Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Why Islam is False?

By Ahmad Y.H.
Six years ago, it never crossed my mind that I would be writing an article like this. I never thought I’d be looking on the religion I believed in once the way I am today. I was actually “good at it.” I used to debate atheists and Christians, I had people convert to Islam, but I never could put the change I went through after that period in words until I read somewhere that “Religion is like a lonely tree in an empty field on a foggy day, you think it’s someone who can help you find your way, but once you get close to it you realize that it’s just a tree, and you keep walking, never looking back at it the same way.”
The problem with Islam for the outsider is that in the face of it and in the way it’s generally presented, it kind of makes more sense than any other Abrahamic religion. It’s kind of more practical, and it has way less nonsense in its teachings, yet still, it has what is enough for it to share the same quality of being man-made.
Ridiculous claims
Islam makes the claim that we are created by God, an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful being, that we are to worship him, and that based on our deeds we will be sent to either Paradise or Hell. Yet if you ask any Muslim this simple question, “If you were God/Allah himself, would you create people to test them even though you know that most of them would fail the test?” they would have no answer, which goes to show how immoral this teaching is.
The Quran makes the claim that it’s the word of God, and that it’s miraculous, and so do Muslims. Just ask any average Muslim for a proof of that, they will straight away tell you that the Quran is a linguistic miracle as it claims, that no other book is like it, that the Arabs at the time of Muhammad—who regarded language, poetry and eloquence in the highest regards—could never produce anything like it in its beauty. Yet ask the same person for a single example and then watch them stand there with no answer, simply because they just repeat what they were told. It’s true that the Quran’s language is somewhat unique, yet only just like the works of Shakespeare and the symphonies of Mozart. No one could produce anything like them, because each carries the style of their author. No miracle is needed, not to mention that the Arabic speaker can search online to find that the Quran does in fact contain grammatical and linguistic errors, which Muslim scholars tried to come up with the most bizarre excuses for as many as they could of these errors.
As a non-Arabic speaker, you could simply say, “I don’t speak Arabic, what miracle does the Quran provide for me? That’s when Muslims start pouring their “Scientific miracles in the Quran” on you, which is basically a verse in the Quran that is given steroids and then bent in all shapes and directions to make it look as if it holds a fact that only modern science could discover. I’ll give you the simple example of the verses that talk about the creation of the heavens and earth in (Surah 21: Verse 30). Muslims like to funnily enough claim that this verse is talking about the big bang, and how life is impossible without water, yet no scientist have ever said that the heavens and earth were ever connected. They were not even there at the time of the big bang; at best it’s a bad description of the big bang. On the contrary these verses rhyme with other ones in other parts of the Quran that clearly show that the Quranic view of the heavens and earth is the same as the dome model, and it doesn’t really take a genius to observe that living creatures die without water now does it?
Scientific Errors
Quran is full of them, simple as that. It says that asteroids, planets and stars are for shooting devils that try to listen to the heavens. It says that a famous general (not named but is believed to be Alexander the Great) has found the sun to be setting in a hot muddy water spring. It says that an ant spoke and that King Solomon heard it. It says that heaven (the sky) was raised and is being held so that it won’t fall on earth. Do I need to go on or are you still laughing?
You know what would be a real scientific miracle? If Muslims could bring one verse that claims a fact that could in no way be known 1400 years ago in a straightforward vocabulary and then ask the scientific community to verify it, say for example, if the Quran had a verse that says that a day on Venus is like 243 days of earth days. That is not too much to ask for.
I have chosen to only consider the Quran here as it’s what all Muslim, regardless of what sect they belong to hold as true. Hopefully in a later blog I’ll be able to include the Hadith (Muhammad's sayings and actions). Until then do not let any Muslim–ignorantly in their good intention—fool you with a book that you can’t read in its original language.
Ahmad Y.H.
I am a commercial pilot, guitarist, and a thinker for myself. I also love astronomy, arts, and gaming. I grew up in a Muslim Arab country and was raised a Muslim, but no longer identify as one. Sometimes I wish I had not told anyone here this because of the amount of hate received as a result. People here are not ready for atheism, I used to be deeply religious, I even had people convert to Islam (yes). The more you know about Islam, the more you realise it's man-made, nothing special about it.
(The article is published in Atheist Republic http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/ahmad/why-islam-false)

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Will Amway compensate the hospital expenses?

RAJAN said...
I started using AMWAY's Protein Powder, Calcium, Vitamins & few other products in Feb. Mar. 2014. After using for 2 months or so, I used to feel unusually weak & extremely tired. So I discontinued with these. But weakness persisted even after that. Later in Apr. 2014 I had internal bleeding, which somehow I could not recognize at that time & hence I neglected it. I pulled on like this till Nov. 2014 when I happened to do Blood test along with few other Medical tests, I found My Platelets to be alarmingly low - 20,000 ( it went down to 6000 - 4000 level later on ). Earlier in Jan. 2014, My Platelets were around 1,02,000, as per my medical check up. I never had any disease of any nature earlier so as to bring down my Platelets to this level & that too at such a short period of time. Even Doctors opined that the Food Supplements as these can do harm, particularly blood related. Friends & relatives told me that there are several news items & articles appearing in the News Papers & in the Internet stating that the Food Supplements are capable of reducing one's platelet levels.
It took almost a year & a half for me to recover from this dreadful disease. The sufferings & agony underwent by me is beyond one's imagination.
Total medical & hospital expenses are around 4 lakh. Will AMWAY Compensate this to me. Is it possible for AMWAY to compensate the sufferings & agony underwent by me. I am not the only one to have such a Bad experience as this. Many are there, but they either do not realize this Or they do not report their complaints. As regards the other products other than Nutrilites, I feel they are too costly, which I demonstrated to my near & dear. Use of natural ingredients in its natural way as prescribed in Ayurveda is the best solution for all health & skin care issues.
