My two cents on religious intolerance.

A lot of things are going on in my country lately – evil things, intolerant things, inhuman things – each one punching a hole deeper into my heart. How did we become like this? When did rape and murder become justifiable? Intolerance of any kind is harmful to the society. But I’m afraid that is where we’re going to end up in near future. India is a country that prides itself with the slogan, “Unity in diversity”. But all I see is “Hatred in diversity” looming on the horizon.

When a certain Health Minister of the country proclaimed to the masses, “Promote Indian culture, not condoms, to prevent AIDS”, I should have been wary that this was going to be the beginning of a string of other comments aimed at plastering archaic morals on the population. What exactly is “Indian culture”? There is no definitive answer. But if you know anything about culture, it’s that it’s not a constant. Culture morphs according to time, and nobody gets to decide and write down laws according to which you are supposed to live your life. What the aforementioned health minister meant when he referred to Indian culture is that sex is between a husband and wife only. And yet, you have Hindu Gods who broke this rule all the time. So where exactly are these morals, this self-proclaimed “culture” stemming from? Ooh, I know, the pigeon brained human.

And this is the problem when you bring religion into everything. Sometimes, life is just life, without any divine and spiritual underpinnings. So why does practicality go out the window in most of the cases? The only explanation I can come up with is this – it makes them feel good about themselves. And sometimes, humans will go to any lengths to achieve it. Is pre-marital sex wrong according to you? That’s fine, it’s your opinion. It’s your decision. Total respect. But you need to now that that doesn’t make you a better person than me. You’ve just chosen a different lifestyle. That’s all there is to it. But more importantly, you have no right to go around criticizing people who break the rule you have imposed on yourself. And this is where our society fails.

Now I know for a fact that the majority of the urban Indian population doesn’t give a shit about all of this. Most of us have learned to “live and let live.” Which is great. But I also know for a fact that there are a lot of people out there who get outraged with the deeds of others. How can two men, against nature, sleep together? How in the name of God can a Hindu eat beef? How can a woman wear skimpy clothes and not be calling attention to herself? But the thing is, these are not your problems. If you don’t understand them, so be it. You have all the right to worry, you have zero right to oppose.

You have all the right to worry, and zero right to oppose.

Just this last week, a Muslim man was lynched by a mob of Hindus based on rumors that he was consuming beef. Here’s the interesting thing, the man in question was a Muslim who has no obligation whatsoever to forgo beef. And yet, the village community found it horrifying that somebody could actually eat cow. You can understand their worry, given their belief system. But to actually go ahead and inflict death on that person? No amount of “culture” and “religion” can justify this. While I’m happy that the President of India Mr.Modi has finally broken silence on this matter and urged everyone to stay united and not heed provocations by communal leaders, I’m not still happy with the way a lot of other things are going on in this country.

There is just too much intolerance and hatred floating around. And sometimes even among educated people. And this is what saddens me. Because for a country to progress, the last thing you want is people fighting among themselves. But there are some groups out there( religious, right-wing, whatever you want to call it) who seem to be hell bent on polarizing the population over religious matters. Call it the Indian equivalent of Jihad, if you may. And it’s terrifying.

A couple of questions that Theists cannot conclusively answer

In case any of you are still not in-the-know, I’m an atheist. And not a snotty one at that. I’m also not on the fence like many people (coz that would make me an agnostic) and so I don’t go around telling people that ‘I don’t know if there’s a God or not.’ I utterly disbelieve the God hypothesis, simple as that.

But I respect people’s choice of faith, and as long as nothing bad comes out of religion I’m totally fine with it. But I also endeavor to try and encourage people to pragmatically approach the concept of God.

So I was just thinking today at work about the stuff that God-believers cannot give a satisfactory answer to and my mind stumbled upon the below points. Peruse them carefully and see if you can come up with an answer that’s NOT

1) God has a plan
2) God works in mysterious ways.

Question 1:

Why are Gods localized? If there is indeed one God, why doesn’t he/they make themselves apparent to the entire population? Each religion preaches that theirs is the only correct explanation. So why didn’t people in Rome know about Hindu gods too? Why did the Hindu gods only establish themselves in India and the neighboring countries? Why did both Christianity and Islam take root in the Middle East? If all Gods wanted was universal praise and following, why didn’t they just appear to more people throughout the globe? And why would they risk leaving out China, the one with a large fraction of world population? Do you not notice a trend here?

Why is it that religions have to be spread by people and not by God himself?

Christians will write-off my question saying that the whole point being God requiring ‘faith’ from us and that faith is his utmost measure of our love towards him. But that just feels too convenient doesn’t it, and seems like a rather tedious scheme.

Question 2:

Why is it that when religions talk about creation, they only say that God created the land and the sky and the Sun and the stars. What about the rest about the universe? Because our planet Earth isn’t even a speck in the entire universe. Don’t you see how limited this world view is?

But let’s say that you indeed believe that God did not create everything. That you do believe in the Big Bang Theory and the theory of Evolution, then aren’t you conflicting with the writings of your own religious book? How can you pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe? If the creation was fictitious and symbolic, why isn’t the rest of the book the same too?

God created man. Or man created God? You tell me.

Bonus Question 3:

If God is real, why does he create atheists? 🙂 Why jeopardize himself at all? Why does he just stay outside of time and space, doing nothing and just waiting to send me to hell.

As I’m now talking about religion, I realize I have a few ideas for future posts on the same topic – possibly on the psychological reasons behind belief and some other related stuff. But if this kind of talk offends you then I recommend you to steer clear of my posts. If you’re a happy and a content believer then just be so! But for the rest of ya’ll, I hope my posts will at least make you start to question.

Writing 101: Day 4 – A God shaped hole in the Universe

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Would I see a Thestral? Not really.

I thought hard about this. Loss. What have I really lost in my life? Apart from losing materialistic things that do not matter anyway- life, I guess, hasn’t been that hard on me. Touch wood. All the people who mean something to me, I still have them in my life. I might have grown apart with some momentarily, but we always found a way of getting back again.

And you ask me to write about loss. But I don’t want to delve into the what-could-have-been.

Then I think of things. And then something really strikes me hard. I did lose something.

Something I had plenty till my adolescence, but something that almost magically vanished from my life later on – faithIt’s not something I planned to do. It just sorta happened. Is there a switch that turns on and off in your brain to decide these things? I dunno. But faith, blind faith to be exact, is something I had a problem with ever since my childhood. I was always the skeptical one. The one who asked questions no body had perfect answers to. I think it’s called scientific temper, that’s what I had. So yes, this is not exactly a loss. But someone I willfully chose to let go. I let go of God.

I’m not gonna justify my position or my belief system here, you’re much better off without it. And I’m not anti-religious in any way, either. I have a lot of respect for people who believe in the divine. Religion teaches a lot of things and I’m no one to deny that. But again, I do believe that it is really possible to live without having to answer to a power.

I’ll only say the next few lines –

I live my life with the confidence and understanding that it is I who is at the steering wheel. That whatever happens or needs to happen to me rests purely on me. 

I live my life with the realization that I might not have been sent here with a purpose. That I can choose my purpose at will. That I’m nothing but a speck in this vast magnanimous universe.

I live my life with the fear that life here on Earth is all I’ve got. That I did not exist before. That I will not exist after I die. It makes me appreciate how crucial life here is. That I need to try harder to make the best use of it. I really feel for people who worry too much about what would happen after they die.