2006-11-17

(religion) The Church of the Non-Believers

http://wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/atheism.html

Thanks to a former colleague ( http://diviya.blogspot.com/2006/10/one-post-too-many.html ) for the link.

Nice article, worth a quick read. A bit long-winded, and there is much that even agnostics and atheists will disagree with, since it seems to explore all sides equally :-)

But it's too philosophical and too abstract for my taste.

I'd appeal more to personal experience with religious people, though I agree that would be difficult to convey in an article. Your parents, your friends, relatives, and colleagues at work affect you much more directly than Khomeini or Pat Robertson.

I've always maintained that it is not religion, but the overt display of religion, and organised religion, that are the problems. I don't know how far that's true, but it certainly seems that way to me.

Overtly religious (this is almost always the same as "overly religious", but there are exceptions here and there) people eventually acquire a selective humility. They are humble to their God, and pretty egotistical and nasty to the rest of the world.

Of course, they have no clue they are even egotistical, let alone nasty -- they'd be stunned if you told them, and probably die of a kernel panic if you managed to prove it to them! (Fortunately it's practically impossible to convince them, so we will never be guilty of murder!)

In most cases they have lost the capacity for self-introspection that is needed to realise what they are doing to the other person. They are so immersed in their God that they can never say to themselves "what if I'm wrong", because it automatically means the same as "what if God is wrong"!

In fact, they seem to really and truly believe that they have a direct line to God. It's essentially the same thing that makes "Muslims" like Khomeini issue fatwas against Rushdie or "Christians" like Pat Robertson call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Overtly religious people issue fatwas every day, whether they realise it or not, and whether they say them out loud or not.

On the other hand, my experience has been that atheists (and the very few covertly religious people I know) are pretty nice people!

That, to me, is the biggest reason for advocating, if not atheism outright, at least the suppression of religious exhibitionism.

PS: I think the author of the article must be a nice guy. His article ends: "...no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong." :-)

4 comments:

raj said...

God is a concept for what we think is ideal. The concept of ideal is very context dependent so God takes on different meanings in different contexts. The problem arises when we start seeing God as more than a concept.

If you are into it get and watch Monty Pythons Meaning of life - that is if you haven't already. Otherwise here is the text

http://www.geocities.com/knightsaysni/mp/meanlife.txt

Gopalakrishnan said...

Some of the overtly religious people actually get away with 'murder' (not including character assasins, depravity, etc.).
But I'm not sure if 'they' would be stunned. On the contrary, they's defend themselves tooth & nail dogmatically. That's why "...it's practically impossible to convince them..."
Self-introspection is probably never a virtue with the believers, especially the overt types.
Coming to atheists, what do we label the 'Maoists' and their ilk as?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the blind belief can be channeled into something that is much more dangerous by a few people in their self interest.

At the India Social Forum I saw a nice documentary film called "In the name of God (Ram ke Nam)" about the RSS activists and their march to build a temple in Ayodhya.

First, people borrow the theory of God from others. Then they start believing it. Then they blindly start
"applying" it.

I am not ready to rule out the possibility of existence of a supreme being though.

--
Bunny

Radha said...

Nicely put - the distinction between religious and the in-your-face religious.

Very similar to grieving somebody's death with lotsa chest thumping, hair-pulling and loud wailing. It's not enough to grieve, you need to show the world that you grieve more than anybody else.

Similarly, what's the point of quietly having a puja at home? My prayers need to be louder than yours, my devotion is deeper, my sacrifice has more merit, my God is larger.

Funnily though, those who advocate active, aggressive atheism (say, Sam Harris), are falling in the same trap - agnostics not welcome, quiet disagreement with religion not enough. Doesn't serve any good.