I call myself an atheist. I believe that there is no creator all powerful, mighty, omniscient and omnipresent to look over our actions. I believe in the theory of evolution and all the discredit to the religion that comes with it. However, having said that, I can understand why would an institution like religion would be created: to impart moral values, to bind people in a sense of brotherhood, to make them fear for things that are wrong. Why this was done in the 17th-18th century and earlier is easy to see but not so easy to see that why is it important today when we have so much scientific knowledge at our hand. The defenders of the religion say that the fear of punishment by god (by going to hell in monotheistic religions and reincarnation as a lesser being in hinduism, for example) prevents people from doing wrong things. Is that true? Is moral behaviour tied to a sense of fear and damnation. Can we not be nice to each other if there is not an adverse result for being mean? Does this mean that on a basic level human being is a bad creature rather than good and has to be subverted with the fear of punishment?
I can also raise the question that : is not this fear of punishment and deep sense of loyalty to some unexplained thing/being/phenomena causing the followers to do unimaginably terrible things? Blowing up people, waging wars, killing thousands and millions in the name of religion, destroying homes and families. I could see that this logic of preventing people from doing wrong has turned on its head in this case.
Put all contentions from an atheistic viewpoint aside. Let me for a moment pretend to accept religion as it is today. When did it start?? Where does it come from?? Who started it and why? If God is the all powerful and he created everything, why did he create a being who could recognize him and praise him and be his servant at the very end? What about animals? Are they religious too? What about the different faiths and gods? How do we make a compatibility between the observed scientific phenomena and this concept of being created by a god? I mean there are so many questions that confound me and the answer that I get for them is : take a leap of faith. Well, I suppose I am not a good high jumper. My faith does not go there. So, I choose to be an atheist.
This is of course a topic which is being very hotly debated these days. More so, after the recent acts of terrorism in the name of religion. I have been pretty interested in it for quite a while now and although my knowledge about theology etc is not very great, I understand what the basis is. And starting from the first principles itself, it makes me very doubtful . As for the question of morality goes, I think that it is innate in a human being. Some people are wicked and they will be so, religion or no religion. I take for example myself. In many examples demonstarting very clearly, I have found myself more moral than people who are deeply or normally religious.
* I wanted to write a really coherent and organized post about this but then there is not much time with me so this is a quick draft which I hope to improve further.
**Have been watching a lot of Dawkins’ material and also the BBC Atheism Tapes. Have also been thinking about this for a long long time. Planning to do a post on Hinduism as a religion because what I really believe is that more than being a religion, Hinduism is a way of life and a philosophy of thinking and is ultra rich. To do that post, I think I will have to wait for at least 5 more years. One very interesting thing which Prof. Weinberg said about Hinduism is that there is no theory here with which he could engage in a debate. He says that creation is not a major focus, way of living is. And, I agree. But it is also concerned a lot about afterlife and reincarnation. How does that fit in? These are some quetsions which hound me and I am sure have been studied thoroughly but I have not come across any such material yet. As I said, I think that in 5 years, I will have covered a lot more ground in this respect.