The Four Roads to Atheism

I have met very intelligent religious people. I have also met very dumb religious people. Curiously however, I have never seen a dumb atheist. All atheists I know personally and all the ones I have read about and seen in the media happen to be exceptionally intelligent people. This is not a proclamation that I am very intelligent though I am an atheist. Rather from what I have observed, an atheist always comes out as a thinking person. I am yet to come across an atheist who does not think for himself or herself.

In this article, I wish to describe the four roads that one can take in order to discard their religious faith and become an atheist, if they so choose. These are also roughly the paths I took to convince myself and I think that any atheist who shunned his or her religion would have taken the same four paths. I hope that the reader will start thinking once he or she has finished reading this article. Please forgive me for including many quotes from famous atheists here. I hope they don’t bore or provoke you. 

Without much ado, the four roads to atheism are as follows:

The Road of Science

Let us begin with a quote from Bertrand Russell – “When you are studying any matter or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only: what are the facts, and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted by what you wish to believe but look only and surely at what are the facts.

Science is not just physics, chemistry and biology. Science is a way of thinking. It is not a product, but a process. It is a way of critically and skeptically looking at things. The interesting part is that you don’t have to be a scientist to think scientifically.  This basic understanding regarding science is necessary to understand the scientific path to atheism or even atheism itself. If you believe that science is just a bunch of theories written in textbooks, you are missing the point.

When we look at our civilization, we see that things that were not known at one point of time are known today. History is proof that what we do not know today will be known tomorrow. Ancient humans didn’t understand why seasons change, why water flows, why things fall, why lightning occurs and so on. They feared these phenomena and started associating divine and/or supernatural entities to them. However, as time went by our species eventually did find the right answers and discarded the divine entities associated with each phenomenon one by one. Today we have convincing and evidence based answers to all those questions that intrigued the minds of ancient humans. Except for a few extremely religious people, no one really worships the thunder god or the water god today. Similarly, when we understood that Sun is just another star undergoing nuclear fusion of hydrogen, the need to worship it as a God vanished (unfortunately there are still people in India who worship the Sun).

The point is that the more we understand nature, the more God becomes unnecessary.  As Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.

Knowing and accepting evolution as a real scientific fact is the next step. I have written many posts on evolution that can brief you about its current status and why it is such an important scientific theory. Of course there have been people who read those articles and told me, “No matter what you say, I will still not believe in evolution.” I feel nothing but sympathy for them because they purposely are shutting themselves off the beauty and awe that science can inspire about our wonderful world.

Thinking as I said is an essential characteristic trait of an atheist. Ernest Hemingway famously said, “All thinking men are atheists.” One must show the courage to think and question established beliefs. Only then intellectual growth will happen. You don’t need a genius level IQ in order to question religious beliefs or compare them with real science. All it takes is a little guts and willingness to learn.

The unknown is not supposed to be feared. It is supposed to be studied. I fully agree that all that we see in our universe must have an origin. Our quest as an intelligent species therefore should be to work hard enough to find out how things really originated or at least pay some respect to the people who are working on those big questions at this very moment rather than thrusting outdated, medieval, pre-medieval superstitions and Bronze Age myths on them and others.

It is very easy to say, “I don’t know the answer, therefore God did it.” It takes extraordinary courage and intellect to say , “I don’t know the answer, therefore let’s find out. That in my view is the real beginning of wisdom.

The Road of Philosophy

Philosophy is that branch of thought that asked questions like where do we come from, where are we going, what is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of life etc. Philosophy can be termed as the ancestor of scientific thought, even though today they are two distinct disciplines. Atheism born out of philosophy rejects the notion of a creator based on logical and philosophical arguments. Contradictions in the concept of a supreme creator is often the source of arguments against God. For instance, an all powerful and yet loving God wouldn’t allow evil to pervade in this world. The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 – 270 BC) once said:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Carl Sagan quotes Rig Veda beautifully in his epic documentary Cosmos, which you can listen to in this video. Statements such as these abound in philosophy so much that we can’t help wonder why the concept of God survived for so long. What I think is that philosophy, which was part of the then education system was available to only the very powerful people in the social hierarchy. It is possible that philosophical notions weren’t handed out to the common man as it is today. Sadly, even though all religious and philosophical texts are available for purchase, the mindset is still maintained by many.

