Thursday, June 18, 2009

Are (a few) religious leaders atheists?

A few years back, I had read about head priest of a temple in Rajasthan belonging to a very influential sect, rape and murder a priestess. The priest was compelled to do so as the priestess had seen him coerce other women into having sex with him, and had been blackmailing him. Unfortunately, I could not find the newspiece despite googling for information, hence none of the involved individuals or sect are being named here.

Appalling no doubt the piece of news was to me. If I remember it correctly, I had already become quite skeptical about God's existence even at that time. So this post is not about how theists could also go morally corrupt, but how the guiding lights of religion (theism) could themselves be atheists!

Just for a moment think about the following issues:

1. How do Godmen indulge in irreligious/immoral/illegitimate/unethical acts?

How many times have you come across incidents of religious leaders held in high regard being apprehended for illegitimate and/or immoral acts? I can remember a prominent Hindu leader being convicted for murder. A prominent religious mentor to a former Indian prime minister held for some scam. Day in and day out we come to know of how some Godman is found duping his followers. A temple's basement in Vadodra, Gujarat had been found to be the place of illicit drug trade in night hours. There are a few charges of Christian priests indulging in pedophily. And it is common knowledge as to how sleight of hand and even elaborate stratagems are employed by these same Godmen to perform "miracles". Almost none of the large religious organizations is free of hushed whispers of rampant corruption in their sacrosanct sanctums.

Have the above people told their devotees that it is morally alright to do what had brought them infamy? More precisely as example, have you ever come across a Godman urging you to have sex with someone who you have not married, or to rape or to kill, or embezzle large sums of money? You remember the strongest reason you are given to not do all of these and other things that we include under an umbrella term - "immoral"? That reason is "God will not like it. God will be angry (of course, it is not said in such simple-childish terms, but in more sophisticated manner like "karma" or "God sees everything", etc.)."

How then they indulge in the same activities they proscribe for their followers? So, do these people think God will not get angry if they themselves do the same immoral things? What makes them think God is going to apply different standards to judge them? That they've been performing special rituals all their lives, that they've been "close" to the God by way of always being in physical proximity of some statues? Do they really think the omnipotent, omniscient God cannot see them sell narcotic drugs right under God's nose? The real answer is they just do not believe in existence of God, or think God to be impotent!

2. What does it take for a Godman to climb up the religious hierarchy?

All the major religious organizations have a hierarchy. There are fewer people on the top, and proportionately more at the bottom. The one at the top enjoy greatest respect and privileges. No one right from the birth is declared the Pope, or the head priest of a community. So, what criteria are used to determine who should ascend to those coveted positions? One might casually answer that it is the one most pious, most devoted to the God, one most liked by the God that ascends. What are the objective units to measure piety, devotion and intensity of God's love? None.

Most likely, a lot of bargaining, cajoling, canvassing, bribing go into such ascension. Basically, at the heart of such affairs is what we would otherwise in other spheres of human society unabashedly term as dirty politics. What does this indicate about our Godmen? That they are not free of worldly temptations themselves. They desire power, money, respect, luxuries at any cost. A most passionate singer would not be much bothered about how much laypersons praise them, would not be worried about where in the hierarchy of public perception do they fit. They would just sing. A true Godman should just devote his life to the God (whatever that entails, but most definitely not indulging in dirty politics). Can anybody deny that such people are simply not interested in God, or that other materialistic things fuel their desire much more? That they have no moral right to tell others to shun the worldly distractions and follow the path of God? At least not till they sufficiently demonstrate through their own deeds that they mean what they say.

Okay, so why am I even talking about thse issues? Many people openly concede that Godmen are not to be trusted. But then, they visit the same places of worship, consider the dwellings of same Godmen as sacrosanct. They themselves donate obscene amounts of money to the same religious institutions that are run by such double-faced "leading luminaries of religion". They respect them to utmost degree when meeting in person. They have greater contempt for, maybe, a waiter in a restaurant earning his money through respectable means as than a Godman caught selling drugs (for who they actually have greatest degree of respect reaching levels of worship). They wishfully think how their own Godman is great and take pride each time a Godman of some other sect is publicly shamed. When the Godman they revere meets the same fate, they are quick to go in denial - "it's a conspiracy", or "See, God is now punishing him."