Be Indian Buy Indian.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Why I am an Atheist

Written By Bhagat Singh: October 5–6, 1930
Source/Translated: Converted from the original Gurmukhi (Punjabi) to Urdu/Persian script by Maqsood Saqib;
translated from Urdu to English by Hasan for
 marxists.org, 2006;
HTML/Proofread: Andy Blunden and Mike Bessler;
CopyLeft: Creative Common (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2006.

It is a matter of debate whether my lack of belief in the existence of an Omnipresent, Omniscient God is due to my arrogant pride and vanity. It never occurred to me that sometime in the future I would be involved in polemics of this kind. As a result of some discussions with my friends, (if my claim to friendship is not uncalled for) I have realised that after having known me for a little time only, some of them have reached a kind of hasty conclusion about me that my atheism is my foolishness and that it is the outcome of my vanity. Even then it is a serious problem. I do not boast of being above these human follies. I am, after all, a human being and nothing more. And no one can claim to be more than that. I have a weakness in my personality, for pride is one of the human traits that I do possess. I am known as a dictator among my friends. Sometimes I am called a boaster. Some have always been complaining that I am bossy and I force others to accept my opinion. Yes, it is true to some extent. I do not deny this charge. We can use the word ‘vainglory’ for it. As far as the contemptible, obsolete, rotten values of our society are concerned, I am an extreme sceptic. But this question does not concern my person alone. It is being proud of my ideas, my thoughts. It cannot be called empty pride. Pride, or you may use the word, vanity, both mean an exaggerated assessment of one’s personality. Is my atheism because of unnecessary pride, or have I ceased believing in God after thinking long and deep on the matter? I wish to put my ideas before you. First of all, let us differentiate between pride and vanity as these are two different things.
I have never been able to understand how unfounded, baseless pride or empty vanity can hinder a person from believing in God. I may refuse to acknowledge the greatness of a really great person only when I have got fame without doing any serious efforts or when I lack the superior mental powers necessary to become great. It is easy to understand but how is it possible that a believer can turn into a non-believer because of his vanity? Only two things are possible: either a man deems himself to be in possession of Godly qualities, or he goes a step further and declares himself to be a god. In both these states of mind he cannot be an atheist in the true sense of the word. In the first case, it is not an outright rejection of God’s existence; in the other, he is affirming the existence of some kind of supernatural power responsible for the working of universe. It does not harm our argument whether he claims to be a god or considers God to be a reality in existence above his own being. The real point, however, is that in both cases he is a theist, a believer. He is not an atheist. I want to bring home this point to you. I am not one of these two creeds. I totally reject the existence of an Omnipresent, all powerful, all knowing God. Why so? I will discuss it later in the essay. Here I wish to emphasise that I am not an atheist for the reason that I am arrogant or proud or vain; nor am I a demi-god, nor a prophet; no, nor am I God myself. At least one thing is true that I have not evolved this thought because of vanity or pride. In order to answer this question I relate the truth. My friends say that after Delhi bombing and Lahore Conspiracy Case, I rocketed to fame and that this fact has turned my head. Let us discuss why this allegation is incorrect. I did not give up my belief in God after these incidents. I was an atheist even when I was an unknown figure. At least a college student cannot cherish any sort of exaggerated notion of himself that may lead him to atheism. It is true that I was a favourite with some college teachers, but others did not like me. I was never a hardworking or studious boy. I never got an opportunity to be proud. I was very careful in my behaviour and somewhat pessimistic about my future career. I was not completely atheistic in my beliefs. I was brought up under the care and protection of my father. He was a staunch Arya Samaji. An Arya Samaji can be anything but never an atheist. After my elementary education, I was sent to D. A. V College, Lahore. I lived in the boarding house for one year. Besides prayers early in the morning and at dusk time, I sat for hours and chanted religious Mantras. At that time, I was a staunch believer. Then I lived with my father. He was a tolerant man in his religious views. It is due to his teachings that I devoted my life for the cause of liberating my country. But he was not an atheist. His God was an all-pervading Entity. He advised me to offer my prayers every day. In this way I was brought up. In the Non-cooperation days, I got admission to the National College. During my stay in this college, I began thinking over all the religious polemics such that I grew sceptical about the existence of God. In spite of this fact I can say that my belief in God was firm and strong. I grew a beard and ‘Kais’ (long head of hair as a Sikh religious custom). In spite of this I could not convince myself of the efficacy of Sikh religion or any religion at all, for that matter. But I had an unswerving, unwavering belief in God.
Then I joined the Revolutionary Party. The first leader I met had not the courage to openly declare himself an atheist. He was unable to reach any conclusion on this point. Whenever I asked him about the existence of God, he gave me this reply: “You may believe in him when you feel like it.” The second leader with whom I came in contact was a firm believer. I should mention his name. It was our respected Comrade Sachindara Nath Sanyal. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with Karachi conspiracy case. Right from the first page of his only book, ‘Bandi Jivan’ (Incarnated Life) he sings praises to the Glory of God. See the last page of the second part of this book and you find praises showered upon God in the way of a mystic. It is a clear reflection of his thoughts.
According to the prosecution, the ‘Revolutionary Leaflet’ which was distributed throughout India was the outcome of Sachindara Nath Sanyal’s intellectual labour. So often it happens that in revolutionary activities a leader expresses his own ideas which may be very dear to him, but in spite of having differences, the other workers have to acquiesce in them.
In that leaflet, one full paragraph was devoted to the praises of God and His doings which we, human beings, cannot understand. This is sheer mysticism. What I want to point out is that the idea of denying the existence of God did not even occur to the Revolutionary Party. The famous Kakory martyrs, all four of them, passed their last day in prayers. Ram Parshad Bismal was a staunch Arya Samaji. In spite of his vast studies in Socialism and Communism, Rajan Lahiri could not suppress his desire to recite hymns from Upanishads and Gita. There was but only one person among them who did not indulge in such activities. He used to say, “Religion is the outcome of human weakness or the limitation of human knowledge.” He is also in prison for life. But he also never dared to deny the existence of God.