Hinduism, the religion I left has profound atheistic notions. In fact, atheism exists at the core of many religious texts. The Rig Veda, the Upanishads such as Brihadaranyaka, Isha, Mundaka and Chandogya etc. are atheistic in nature. If you are interested, there are Wiki articles on Atheism in Hinduism and Irreligion in India which describe the origins and development of atheistic traditions in India. Many notable personalities in modern India such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, Amritya Sen, Javed Akhtar, Kamal Haasan and many more have been and are atheists.

I reiterate the fact that a thinking person will turn in to an atheist sooner or later. The only question is when he or she starts thinking.

The Social Way

I remember talking to a friend of mine. He told me that humans should respect someone or something and therefore believing in God is necessary. I asked him to respect other humans and he was dumbstruck by that reply. That is what we are lacking in our society today. We hardly are willing to treat another person with respect. Ironically, we whine a lot when people don’t treat us with respect. Anyway, the social way towards atheism stems from a historical and contemporary awareness about various aspects of societies in the world.

A person aware of societies will also be aware of the damage religion has done to the society. When I think about the evils of religion, a very unpleasant picture comes into mind. All organized religions in my opinion have caused great evil in this world. For instance, the organized religions of the world are so keen on oppressing and subjugating women, which is totally wrong. The aspect of respecting another human being comes into picture when I question religion in terms of society. The way religion has treated women without respect and dignity is unjustifiable. And it is not just women. The treatment of different races, homosexuals and even members of other religions has been pretty bad throughout history.

Richard Dawkins in his marvelous book The God Delusion has said:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 

There have been people highly annoyed by this sentence of his. But when I think about it, there is no other better way to describe the God of the scriptures. And there are people who really take the evil things written in the scriptures literally and act accordingly. Religion has poisoned the minds of many and is still continuing to do so.

According to Steven Weinberg, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it 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.

This pretty much summarizes the damage religion can do to the minds of people. The Crusades, mass conversions, terrorist attacks, honor killings and many such evil have been caused because of religion and not the lack of it. In fact, I have never seen an atheist going around burning trains, doing suicide bombings, taking part in communal violence,  doing honor killings or any such despicable evil acts.

Atheists are highly rational people whose only wish is the progress of humanity. We don’t threaten others to follow our way of thinking. All we do is to use logical reasoning to educate people about how things are and then leave it to them to make their own decisions. 

The Empirical Way

People are almost always surprised when I tell them that I do not believe in God. They look at me like someone who has just landed from another planet or as a messenger of evil who has come to attack and falsify their most cherished beliefs. The kind of questions they ask are sometimes very funny and I intend to make another post regarding that. There was this friend of mine who once asked  whether it was “science” that is holding everything together or not.  I was taken aback by her ill phrased question. She thinks science is some entity that atheists use to replace God. That is the main reason in the initial paragraphs, I defined what science really is.

The empirical way is all about testing and finding things for yourself.  Getting experimental data to prove or disprove something is critical in drawing conclusions. If you can test things yourself and find whether the God hypothesis is true or not, there is nothing else more entertaining and informative than that. You can start with thought experiments. For example, if you study for the exam and pray, you will pass. If you study and don’t pray, you will still pass. But if you don’t study and pray, there is no way you will pass. I have actually tested this in my life and I have found that it doesn’t work if you just pray and don’t study.

If you pray or really believe in something or someone, it ought to get your things done. It can be clearing an exam, getting job, marrying someone, buying a house etc. Unfortunately, events don’t work that way. Another experiment is checking out coincidences and studying the probability that those events would have happened anyway. The following video shows a young Prof. Dawkins doing a simple experiment to prove that coincidences do not mean anything in the supernatural realm:

It is not hard for us to find out instances in our daily life and make experiments out of them. I do that all the time. There are plenty of events in my life that allude initially to the possibility of a God. However, when I sit and think about it and start eliminating the most improbable causes, very soon I find that the events have nothing to do with a God at all. Therefore, I can confidently say that God is a highly improbable entity or just a figment of human imagination.