But is it not ironic and tragic to no end that still the Godmen of the same species are revered and worshipped, entrusted with money and human life (think of young child priests being initiated into priesthood), with our decision-making (Godman are frequently consulted in matters of family decisions) and even our morality ("perform such and such ritual and your sin would be forgiven by the God")? If you're a religious theist, have you thought, who other than the same Godmen have shaped your religious beliefs and moral convictions? You might think it is your parents, but no who is the original source? No, not their parents. It is the very same Godmen - either from this generation or previous ones.

The persons who told you God exists, (perhaps) themselves do not believe so!



  1. I doubt that these men even consider the question of God's existence. In fact, they don't give a fart either way. For godmen, it is just a career for monetary gain, just like that of a doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc. The only difference is that their revenue comes not from the services they provide as would be the case for other careers, but instead from the belief of the gullible. So the temple is just like a corporate house, employing associates and executives, albeit clad in robes instead of suits. A temple, then, is like any other organization whose aim is profit.

    As to your point about them being atheists, I can only express ignorance. It is very possible that they believe in a supernatural entity called god, as do most other people, but that belief is entirely unrelated to their work as godmen which is entirely motivated by personal gain. This is true of many other lay believers as well, who perform their religious rituals because it is so expected without really thinking of them as actually connected to God. So why should the godmen be any different?

    You are right in pointing out that these men have no right to dictate the behaviour of of others; but then this is true even if they were in fact piously devoted to their god, since even that does not confer upon them any such right(since that power is assumed to come from a god who does not exist, as least in the way other things are said to exist).

  2. Thanks TCC for commenting.

    I don't think it's that easy for a Godman to be totally indifferent to the question of God's existence.

    Picture this: I'm a 'dhongi baba', and I perform trickery for others to believe them to be miracles. I tell people that God loves me as I'm pious and gifted and all that and that if they do so and so things, so and so harms or benefits would come to them. I make use of a primal fear of the unknown inherent in my 'followers' to further my cause. Don't you think I'd 100% sure that it's not God who's performing those miracles as it is me myself performing tricks (and not miracles), which anyone could perform with a bit of training (think professional magicians)? Remember here that for a vast majority, it is precisely these tricks (miracles) that are bases for belief in the God. When mothers tell their kids--"sleep munna, sleep or else Gabbar Singh will come", they're 100 percent sure no such thing will come.

    You're very right that all the religious organizations work like corporate houses and that's what I've tried to convey, but what I'm implying is if a drug company, for instance, advertises a slimming sill, which it supports to make you lose 10 kg in a month, the company would DEFINITELY know that the pill doesn't work. Not that way or that radically, at least.

    I'd like to bring one thing to your notice, Godmen exist for one simple reason--common people believe that they can't directly communicate with God and so they need agents! So, it is assumed that the best messengers for God's messages on morality are the Godmen who themselves are pious (moral). So it becomes imperative for priests and such to be morally worthy of standing scrutiny to retaini moral rights to preach.


  3. TCC, Lay persons most definitely believe that there's a God up there listening to them when performing certain rituals. They might not think of this WHILE performing those rituals, but otherwise they definitely believe.

  4. Hmm... Interesting read. Personnally, I don't believe in these "Godmen" anymore. As a child my parents (particularly my mum) made us (meaning me, my sis and bro) bow don't to these people BUT now no one in my house (except my mum and my mum's side of the family) believes in them. (Although they are gradually winning my dad's side too.)

    Anyway, in regards to your post, I do believe a lot of these "godmen" are fakes. It is just a lot of dirty politics and brainwashing.

    I mean I am a believer of God and I do bow down to Krishna, Ram, etc BUT I don't go the the exstreme that I got "cookoo" over it. And do puja and prayers 24/7. And also believe/trust every tom, dick and harry that I come across. Although I must confess, I use to with the influence of my mother and her mother BUT I was only a child then. Today, things are different.

    BTW, aren't "religious me/women" meant to be virgins or atleast celibate? So it makes no sense to me when I hear that they raped this girl and had sex with that girl. And that you find that they have their offspings everywhere.

    And don't get me started on what I think about them being involved in drug deals, etc.