Till that time I was only a romantic revolutionary, just a follower of our leaders. Then came the time to shoulder the whole responsibility. For some time, a strong opposition put the very existence of the party into danger. Many leaders as well as many enthusiastic comrades began to uphold the party to ridicule. They jeered at us. I had an apprehension that some day I will also consider it a futile and hopeless task. It was a turning point in my revolutionary career. An incessant desire to study filled my heart. ‘Study more and more’, said I to myself so that I might be able to face the arguments of my opponents. ‘Study’ to support your point of view with convincing arguments. And I began to study in a serious manner. My previous beliefs and convictions underwent a radical change. The romance of militancy dominated our predecessors; now serious ideas ousted this way of thinking. No more mysticism! No more blind faith! Now realism was our mode of thinking. At times of terrible necessity, we can resort to extreme methods, but violence produces opposite results in mass movements. I have talked much about our methods. The most important thing was a clear conception of our ideology for which we were waging a long struggle. As there was no election activity going on, I got ample opportunity to study various ideas propounded by various writers. I studied Bakunin, the anarchist leader. I read a few books of Marx, the father of Communism. I also read Lenin and Trotsky and many other writers who successfully carried out revolutions in their countries. All of them were atheists. The ideas contained in Bakunin’s ‘God and State’ seem inconclusive, but it is an interesting book. After that I came across a book ‘Common Sense’ by Nirlamba Swami. His point of view was a sort of mystical atheism. I developed more interest in this subject. By the end of 1926, I was convinced that the belief in an Almighty, Supreme Being who created, guided and controlled the universe had no sound foundations. I began discussions on this subject with my friends. I had openly declared myself an atheist. What it meant will be discussed in the following lines.
In May 1927, I was arrested in Lahore. This arrest came as a big surprise for me. I had not the least idea that I was wanted by the police. I was passing through a garden and all of a sudden the police surrounded me. To my own surprise, I was very calm at that time. I was in full control of myself. I was taken into police custody. The next day I was taken to the Railway Police lockup where I spent a whole month. After many days’ conversation with police personnel, I guessed that they had some information about my connection with the Kakori Party. I felt they had some intelligence of my other activities in the revolutionary movement. They told me that I was in Lucknow during the Kakori Party Trial so that I might devise a scheme to rescue the culprits. They also said that after the plan had been approved, we procured some bombs and by way of test, one of those bombs was thrown into a crowd on the occasion of Dussehra in 1926. They offered to release me on condition that I gave a statement on the activities of the Revolutionary Party. In this way I would be set free and even rewarded and I would not be produced as an approver in the court. I could not help laughing at their proposals. It was all humbug. People who have ideas like ours do not throw bombs at their own innocent people. One day, Mr. Newman, the then senior Superintendent of CID, came to me. After a long talk which was full of sympathetic words, he imparted to me what he considered to be sad news, that if I did not give any statement as demanded by them, they would be forced to send me up for trial for conspiracy to wage war in connection with Kakori Case and also for brutal killings in Dussehra gathering. After that he said that he had sufficient evidence to get me convicted and hanged.
I was completely innocent, but I believed that the police had sufficient power to do it if they desired it to be so. The same day some police officers persuaded me to offer my prayers to God two times regularly. I was an atheist. I thought that I would settle it to myself whether I could brag only in days of peace and happiness that I was an atheist, or in those hard times I could be steadfast in my convictions. After a long debate with myself, I reached the conclusion that I could not even pretend to be a believer nor could I offer my prayers to God. No, I never did it. It was time of trial and I would come out of it successful. These were my thoughts. Never for a moment did I desire to save my life. So I was a true atheist then and I am an atheist now. It was not an easy task to face that ordeal. Beliefs make it easier to go through hardships, even make them pleasant. Man can find a strong support in God and an encouraging consolation in His Name. If you have no belief in Him, then there is no alternative but to depend upon yourself. It is not child’s play to stand firm on your feet amid storms and strong winds. In difficult times, vanity, if it remains, evaporates and man cannot find the courage to defy beliefs held in common esteem by the people. If he really revolts against such beliefs, we must conclude that it is not sheer vanity; he has some kind of extraordinary strength. This is exactly the situation now. First of all we all know what the judgement will be. It is to be pronounced in a week or so. I am going to sacrifice my life for a cause. What more consolation can there be! A God-believing Hindu may expect to be reborn a king; a Muslim or a Christian might dream of the luxuries he hopes to enjoy in paradise as a reward for his sufferings and sacrifices. What hope should I entertain? I know that will be the end when the rope is tightened round my neck and the rafters move from under my feet. To use more precise religious terminology, that will be the moment of utter annihilation. My soul will come to nothing. If I take the courage to take the matter in the light of ‘Reward’, I see that a short life of struggle with no such magnificent end shall itself be my ‘Reward.’ That is all. Without any selfish motive of getting any reward here or in the hereafter, quite disinterestedly have I devoted my life to the cause of freedom. I could not act otherwise. The day shall usher in a new era of liberty when a large number of men and women, taking courage from the idea of serving humanity and liberating them from sufferings and distress, decide that there is no alternative before them except devoting their lives for this cause. They will wage a war against their oppressors, tyrants or exploiters, not to become kings, or to gain any reward here or in the next birth or after death in paradise; but to cast off the yoke of slavery, to establish liberty and peace they will tread this perilous, but glorious path. Can the pride they take in their noble cause be called vanity? Who is there rash enough to call it so? To him I say either he is foolish or wicked. Leave such a fellow alone for he cannot realise the depth, the emotions, the sentiment and the noble feelings that surge in that heart. His heart is dead, a mere lump of flesh, devoid of feelings. His convictions are infirm, his emotions feeble. His selfish interests have made him incapable of seeing the truth. The epithet ‘vanity’ is always hurled at the strength we get from our convictions.
You go against popular feelings; you criticise a hero, a great man who is generally believed to be above criticism. What happens? No one will answer your arguments in a rational way; rather you will be considered vainglorious. Its reason is mental insipidity. Merciless criticism and independent thinking are the two necessary traits of revolutionary thinking. As Mahatmaji is great, he is above criticism; as he has risen above, all that he says in the field of politics, religion, Ethics is right. You agree or not, it is binding upon you to take it as truth. This is not constructive thinking. We do not take a leap forward; we go many steps back.
