About Atheism…

Just a few days ago, on last sunday, I had to accompany my parents to the temple again, grudgingly. I don’t know why I just didn’t refuse to go to the temple. They told me that according to the Indian astrology, my timing is not good at the moment. So I should go to the temple and do some simple rituals that might neutralize my bad time. I was really reluctant to go, but I didn’t want to spoil the my day and their day, so I went with them eventually.

Yesterday, I had a chat with my friend and he told me that no one can be an atheist. He just felt it strange that I was an atheist. Here is a snippet of the conversation we had on gtalk:

(Some parts have been edited)

Friend: But what is he definition of GOD in your sense? You say GOD doesn’t exist, so no definition?

Me: I say supernatural GODs don’t exist.

Friend: But I say GOD exists in the form of energy, waves and vibrations. Wherever there is life energy, there is GOD. GOD is full form of energy…

Me: Ok.

Friend: So I believe there is energy within you and around you…so how can I say there cannot be any GOD? GOD is energy… So focusing this energy, our old people gave GOD a form. Form of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

Me: Ok.

Friend: So when we pray brahma, we focus on the power energy of creation and creativity. Shiva energy is to burn your negative in around. Vishnu is to hav awareness to protect. So if you believe GOD is energy, you cannot say you are an atheist.

Me: Ok. I’ll say this again, friend, just for your clarification. I don’t give a heck for supernatural gods who punish us or send us to hell and all that. But I believe that man is God. That God is energy, the force. I believe in the ability of man.

Friend: Yea.. life is within you, you are GOD as said in Anbesivam.

Me: I completely agree with that.

Friend: See… we just naming that energy GOD. If you believe in the existence of energy, then how can you become an atheist? … No one in this world can be athiest.

Me: Why?

Friend: As you and I said, GOD is energy, you believe in energy. It means indirectly you believe in God’s existence as energy.

(End of conversation)

Well, later it all came to the conclusion that we were just playing with words; semantics. This chat with my friend made me think a lot on this subject. I have to think about my own belief system and do a little soul-searching. Do I really believe that GOD is energy? Where does energy come from? They say energy cannot be created, nor can it be destroyed. But where did that birst of energy come from in the first place, to bring about life on earth? What is this energy that moves us all? If energy cannot be created, then how can there be a GOD? If we can control that energy and manipulate it to suit our needs, then how can GOD be energy? How can GOD be manipulated if GOD is something above us? A lot of questions to think and ponder about. A lot of things to analyze and sort out.

My friend above puts this question forward to me. I say that I don’t believe in GOD. So I should naturally have my own definition of GOD, something that I believe in. But it doesn’t mean that all atheists have their own definition of what or who might GOD be. Then my friend postulates that if I do believe in that definition of GOD, how can I be an atheist?

Therefore, I have come to this conclusion. As an atheist, according to me, there is no such thing as GOD. My definition of GOD is a supernatural being who has been postulated to have created this universe and all it’s life forms. I say that kind of GOD does not exist. I also do not want to advocate metaphorical meanings to GOD, because people usually misunderstand that, like my friend did. It is still a vague concept and people will not buy it. I believe in natural phenomena. This energy that my friend talks about and I talk about, this mind power, the power within us and all that is just natural phenomena. Something that pertains to nature. I don’t want to name these as GOD, in case of any misunderstanding. I just want to name these natural phenomena. In this sense, I am an atheist.

In the conversation above, I have said a lot of things on the spur of the moment without thinking my response out. But writing this post has made it possible for me to lay out my thoughts. My friend said here that no one in this world can be atheist. But it is definitely possible. He might just have to look at them carefully and realise that there are people out there who completely do not believe in GOD. They might have a lot of reasons. Some find it unbelievable. Some lose faith on GOD and hence deny its existence. Some think scientifically and therefore deny the existence of GOD. There are a lot of reasons.

If you want to believe in energy, power and all that, just believe in yourself. Everything is within you, and whatever is within you is around you. So just believe in yourself and do not rely on external things like GOD and such crap. I say people like that are cripples. They have not learned to walk without their crutches. I have learned it the hard way, but now I walk on my own. I feel proud and independent. You might call me arrogant. I do not care what people say about me, because I know what I feel. I know if it is arrogance or self-confidence.