    BUT yes it does seem like it's one rule for them and another for their followers. Are they not there to set an example to use "normal" people as they are "god's men" ?

  5. Hi Badz!

    Welcome to my blog, and thanks for reading and commenting!

    I have indeed pointed out a few immoral acts committed by Godmen, but that was not the primary intention! The intention was to bring to the reader's notice, the possibility that these very people do not themselves believe in their own theories (I'm calling these theories because they attempt to explain how the Universe functions, and because they're different across different religions, so there's no unanimous agreement with regard to one single religious theory, which explains it 'all'; everyone claims there's to be "more correct" than others' :) ) of Universe's functioning--about the nature of God's existence (omnipotent, omniscient), the nature of God's dealings with our world (rewarding the righteous, punishing those straying), the nature of karmic laws (good deeds lead to desirable future incarnations, and bad deeds to undesirable ones), what's moral v/s immoral--and yet we end up believing the very same theories.

    It's like a person knowing the Earth is a sphere misguiding us that "the World is flat", and our actually believing it! It's also like a person who knows that Earth is a tiny speak in the entire Universe, and revolves round the Sun, tell us that "the Earth is the center of the Universe", and our believing it. And it's also like a mother who doesn't believe in ghosts, tell her child, "don't go close to the well, otherwise a ghost will take you away", and the child believing it!

    Just remember, it is the same professional predecessors (anything that lets you earn basic necessities of life--food, clothing, shelter--is a 'profession')--Godmen of the prior generations--who'd told us in the past that a widow must burn to death with her husband's pyre, that brides must be burnt if they don't bring in enough dowry, and that certain humans because of the parents they were born to are 'third class', and hence "untouchables". So also remember, that "God exists, that God punishes/rewards, and that such and such acts are pious v/s sinful", are again theories from the same professionals...

  6. ...I'm not implying, we must stop believing in their religion and ideas only because few of the things they say were factually/morally wrong--and thus throw the baby with the bathwater, but then we must stop taking all the religious ideas as impervious to our own logical/moral questioning, and start being reasonably skeptical about all these aforementioned ideas.

    We've to stop believing (we all do that subconsciously) that philosophical and moral questions in life--like 'why do I exist?', 'what's the purpose of my life?', 'does God exist, and if yes, what are the attributes of that God?', 'is this act immoral/moral?' can be answered only by those residing in places of worship, and wearing certain kind of clothing. You and I have equal (as the Godmen) right and MORAL DUTY to think on these issues, and come to OUR OWN conclusions. It's very difficult, however, to decide whether the conclusions we draw are completely 'OUR OWN' or greatly influenced by years of social conditioning starting right from the childhood.

    Hope to see you here more often!

    Take care.

  7. On a personal front, I don't think about either the god or godmen (leave alone liking or hating them). But have come to admire a few of them, despite whatever be their other acts / vices.

    In many cases, they happen to be the channel to route funds to something good (if not completely). There are towns taken care completely by religious institutions run or headed by these godmen. Villages completely electrified. Roads completely laid. Hospitals built and schools and colleges established. A good measure of them rendering services freely to people who cannot otherwise afford them. I remember reading about a certain godman, who promised to clean a river in Punjab, and did it so.

    People who would otherwise would be all too glad to give such things a slip, end up funding indirectly through such godmen.

    To me, even if there is some dirty politicking within their set up, if they are able to really do some amount of good work, they are GO(o)D enough for me. So why bother about whether are atheists?

  8. Sai,

    Am glad to have your comment. Thanks!

    Did you read the comments above? If you do, you might realize that how much one respects these Godmen (more so their actual convictions), and hence the hypotheses they forward to explain the Universe and moral standards they prescribe, would have a great bearing on how the society would be. But this issue would be of much greater significance to theists than atheists.

    Now I'll give you an example. Your doctor tells you that drinking 100 mL of coconut oil everyday would keep you fit (which believe me, is the surest way to invite heart attacks!), but you find that he himself avoids coconut oil like plague! Should that not bother you whether coconut oil is indeed good or bad? Would it not make you suspicious of the intent of your doctor? And if you'd be interested in knowing the truth, would you not try to find some other source of information to resolve the dilemma? Remember here, this doctor is your only source of information. But if the same doctor tells me the same thing about coconut oil, I'll scoff at him because of MY OWN KNOWLEDGE of what I could call facts.