Our forefathers evolved faith in some kind of Supreme Being, therefore, one who ventures to challenge the validity of that faith or denies the existence of God, shall be called a Kafir (infidel), or a renegade. Even if his arguments are so strong that it is impossible to refute them, if his spirit is so strong that he cannot be bowed down by the threats of misfortune that may befall him through the wrath of the Almighty, he shall be decried as vainglorious. Then why should we waste our time in such discussions? This question has come before the people for the first time, hence the necessity and usefulness of such long discussions.
As far as the first question is concerned, I think I have made it clear that I did not turn atheist because of vanity. Only my readers, not I, can decide whether my arguments carry weight. If I were a believer, I know in the present circumstances my life would have been easier; the burden lighter. My disbelief in God has turned all the circumstances too harsh and this situation can deteriorate further. Being a little mystical can give the circumstances a poetic turn. But I need no opiate to meet my end. I am a realistic man. I want to overpower this tendency in me with the help of Reason. I am not always successful in such attempts. But it is man’s duty to try and make efforts. Success depends on chance and circumstances.
Now we come to the second question: if it is not vanity, there ought to be some sound reason for rejection of age-old belief in God. Yes, I come to this question. I think that any man who has some reasoning power always tries to understand the life and people around him with the help of this faculty. Where concrete proofs are lacking, [mystical] philosophy creeps in. As I have indicated, one of my revolutionary friends used to say that “philosophy is the outcome of human weakness.” Our ancestors had the leisure to solve the mysteries of the world, its past, its present and its future, its whys and its wherefores, but having been terribly short of direct proofs, every one of them tried to solve the problem in his own way. Hence we find wide differences in the fundamentals of various religious creeds. Sometimes they take very antagonistic and conflicting forms. We find differences in Oriental and Occidental philosophies. There are differences even amongst various schools of thoughts in each hemisphere. In Asian religions, the Muslim religion is completely incompatible with the Hindu faith. In India itself, Buddhism and Jainism are sometimes quite separate from Brahmanism. Then in Brahmanism itself, we find two conflicting sects: Aarya Samaj and Snatan Dheram. Charwak is yet another independent thinker of the past ages. He challenged the Authority of God. All these faiths differ on many fundamental questions, but each of them claims to be the only true religion. This is the root of the evil. Instead of developing the ideas and experiments of ancient thinkers, thus providing ourselves with the ideological weapon for the future struggle, – lethargic, idle, fanatical as we are – we cling to orthodox religion and in this way reduce human awakening to a stagnant pool.
It is necessary for every person who stands for progress to criticise every tenet of old beliefs. Item by item he has to challenge the efficacy of old faith. He has to analyse and understand all the details. If after rigorous reasoning, one is led to believe in any theory of philosophy, his faith is appreciated. His reasoning may be mistaken and even fallacious. But there is chance that he will be corrected because Reason is the guiding principle of his life. But belief, I should say blind belief is disastrous. It deprives a man of his understanding power and makes him reactionary.
Any person who claims to be a realist has to challenge the truth of old beliefs. If faith cannot withstand the onslaught of reason, it collapses. After that his task should be to do the groundwork for new philosophy. This is the negative side. After that comes in the positive work in which some material of the olden times can be used to construct the pillars of new philosophy. As far as I am concerned, I admit that I lack sufficient study in this field. I had a great desire to study the Oriental Philosophy, but I could get ample opportunity or sufficient time to do so. But so far as I reject the old time beliefs, it is not a matter of countering belief with belief, rather I can challenge the efficacy of old beliefs with sound arguments. We believe in nature and that human progress depends on the domination of man over nature. There is no conscious power behind it. This is our philosophy.
Being atheist, I ask a few questions from theists:
1. If, as you believe there is an Almighty, Omnipresent, Omniscient God, who created the earth or universe, please let me know, first of all, as to why he created this world. This world which is full of woe and grief, and countless miseries, where not even one person lives in peace.
2. Pray, don’t say it is His law. If He is bound by any law, He is not Omnipotent. Don’t say it is His pleasure. Nero burnt one Rome. He killed a very limited number of people. He caused only a few tragedies, all for his morbid enjoyment. But what is his place in history? By what names do we remember him? All the disparaging epithets are hurled at him. Pages are blackened with invective diatribes condemning Nero: the tyrant, the heartless, the wicked.
One Genghis Khan killed a few thousand people to seek pleasure in it and we hate the very name. Now, how will you justify your all powerful, eternal Nero, who every day, every moment continues his pastime of killing people? How can you support his doings which surpass those of Genghis Khan in cruelty and in misery inflicted upon people? I ask why the Almighty created this world which is nothing but a living hell, a place of constant and bitter unrest. Why did he create man when he had the power not to do so? Have you any answer to these questions? You will say that it is to reward the sufferer and punish the evildoer in the hereafter. Well, well, how far will you justify a man who first of all inflicts injuries on your body and then applies soft and soothing ointment on them? How far the supporters and organizers of Gladiator bouts were justified in throwing men before half starved lions, later to be cared for and looked after well if they escaped this horrible death. That is why I ask: Was the creation of man intended to derive this kind of pleasure?
Open your eyes and see millions of people dying of hunger in slums and huts dirtier than the grim dungeons of prisons; just see the labourers patiently or say apathetically while the rich vampires suck their blood; bring to mind the wastage of human energy that will make a man with a little common sense shiver in horror. Just observe rich nations throwing their surplus produce into the sea instead of distributing it among the needy and deprived. There are palaces of kings built upon the foundations laid with human bones. Let them see all this and say “All is well in God’s Kingdom.” Why so? This is my question. You are silent. All right. I proceed to my next point.
You, the Hindus, would say: Whosoever undergoes sufferings in this life, must have been a sinner in his previous birth. It is tantamount to saying that those who are oppressors now were Godly people then, in their previous births. For this reason alone they hold power in their hands. Let me say it plainly that your ancestors were shrewd people. They were always in search of petty hoaxes to play upon people and snatch from them the power of Reason. Let us analyse how much this argument carries weight!
