Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why God ?

The universality of religion/God indicates at least two things -
  1. Religion is a consequence of our evolutionary history. It perhaps helped in our wild past. The reasons are not difficult to find out. It is no brainer that having a aggressive religion helps tremendously in wars. Increased cohesion and harmony also helps in ensuring food security. It also promotes xenophobia against other tribes, which is necessary for wars and aggressive expansion of tribe. Those societies which are hostile and aggressive against other friendly tribes will have much more incentive to massacre those other tribes and expand their folk/religion. No wonder, most of the wars all over the world are either fought over religion or escalated to unsolvable levels due to religion.
  2. There is also probably an innate aptitude for religion in humans. Humans are unique in having a unmatched and limitless power of thinking and imagination, which is greatly amplified by language. With a power of thinking also comes amplification of fears, anxiety and stress. And also proclivity for generalization / gullibility of all sorts. If a weaker man can break a thin branch, a stronger person can break a thicker one, and an elephant can tear off an entire trunk it follows that the tornado which can uproot an entire forest must be the handiwork of a super powerful being. The obvious generalization is to postulate existence of an omnipotent force much more powerful than the tornado. This is the innate aptitude for God I am talking about. This is perhaps akin to the innate aptitude for language we have. If true, it is a worthwhile experiment to raise a child without teaching her any religious ideas and only inculcating a scientific rationality to see whether she later acquires any taste for God.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Preface / Aim / Program of this Blog

Throughout human history, religion is one of the universal features common to almost all the societies. Along with religion comes a baggage of complex rituals, belief and many times an elaborate theology also. A naive argument can run along the lines - since it is universal, it must be intrinsic to us. Some may extend this to conclude *truth* of it. While universality does indicate some kind of intrinsic-ness, it does not go beyond it. And we certainly cannot allow popularity of a belief to be a test of validity. At one point of time all of us believed in the *obviously true* Geocentric theory and were willing to burn those who question it. Another school of thought about religion talks about its utility to the society, which also has large grains of truth. But as we shall see, this *utility* has also promoted vicious hatred among humans and a prima-facie case can be made against futility (and dangerousness) of religion.

As we shall see, often religion and theology are intertwined, but they should not be. Ones *relationship* to God must be personal as by definition God should not need a mediator. But largely religion acts as a mediator and almost all human societies are only too willing to concede their personal ground to religion. Thus theology takes a backseat to religion, often with disastrous results. We shall explore on this more as we go along.

A major theme of this project will be study of theology, which we will do in a systematic manner taking up every major religion one by one. Any question about God must confront with His ontological status. We shall have much to talk about all such issues. We will also examine God's role as a creator of universe, life and humans. Further we will examine His role as a ruler of the world. As we go along, we will separate God with religion and make a plausible case for atheism. Even this does not confront the societal impact of religion. So we will make a case against religion also. A related issue is the morality and its supposed derivation from religion. This is one of the two most vacuous apologies for religion. It is the aim of this project to convince the reader to 'convert' to atheism because this turns out to be a more humane approach in all respects than any religious system. When we study the major religions of the modern/ancient world, we will contrast it with atheism and see which is a superior prospect for humanity, logically as well as practically. The other patronizing apology for religion is 'it is for the masses' as if all the masses will turn into marauding hordes the moment they become atheists. We will see that it is incorrect to equate atheism with immoral wantonness.

I hope I can do justice to this project and find enough time for it.

Glossary :
Geocentric theory : a theory of sun going around the earth
Theology : study of God and/or religion
Ontology : study of existence of object under investigation