Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Views on Religion - FAQs

What religion do you practice?

None. But my family is Jacobite Syrian Christian.

Why?

Because I never felt that the concept of god was necessary to explain anything that we see around us. We don't know the answers to all the questions yet, but attributing the entire unknown to god is taking the easy way out. The voyage of discovery is the lifeblood of human existence, it is a voyage fraught with difficulties and nobody knows when we will find all the answers. But to know, we must make that journey. We cannot sit at home and draw a map saying, 'this is how god made things'.

Oh, and one more thing – studies have shown that intelligent people are more likely to be atheists. At least by claiming to be an atheist, I can hope to be confused for an intelligent person. Here's the Wikipedia link.

Does that make you an atheist, sceptic, agnostic,..?

I think there is no difference between these. A person who does not believe in god does so based on certain reasons which convinces him of the non-existence of god. If somebody were to conclusively prove the existence of god one day, it means that the reasons for disbelief are no longer valid. Hence he would start believing in god, whether he is called atheist, sceptic or agnostic.

Are you against others believing in god and practicing their religion?

The straight answer is no. We wouldn't have so many holidays if we had no religion, right? However, I don't have much respect for people who simply follow a religion without asking the 'right' questions and without being aware of what they are doing. The fact that a majority of the people practice the religion that they were born into is proof enough that people are brainwashed into practicing the religion of their families from childhood.

Others have a right to believe in whatever they want in the same way that I have the right not to believe in god.

What are these 'right' questions?

Some of them are: 'Am I practising this faith because everybody around me is doing it?', 'Why should I believe what somebody else has told me about god, faith and religion?'

You must be a morally corrupt guy without any happiness in life in the absence of any religious faith.

I find the association of morals, happiness and hope with religion very ridiculous. Even atheists have a conscience, which is the source of all morals. The writers of holy books just copy-pasted what people already felt through their conscience so that they made the emotional connect with its readers. This made the religion seem 'right' to the people following it. It doesn't take much brains to write 'Thou shall not kill' and nearly all religions give similar messages. Not believing in any religion does not mean that I find it acceptable to kill people.

When did you become an atheist?

Ever since I could think on my own, I have been an atheist. Earliest memories of my atheism include arguments with cousins (devout believers) about the existence of god until horrified uncles would break it up. I would have been 7 years old at that time. I'm pretty sure my parents would have got a lot of advice about getting me to go to Sunday school, a practice which I discontinued after we shifted to Trivandrum, because the church was too far away. Later on I had to resume the Sunday torture, but more about that in later posts.

Does this mean that you do not go to any places of worship?

Not at all. I go to church whenever my grandparents are around or whenever I go to my 'tharavadu' (ancestral home) or when I'm in town and my parents want me to meet some family friends who we haven't met in a long time. As my grandmother keeps reminding me, I have to regularly show my face there or the church may refuse to let me get married there (the ultimate insult to any Syrian Christian family). I'm not the kind of atheist who won't go near a place of worship. On the contrary, I see it as a social activity. It is also one of the few places where you get to see a lot of pretty girls together outside their houses in Kerala.

Since my visits to places of worship have nothing to do with religion, I don't mind going to temples or mosques either. In fact, while doing my engineering, I went to a temple more often than church because I enjoyed the bike ride with my friends.

When are you going to publicly denounce religion and take a religion-neutral name?

Never. I quite like the 'social' angle that religion has and the contributions it has made to culture. Festivals bring people together and give us reasons to celebrate. Religion originated from man's need for answers as well as his need for socializing with fellow humans. It's only the first part that I'm rejecting because that's a role now being fulfilled by science. The second part is still relevant.

3 comments:

Mathew said...

Nice post! And you do NOT want Sunil stumbling across this blog... These are my views on religion exactly. Which sort of validates my belief that religious beliefs are mostly what your parents impose on you. I don't know how much of Hitchens or Dawkins you have read. If not much, I think you might find them very enjoyable.

jeff said...

well said!!all aethist/agnoists in kerala have the same views...they go to church to see pretty girls..and the best part of religion is the veetile kuppi pottikal in christmas,easter,perunnal etc when all the generations of the family drink together and you get the best liqour and tocuhings for free!!

jeff said...

well said!!all aethist/agnoists in kerala have the same views...they go to church to see pretty girls..and the best part of religion is the veetile kuppi pottikal in christmas,easter,perunnal etc when all the generations of the family drink together and you get the best liqour and tocuhings for free!!