I am not an Atheist. Maybe an Agnostic but definitely not an Atheist. Now, before you jump down my throat, accusing me of spouting jargon right from the get go, let me explain what these terms mean. An Atheist is someone who denies the existence of God. An Agnostic is someone who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. Something that has been troubling me amongst the religious beliefs is the professed existence of an omnipotent, omnipresent deity. That raises a lot of questions. If the deity is indeed omnipresent and omnipotent, why are all the bad things happening in the world? This simple question is answered via a myriad of justifications all to prove how the deity is infallible and can do no wrong. But what this basically boils down to is that the victims deserved their fate. This is often buddied up with an explanation of how Karma works. He/she must have done something in their lives to deserve what they got. Unsurprisingly, these are the kind of people who on reading news of a rape often holds the victim responsible for their fate. Moreover when they cannot find enough bad Karma to justify the fate of the victim, the search for past sins transcends to the past lives too. A 2 year old baby gets raped and somehow the justification that comes up is that maybe the sins of the past life are being balanced out – because the deity they pray to can do no wrong.
Recently Kerala witnessed one of the largest tragedies it has ever seen – the fireworks mishap at the Puttingal temple in Kollam District. Number of lost lives were 115 at the last count. This fireworks display was conducted against the explicit orders from the district collector. Now, in the days following the tragedy, while the whole state is still trying to wrap their heads around the magnitude of what happened, social media is getting inundated with various kinds of messages
- Even after 115 people died and structural damage occurred to buildings within 1.5 km of the blast site, the temple itself was unharmed. Behold the power of the deity: Really? If you were to argue about the structural design of the temple and the architectural genius which enabled it to withstand the explosion of such a magnitude, that would hold more water. But when you argue that a deity which could not prevent the massive loss of life that happened right within the temple grounds was successful at self-preservation, are you arguing for or against the so called supreme power? If self-preservation is what the so called divine power values more than the lives of the people who come to pray, is it the right power to pray to? Referring back to what I wrote earlier, explanations will come up as to how each and every one of the 115 lost souls deserved what they got and the deity was absolutely right to let the tragedy happen.
- . Video has come out of how the “Thidambu” – the ceremonial symbol of the deity itself fell to the ground when it was being hoisted on top of an elephant. The theory that goes along is that this was a bad omen sent by god and since people ignored this, they were clearing the path for the tragedy that was about to happen. Hence my original question – Does god play dice? Imagine a scene on a pantheon far above the mortal plane where gods have gathered and are putting wagers on whether or not the mere mortals will understand that the Thidambu falling down means a bloodbath is coming if you don’t act fast. The mortals didn’t – and the bloodbath followed. The gods who bet against the mortals seem to have made a literal killing. So when there are a 1001 ways how god could have intervened to stop this disaster from happening, what god chooses to do is to give mortals a hint and sit back and watch the plot unfold – Sorry. I don’t believe in such gods.
Now, don’t get an impression that I don’t believe in gods at all. I do. I don’t believe in gods who live in temples and showers blessings based on how much you spend at the temples. I don’t believe in gods who being supposedly all powerful, prefers to sit back and watch babies getting raped and innocent people blown to smithereens due to the negligence of a few. I don’t believe there is someone up in the sky watching us all taking stock of whether we pray.
To quote Einstein, “I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind”. God is unexplainable. We see god in the inexplicableness of the world around us. Also, I believe in “Thathwamasi” – meaning “That is you”. God exists within each one of us. Like Santiago in the novel “The Alchemist”, who travelled the world to realize that the treasure he was searching for was always present right where he slept, we go searching for god in temples and churches but seldom look inside ourselves. When you are in touch with the essence of god that is within each of us, god exists in your actions. A friend of mine once gave an auto driver Rs. 5000 blindly believing his story of his wife being admitted in a hospital and him being short of money. At that instant, the auto driver may have seen god in my friend. It is that god who exists within all of us and urges us to be more than ourselves that I believe in. To see that god, one needs to open their eyes. For people who pretend to be blind by closing their eyes, the divine glow that comes from within, maybe lost forever.