The key behind testing God is finding out natural explanations for things that happen. Only when you have exhausted all the natural explanations for a particular event, that you should consider the possibility of a supernatural (if you want to). What I do is, if I exhaust natural explanations, I leave it there until I find some new natural explanation later  because I believe that everything in the universe is knowable. It is only a matter of time before we figure them out. There is no such thing called a miracle. They are just happy coincidences that have very natural explanations if someone bothers to find them.

To conclude, being an atheist is a very intellectually fulfilling experience. It is a process of continuing growth and it is something that teaches us about how rare and precious we are as a species of extraordinary brilliance. But being an atheist can be hard if you are surrounded by religious people. My advice to those who want to follow these four paths to atheism would be to make sure that you make a good friend circle of people who are not afraid of thinking freely. As Phil Plait puts it, “Teach a man to reason and he’ll think for a lifetime.

The Dubai Reasoning!

It is surprising how misunderstood atheists are. Most people really do not know why atheists become atheists. There are popular misconceptions such as atheists do not believe in God because they think that something that cannot be seen cannot be believed. Another misconception is that atheists are messengers of evil or the devil. Yet another misconception is that atheists believe in evolution which states humans came from monkeys. All of these arguments against atheism are ignorant and straw-man to say the least.

Mohanlal in Kilichundan Mampazham

Mohanlal in Kilichundan Mampazham

There is a popular Malayalam film named Kilichundan Mampazham. In that Mohanlal talks about belief. He says that just because one has not seen Dubai, doesn’t mean Dubai doesn’t exist. So far two close friends of mine have used the same logic to me while talking about atheism. They say that if I haven’t seen God, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. Well, first of all I must tell everyone that it is not because we can’t see God that we don’t believe in God’s existence. This argument stems from the lack of understanding of what evidence means. People are yet not clear with the concepts of direct and indirect evidence.

I have not seen my brain yet. In fact most humans have not seen their own brain. However, we know that it exists. We are aware of its existence from various indirect evidences that we can verify. For instance, we can perform an EEG or a PET scan and verify that we have a brain. Other indirect evidences would be the cognitive processes that goes on inside our head all the time. We think therefore, we do have a brain. We really don’t need to cut open the head to verify its existence but if we do, we can be sure that will see our brain. When a crime happens, the detective doesn’t see the crime directly in most cases. He collects evidences such as fingerprints, footprints, blood samples, video and audio recordings, letters and emails, chat scripts, witness testimonies and many other things before drawing his conclusions as to who might be the culprit.

Similarly, we know that Dubai exists from a variety of indirect evidences such as personal descriptions of people who visited that place, photographs and documentaries and news related to that place among others. All these convince us that Dubai exists even though we haven’t visited it. Hence the argument that atheists reject God because they haven’t seen God is meaningless. It is not just the direct evidence that we verify but also indirect evidence. There hasn’t been any testable way to prove that God exists both directly or indirectly. Which is one of the main reasons why we don’t believe in a God.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan once said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence“. However, we must use that statement carefully in any context. Or rather, we shouldn’t misuse that statement. When I speak about aliens, some people ask me how am I so sure about their existence. Of course I am not fully sure about their existence. However, the indirect evidence is so overwhelming. At the time I am writing this, scientists have discovered over 700 planets and over two dozen of them are in the habitable zone around their parent stars, which means they can harbor life as we know it.

Now, life as we know it alludes to the carbon based life form. Carbon as you might have studied in high school, has a property called catenation. It can form long chains of molecules that form “backbone” for other molecules and atoms to attach. Our DNA is one such molecule which can self replicate and therefore form the base for life to evolve. DNA may not be the base for life in other planets but still it is highly likely that it will be a carbon based self replicating molecule. When scientists search for life in other planets, they look for signatures of life such as oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle, presence of organic molecules, presence of moisture in the atmosphere etc. And intelligent or industrialized life form would have further signatures such industrial waste gases, radiation, presence of radio waves artificial light sources etc. These are prominent indirect evidences that scientists are looking for all the time in the planets that are being discovered.

exoplanet artists impression

Exoplanet (Artist’s Impression)

We haven’t found direct evidence for aliens because we have barely started looking. It’s been just over 110 years since we invented radio. Which means, the farthest those early signals have gone is 110 light years. Our galaxy is over 100,000 light years across and have an estimated 400 billion stars. And there are roughly a hundred billion such galaxies in the observable universe (give or take a few billion). In the last 20 years since the first discovery of an exoplanet, we have found over 700 confirmed planets. Hence, the discovery rate is quite high and in the coming years, the number of planets we find will be truly mind blowing. Thus, the day is not far before we find the first clues for a life form that is truly alien. And when that happens, our civilization will be changed forever.