Those who are well versed in the philosophy of Jurisprudence relate three of four justifications for the punishment that is to be inflicted upon a wrong-doer. These are: revenge, reform, and deterrence. The Retribution Theory is now condemned by all the thinkers. Deterrent theory is on the anvil for its flaws. Reformative theory is now widely accepted and considered to be necessary for human progress. It aims at reforming the culprit and converting him into a peace-loving citizen. But what in essence is God’s Punishment even if it is inflicted on a person who has really done some harm? For the sake of argument we agree for a moment that a person committed some crime in his previous birth and God punished him by changing his shape into a cow, cat, tree, or any other animal. You may enumerate the number of these variations in Godly Punishment to be at least eighty-four lack. Tell me, has this tomfoolery, perpetrated in the name of punishment, any reformative effect on human man? How many of them have you met who were donkeys in their previous births for having committed any sin? Absolutely no one of this sort! The so called theory of ‘Puranas’ (transmigration) is nothing but a fairy-tale. I do not have any intention to bring this unutterable trash under discussion. Do you really know the most cursed sin in this world is to be poor? Yes, poverty is a sin; it is a punishment! Cursed be the theoretician, jurist or legislator who proposes such measures as push man into the quagmire of more heinous sins. Did it not occur to your All Knowing God or he could learn the truth only after millions had undergone untold sufferings and hardships? What, according to your theory, is the fate of a person who, by no sin of his own, has been born into a family of low caste people? He is poor so he cannot go to a school. It is his fate to be shunned and hated by those who are born into a high caste. His ignorance, his poverty, and the contempt he receives from others will harden his heart towards society. Supposing that he commits a sin, who shall bear the consequences? God, or he, or the learned people of that society? What is your view about those punishments inflicted on the people who were deliberately kept ignorant by selfish and proud Brahmans? If by chance these poor creatures heard a few words of your sacred books, Vedas, these Brahmans poured melted lead into their ears. If they committed any sin, who was to be held responsible? Who was to bear the brunt? My dear friends, these theories have been coined by the privileged classes. They try to justify the power they have usurped and the riches they have robbed with the help of such theories. Perhaps it was the writer Upton Sinclair who wrote (Bhagat Singh is referring to Sinclair’s pamphlet ‘Profits of Religion’ – MIA transcriber) somewhere “only make a man firm believer in the immortality of soul, then rob him of all that he possesses. He will willingly help you in the process.” The dirty alliance between religious preachers and possessors of power brought the boon of prisons, gallows, knouts and above all such theories for the mankind.
I ask why your Omnipotent God does not hold a man back when he is about to commit a sin or offence. It is child’s play for God. Why did He not kill war lords? Why did He not obliterate the fury of war from their minds? In this way He could have saved humanity of many a great calamity and horror. Why does He not infuse humanistic sentiments into the minds of the Britishers so that they may willingly leave India? I ask why He does not fill the hearts of all capitalist classes with altruistic humanism that prompts them to give up personal possession of the means of production and this will free the whole labouring humanity from the shackles of money. You want to argue the practicability of Socialist theory, I leave it to your Almighty God to enforce it. Common people understand the merits of Socialist theory as far as general welfare is concerned but they oppose it under the pretext that it cannot be implemented. Let the Almighty step in and arrange things in a proper way. No more logic chopping! I tell you that the British rule is not there because God willed it but for the reason that we lack the will and courage to oppose it. Not that they are keeping us under subjugation with the consent of God, but it is with the force of guns and rifles, bombs and bullets, police and militia, and above all because of our apathy that they are successfully committing the most deplorable sin, that is, the exploitation of one nation by another. Where is God? What is He doing? Is He getting a diseased pleasure out of it? A Nero! A Genghis Khan! Down with Him!
Now another piece of manufactured logic! You ask me how I will explain the origin of this world and origin of man. Charles Darwin has tried to throw some light on this subject. Study his book. Also, have a look at Sohan Swami’s “Commonsense.” You will get a satisfactory answer. This topic is concerned with Biology and Natural History. This is a phenomenon of nature. The accidental mixture of different substances in the form of Nebulae gave birth to this earth. When? Study history to know this. The same process caused the evolution of animals and in the long run that of man. Read Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species.’ All the later progress is due to man’s constant conflict with nature and his efforts to utilise nature for his own benefit. This is the briefest sketch of this phenomenon.
Your next question will be why a child is born blind or lame even if he was not a sinner in his previous birth. This problem has been explained in a satisfactory manner by biologists as a mere biological phenomenon. According to them the whole burden rests upon the shoulders of parents whose conscious or unconscious deeds caused mutilation of the child prior to his birth.
You may thrust yet another question at me, though it is merely childish. The question is: If God does not really exist, why do people come to believe in Him? Brief and concise my answer will be. As they come to believe in ghosts, and evil spirits, so they also evolve a kind of belief in God: the only difference being that God is almost a universal phenomenon and well developed theological philosophy. However, I do disagree with radical philosophy. It attributes His origin to the ingenuity of exploiters who wanted to keep the people under their subjugation by preaching the existence of a Supreme Being; thus claimed an authority and sanction from Him for their privileged position. I do not differ on the essential point that all religions, faiths, theological philosophies, and religious creeds and all other such institutions in the long run become supporters of the tyrannical and exploiting institutions, men and classes. Rebellion against any king has always been a sin in every religion.
As regard the origin of God, my thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realized his weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings. In this way he got the courage to face all the trying circumstances and to meet all dangers that might occur in his life and also to restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God, with his whimsical laws and parental generosity was painted with variegated colours of imagination. He was used as a deterrent factor when his fury and his laws were repeatedly propagated so that man might not become a danger to society. He was the cry of the distressed soul for he was believed to stand as father and mother, sister and brother, brother and friend when in time of distress a man was left alone and helpless. He was Almighty and could do anything. The idea of God is helpful to a man in distress.