    Now apply this analogy to religion. Godmen say that:
    1. God exists
    2. Such and such acts are pious/impious
    3. That God will punish/reward in accordance with above dictats
    4. That you should devote your life to God, which in great parts involves donating money to me.

    But, just like the doctor above, their actions seem to be contradicting their claims! So, should that not bother ones using these Godmen (directly or indirectly) as the ONLY source of knowledge of the Universe and morality? Analogous to YOU in above situation, a theist who chooses to use these Godmen as the only source for knowledge in realms I mentioned is open to misguidance and manipulation. Whereas, someone like me, who uses his own knowledge, can't be manipulated.

    Unlike in the medical field, in the field of day-to-day philosophy and morality, how qualified one is totally dependent upon their self-assessment of themselves. In real life, you consider yourself to be qualified enough (at least NOT less qualified than these Godmen) to ponder upon above issues, and so you yourself are that independent source of information. So, you might have missed the point I was trying to make :)

    With regard to good work done by these Godmen, I didn't want to get into that as that was not the primary purpose, just like how getting into their sinful acts was not!...

  9. ...Since it is generally believed that actions speak louder than words, pointing out those acts was easier than making them drink coconut oil err truth serum (which would of course have to be injected), and confess that they don't believe in God!

    I don't think atheistic societies can't indulge in charitable work. SIDA--Swedish development agency is one of the largest donors of funds for medical purposes in India. But as I told you, I don't want to get into that.

    And well, if you've actually drunk 100 mL coconut oil, I'll tell you what ritual you must perform to get all that sin out of your system ;)


  10. Sai,

    The use of pronouns "you" and "me" in the above analogies was entirely arbitrary. :)

  11. Y'know all thru the post I kept wondering if these so-called Godmen are really selfish ppl who pretend to be all pious and close to God, while at the same time exploiting the faith and devotion of ppl blinded by their need to believe that God will grant their wish, then it must mean they themselves do not believe in God, or atleast that God will punish them for their "sins" (for want of a better word).

    And this means, these ppl are atheists themselves (using the definition really loosely).

    So, the people that ascend the ranks of organised religion and pretend to be mediators between God and man are mostly selfish ambitious greedy atheists??

    Wow, what an irony!

    Doesnt really restore my faith in mankind this observation.

    Most of the ppl on earth are either gullible theistic fools or greedy corrupt atheists..

    Maybe someone really clever laid the foundations of organised religion after realising this very ironic fact..

    Yeah, i agree with The Couch Clown, its just another career for the men of the faith..

    and just like any other career most organised religions in the world have managed to keep women out of the strongholds of their power..hugely moreso than other careers i shud say..

    I myself think religion or rather worship is a very private thing..organising it, with people and money only leads to corruption and fatwas..

  12. sorry for the long comment, but i just typed every thought in my head :)

  13. TUIB,

    Thanks for commenting. You are the first respondent to articulate exactly what I wanted to convey through this post. :) But you don't get any prizes for that :(

    But of course, TCC and Saimukundhan are thoroughbred atheists, so maybe they didn't find anything fascinating about this irony!

    My views on humanity are coincident with yours, and if you want to restore your faith in humanity, close your eyes, ears, mouth and all other orifices you could think of. Of course, you'll require occasional catharsis--obviously, at least the caudal one, if not cranial. And to that end, visiting my blog is highly unadvised!

    Religion in the past had mainly two goals--to explain the observable phenomena and to provide an instructive framework for common man for smooth functioning of the society. The former goal has been taken over by science and the latter, though still retained by religion, actually falls in domain of multiple specialties--aesthetics, morality, ethics, economics, politics, judiciary and legal system, psychology, sociology, etc. Just that it's difficult to recognize this fact, especially in cases of morality and ethics, that whether killing another innocent person is right or wrong has got nothing to do with whether a certain God used to like butter or had used mouse as his vehicle. But even hardcore skeptics well into their lives are not able to make out this distinction.