Coming back to the main topic of discussion, evidence can be direct or indirect. In science, a theory can be verified through experiment, through observation or through mathematics. In addition, there is a rigorous process of peer-review. It is only when such a verification occurs that a theory gets accepted in the scientific community. Scientific community is hence very rigid because there is no room for error there. Therefore, any Tom, Dick and Harry cannot come up with a theory and say, “Hey, this is my new theory, accept it.”

God, is a concept invented at a time when there wasn’t an understanding about what was going on in the world. To be more specific, the God in our culture(s) is basically the “God of the gaps”. People tried to plug in the various holes in their knowledge about the world using God(s). Religion was a political and cultural construct invented in order to keep people in control by exploiting this ignorance. However, today we know so much about the world around us that we can start pulling out the plugs from many such holes and put our scientific understanding in place. For example, we didn’t know how things fall in the past, but we do today. So, we pulled out the corresponding plug and put theory of gravity in. We didn’t know why there was a retrograde motion for Mars and other planets, but we do today. So, we pulled out the plug and put Heliocentric theory in. We didn’t know why diseases occur, but we do today. So, we pulled out the plug and put germ theory in. So as and when we learn a new thing about this world, one God disappears or as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time goes on.

This was a simple article about the atheistic viewpoint. If this doesn’t provoke thought in a religious person and helps him understand why atheist reject God, then I am not sure what will. Any questions on the content of this post is welcome. Thanks for your time.

The Einstein Argument!

There are people who believe in God because their parents or community does so. There are some who follow the “because there is something, someone must have created it” logic. Yet some others believe because they are not sure but do not want to take “risk“. However, recently I heard an interesting preposition. It basically preys on my keen interests in astronomy and astrophysics and states that as I learn more about the universe, some day I would realize that there is a God and leave my atheistic point of view.

The source of this partially ignorant preposition is even more interesting. It uses Albert Einstein as a yardstick to measure the highest level of intellectual achievement and then uses that as an argument against atheism saying, “Even Albert Einstein believed in God. And you are talking about atheism.” The words “even” and “you” are the problem sin this sentence, which you will understand as you read on. The preposition also takes its position from a very popular urban legend where Einstein as a student seemingly “proved” God to his atheist professor.

There is no doubt that Einstein is one of the greatest scientists of all times. However, using him as a yardstick of intellectual achievement in my opinion grossly demeans other great scientists who lived during his time, before him and after him. The fact is Einstein actually never believed in a God. Of course he was not an atheist. He preferred to be an agnostic, which is good as a scientist since agnosticism is in many ways like atheism except for the part where it accepts the lack of surety as to whether a supernatural creator created this universe and then interferes with the events happening in it.

Hence, touting up his name  in order to sell one’s religious point of view doesn’t make sense. There are other issues in using Einstein’s name in this case of a supreme God who has influence over how events unfold in the fabric of reality. First of all when we talk about an intelligent creator being, it is a scientific hypothesis. We are talking about an intelligent being that has the capability of various feats. Then the question that would naturally follow would be “Where did this being come from?

Secondly, Einstein had big problems with quantum mechanics. The world as we know can be divided according to two models. The one for which Einstein is famous for which is general relativity and the other is quantum mechanics. Now, in order to describe reality completely, we need both the theories.

General relativity goes about explaining the universe at a macroscopic scale. It is very beautiful and elegant and describes a predictable universe. It appears that Einstein’s obsession with predictability of the universe is one of the reasons why he is an agnostic. Unfortunately, at the most fundamental levels, the universe is totally unpredictable. The works of Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli and a whole bunch of other scientists during Einstein’s time and afterwards conclusively prove that the quantum mechanical nature of our universe at the fundamental level is unpredictable.