Society must fight against this belief in God as it fought against idol worship and other narrow conceptions of religion. In this way man will try to stand on his feet. Being realistic, he will have to throw his faith aside and face all adversaries with courage and valour. That is exactly my state of mind. My friends, it is not my vanity; it is my mode of thinking that has made me an atheist. I don’t think that by strengthening my belief in God and by offering prayers to Him every day, (this I consider to be the most degraded act on the part of man) I can bring improvement in my situation, nor can I further deteriorate it. I have read of many atheists facing all troubles boldly, so I am trying to stand like a man with the head high and erect to the last; even on the gallows.
Let us see how steadfast I am. One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, “When your last days come, you will begin to believe.” I said, “No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.” Reader and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God

by Sam Harris 

The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn. This is already an old and boring story about old, boring, and deadly ideas. And I fear it will be with us for the rest of our lives.
Our panic and moral confusion were at first sublimated in attacks upon the hapless Governor Romney. I am no fan of Romney’s, and I would find the prospect of his presidency risible if it were not so depressing, but he did accurately detect the first bleats of fear in the Obama administration’s reaction to this crisis. Romney got the timing of events wrong—confusing, as many did, a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for an official government response to the murder of Americans in Libya. But the truth is that the White House struck the same note of apology, disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip.
Our government followed the path of appeasement further by attempting to silence the irrepressible crackpot Pastor Terry Jones, who had left off burning copies of the Qur’an just long enough to promote the film. The administration also requested that Google remove “Innocence of Muslims” from its servers. These maneuvers attest to one of two psychological and diplomatic realities: Either our government is unwilling to address the problem at hand, or the problem is so vast and terrifying that we have decided to placate the barbarians at the gate.
The contagion of moral cowardice followed its usual course, wherein liberal journalists and pundits began to reconsider our most basic freedoms in light of the sadomasochistic fury known as “religious sensitivity” among Muslims. Contributors to The New York Times and NPR spoke of the need to find a balance between free speech and freedom of religion—as though the latter could possibly be infringed by a YouTube video. As predictable as Muslim bullying has become, the moral confusion of secular liberals appears to be part of the same clockwork.
Consider what is actually happening: Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—is demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law. And where they do not immediately resort to violence in their protests, they threaten it. Carrying a sign that reads “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet” may still count as an example of peaceful protest, but it is also an assurance that infidel blood would be shed if the imbecile holding the placard only had more power. This grotesque promise is, of course, fulfilled in nearly every Muslim society. To make a film like “Innocence of Muslims” anywhere in the Middle East would be as sure a method of suicide as the laws of physics allow.
What exactly was in the film? Who made it? What were their motives? Was Muhammad really depicted? Was that a Qur’an burning, or some other book? Questions of this kind are obscene. Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.
At moments like this, we inevitably hear—from people who don’t know what it’s like to believe in paradise—that religion is just a way of channeling popular unrest. The true source of the problem can be found in the history of western aggression in the region. It is our policies, rather than our freedoms, that they hate. I believe that the future of liberalism—and much else—depends on our overcoming this ruinous self-deception.  Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.
Most secular liberals think that all religions are the same, and they consider any suggestion to the contrary a sign of bigotry. Somehow, this article of faith survives daily dis-confirmation. Our language is largely to blame for this. As I have pointed out on many occasions, “religion” is a term like “sports”: Some sports are peaceful but spectacularly dangerous (“free solo” rock climbing, street luge); some are safer but synonymous with violence (boxing, mixed martial arts); and some entail little more exertion or risk of serious injury than standing in the shower (bowling, badminton). To speak of “sports” as a generic activity makes it impossible to discuss what athletes actually do, or the physical attributes required to do it. What do all sports have in common, apart from breathing? Not much. The term “religion” is scarcely more useful.
Consider Mormonism: Many of my fellow liberals would consider it morally indecent to count Romney’s faith against him. In their view, Mormonism must be just like every other religion. The truth, however, is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than its fair share of quirks. For instance, its doctrine was explicitly racist until 1978, at which point God apparently changed his mind about black people (a few years after Archie Bunker did) and recommended that they be granted the full range of sacraments and religious responsibilities. By this time, Romney had been an adult and an exceptionally energetic member of his church for more than a decade.
Unlike the founders of most religions, about whom very little is known, Mormonism is the product of the plagiarisms and confabulations of an obvious con man, Joseph Smith, whose adventures among the credulous were consummated (in every sense) in the full, unsentimental glare of history. Given how much we know about Smith, it is harder to be a Mormon than it is to be a Christian. A firmer embrace of the preposterous is required—and the fact that Romney can manage it says something about him, just as it would if he were a Scientologist proposing to park his E-meter in the Oval Office. The spectrum between rational belief and self-serving delusion has some obvious increments: It is one thing to believe that Jesus existed and was probably a remarkable human being. It is another to accept, as most Christians do, that he was physically resurrected and will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. It is yet another leap of faith too far to imagine, as all good Mormons must, that he will work his cosmic magic from the hallowed ground of Jackson County, Missouri.
That final, provincial detail matters. It makes Mormonism objectively less plausible than run-of-the-mill Christianity—as does the related claim that Jesus visited the “Nephites” in America at some point after his resurrection. The moment one adds seer stones, sacred underpants, the planet Kolob, and a secret handshake required to win admittance into the highest heaven, Mormonism stands revealed for what it is: the religious equivalent of rhythmic gymnastics.
The point, however, is that I can say all these things about Mormonism, and disparage Joseph Smith to my heart’s content, without fearing that I will be murdered for it. Secular liberals ignore this distinction at every opportunity and to everyone’s peril. Take a moment to reflect upon the existence of the musical The Book of Mormon. Now imagine the security precautions that would be required to stage a similar production about Islam. The project is unimaginable—not only in Beirut, Baghdad, or Jerusalem, but in New York City.
The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. No apologies necessary. Muslims must learn that if they make belligerent and fanatical claims upon the tolerance of free societies, they will meet the limits of that tolerance. And Governor Romney, though he is wrong about almost everything under the sun (including, very likely, the sun), is surely right to believe that it is time our government delivered this message without blinking.

