Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Faith Vs. Truth

By Shyam Sundar, Journalist

e are all truth seekers. The problem arises when someone says that what he/she believes is truth. If a person says that he has faith in something, there is nothing wrong in it. It is his right. But when the same person insists that his faith is truth, it is the hurdle. And it turns out to be a bigger hurdle, if the person says that everyone should follow only his/her faith. Again it becomes the biggest hurdle, if the person is ready to kill or get killed for his/her faith.
No two persons think alike. One has to live in this world with diverse faiths and one need not quarrel with others over it. Let there be diversified thoughts but not animosity. The world has seen enough animosity.
Many people believe, rather wrongly, that faith in god makes people morally binding. But one has to accept the reality that people are more afraid of the law of the land than god. They become good citizens due to the fear of the long hands of the law. Theists strongly believe that god can be appeased and even bribed. Once they bribe the god they start afresh all types of anti-social activities. But they keep an eye on the police.
Broadly speaking there are two types of believers – one who believes in god rather innocently or out of ignorance and the other who is cunning and out to hoodwink people in the name of god.
The world is full of innocent and gullible people. They are easily tricked into believe anything. If someone says that a particular godman has mystical powers, they run to him and pay obeisance before him. They strongly believe that the godman would relieve them from the re-birth cycle and send them to heaven. They are ready to believe whatever they say and also ready to extend donations to the godman. That is the weakest link and godmen make money. The faith in these godmen is so strong that the believers refuse to accept een there were ghastly incidents occurred in their presence. A Karnataka-based swami, it is learnt, has been extending loans to his devotees at an exorbitant rate of interest. But his popularity is not dwindling. Recently, to continue the legacy, he appointed his nephew as his successor.
One thing the devotees do not care to think is that these godmen or godwomen have renounced the world and amass enormous wealth, which is contradictory . they renounced the world and they lead luxurious lives. They live in air-conditioned houses and move around in air-conditioned cars. Hypocrites.
The other day a person of a particular faith approached and tried to convince me that his faith is superior over all other faiths. He even quoted scriptures. It seems he strongly believed that after his lengthy discourse I would change my ideas of atheism and ecome a religious man.
After patiently hearing his soliloquy for many hours, I simply put forward two questions. One, his omnipotent god, using his powers, should make all his believers of various hues in his own faith unite and embrace each other. Or at least as a second option, his omni benevolent god should bestow his largesse upon all his believers and see there is no poverty among his believers. I made it clear that I do not want anything but the poverty-ridden people should get uplifted. My good friend never met me again. I only called on him after some days and asked him why he was not visiting me. He said that he approached his religious head with the questions posed by me and the religious head warned him not to talk to me as there was every danger of his becoming an atheist.
That is the way the believers avoid meeting people of different ideas, in particular atheists. In earlier days, the atheists were not given a chance to express their opinions and most of the atheists or rationalists were killed or tortured into silence. Ut thanks to the efforts of people like Gora, now we can talk openly about atheism and even organise world atheists meet.
During one of visits to Surat in Gujarat, I was introduced to a swami as an atheist. The swami was so confident that he said that I would become a theist if I talked with him for ten minutes. I readily accepted the offer. He started his questions. The earth rotates around Sun, is that right, he asked. I said, yes. Then what is the force that is working there? I said gravitational force. Then he asked that it is believed that no force worked in the space is that right? I sensed the trap. If I say I do not know what force is working to make the earth rotate around the Sun, he would say that it is god.
I told him that there are several forces outside in the universe. If you call it ‘a force’, it would become ‘the force’. “The basic question is whether the humans have freedom or not?” I asked him. Suddenly he was dumbfound. He hurriedly went away stating that we could talk later. Naturally he never met me again. If he agrees that humans have freedom, he should also agree that there is no god. And how can he say that humans have no freedom. Humans have freedom to do whatever they want subject to the approval by the society he himself has created.
Though I quote George Bernard Shaw who said it is a superstition if you believe you can eradicate all the superstitions, I attack the superstitious beliefs many a time. It is said that one man’s religion is another man’s superstition. It can safely be said that all religions are superstitious beliefs.
The latest superstitious belief that has been harassing people all over India is ‘vaastu’ which exactly means the art of house construction. But there is more demolition than construction in vaastu. It easily frightens people into submission. If you do not follow this rule, something will happen to your children, you will become pauper, you will incur loss in your business, and you will lose all your money. These are only some of the threats. There are more and more ridiculous threats.
My simple question to the believers is what their goal is. If salvation is their goal, they are welcome die and meet their `creator’.  Our goal is better life on earth for all humans.
When I say better life for all humans, there comes another section that demands better life for all creatures. My humble answer is let them leave lions and tigers among humans and let them live. If there is a threat to their existence, humans do not mind to kill whether is wild animals or even flies and mosquitoes. Ultimately the humans always think in their perspective only. That is why Gora (Mr Goparaju Ramachandra Rao, who is the pioneer of modern atheist movement in India and author of several books including "Positive Atheism') coined the slogan ‘Jai Insaan” (Long live humans). Atheists are not out to criticise any religion or ‘holy book’. They are out to prove that humans can live without believing in any supernatural power. And we are proving the point.
(This article was published in the souvenir of Sixth World Atheist Conference 2007)