It is obvious that Einstein had a problem with it because he wanted his predictable view of the universe to work at all levels, which it didn’t. If quantum mechanics was just a theory that couldn’t be verified experimentally, then he would have easily brushed it aside and moved on. But that was not the case. Experiments after experiments kept proving the quantum mechanical nature of reality at the fundamental level. This is where Einstein had a problem and he went on making the famous statement, “God doesn’t play dice with the world.”

To his death, Einstein didn’t accept quantum mechanics even though he knew that it was a true way of understanding nature at the microscopic scale. In fact, towards his later years, he became a recluse and refused to read the papers of new scientists who were making excellent progress in the field. It is said that he wasn’t even aware that two new forces viz. the strong force and the weak force were discovered. He spent his remaining few years of life working on one particular problem, which is combining electromagnetism and gravity, which were the only two forces known to him.

So, as a scientist, his achievements in relativistic mechanics, gravity, photoelectric effect etc. are excellent. However, he had this exceptionally biased point of view towards quantum mechanics, which was the other half of reality. It is funny to know that it was his own earlier works in physics that lead to the creation of quantum mechanics. That probably might have disturbed him further.

To summarize, touting up Einstein’s name in religious arguments is futile because of two reasons. First, he never believed in a God and was an agnostic. Second, he was biased enough to discard one half of reality that describes the universe in order to favor the other half. Further, he was never the only intellectual of his time or anytime for that matter. Thomas Edison, Paul Dirac, James Chadwick, Paul Ehrenfest, Sigmund Freud, Niels Bohr, Pierre Curie, George Gamow, Julian Huxley, Frank Whittle, Alan Turing, William Shockley, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Erwin Schrodinger etc. are some of the scientists and inventors during Einstein’s time who were confirmed atheists. Other famous historic and contemporary atheist scientists and inventors include Jim Al-Khalili, Svante Arrhenius, Subrahmanyan Chandrashekhar, Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Sandra Faber, Richard Feynman, Alan Guth, Wilhelm Ostwald, Edmund Halley, Stephen Hawking, Peter Higgs, Lawrence Krauss, Joseph Louis Lagrange, Alfred Kinsey, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Alfred Nobel, Sir Roger Penrose, Carl Sagan, Leonard Susskind, Steven Weinberg, Richard Stallman etc.

We can’t in anyway say that Einstein was somehow more intelligent than them or his contributions are greater than all these people or that his religious point of view is somehow better than them. Einstein himself is known for his seemingly ambiguous statements about God and religion. Hence, to conclude, it is a futile attempt to use Einstein’s religious point of view as an argument against atheism.

Tasting God – A New Perspective!

Kung Fu!

Yesterday I visited my Kung Fu instructor who also works as a massage therapist. I wanted to buy some sandalwood oil for my hair from the shop adjoining his clinic. After his clients left, we sat down to talk. He asked me whether I still practiced Reiki. I said no and told him that I left my faith and became an atheist. He was surprised because he was deeply religious but also curious to know why I changed.

The Watchmaker Analogy

I started by refuting the Watchmaker Analogy. I told him in simple words that if complexity requires a designer, then that designer should be more complex than the object he designed thereby invoking the question of who designed the designer. He kind of agreed to it and asked me whether I believed that there is an edge to this universe. I told him that there are scientists who believe that there is and there are others who believe that there isn’t.

Young Charles Darwin

He wanted to pay his telephone bills so we walked to the payment center nearby. On our way I spoke about the various theories of life’s origin and how it evolved. He didn’t have any problem with evolution because he knows that there is ample evidence in support of it. I noticed that he believes in a God who initiated the big bang and intervenes in between to make necessary changes.

When we returned to the clinic, he brought up the subject of edge of the universe and asked me how I can say that there is no God(who happens to exist beyond space and time) when science hasn’t been able to find whether there is an edge to this universe or not. I told that if God existed, then he should in someway manifest himself in a measurable form. He countered by saying that we shouldn’t measure God by intellect.