I say they are cripples because everytime people are broke, or sad they want something or someone to hang onto. They desperately need that pillar of consolation and most of them find it through GOD or spirituality. Nothing is wrong here. But it is definitely not going to help them any better. Just take my case as an example here. My mum says that according to my astrology, it’s slightly bad time for me. In such a case, going to the temple and praying helps to relieve her and make her believe that nothing bad is going to happen to me. Now, in the first place, if she had not believed in the astrology thing, she wouldn’t have to do anything and nothing would have happened. It’s like GOD commands you to become the president of United States and therefore you become one. When will people realise that GOD is an invention made by man? Do you certainly believe that there is something above all of us?

I welcome all comments from my readers who are both atheists and theists.

Why Am I An Atheist?

One of my friends asked these two questions to me: “What is the meaning of atheism, in your sense?” and “Why are you an atheist?” Well, he feels it quite strange that I’ve put my religion as ‘Atheist’ in my Orkut profile. It’s true that atheism is not a religion. In fact, atheists are mostly opposed to religion. But I seriously don’t know what to put in my profile under the ‘Religion’ heading. I don’t want to put ‘Hindu’ and give my friends a wrong message. Because hinduism is a religion and is always associated with belief in a God or several Gods. So I chose Atheist. Maybe I should consider putting ‘None’ in there now.

Atheism, in my sense, is the belief that God does not exist. Be it any kind of God; the supernatural, theist, diest, pantheist. Atleast, I can accept the pantheistic notions of God as of being somewhat “rational”. But certainly not the other versions. I still don’t know why we even have to accept those pantheistic beliefs. For me, atheism means freedom from relying on an external entity, which doesn’t really exist at all since there is no convincing evidence of it’s existence, and relying entirely on yourself. The first thing you experience when you come out of that glass ceiling, is that you are free to make entirely rational decisions and that you don’t have to rely on anything or anyone else.

But there was this dark feeling when I first came into that realisation. I was feeling alone, nothing to hold onto for support, no one but me to blame for whatever wrong/mistakes I do. My old habits of praying and seeking forgiveness kept coming up. I didn’t realize that it was so ingrained in my mind. But it’s all gone now. I don’t pray, I don’t go to temples, and I don’t keep mentioning “Muruga!” All of that is completely erased out of my mind and it took me quite a bit of effort for that. Not to mention, the time it took me to arrive at this stage, almost a year!

One I am an atheist because I have hope and I’m also certain that philosophical questions like “Who we are?” and “Why are we here?” can all be answered by Science. In fact, it has already provided those answers. Evolution by natural selection is not a theory anymore, it is now a proven fact. While simple explanations can be offered by science, why go looking for mythical and illogical explanations? The one thing I don’t advocate is blind faith. You say that God is a simple explanation? While it seems so on the surface, look deeper into it. God must have been a very complex being or some unknown entity to create such a complex life systems on the planet. I have already said this many times in my other post in my other blog. So I’m not going to put forth the same arguments again.

I’m sure people are also really fascinated with why the constants of the earth are so exact that any slight change to any of them, would not have made it possible for earth to survive. This will induce them to think of a creator in work. For more inormation on such arguments against atheism, go and grab yourself “The God Delusion” book from your nearby library shelves or book stores. It’s written by Richard Dawkins, who specialises in evolution. All the explanations given in that book are rational.

One If I am so strong an advocate of atheism, then why do I still call myself a Hindu? Because I believe that hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. I believe that you can be both an atheist and hindu. As I said in a post before, I view the hindu scriptures and temples in a purely metaphorical and aesthetic perspective. So there, I hope I have answered those questions fully as my friend intended.

Selfishness Is Virtue

Some of them, like Ayn rand, have said this. Some of them have condemned it, praising altruistic behaviour. But is it possible to be truely altruistic? To help others, disregarding our own self-interest. Is it truely possible?

