This is a post I wrote yesterday for the BITS DoJMA blog. A couple of inside references you might not figure out, but then, I love private jokes, so, suck it and read-
This blog has become my only source of inspiration to write. And when I think about it, its not a good thing at all. I mean, what will I write after this gets over? Anyways, a post written a couple of days ago caught my attention. It was about atheism. And how atheism was awesome you didn't have to care about lotuses in your stomach and cobras in your spine when you are an atheist( I am sorry man, but too serious writing gives me bad bowel movements. So let me just have my fun, no offence meant, to you and your faith :P .)
There was a time in my childhood, when to sound cool, guys would be like" I am nonveg! I love chicken!!"(read Louuuu!!). It was the time when we thought that either you are a 'veg' or a 'nonveg' and the word 'Dangerous' could be substituted by a much simpler and yet million times more effective 'DANGEEER!!'(pronounced 'dainger'), by getting rid of its clumsy appendage. At that particular time, when a guy proclaimed that yes, he did consume the flesh of a fellow animal, we would all catch our breaths in awe and look at him as if he was Clint Eastwood and/or the coolest guy on the planet. The rest of the discussion would later get into digressions of whether blood is visible in the dish and the correct way to eat a around a chicken bone. When I became a non vegetarian, even I became the awesomest guy on earth to my brother's friends( Who is seven years younger than me.) for around four and a half minutes before he decided I was stealing his thunder and landed his cricket bad squarely on the pinky of my left foot. Coolest guys in the world don't weep like little girls. Anyways, my point is, now that most of us are over the fact that yes, we are animals and we do eat other animals and that is life( Again, so sorry dude. Completely unintentional), the question, 'do you believe in God?' has replaced 'Are you a vegetarian?'. And if you are an atheist, then you are on top of the food chain. Agnostics sound a lot cooler, though.
I believe in God. I believe He has yet to find me, but I do believe in Him. Heres the thing- the question, 'do you believe in God?' is one of the most personal questions you can ever ask an individual. And as in every scientific discussion, you cannot move on unless you define the premise. So the more important question here is what is God. If you say that God is a half naked man with a chiseled body and a flowing white beard, sitting on top of the best tanning-spot-cloud in the sky and sipping a chilled Elixir of Life, then yes, I am an atheist. But then, that is not what I mean when I talk about God. My idea of God is very different than that, and thats what I mean when I say its a personal question. Not very scientific, I know, but works for me.
I believe in God because, from what I have learnt about the vastness and the diversity of the universe through science, I feel it would be utterly arrogant on our part to say that there is no entity which drives it. I believe in energy, cannot be created, nor destroyed. Formless yet omnipresent. Neither good nor bad. And I look at it in awe and reverence and I bow down before it. They say 'ekam sat'- God is one. And they think of unity in diversity. They think of Allah being equivalent to Ganesh and they swoon around about Hindu Muslim unity.They say God is present everywhere and they pick up random boulders and colour them saffron and adorn them with flowers and coconuts and incense sticks. The language of the Vedas has been dilapidated and twisted and murdered. Energy is present wherever matter is. Energy is one. And one only. Ekam sat. And this phenomenon is what I deeply appreciate. So, yes, I believe in God. This one.
The key to the puzzle is religion. Religion, though superficially is all about God, is one of the most social things you can do. It was devised for society. Basically, remember when you were a child and you were told stories about Santa Claus and the Tooth fairies and a certain 'Bagulbua' who would carry a jute sack to kidnap the children who didn't sleep on time. Society is like a naughty child. A dumb naughty child, mind you. It loves Himesh Reshammiya and Britney Spears. It 'roflmaos' on CID jokes( I love 'em!). It reveres Rajnikanth. It screens TV series exclusively about people eating bugs, snakes, shit, rodents, crustaceans, lizards, shit, amphibians and the shit of the aforementioned species among other things. How the heck are you going to explain to them the true meaning of God? Or even take their help in finding it?
Also, the intelligent folk among the people wanted society to be good, crime free and peaceful. So, what they did was, they said there is a man in the sky watching all of us, and if you do anything wrong, he will punish you, for he is God. Now heres the funny thing. The 'intelligent folk' had the liberty to decide what was 'wrong'. So they confided and wrote big fat books about what was right and what was wrong. This is what we call ethics, in philosophy. Which differ from society to society, well because they have different books. Plato has different ethics, Aristotle has different ethics, the Bhagwad Geeta speaks of different ethics. But basically, it was all for the betterment of society. A novel plan. To make it sell, they cooked up stories about these men in the sky. But then, if you look at those stories carefully, you will note one thing. God was the perfect man. Every philosophy describes a perfect man. A man who follows all the ethics laid down in the philosophy. The elephant God was given big ears and a large stomach because it was an allegory for a person who 'Gives every man thy ear, but few thy voice.' The reason behind the presence of the moon on the head of Shankar was to show that the God of destruction is not hot headed. As in, if you have power, you have to be prudent enough to use it. And religion, is man's quest to be the perfect man. To acquire these qualities.
A long time passed and obviously, the 'intelligent people' became greedy. They invented stories for their own good. The beautiful, flawless plan became tainted. They started looking at individual interests rather than greater good. And this is how religion is how it came to be. Biased, partial and seemingly unreasonable. But it has rooted itself so deep into society that there is no way they can be separated. Today people actually believe in the bearded man, the forbidden apple trees, a heaven and a hell just like they believed in the tooth fairies and Bagulbuas in their childhood. They don't eat meat in certain months because they think that their God told them to do so. They take lives of other humans, because their God told them to do so. Eh well, the Gods must be crazy then.
Bottom line- I believe in God, but not in organised religion. And belief is a very funny thing. It can bring hope to one while bringing despair to others. Its beautiful in a weird weird way, you know. And the beauty of it is that people are so sure about things they don't even know exist. Its not very scientific, but then, works for me.
Now the lotus in my stomach is screaming to be fed and watered, so I better take care of it before it grows roots in all the wrong places... :P