An Orange

He then quoted an incident that occurred in a district which is about 300 km from our district. There was an atheist convention going on and the speaker challenged the audience to give a proof that there is a God. A person who was passing by heard this and he came upon the stage to take up the challenge. He had some oranges in his bag. He peeled an orange and ate it and asked the speaker whether it tasted sweet or sour. The speaker said, “How can I say whether it tasted sweet or sour? You are the one who tasted it“. The orange guy said, “This applies to God as well. You can’t tell whether the orange I tasted is sweet or sour unless you have tasted it as well. Similarly unless you taste God, you will never know him.” And he left the convention.

My instructor then continued with an experience from his own life in which he prayed hard to save his sister while she had some complications during her pregnancy. And he told that some priest who did not know his family was able to see through his inner eye that his sister needed help.

An example of the Scientific Method

Being a skeptic, it was hard for me to accept that a priest asked him to pray and that everything worked out well because of that. I was tempted to say that things would have gotten better anyway but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I held back. I proceeded in a different angle. I told him about the scientific method. I told him that unless a hypothesis put forward by a scientist is proven experimentally, it is just a hypothesis and no one would accept it as fact. When people predicted that atoms existed, there was no way to find out until Einstein came up with his results on Brownian motion. Similarly, the other predictions that have been confirmed.

String Theory – A possible unified theory of physics

I then told him that saying that a God created this universe is a scientific hypothesis and that if someone makes this hypothesis, then it has to be experimentally verified. He told that God is a being that cannot be measured by intelligence. But if he is indeed a “being” who “exists”, then his existence should be experimentally verifiable and until then it is just an untested hypothesis. I then went on and on with quark theory and string theory and all other theories and how some of these theories have been tested as true while others have not been verified and hence are just theories.

He finally said “Alright, let’s stop this discussion because it is an eternal debate.” I too agreed to him.

Problems Freethinkers Face!

Very recently I observed something. I am also a member of Orkut and has been there for 5 years now. After I officially declared that I am an atheist, I added that part into my Orkut profile. I wrote that I am a querulous and outspoken atheist. Then I noticed that many people became suddenly cold. They did not reply to my scraps or messages. They did not ping me back in messenger when I ping them. Some even sign out when they see me. I was thinking what the heck was going on.

Then one day I received an email from one of my college mates. She just put this link in it and asked me to listen to it when I get time. It was some pastor speaking about God and bible. I listened to what the pastor had to say. Then I replied to her email asking her to read my Orkut profile. She replied stating that she did and that is the reason why she sent the link. I got pissed and sent her a “very nice” reply to which she just kept repeating statements like “God loves you”, “God is great”, “Jesus is the God of mankind” etc. I told her more about evolution and gave her the following links: How to convert and atheist part 1 and part 2. Finally she gave me this link and said that she is not trying to convert me into Christianity and that she just wants me to realize God. I told her that I have realized that there is no God but still I appreciate her efforts and as a friend of mine I suggest her to seek evidence.

The moral of the story is not just how insular conservative Christians can be. I realized one other thing. The people who stopped talking to me or became cold were also devout Christians and Hindus. It looked as if I hurt their years old beliefs. But I never told them anything. Just put some information on my profile. I believe that a person who accepts only a part of our personality is not a true friend. They have to accept us completely with positive and negative attributes. I do that with others.

Anyway, without deviating much, let me come back to the point. Most freethinkers face the following issues:

– Lack of societal acceptance
– Financial hardship due to lack of employers who are free from delusion
– Few number of friends
– Misunderstanding among relatives

The list goes on.

An atheist is considered close minded. People fail to see the bigger picture. There are religious people who embrace the scientific method but they want to look at it as a way to understand how God created the universe. I have issues within my family because of this. My mom says “No matter what you say, it is hard for me to accept that there is no God.” As I mentioned earlier, many of my friends left me because of my religious stand. The only ones I have either haven’t yet found that I am an atheist or are broadminded enough to accept me.

People think that we want to justify our hedonistic lifestyle by saying that there is no God. But as Prof. Dawkins has already proved, we don’t derive our morality from religion. It is hard for these people to understand this simple fact. They get scared to death when they hear the word atheist. Some even think that we are carriers of devil!