    I myself till I was 20, used to confuse morality with religion. Somehow, societies have always put into positions of prominence people in possession of qualities that were socially beneficial. Brute power and ability to walk hungry, violent, immoral cattle in small pastures in the past and some other (supposedly, intelligence, originality, ingenuity, sincerity towards work, meticulousness, etc.) qualities in the present. So of course, with passage of time, you'll find women gaining more prominence, which would some day take form of real gender equality. Of course, your observation as to why women were kept out of religious affairs is logically appealing.

    Last, I absolutely loved reading your comment. Remember, you'd typed it out, I'd to *just* read it ;) If the length of my comments is anything to go by, you should be proud of your brevity!

    You might find my post--'A few responses to criticism of atheism' interesting.


  14. TUIB,

    Another purpose apart from expressing my disillusionment at the possibility [insert post's title here], was to make people realize that it's within their right, and in fact, duty (as brainy multicellular organisms) to think not just on scientific issues, but also moral and ethical ones. This, though I've already stated in my response to Badz.

    I'll strongly recommend your reading 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged'--both by Ayn Rand, if you've not already read them. But I'll also warn you about their sizes--the latter (the larger of the two) is one-third the size of Katzung!


  15. Hi Ketan,

    I was not denying your observations over their hypocrisy, being from a State, where you see most of their ilk (second only to Baneji's land, I guess), with a wholesome loathing for great many of them.

    What I was trying to highlight was the fact indirectly these so called Atheist Godmen, becoming GOD without their knowing and despite their good/bad intentions (or as a result of probably a meticulous planning)

    As I had communicated earlier, I am basically indifferent to either of these Groups (Atheists or Theists), in matters of God and Religion. At the same time, my respect for them is in equal measure for their good deeds as my loathing for them for whatever hypocrisy they promote. Guess, with age (and more generous foreheads), I have come to like people for whatever good they are (Guess my liberal outlook?!), as I think breaking my head over proving or disproving the other point have only contributed to the generosity in my head.

    On a different note, waiting for a few additions to your Bull'O'Sophies as well.


  16. I'm so proud of you, Ketan, you've thot it all thru so well! :) I myself wud never have been able to express myself so cleanly..

    I always thot the point of religion was to keep ppl in touch with morality but my disillusionment with it started when I saw how Hinduism, supposedly a very enlightened religion..or atleast the organised version of it treats women and the so-called lower castes. Then I began reading up on Christianity, Islam and Judaism and wasnt really enchanted with any of them.

    Religion doesnt teach u anything that u cant logically infer with a scientific education and yes, aesthetics and art fill us with wonder like nothing else can.

    so it is rather pointless, if it doesnt even teach u about God and His working.

    insofar it doesnt even have evidence of its claims for the existence of God.

    Man, i'm so going to turn atheist if i keep reading ur blog..then u can claim to have atleast one convert.

    i even enjoy reading the comments that these ppl write here..

    and yeah, societies do glorify brutal kings who kill hundreds to expand empires rather than peaceful men who spread the word of God (so-called of course) they either get stoned or nailed to wood..

  17. Hi Sai (sorry, it rhymes! ;) ),

    First off, I'll start with a generalized disclaimer, which I think will serve as subtext for any instance I use an analogy. I might use extreme examples as analogies many times. It helps magnify the subtle issue involved in daily, practical situations, which I might want to highlight, and would ordinarilly be easily missed.

    I want to point out one thing about the post. Have you noticed that words like heinous, sinister, cruel, crime, sin, immoral (as applied to individuals as against acts) are missing? I've used the term 'acts' instead of 'sin' or 'crime' everywhere. Was it not possible to name the prime minister and his mentor--now that both of them are dead and probably without any fanatic followers who might come to beat me? Or to quote the money involved in the said scam? Is the name of the prominent Hindu priest who was charged with murder not wel known? Could have I not rather compiled an exhaustive list of all the crimes committed by religious leaders?

    But I didn't do that for one simple reason that venting my loathing towards them or making their followers hate them was just not the intention!

    I wanted to convey one simple thing, more so to theists, that they should not surrender their autonomy in intellectual and moral matters to these people. Don't you think, believing someone blindly is harmful for the society in the long term?

    And that those religious leaders don't believe in the principles they preach is the most appealing reason for theists to withdraw their blind faith in them.