Friday, 31 July 2015


Apparently today is Guru purnima - messages of how important a Guru is on this full-moon day are flooding us. On TV they are preaching why it is important to lay down our full trust at the feet of a Guru in order to reach salvation. We are being told how obedience to a Guru is an important tradition in India. TV screens are showing statues of Shirdi Sai Baba being showered with milk. They are pouring milk - food produced by an animal they consider holy, food which their holy animal produced for its babies - after taking it away from the animals and instead of feeding their own children with the food produced by another mother, are pouring it on the head of a statue of a man who himself never did this.
This is not how Humanists deal with their teachers. A Humanist 'guru' is valuable but not Holy! A Humanist 'guru' teaches how to ask the questions rather than supply the answers! A Humanist 'guru' is a friend, a philosopher and a guide but never the final authority! They are not 'gurus' at all in the traditional authoritarian mould - they think and they teach how to think independently. and they promote Human values and independent inquiry.
The Carvakas, Ajita Kesakambali, The Buddha, Socrates, down the line to Vemana, Voltaire, Emmanuel Kant, Diderot, Bertrand Russell, Jawaharlal Nehru, Einstein, Karl Popper, John Dewey, Ambedkar, Tarkunde, Indumati Parikh, H. Narasimhaiah ... and a thousand others like them fall in this tradition.
In any case, since every one is remembering a favourite teacher, apart from thinking of parents, and school and college teachers, I take the opportunity to recall the life of - M.N. Roy who was introduced to me in my father's library who gripped my imagination with his extraordinary life story in his autobiography and inspired me with his vision in his writings. Long years ago I wrote the shortish entry about him in the MS Encarta Encyclopaedia. There are so many references that Google throws up - and you will also see that his home in Mexico is today a trending Pub, called M.N. Roy!
Actually, M.N. Roy seems to be gaining new traction - I was asked to speak about him twice in recent days and am receiving several inquiries about him as well. I also had the chance to speak of him in a major TV interview to be aired Sunday night 2 August.
M.N. Roy was called the most consistent political prophet of the 20th century: he was one of the first internal critiques of Marxism, foresaw the fall of the British Empire, showed why the Nazis and the Fascists were even more dangerous than the British colonialists, proposed the first draft Constitution for a future Independent India and issued dire warnings re. cultural nationalism that would lead ultimately to cultural fascism.
Here is something I wrote about him many years ago.
Humanist philosopher and activist with rare intellectual gifts and vast practical experience, M.N. Roy was a leading participant in revolutionary movements in four countries spread-out in three continents.
A school dropout, Roy joined the ranks of the Bengal militants as a teenager, and soon became a leader of the revolutionary movement which aimed to overthrow British colonialism by means of an armed insurrection. Roy's clandestine travels in search of German and Japanese arms to achieve this purpose began in 1915. In the course of the next 15 years, Roy realised that the Japanese and the Germans had their own designs on India, discovered Karl Marx in a New York library, established in Mexico in 1917 the first communist party outside the Soviet Union, disagreed at the Second Communist International in 1920 with Lenin on the National and Colonial Question, was soon elected to the highest decision making bodies of the Communist International, travelled to China as sole emissary of the Communist International with a brief to transform the Right Wing Kuomintang into a revolutionary instrument in the hands of the proletariat, befriended Gramsci and Einstein, inspired and influenced Nehru, earned universal respect for his courage of convictions, and was expelled in 1929 from the Communist International for his heretical and non-doctrinaire views.
Even though much is now known about this phase of Roy's life, one of his biographers despaired that the story of his early life may never be fully told: official documents and his notes relating to China and Russia were suppressed or destroyed because he fell out with Stalin, the manuscript of a magnum opus The Rise and Fall of the British Empire written in 1929 and predicting the fall of the Empire was destroyed by the Nazis, to complicate matters further, Roy wrote in several languages - Bengali, English, Spanish, French, German and Russian - and often in proscribed journals and used over 15 noms de plume Indeed, M.N. Roy is itself the most permanent of the several pseudonyms that Narendranath Bhattacharya (1887 - 1954) adopted in 1917 to escape from the American police when he jumped bail!
Roy's clandestine return to India in 1930 after spending 15 years in 17 countries finally led to his arrest, in camera trial and imprisonment by the British. Despite the difficult conditions of his imprisonment as an ordinary criminal and not as a political prisoner, Roy continued with his prolific writing, and produced 9000 pages of writings, some of which have later been published as Fascism; Historical Role of Islam; Heresies of the 20th Century; Nationalism: An Antiquated Cult; Science and Philosophy etc. As a tribute to his sole companion in prison, Roy also wrote an amusing best selling critique of Hinduism: Memoirs of a Cat!
On release from prison in 1936, Roy formally announced his break with Marxism by rejecting historical determinism and class war, and declared that without a cultural and philosophical revolution no social, political and economic revolution was possible. Terming this desired cultural transformation a 20th century renaissance, Roy later founded in 1946, along with his second wife Ellen Gottschalk and other colleagues, the Indian Renaissance Institute for 'spreading the spirit of Enlightenment, Humanism and the Search for Truth'.
Roy formulated his materialistic approach in 22 thesis where he attempted to restore to 19th century Radicalism its humanist essence, and hence called his philosophy Radical Humanism. Roy's approach integrates the scientific attitude and the democratic spirit - democracy is not merely a process, it is a system of values. For the Radical Humanist, the quest for freedom and search for truth constitute the basic urge of human progress. The quest for freedom is the continuation, on a higher level - of intelligence and emotion - of the biological struggle for existence.
The method and programme of a social revolution must therefore be based on a reassertion of the basic principle of social progress. Hence, the programme of the humanist revolution will be based on the principles of freedom, reason and social harmony. In this way, Radicalism gives to freedom a moral-intellectual as well as social content; and it also offers a comprehensive theory of social progress in which both the dialectics of economic determinism and dynamics of ideas find their due recognition; and it deduces from the same a method and programme of social revolution in our time. Radical Humanism provides an approach to the reconstruction of the world as a commonwealth and fraternity of free men, by the collective endeavour of spiritually emancipated moral men.