My parents are yet to understand the real reasons for me to become an atheist. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am happy that my master was able to accept my religious stand.

The bottom line is, free thinkers seem to be the most hated in the society. We are called “unorthodox”, “iconoclastic”, “hedonistic” and whatever bad “istic” that people can find in the dictionary. Very few come up and have a one-on-one discussion with us.

The only message I have for my friends is that, they haven’t got the slightest idea about who freethinkers are and what they are capable of. I think we have to wait until they find out.

The Atheist Disciple!

Image of the Eye of God
The Helix Nebula often referred to as the “Eye of God”

I have been with my master for the past 7 years and I believe I am his true disciple. I started training in spirituality and holistic healing under him since I was around 19 years old. As I had mentioned in my previous blogs: The Free Thinker and The Wishful Thinker, it was part of a “soul searching” process. I had the question in mind “What if there is a God?” and wanted to test it. And through the practice of these things, I felt more and more skeptical about the supernatural.

Even though there is some strange feeling in the hand when I try to “heal” someone, I don’t think it is because of any energy flowing out. Probably it is just the nerves on the palm giving me that feeling. But then why is it that sometimes, when we wish intensely, things work for us? I have been with my master for such a long time. And it was not until recently that I opened up and told him that I am an atheist. I had my own explanation to the phenomena called miracle since it was hard for me to accept that there is a God behind our desires and the results they produce because there are times when the desires don’t work and we are left out frustrated.

Image of Healing Energy
The Healing Energy Light used by Reiki Practitioners

During the years of my training, I used to get up at 2 AM and meditate for an hour everyday and practise Kung Fu in the moonlight. It gave a weird but good feeling to do that. I used to visit the graveyard at the nearby church to feel with my hand and test whether there is any energy inflow or outflow there. I used to go to the classrooms at night and through my “healing energy” heal the events that are going to happen the next day since I was told that energy can travel in time. I used to preach astrology, numerology and palmistry and was very famous in my college for that. Many of my friends used to come to me to interpret their dreams or get to know their future.

I used to create events for the future, especially for my examinations and relationships. But alas, it didn’t work. I flunked in many exams due to lack of preparation and I didn’t get many girl friends. Then I thought, can’t these things be just a coincidence? Or is it? Well, I kept asking this until one day I saw a movie, Dasavataram. It talks about Chaos Theory and Butterfly Effect. It is not the movie, but the concept that fascinated me. It was something I have been thinking for a long time but didn’t know what to call it and I got interested in the mathematics involved.

Image of Chaos Theory
Chaos Theory – The Butterfly Effect

When I told my master that I am an atheist, he said that it is okay with him because he respects the individual beliefs of his disciples. I was shocked because I didn’t expect him to say that. I thought he would say something like : “Pleasant, you have despised the Lord and you will be punished for this!” But he proved me wrong. And he heard me out and asked me what do I call God. I said, I don’t call it anything since I don’t think such a thing exists. Then he wanted me to explain how did the many solutions in my life happen whenever I told him my problems.

I told him that I am not sure about how it happened but certainly there is no God behind it. I mentioned to him the mathematical concept of Chaos and how it applies to dynamical systems. I gave a simple example. There was a teapoy in his room. I told him that if I shake the teapoy gently, it will vibrate and if I continue to do that for a very long time, it can break the teapoy. He agreed to that. Now that was for a small vibration. If there was a larger vibration, then the time it takes for the teapoy to break will be less.

Image of Spacetime Curvature
Spacetime showing Einsteinian Curvature in the presense of mass

Now coming to the problem solving part. I have been thinking deeply about quantisation of space-time for the past eight years. May be, the vibrations that we create through intense desire grow to immense sizes, capable of affecting everyday life. Probably that is what happened when I have desired certain things and confided them to my master and got them working. And this is what I explained to him. I told him that the vibrations propagate through the quantised space-time.

But there are counter arguments too that we can give as I mentioned before, intense desire doesn’t always work. Only at certain times it does. If we don’t want to believe that this is just chance, well I think the only rational explanation that can be given is that there is a way by which a particular vibration can propagate. The vibrations may be hindered because of other factors. Only the disturbances that grow above a threshold limit often called the “tipping point” might be capable of affecting our lives. Also the word disturbance is not a good one, since the effect that we see can be both positive and negative. It is just like letting a system undergo changes in a controlled manner thereby slowly increasing the effect over time.

