shiv Sena. So do not, for a moment, think I am pinpointing one of them alone. I recently watched Bill Maher’s ‘Religulous’. It was an eye-opener. I always used to hear about people believing in fantastical and incoherent claims backed by absolutely no logic or reason or speck of proof, but faith. His documentary showed me how far the lunacy can go. The documentary clearly showed the real idiosyncrasy of Christian faith – all the variations – ministries, catholic …etc, some I’m seeing for the 1st time.

It is disgusting to learn about the opposition to given by Christians, in particular, to stem cell research. A study that holds so much hope for many who are ill with incurable diseases like advanced stage cancer, AIDS etc. Stem Cell research may be their only chance. But the people of US (read: Christians) give the lame reason of 3-5 day old lab specimen to have life. If to save a 3 day old petridish sample, they are ready to sacrifice the lives of so many people who are expecting one last chance, I am appalled at the ‘morality’ of the religion. Even more disgusting is the attempt to get people in Africa to refrain from use of condoms. In a continent with AIDS on a rampage, that’s not exactly human to advice people in such manner. Yes, I am sure that ‘family values’ aspect will come up – but seriously – how long will it take to really let people understand that? Come on, half of US can’t understand evolution and believe in creationism, Shouldn’t it be obvious that people don’t change easily?!. By the time, there is a cure for AIDS, the entire continent will dead or may generate new viruses – Resident Evil 5, anyone?

Okai, maybe your ‘God’ is the ‘way’ and the ‘light’. So be it, don’t try to influence others – persuasion can get on people’s nerves. Isn’t obvious – Orissa? Remember? Oh, don’t assume I supporting the militants of that attack. But the point is – just as you hold your faith high, others do the same to theirs. So, refrain. Faith is something really personal and can really tick off people when their space is encroached. I am not aware of extremism of the obvious kind but be sure, it does exist (E.g: Dominionism – I am just reading up on it, on wiki.). I really don’t understand how the ‘believers’ really think US is a Christian nation. This is by one of the founding fathers of US:

I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.”

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.”

All of this is said by Thomas Jefferson. The others were, too, equally, against a connection between State and Church. I really don’t get it; even Jefferson’s book makes no claims of Jesus’ divinity or miracles. It is only the moral teaching of Jesus which I agree are to help lead a good life. And in the past 8 years, after the Sept 11 attack, US has gone on overdrive pushing Christianity and it’s delusions – creationism etc. The last reign – the Bush era plundered the system for 2 terms. It doesn’t take a lot of ingenuity to realize the mess Bush put, not just America through, but the whole world. They now have a sensible person for a president. When do we get one who will bring about such a change?!

As for Islamic fundamentalism, I guess there is more than enough criticism out there. I am not able to comprehend their case for ‘Jihad’. What exactly do you want to prove? Haven’t you created enough problems for you and for everyone not involved? Made a 9/11, provoked a world on the verge of communal discord, got a war that’s been going on for 8 years, destroyed the economy (partly the reason), and made the vast majority of moderate, innocent Muslims look like you. Now here Muslims are always looked upon with a caution & doubt. I am not sure why religion suddenly got all so important. Why mess up so much? The inanity and hatred content of the text is astounding for it has actually survived for so long – it is logically inhuman to follow what is mentioned. At least, I only know that the phrase (one’s relating to the ‘infidel’ and all that goes with it?) are present and has to be followed to be a true Muslim – what is ‘true’?! I know a few friends of mine who are very good people. They are Muslim, their family too is very accommodating, get along with everyone they know and really helpful. Where does all this Taliban, Al-Qaeda and LeT fit in? – What do you groups want?

My history is quite hazy, but the push for Pakistan? Why? The massacres that happened during the period of formation of the 2 states, it could’ve been avoided. I can’t really come to the conclusion that ‘A Muslim State’ wasn’t exactly the need of the hour, but an area under control of a few people who were politically motivated and religiously blinded. Look where we are now.

This cosmic, inter-gallatic, super-duper battle has been going on for ages, ruined civilizations, massacred people, brought down economies, upset the entire balance. All you religious people, who seek solace in ‘your God’ – please give a thought on what your deep and infallible faith has brought about in this world. Yes, probably the religion was important at a time, but that is a world and time well past. We are in a world of escalating lawlessness, deeply rooted and ingrained corruption and sectarian violence. The environment is almost irreparably polluted bringing about diseases and situations we have never had to come across before. The economy is leaving many of without ways to feed ourselves leading to increasing crime rates. We have ‘wars on terror’ going on. We had 2 world wars encompassing horrors beyond the imaginable, we can’t take one more. Our world won’t survive it. There are so many problems more, so much more important than petty religious differences or concerns which mean nothing in real life.

All religions are just like the languages of the world. Each speaks its words of wisdom and ill. Just like languages are beautiful and ugly by words that can be formed by the medium. Just as we try to learn other languages, so should we approach other religions. When we are insistent on holding on to just one, we end up not understanding the other, doubting everyone who doesn’t speak your language. This is our problem. Narrow-mindedness. Many of us are infected by this, some incapacitated, some so dependent on it that they are ready to kill to protect that which they believe is rightfully theirs.

This blog entry was so important to me. It is almost a cry. A plea to end this madness. I request no abandoning of faith. I request only a change of approach. One of intellectual inquiry. One through discussion and public discourse. I demand only peace.

Human civilization has its last stand cut out. Either we trivialize our religions and differences or die fighting for each one’s religious right. To complete the dialogue which I pasted in the beginning of this entry:

“… Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone! I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad! You’ve got to say, “I’m a HUMAN BEING, GODDAMNIT! My LIFE has VALUE!!

Yes. I have wanted to say all of this for some time now. I have said enough that took off a lot of weight from my heart…

I leave you with the lyric to the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdybbBXDlOc (This is the cover by ‘A Perfect Circle’)

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

…. Someday, I hope…

Peace.

Neo.

Who Am I?

Hume's philosophy says I am just a figment of imagination.

Physics demonstrates that I am, like everyone else, made of star dust.

Biology explains that I am, like everyone else, a product of evolution by natural selection.

Neuroscience clarifies that I, like everyone else, have no free will.

Reality, almost, threatens that I, like everyone else, occupies an almost negligible portion of time & space.

Whatever may be the case, where ever it may lead me to, I am on a journey, as should you, to find out more about the world and universe(s?) I live in and love so dearly for all I have. After all, we have this one life.

The World Through My Eyes

Rabble in a Box

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.