As humans we are born selfish. Selfishness is our true nature. But like they say in spiderman, everybody loves a hero. A hero who sacrifices himself and his desires, his wants for the ‘greater good’. Gosh! Cut the crap man! Or like they say, “Give me a break!” I hate people behaving like self-sacrificing animals for all the wrong reasons. Well, not exactly wrong. But reasons that are not logical, shall we say?

People give stupid reasons when asked why they did something altruistic for the poor people or for the ill people. Well, at least i think they are stupid. People do good because they go by the Book. People do good so that they get praised and be put on a pedestal by others. People do good because they want eternal rewards in there after-life. People pretend to do good, to attain power and control.

But the truth is, we all do good for some selfish reason. Even Mother Teresa should have had some good selfish reason to have done what she had done. Even if it was just some pure personal satisfaction. Why not be selfish, then? Take care of ourselves, first. We can only give love to those who we think deserves our love. Be selfish. Be honest. I think only selfishness and honesty are two true virtues. When I say selfish, I do not mean taking care of your own interests with “disregard to that of the others”. I only mean, taking care of your own rational self-interests and being an end unto yourself. You don’t expect others to sacrifice themselves for you and you should not sacrifice yourself for others.

We have to value our existence. In my previous post, when I quoted the bible verse, “Love the Lord thy God…”, I interpretted the word “God” metaphorically. To me, it means “love your existence”. To me, Man is God. There is a God in everyone of us. Someone there in us who knows what is right for us, what wrongs we do. It makes us feel guilty. It guides us through darkness. This might just be an illusory feeling. But there is a God in each and everyone of us. Let’s find it inside us and not outside.

***The ideas presented in this entry are not entirely mine. Some of the credits and copyrights go to philosophical ideas of Ayn Rand and Osho. I borrowed some from here and there.***

The Purpose Driven Life?

I have heard about Rick Warren’s book called “The Purpose Driven Life”. A lot of people have told me that the book is really good and that it has helped them a lot. So I borrowed this book from my friend to read it during the weekend. But before I talk about the book, I would just like to give this disclaimer. I am not here to criticize the people who have read, or reading, or are going to read the book. I am only criticizing the writer and the writings in the book.

But who am I to criticize the writer? Afterall, Rick Warren has done a lot in his life and he is certainly well-qualified to write this book about Christian faith. So on second thought, I am only critizing the writings in this book.

When I started reading the first chapter, no matter how hard I tried to read every word and sentence patiently, I couldn’t go on. I wanted to read this book to understand how people of christian faith try to spread their faith. So I tried reading it patiently, trying to understand. But finally I had to start skipping certain pages. After that I started to skim through all of the pages and read certain paragraphs closely. Gosh! It was that boring! And I couldn’t believe that people actually say that this book is great. It is nothing more than a Christian Self-help book, no matter what the author writes to convince us that it is not.

The book is also filled with contradictions. Both self-contradictions and contradictions with what the Bible actually says. For example, one part of the book says that God was so grieved that nobody lived to please him except for Noah, that He wanted to wipe out the human race. Another part of the book says that the God knows that we are incapable of being perfect or sinless and yet he still loves us. Not to mention Rick Warren’s cherry-picking of verses from the bible. It’s self-evident that the book is so biased.

In Matthew 22, Jesus says, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”. In the book, Rick’s interpretation is that our love for God should be heartfelt and genuine. But how can you love God genuinely? Do you know Him? How can you love someone who you don’t even know about? During the times of the Bible, people were well aware of what they were talking about. The historical events in the bible happened near their time and so their beliefs in God and their love for Him were stronger. But now it’s already 2000 years since the events claimed to have been happened.

Rick’s cherry-picking has done much damage here. We should not misinterpret the words of the scriptures. Everything should be read, both good and bad. The verse continues, “And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. Love you neighbour as you love yourself. Because he is none other than you, but just in another form and shape. Before you love God, you have to love yourself first, and then other fellow human beings. But Rick condemns selfish behaviour. Because loving yourself is a selfish thing. But this doesn’t matter. This is just my opinion based on my other book readings.