Image of BBC - High Anxieties - The Mathematics of Chaos
BBC High Anxieties – The Mathematics of Chaos

So my conclusion is this: Either it is pure chance that good and bad things happen to us or there is a mathematical model that can be formulated to explain why they do. The disturbances created by thoughts might materialise into reality. The title The Atheist Disciple is apt for this discussion since the term disciple is often taken only in the spiritual sense. I have a very good relation with my master. He is my friend and philosopher and is glad that I have a different outlook about the world we live in. Very recently I watched the program in BBC Four : “High Anxieties – The Mathematics of Chaos” and I knew, here is a nice candidate for the theory of how things work in our lives. The reason I am with my master still is that he has never asked me to write anything down in stone and stick to it. He has always given very practical suggestions to issues than making statements like “Believe in God and you will see miracles” etc.

We live in a world that is unpredictable where the entropy always increases. None of the religious scriptures have predicated accurately the events in our worlds. And the more and more we advance in mathematics, we will derive better theories to arrive at conclusions as to how the many allegedly mysterious phenomena happen. Today, I thought of writing about this because I couldn’t help thinking that there was a different world than what we have perceived yet. Your comments and feedback is highly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

The Free Thinker!

I believe this is the right day to talk about atheism. Long time ago, when I was in my 11th grade, one of my teachers was teaching computer science. She was more eager to teach other stuff like “ignorance of law is an offense” rather than computers. One day she asked “How many of you believe that there is a force that governs everything?”. To this almost all members of the class rose their hands except three guys. I was one of them. She immediately asked “Why you three don’t believe?”. We started talking reason. We told her that there is no proof of an almighty and she was not ready to accept and was rather upset by it.

I was thinking why. My friends came up to me and asked “What man? Why don’t you have faith in God?”. My question to them was “Is it mandatory to have faith in God?”. I was so obsessed with reasoning that I stayed very close to my atheist friends.

Years passed and one day I thought “What if the theists are true?”. To test this, I spent many years studying a lot of stuff which I have mentioned in my previous blog “The wishful thinker”(http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/the-wishful-thinker). It was some sort of soul searching. What was the result? It reinforced my atheistic beliefs. I have always questioned the following:

1. God,
2. Devil
3. Religion
4. Life after death
5. Holistic healing
6. Dream control
7. Superstitions
………

And after my so called “soul searching” I still question these things.

My dear friends, free thought is great. It lets me look at life without rebuke. It lets me think perfectly because there is no self other than my biological self. There is no sense other than my 5 senses. There is no thought projection and ESP. What remains is the absolute biological brain intelligence which is great stuff if used properly.

I believe free thought has to be cultivated at a very young age. Children should be free to think and act without the barrier of religion in between their thoughts and their purpose. There are many people who hold on to scriptures and holding it up as cause bound truth. It is really that necessary?

We have evolved as the most advanced creatures on the planet. Does that mean that our species was created from no where and put on earth? Certainly not. Why should someone create a universe and earth and put living things in it and say that humans should govern all the other creatures? Is it some sort of time pass of God to sit and create and destroy stuff for no apparent reason?

Promotion of reason and free thought lacks rigor today because most atheists never come out in public. This mentality has to change. Since modern society is ready to accept any form of religion and many other concepts, I personally feel that atheists should start declaring within the public. It is very easy. All it takes is courage. We should let our friends know that we are atheists. At least some of our friends who are already atheists will open up and we can make them open up among their friends easily. When this happens, people will start thinking as to why many of us are atheists. Soon this wave will go viral and many people will leave their religions.

As I said, it requires courage. Because many religious fanatics are out there who threaten to cut our throats if we propagate atheism. But if we succeed in making at least one person leave his/her religion, it will be a great achievement for science and reasoning.

Such a revolution is necessary in this age where we see a lot of atrocities in the name of religion. There has to be more science being studied in the world than it is today. There has to be better understanding and fulfilment of life.