    With regard to your tending to see positive aspects of things, I'd disagree. We've to acknowledge both the positive as well as the negative aspects exactly to the degree they deserve acknowledgement. Here's where I'll come up with extreme examples. You suffer from appendicitis, and if your surgeon, apart from removing your appendix, also 'steals' your kidney, you can't only see the positive aspects of that event and say at least your pain was relieved and that someone else will get the kidney. For two reasons--the harm of losing a kidney is substantial, second--that loss was totally avoidable!

    I'll give you another example. Oral Polio Vaccine. It can result in permanent brain damage in 1 in 1 million cases. So, not getting children vaccinized also has a benefit...

  18. ...But obviously, the harm of not vaccinating would be manifold more.

    Now applying these analogies to religion. The harm I'm talking of is not a few persons getting raped or murdered (which of course, bad, but still for sake of argument, could be taken as acceptable costs for all the good things religious leaders inspire, and also because, those murders and rapes would have still been committed by the same individuals, but not in capacity of religous leaders). The harm I'm talking of is blind faith. Suicide bombings, child marriage, dowry deaths, not using contraceptives, untouchability, branding women as witches, taking sick children to 'babas' instead of qualified doctors, communal hatred--all these evils are NOT products of religious leaders. They're the products of BLIND FAITH in them. And these harms might not be easily apparent.

    And let's look at the microeconomics of charity. True, many people end up doing charity by donating to religious organizations, but I feel, many feel common people want to do 'just something good', and instead of donating it to some charity, which would say go to education of underprivileged children, that money ends up going to making of gold crown for the deity's idol.

    Though, what I state is just anecdotal and I don't have statistical proof for it, in the US per capita donation towards charity is more from those who identify themselves as atheists/agnostics/irreligious.

    I've already made a mention of how a largely atheist but (economy and population-wise) very small nation--Sweden--is making large-scale charitable donations.

    True, the moment one loses religious faith, it's usually imminent for them to experience a certain kind of void. But with passage of time, life moves on, and it's business as usuall then on, which also includes feeling sorry for an orphan and donating money/resources for their welfare.

    If I've to summarize my clarification, this post was hardly about criticizing religious leaders indulging in immoral acts, but all about criticising BLIND FAITH in them.

    BTW, I wanted to find out and quote the newspiece about Rajasthan event because it's not as well known as others that I've pointed out.


    PS: Both the posts flanking this one (previous and succeeding) are actually pieces of Bullosophy. Just that one of them has not been tagged as that ;) Did you miss my post--'screaming for public welfare'?

  19. Thanks TUIB, but you shouldn't be proud of me. You should be proud only of things you do. Just joking; just another way to deflect you to another 'extremist' idea, on which I can law greater claim of originality, and somewhat explains the basis of religious cohesion ;)

    I won't be entirely honest if I don't give credit to two particular sources--one's Matt Cormick's blog--'Atheism: Proving the negative' (mentioned in my post on favorite blogs) and that book in the sidebar--'The necessity of atheism'. I've already mentioned in my comment on one of your posts that agnostic atheists or agnostic theists end up being that only because they respect certain irrefutable hypotheses to an unjustified degree. The concepts of Russel's teapot, Invisible Pink Unicorn and Flying spaghetti monster would easily illustrate that.

    One of the conditions that any hypothesis must satisfy to claim ability to explain certain phenomenon is falsifiability. It should be possible to reject it if we start getting different set of data. We very strongly believe that HIV causes AIDS. But if suddenly, someday we start seeing people who don't ever suffer from AIDS even on innoculating them with HIV, or people suffering from AIDS without getting infected with HIV, we must reject the idea that HIV definitely causes AIDS. We might still end up saying that HIV predisposes to AIDS, if such a statistical association is found. But in contrast, religion is like "all diseases are caused by one single pathogen, which you can't see under the microscope, or demonstrate by serology or isolate by culture. And since it's the original pathogen, it doesn't require DNA to propagate (so sorry, no PCR ;) ). Now can you disprove that such an omnipotent, all pervasive err all-invasive organism doesn't exist?" Agnosticism is like humoring that argument. Don't take my tone as condescending--I too have been agnostic-atheist in the past.