The book also focuses much on the Intelligent Design theory. But you know about me. You readers know that I’m an atheist when it comes to supernatural gods. So I viewed the writings of this author sceptically. I don’t believe in the ID theory. But if I have to believe in it, then I face a big problem. If everything and everybody is indeed created by God, then who created God? If God is the father of Jesus and God created Jesus, then who created God? The problem doesn’t stop there. The predicament continues infintely. If it is true that every design has a creator, then who is the creator of the creator?

Well, I’m going to finish reading the book. Anything else to say, I’ll do that in my next entry.

My Temple Tours in India

Last time, three years ago, when I went to India, we only went to Thirupathi. But this time in 2006, we went to a lot of different temples. We went to Thiruvannamalai, Srirangam, Namakkal, and Palani. And what more, it was Ayappan season and so we saw a lot of guys in black clothes. Once in a restaurant, I almost bumped into a guy and he saw me and said, ‘swami saranam’ and went up away. Oh my, what a devotion to God!

Do I sound mocking? Definitely not. I’m not mocking at anyone and nor do I wish to. I learned a lot of things from these temple tours to different places. I admired the artistic values of the gopurams and the statues of the deities. I certainly felt peaceful after visiting these places. And by saying this I’m not implying that belief in God gives comfort. It sure does sometimes. But that doesn’t prove anything.

I’ve always thought that it is possible to be an atheist and still show some appreciation for the religious practices and places. Even the holy scriptures can be viewed from an artistic point of view. They are certainly great persuasive literary works. But the problem with religion is that most of the people read the texts and believe in its literal truth. Sure there are some nice verses written down there, but there are also vicious once that denounce heretics and praise martyrdom.

I think we are all culturally religious at heart. We are infatuated with the memes that come from these religions. I mean, just imagine. Weddings, celebrations of Christmas, Deepavali, Pongal, Hari Raya and so forth are all feel-good factors of religions. They certainly do a lot of work in bringing families together and creating happiness. In the process we thank God for such happiness, while we can derive such happiness ourselves without the help of the God! But if we were to deeply question ourselves whether we believe in a God or not, I think the answer will be a vague one. We’ll be sitting on the fence.

I still find it a problem to reveal myself as an atheist to most of my colleagues and friends at work. I’ve already told my close friends and my parents. And all those who read my blog know about me. My friends understand me better than my parents. Mom and Dad still have trouble accepting my views, but they will eventually come to understand. But I think I’m still not ready to tell my short-term friends and acquaintances about my views on this matter.

Yesterday during lunch, my Chinese friend asked me whether I can eat beef. It is believed that hindus cannot eat beef. So I replied them: “I don’t eat beef not because hindus can’t eat them, but I don’t like to eat it. I don’t like the taste or it’s smell”. Then I said I don’t mind trying a different version of beef. At that time, she was eating beef noodle from a famous hawker stall in holland village and she said that it was very good. Then my other Indian colleague started to question me, that if I am an hindu and so on. She believes that we can’t eat beef. At that moment I was a bit stalled off. I couldn’t come out and declare that I’m a non-believer and that I don’t believe in such nonsense. There were two Catholics, and one Hindu sitting on that table. Damn, one of them actually prays before eating. While they are so much of believers, I felt a bit out-numbered. Atheists are out-numbered. But there are a significant number of atheists in this world. I don’t know why I feel this way, about declaring myself. Maybe I need more time to feel comfortable of myself being an atheist in front of all those moderately religious people.

Feel free to click the Flickr link below. I have uploaded photos from my India trip in 2006.

An Educational Scandal

I borrow the above post title from Richard Dawkins’s book, The God Delusion. Steven Layfield, the Head of Science at Emmanuel College in Gateshead, once gave a lecture called The Teaching of Science: A Biblical Perspective. For goodness’s sake, he is the head of science! And it seems that he has no masala in his head! Do read the lecture text in the link provided! Also, take time to read this, a reply by Richard Dawkins to this lecture. Have a good laugh! What a loser?! And at the end he says:

As we stated at the beginning, Christians, with very good reason, reckon the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments a reliable guide concerning just what we are to believe. They are not merely religious documents. They provide us with a true account of Earth history which we ignore at our peril. Many who parade as competent scientists today are unwittingly asking the same question which Satan first uttered back in Genesis, ‘Did God really say…?'(3:1)

…True Science then should confirm pupils’ realisation that they are rational, spiritual beings of infinite worth with immortal souls whose eternal destiny, because of their sin, is placed in the balance. True science is no enemy of true religion. Indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). As the 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler remarked, his work consisted of ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him’.