In 1944 Roy prepared a draft Constitution for India where he proposed an alternative system of political economy emphasising decentralisation and devolution of power, which would be in tune with his humanistic approach of restoring sovereignty to the individual in society. Roy soon rejected political parties themselves as legitimate instruments for the spread of democratic values, and in 1948 dissolved his own Radical Democratic Party which he had founded in 1940 to promote a humanist approach to politics and (most unpopularly) to support Britain's anti-fascist war efforts. Roy's alternative proposal for a humanist society was a party-less but organised democracy with a network of people's committees as its base. His ideas are elaborated in a collection of speeches: People, Power and Parties. After dissolution of the political party, Roy spent the rest of his life working for his cherished Renaissance, and the Radical Humanist Movement joined hands with similar groups in Europe and America to found in 1952 IHEU. Roy was closely involved in the establishment of the IHEU, but could not attend due to an accident to which he finally succumbed. He was elected a founder Vice-President in absentia.
A revolutionary at heart, and fired by the ideal of Human Freedom, Roy finally became a philosopher of the modern renaissance and that of the humanist revolution.
Roy's approach is summarised by Justice Tarkunde: "A humanist revolution, which is designed to achieve the ideal of comprehensive democracy, must necessarily partake of the character of the ideal. A humanist revolution is also a path to be traversed rather than a goal to be achieved. A Radical Humanist who traverses the way to a humanist revolution is, therefore, succeeding all the time".
And Roy's life is summarised in the eloquent tribute paid by the late Prof. G.D. Parikh: "Beginning as a nationalist worshipping geography, he could make any land his own. Appearing to swear by a dogma, he could struggle as a rationalist; seeming to believe in ideologies, he retained an indomitable interest in ideas. Founder of a political party, he never became partisan. A politician universally respected for honesty and integrity, a man of action hailed as a philosopher. He did not strive for greatness, he strove to lead a good life and to bring such living within the reach of all those who live".

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Good Boy Scouts don't need God

Tom Krattenmaker
Who said people can't be moral without religion?
·    When will the Boy Scout accept the nonreligious?     ·    Undergirding the Boy Scouts' ban is the dubious premise that people cannot be moral without religion. ·    It's the right thing to do.
Depending on what happens at the Boy Scouts' national meeting this month,gay Scouts might soon be accepted into the venerable organisation. Even then, there will remain a large and growing group of Americans still barred by the Boy Scouts.
When will the Boy Scouts accept the non-religious?
The Boy Scouts of America recognizes an impressive range of religious affiliations that qualify one as "reverent" and, thus, eligible to participate. Two dozen varieties of Christianity get the nod, plus Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Bahai'ism and more. However, the non-religious are not welcome, and that poses a problem the Boy Scouts should address in addition to the sexual orientation question drawing so much attention.
Undergirding the Boy Scouts' ban is the dubious premise that people cannot be moral without religious belief. It's an assumption that non-believers are wisely challenging as the public face of atheism moves away from angry anti-religious diatribes, typified by the late Christopher Hitchens, toward a positive expression of non-belief summed up by the pithy phrase "good without god."
Can atheists be good Scouts? Neil Polzin's story suggests a resounding "yes." Polzin, now 29, contributed to a successful life-and-death rescue operation during a Boy Scouts backpacking trip when he was 13. He later became an Eagle Scout and an aquatics program director as an adult. In 2009, as he tells it, a rival who wanted his job made an issue of the fact that Polzin is an atheist. Hoping to clear the air, Polzin notified his regional council of his atheism — and was unceremoniously booted.
One would think that his long track record would have proved his skill and moral worthiness by that point. But all the years of good Scouting and service were erased by a single dreaded word: atheist. 
Margaret Downy, president of the Freethought Society (and the mother of the a young man who was barred from the Scouts as a boy), is leveraging the new focus on Boy Scout inclusion policies to prompt a fresh look at its ban on atheists. Downey welcomes the new momentum for inclusion of gay Scouts. Even so, she asks, why no consideration of non-believing boys, too? "There is no question that people can be good without a god belief," Downey says. The Boy Scouts offer a great program, she adds, "yet their bigoted membership policies are harmful."
Welcoming non-believers might seem a difficult bridge to cross for the Boy Scouts and traditionalists who defend current membership requirements. Wouldn't acceptance of atheists force revisions to the Boy Scout Oath, which pledges duty to god and country? Why should a private, voluntary organization have to do that, particularly when most Scout troops are chartered by churches? 
These and other obstacles can be navigated through nuance, common sense and mutual respect. Let the churches that charter Scout troops adopt the attitude that churches usually adopt when it comes to non-believers: Welcome them in the hope of having a positive influence on them. Require atheist Scouts to respect the religion of their fellow Scouts, leaders and sponsors, with the assurance that their non-belief will be respected in kind. And, as Downey suggests, an additional "o" can go a long way; let the atheist Scout pledge his devotion to "good" rather than "God."
Ultimately, it would be self-defeating for the Boy Scouts to forfeit the chance to spread Scouting skills and values among the population of people who identify as atheist, agnostic, or otherwise not religious. More and more youths are growing up in non-religious homes; why would the organization squander the opportunity to serve and influence these boys?
Yes, as a private association, the Boy Scouts have a right to decide for themselves who's in and who's out. But just because they can exclude atheists doesn't mean they should.
"There are millions of young, secular Americans committed to civic duty, community service and personal improvement," says August Brunsman, executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. "They're looking to serve their country alongside their religious friends, and it's long past time for the Boy Scouts to wake up and let these admirable young men serve."
It's the right thing to do. And here's the bonus: Once the Boy Scouts open up to non-believers, they're going to discover they have a lot to contribute — just as they've been contributing all along.
Tom Krattenmaker is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors and author of the new book The Evangelicals You Don't Know.