Friday, August 12, 2016
The God Proposition
I had this series of arguments with a person who publicly claims that he is an atheist. Because he had a “scientific temperament” I said to him that statistically there was 69% probability in the existence of GOD. I was not supporting the existence of God using the statistical surmise; but I assumed that being the work by a scientific thinker, Dr.Unwin, (in his book ‘The Probability of God”) it would be something my atheist friend could find sensible! He didn’t; and chose to call Dr.Unwin a pseudoscientist! I argued in vain that Dr. Stephen D. Unwin began his career as a theoretical physicist working in the field of quantum gravity and later turned his mathematical bent to risk analysis, etc.
DOES GOD EXIST? This is probably the most debated question in the history of mankind. Scholars, scientists, and philosophers have spent their lifetimes trying to prove or disprove the existence of God, only to have their theories crucified by other scholars, scientists, and philosophers. Where the debate breaks down is in the ambiguities and colloquialisms of language. But, by using a universal, unambiguous language—namely, mathematics—can this question finally be answered definitively? That’s what Dr. Stephen Unwin attempts to do in this riveting, accessible, and witty book, The Probability of God.
In fact I don't need any scientific authority to believe in God; I belong to the category who would like Him to be invented, if HE didn't exist! Then, if one feels like proving anything, enough evidence will be available depending one's intelligent inquiry and passion to prove/disprove! That is close to 'convenient reverse logic', looking for something to prove one's pet theory!
What I really can't figure out is what evangelical atheists achieve trying to propagate the non-existence of God. A Hindu's Vedic concept of God is genuinely harmless, if not positively benevolent. God is in you and I; "Aham Brahmasmi", the Brahman being the energizing principle behind the individual Atman, that which charges the creative imagination of the morally noble and god-like; that which inspires the dedicated selflessness that should go into all action...You don't need these metaphysical thoughts to carry on life; just as you don’t need the cosmic science to carry on. But Faith ameliorates excruciating circumstances when rationality blocks your way, convincing you that the road ends there! Faith alone cannot solve our problems if any either; just as a lottery ticket cannot in all probability solve one's financial difficulties. But both give you some hope for some time, and stops you from resorting to a rope with a noose; a temporary solace in many cases. If the purpose of Faith is not so crude and temporary, it is expected that you to rise above humanness to Godliness. The Hindu Faith and ideal Hindu way of life are considered to be a tortuous path leading to Godliness, realising Brahma! I am certainly not on that path!
Do I consider the Old Testament scourge who gave direct instructions to people to kill one another GOD? No! The New Testament God about whom, Jesus Christ talks as Father said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."The destructive, nihilistic cult of death that followed has a religious book that three times exhorts believers to slay unbelievers wherever they are found (2:191, 4:89, 9:5) also doesn’t have my God in it. My God tells Arjuna, after the long advice Gita, “Yadhecchasi tatha karu!”, you are free to choose! That freedom, to believe or not, is in the blood of all Hindus. Then there is this civilizational self-loathing that distorts educated Indians’ thoughts and torments their psyche thanks to the academic knowledge about our religion and our culture passed on to us by historians, and particularly sociologists and political scientists whose careers have been constructed entirely upon unsubstantiated allegations against Hindu religion and culture. In “secular” India, Scholars became wary of "Indian" philosophy, because it suddenly became “Hindu philosophy.” In the cultural establishment and particularly in the Universities, the idea took root, that to accommodate diversity; the depth of our culture had to be erased. To be a Hindu therefore is ‘infra-dig”! To be anything else is abominable, and hence to be an atheist is safe and dignified. That is the progression many Indian intellectuals were forced to take. There is yet another reason for the ‘evolution’; that is with respect to the so-called violent ideology of “communal Hindutva”. Just one request, honest to yourself, please survey the history of India, you will understand that there simply aren’t enough hate crimes to sustain the mythical narrative that Muslim-Indians or Christians are persecuted for their religion by Hindu ‘communalists’. So, don’t feel guilty, relax about being a Hindu; did you know, in Gita, Krishna says in many ways you become dear to Him, you don’t have to believe in God, just love people!
There are these lectures by Dr.N. Gopalakrishnan on Vedas? It would need some “willing suspension of disbelief”, but still worth it. I have a problem with the guy (I know him from my Thiruvananthapuram days) trying to explain everything about Sanatana Dharma in scientific terms, since I don’t want religion and science to mix!
I suppose the intellectual evolution is to become rational, secular, liberal and eventually a scientific atheist, “seeing to the very edge of the cosmos”(Carl Sagan expression?). There, indeed is no necessity for anyone sensible to commit to a set of awkward and absurd beliefs (like mine) that stick out against the background of modern life in a kind of continual, nervous resistance to scientific reality!
But what’s the gain, upalabdhi kya hai? Won’t the atheists feel bored/scared to sit watching the graveyard of those lovely Gods, goddesses, yaksha-gadharva-kimpuruishas (“Stone- and -bronze-age absurdities placed in our temples!”), myths and mythologies that gave meanings and some messages to generations of our people? Or do these evangelical atheists extract a stimulating hobby from the ridiculing thoughts of other people's beliefs like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens did? For the “faithful” the rational/scientific beliefs look like a series of ideas about the nature of the universe for which a truth-claim is being made- inconclusively yet, a set of propositions that you happen to sign up to. Actual believers don't talk about their belief in this way, happy about the marshmallow foundations of fantasy supporting some of those complex intellectual structures built by Faiths, content with recognizable human experience along the path!
I wish the atheists would allow other people to believe their ducks are swans and their brass is gold, and plainly, their stone/panchaloha idols are or represent Gods as long as it gives them some pride, some solace and happiness, if you please! May be the atheists have Swans in their pond, and they eat off gold-plates indeed; their science will prove one day the rest of us are fools: and therefore they must be magnanimous letting the ‘believers’ their faux glory as long as it lasts!