May it please God to raise up a new generation of Scientists who are duly respectful of their Maker and who, recognising the limitations of human scientific enquiry, give full weight of respect to the statements of propositional truth of Holy Scripture – being the authoritative Word of God.

The gullibility of children

It has been a long time since I’ve posted. Most of the time, I was busy and even when I had the time, I was not in the mood to blog. Not to mention not having any topic at hand to discuss. But now I have.

I have always been wondering why so many scientists in our labs and other labs believe in their religions. Being so educated and having seen the scientific explanation of life in our universe, how is it possible that they can still believe (have blind faith with no irrefutable evidence) in their religion, be it christianity, islam, or hindu?

One of my colleagues is a post-doc. She is now working on a paper. I went home with her on one of the days and we talked about hindu temples. She seems to have gone to a lot of temples in the southern part of India. She also seems to be religious. She told me that she grew up in a street where there was a ‘powerful’ temple, to which she used to go to a lot. And then I understand why she is so religious despite being a scientist.

Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, explains it clearly in his hypothesis, ‘gullibility of the child mind’:

“Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival… But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses.”

He refers to religious beliefs as viruses. So therefore, a child’s mind is like a sponge that absorbs anything and everything that they see or hear. That might have been the reason why I was so religious just until last year or so. That is the reason why so many of them today, well-educated people, are religious and have blind faith in their beliefs. My colleague falls under the same category. She was brought in a community where such religious beliefs were abundant. No wonder she is still commited to the beliefs of her religion.

Moreover, nobody wants to denounce their beliefs and later feel that they have no purpose to live, other than worshipping and praising someone. All along we have been believing in something. And now that we know that it is false, we have nowhere to lean onto. But I say why not lean onto science? Science has not totally disproved god, but if offers a better explanation than the theory of ‘intelligent design’. The explanation for how life came about in our earth. Though not everything is yet known, it will soon be.

Here’s a youtube video of Richard Dawkins, my favourite author:

[related article]

Just random rant

Going to dinner with my colleagues and discussing with them about adult issues is making me feel kind of weird. All of a sudden I feel really grown up while I’m actually not. My attachment to my parents have also diminished. Nowadays I feel like they are quite irritating, but only sometimes. I feel that it would be great if when I reach home after work, there is nobody else at home except me. I kind of want to live alone. Atleast, that is what I thought until today.

But in retrospect, I don’t think it is possible for me to live alone without my family, even if I am able to support myself fully. Atleast, I need a partner to live with. Like when I get married or something. It will still be great to have some privacy of my own at home, at certain times. Like having my own room, even after I’m married. But living alone for the entire part of my life is not my option.

I don’t want and like to be reporting to my parents every reason and detail of what I’m doing and where I’m going. It is essential to tell them when I’ll be back home and all that. But when they start taking control of my life, I will kind of hate it. And I’m glad that my parents don’t do that so much. They trust me and I love them for that.

I notice that I’m starting to hate some of the things that my parents say and I’m still unable to rebut them in any way. If I do, they think of me as a stranger. A different person. They usually think of me as being sweet and concerned type of girl. But they still don’t realise that I’m changing and my views are becoming stronger. Especially about my views on atheism. I have become an atheist. They don’t approve this view of mine. Sometimes, we remain silent and do not discuss too much of this. I go to temples with them and put up an act just for them. All I can do is look at the statues from an artistic point of view and admire their creators. Thank goodness, they still do not know about other such opinions I hold. I can easily talk about such things to my friends but not to my parents. Afterall, they are our ‘creators’ and try to mold us in a way they like.