    Turning the self into atheist is much more challenging than turning others. It's not for nothing Marx said that "Spirituality is the fentanyl of gen-Y" (just trying to keep with the times ;) ) I've been such a convinced theist that I used to *talk with God*. And much more unexpectedly God used to *talk back* Now, do you get why people say, "God is also there in you and me"? ;)


    PS: I'm happy that my blog attracts people in possession of some real ideas and sincerity.

  20. OMG! I was 'blind' to have missed the point. Guess I was more influenced the post heading than the content itself. BTW, I missed Screaming for Public Welfare, mistaking it for sci-fi article (which it is) by simply looking into the images first! What a mistake. Just had a quick run.

    BTW, you analogies really scare me. First Tea, then was hit by coconuts, and now appendicitis. Praying to GOD that I don't end up losing some weight this way.


  21. No problems, Sai.

    It was partly communication failure. But the 'Think!' in the end is supposed to do its job, especially for devout theists who invest blind faith in religious leaders. As I conveyed in my comments, it's easy for those who've been comfortably atheists for long time (including me) to miss this point, but for theists with a shred of conscience, this induce an irreconcilable dissonance.

    If you drink 100 mL of coconut oil everyday, and ONLY pray to GOD, you'll not lose any weight, even if you don't drink a single teaspoonful in your entire life! Coconut oil is the richest source of saturated fats, and its is actually quite worthy of discouraging.

    Tea, coconuts or appendicitis--whatever comes your way is God's 'Prasad'. Accept it gracefully. Not that you could do much about it as you *have* to commit certain amount of 'paap-am' to justify punishments you're to get in your next incarnation. :)

    I'd recommend that you read the above comments, if you've not done that already as some interesting points have come up in the process.


  22. Haha..fentanyl!! Nice! I wish I'd seen that choice one when I read thru that pharmac chapter last year. I'm storing it away to use myself.

    On a more serious note, u know this whole idea of that all-invasive organism sounds ridiculous no? I wonder why someone wud be delusional enuff to believe it..just like the flying spaghetti monster cud have a church all its own (I'd read the mention of them first in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins which is a really cool book, have u read it?)

    but basically, i know u're nto being condescending, just as i'm not when i look at agnostics as eternal fence-sitters..what i meant is, everyone who's now agnostic has just taken the first step. why are we still humouring that argument when its so obviously not true, probably coz we all want to err on the safer side. my brother jokes its becoz nobody wants to piss off Biblical God. ;)

    What I meant when I said I feel like a deist sometimes, is that on some days I think even if that complex being existed, I dont think it wud care if we believed in it or not.

    just like the invisible pink unicorn isnt offended by me when i say it doesnt exist. ;)

  23. TUIB,

    LOL @ IPU! No, I haven't read 'The God Delusion'. It wasn't very high on my reading list, but nothing has been since I read 'Atlas Shrugged'! Now that so many people have read it, maybe I too will have to read it one of these days.

    Deism is still somewhat a rational way to look at things. In fact, I'd been a deist, too for almost two years, but then I realized, it just made the logic more circular. If the Universe can't arise on its own, how could God?!! And more important, does such a belief actually adds anything to our understanding of the Universe, or does it merely arise out of our unjustified assumption that everything that exists has to be 'created'? But I understand, Deism is usually the bridging stage between positive theism and agnosticism, which eventually leads to negative atheism--a stage where I consider myself to be!


  24. And yes, TUIB, IPU isn't happy with your comment. She's braying with anger! :p

  25. You know I will agree with everything you have said in this post!

    The cruelest is when little children are initiated into priesthood.

    You are right these people do not believe in existence of god or else they would have been too afraid to dare to cheat his creations. I have grown up in a family where we only believe in god bot in temples, rituals, and pilgrimages...

    I find it very difficult to understand how somehow some people fail to see the hypocrisy to all such god men! Even those who do believe in God do not appear to think ... if they just thought about it once...

    Loved the clarity of thoughts expressed in this post! Recently my mum's two drivers told me about how some god man's men came and declared that some area should be given to their boss for making na ashram, and how the people had no choice, so they accepted whatever (if at all) they were given and many joined the ashram

    ... one of them said he was such a powerful god man that when ghee finished he poured water for frying poories and the water turned to ghee. I asked him why such a powerful man did not help all the poor in the village?