There is another issue I want to discuss in detail that is still on my mind, but I don’t feel like doing it now. I might probably do it some other time his week. So until then…


Work is taking a toll on me. I find myself spending more time than ever going for work, thinking about work, doing extra reading for work, and even dreaming about work. But i’ve learnt something from this week’s work. I am really getting the hang of this researcher job and i’m starting to like it. I think i’m really suited to it. Ok, i think i’ve reached to a conclusion very quickly. Let’s wait and see until the attachment period ends.

In the same time, it seems my friends are having a good time teaching. Especially Kasturi. Kalpana, well, i think the teacher job is not suitable for you if you do not feel the commitment to your job naturally. Even after facing a lot of troublesome students, Kasturi still wants to go on and become a teacher. If one is not strong-hearted like that, then that job is not for you. It’s the same for every career. There is always some aspect of that career that one does not like at all. In my lab, none of my colleagues ever talk to me. Fine, they say ‘good morning’, or ‘hi’, or atleast smile. But they don’t socialise much. Mainly because they are so engrossed in their research work. Actually, i myself notice that i too am fully engrossed in my work, as mundane as PCR and gel electrophoresis. Moreover, the repeating of failed experiments and getting back bad results again is frustrating. If i want to become a researcher, i have to tolerate the inadequacies of such a career.

I’ve been reading a lot on the subject of whether there exists a god. All along in my life, i have been told to believe in the gods that i worship (the hindu gods). And i have always done so. Especially at night before i go to sleep. This is because praying gives me an invisible protection from bad dreams and so on. I used to get nightmares quite often last time. But reading Richard Dawkins’s books like The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker and getting to know more about evolution and natural selection, has made me feel sceptical about the existence of god. Now the very notion of the hindu gods sounds quite ridiculous to me. I have stopped praying for quite some time at night. And i don’t get the nightmares that much as i used to. I sleep peacefully. My disbelief in god has also made me sceptical about the existence of spirits and ghosts.

My parents are strong believers of the hindu gods and i think any other gods. I don’t think they will ever understand the arguments put forward by Richard Dawkins. Even my dad who is well-educated. I think belief in a god comes about easily, rather than not believing. It’s like a pillar to lean on in times of trouble/suffering/pain. And i feel surprised that a lot of students who study evolution and natural selection are believers in christianity. I wonder how. Are they scared to tell their opinion on the existence of god out loud? Like what Richard Dawkins says, it might be true. I myself have not told my parents that i do not believe in god at all. I have told it to my close friends. And sometimes, it’s easier to talk about it to a friend who agrees with you in this matter. Kasturi is one such person. But she still believes in a god who created this world. Then who created god?:)

Another thing that is running on my mind now is about this childfree issue. i’ve been to India and have visited my cousins. One of them got married last year and is 8 months pregnant now, going to give birth later this month. And another cousin of mine, 24 years old, has finished her MBA. I asked her if she is going to go for a job? She said no and that she is not interested. Then i wonder why she has ever studied at all? Well, she doesn’t have to go for a job, being rich and all. The thing is, she is of a marriagable age and her mind isn’t in career planning at all.

Lots of girls are quite ambitious when they are teenagers. But once they finish their degrees, i don’t know why they lose interest in their ambitions. They just want to get married and ‘settled’. And i don’t know what they mean by ‘settled’. If ‘settled’ means giving birth to a child and bringing it up, man that’s not the end of life. All these girls ever think about is when they want to have children and not if. Why don’t they ever question about such things and why do they just accept it? There was a book in the library i was browsing through. It was about the other unpleasant side of motherhood. The third trimester of pergnancy, the labour, lactose intolerance and so on. The book also has another section in which it gives advice to girls in their late teens and 20’s on preparing for motherhood. What crap! We have to prepare for motherhood knowing that such unpleasantness exists in it? Stop romanticising the idea of motherhood and let’s just face the hard truth, shall we?

All these thoughts have been a kind of consciousness-raisers for me in this part of my life. I think i’ll post more on them when i have time. I have spilled out quite a lot that was lingering in my mind. I feel quite peaceful now:)