    He seemed to see that there is something not right here, but still was half in awe of the guru. :(

  26. Very good post ketan.

    Here I quote a few lines from J.L.Nehru on the riots taking place in days prior to our independence....

    "It is ... extraordinary how the bourgeois classes, both among the Hindus and the Muslims, succeeded in the name of religion, in getting a measure of mass sympathy for programmes and demands which had absolutely nothing to do with the masses, or even the lower middle class. Every one of the communal demands put forward by any communal group is, in the final analysis, a demand for jobs, and these jobs could only go to a handful of the upper middle class."

    It's always been about power to control people and religion is an important tool, in fact the most powerful one at that.

  27. IHM,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    Thanks also for sharing your experience. Yes, many people think of Godmen as incarnations of God themselves. And maybe, just how you'd be able to entertain the idea of God's nonexistence with great trepidation, the above-kind of people can't entertain the idea of their Godmen being mere mortals. :)

    One of the things I wanted to convey through the post was that people should think for themselves and not blindly believe in anything said purportedly by anyone--whether a week back, or millenia ago.


  28. Hello Abhishek, and welcome to the blog!

    Your quotating Nehru proves that you've got the most fundamental idea I wanted to convey through my post. That there's a lot of manipulation on religious grounds, which enrages the masses, but just doesn't benefit them in any way. And are pulled into a vortex of hatred and mutual misunderstanding; not to forget superstitions leading to so many social, economic and medical problems.

    Thanks for sharing your views!

    Take care.

  29. Came here from IHM's blog.
    I think the fundamental flaw in your argument is that somehow a belief in god is what makes people good. One does not need to believe in god to have a moral compass. One needs to have that despite a belief in god. atheists are not inherently evil. Instead, i would argue most good atheists are better than good religious people because they do not need to be afraid of divine retribution or are scared into their goodness. The same cannot be said of believers who ascribe their inherent goodness to their belief. The believers are good because they are afraid of being otherwise. It does not take rocket science to figure out what the "more moral" position is. Religion, and organized religion specially is a scam almost as old as humanity that helps to prey of people's fears of the unknown and unknowable in order to help the priesthood of a select few. And more evil has been done in the name of religion than in any other things.

  30. Hello Alankrita!

    First, I hope I've deciphered your name correctly! And do excuse me if I haven't. There's not a single thing to which I can disagree with in your above comment.

    I think I need to make certain clarifications in the above post, since you're the second person who has misunderstood its basic purpose.

    The purpose of this post was to make religious theists rethink their blind allegiance to the Godmen. I'm of course atheist! And pointing out that Godmen themselves don't believe that God exists, could serve as one of the strongest stimuli for them to peruse the theories about the nature of the Universe (one of them being the existence of God). But more important, I would want people to think for themselves. One of the crude ways of making someone understand that they're being cheated is to point out to them, that one teaching them certain things themselves don't believe in it or apply it! That's what the post was meant for. And also, others' views on this very ironic fact of the society, that those purporting themselves to be protectors of morality, and messengers of God, (possibly) don't believe in God themselves!

    The premise in my post is not that religion makes people any more moral, for I myself don't believe that (click). Also, I believe that morality arises out of paying heed to one's conscience, which requires constant honest introspection. The second idea has been dealt with in this post (click).

    If you find time, I'd urge you to read the comments above that might help making my stance clearer. :)

    Thanks for your time and views!

    Take care.

  31. Ketan,

    With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. – Steven Weinberg

  32. HolyDude,
    You've reproduces a very pertinent quote here. And that's one of the strongest reasons I would like people to retain their intellectualy autonomy in all spheres of life--including morality, ethics, and questions like does God exist? One of the strongest reasons people say "I believe" is their putting blind faith in some religious authority or the other and not putting to scrutiny their conduct in their personal lives. If people would start scrutinizing the personal lives of religious leaders more carefully and objectively, they will find a dichotomy in what the leaders teach and follow, thus weakening the followers blind faith in them. This is how this post was connected to yours where I commented.

    Thanks! Now, I'll have to look up Steven Weinberg!


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