Cloud 9 Minus One


We Are Still Alive December 17, 2011

On the day that the newspaper carried two stories on the same page – the death of atheist author Christopher Hitchens and the abuse of children by the Dutch Catholic Church – we are still alive. We have no business being alive, of course. Reading the newspaper and trying to imagine the horror of defenceless children being repeatedly raped by the very people whom they trusted and held in awe is enough to drive one into the arms of merciful death. And yet, death isn’t there for us, not yet. It still awaits us in the wings, prolonging our agony as the horrors of the world are pushed into our faces.
I considered Hitchens to be one of my heroes. He was sane, rational and as far removed from evil as any completely sane person can be. People have a misconception about what true evil really is. They confuse licentiousness with evil. Devout Hindus consider meat-eaters, smokers, liquor-drinkers and womanisers to be evil. Christians and Muslims consider non-believers to be evil. I, as a non-believer, make no such distinction. I believe true evil to lie in violence, in falsehood, in cheating and the avarice that leads to destruction of others’ lives. The patriarchs of Lehman Brothers were evil, and so are all the priests, pastors and other oddly named characters of the various religions in this world. They are evil because they have chosen to use the authority vested in them by a thing called the Church, or religious order, to indulge their most deviant fantasies, fantasies that, in a secular world, would lead to penal servitude for life. They have not cared about how many lives they ruined, how many families they have destroyed and how much evil they have unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, for the children they have abused will, in significant numbers, go on to abuse others.
Unthinking people will continue to follow a religion, go to church, pray to something that they believe is actually listening to them. Just as all those poor children believed that there was a god watching over them, while some man fondled them, had sex with them, raped them. Thinking people, on the other hand, will ask: what went wrong? When did religion go so wrong? In my opinion, it is the so-called thinking people, the religious philosophers, the pope and his acolytes, the stern-visaged bishops and cardinals, who are the most dangerous people to have around. For they choose to unleash this falsehood upon this world: that there is something more benign than a poor, stupid human being out there, and that all of us must bow to his superior power. And if every once in a while, a human being assumes the power assigned to god, so be it. As Kurt Vonnegut put it so astutely: So it goes. In our rational, sane avatars, we know how dangerous it is to have a system of moral authority that cannot be questioned. But who said anything about religious followers being sane? They continue to follow an irrational system of belief that thinks nothing of imposing a system that is so dictatorial that the opportunity to abuse it is there around every corner.
It is time we joined battle with such dangerous stupidity. It is time all those pastors were treated like the criminals that they are and put behind bars for life. It is time the head of the Catholic Church was pulled down from his self-constructed pedestal and informed, perhaps by judicial means, that he, as the aid and abettor of criminals is no better than a criminal himself. Above all, it is time that we non-believers worked towards putting religion with its attendant dangerous dogma, behind bars.
Since we are still alive.


One Response to “We Are Still Alive”

  1. Yogi Says:

    Hi Sangeeta. I turned into a free-thinker (euphemism for atheist) about 5 years ago. i liked astronomy as a kid and in no way i could (in hindsight) have believed that a God would have time to help me with an exam or make my grandmother better. He would have better things to do in binary stars about 80,000 light years away in the Cygnus constellation or working through the innards of a gigantic exploding supernova.

    Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, Darwin, Daniel Dennett (introduced to me by our very own Ramit!!) made me a sceptic very early on and i was an agnostic for long. Then one day the penny dropped. For a couple of weeks it was scary and then it became exhilarating. The theory of Grand Design is bunkum. It is an attempt to retrofit existing reality to the divine. Like looking for the proverbial teapot shape in the cloud.

    Believing in God is the modern-day fairy tale… the adult societal version of Panchatantra and Grimm brothers. A means of imaginery parental comfort. Life has happened. We just got lucky to be ‘alive’. I am grappling with consciousness though. Is it ether? Is it some force field? In absence of God, it seeks explanation. Blah blah…

    Existing stereotypes of atheists makes most be wary of us. We are the dangerous light to old dogmas which best lie covered for when it exposes most people, they feel vulnerable – as if without clothes. The more dogmatic a faith, the more they are wary. I see most people’s eyes when i declare to them that i am not a believer. It stuns them into a bewildered silence.

    Buddha was a protestant. He had no God to pray to. Just a philosophy to explain the meaningless of our existence. So by philosophy i became a Buddhist. To me, Buddha was the greatest human being to walk this earth (or atleast one of them.) His knowledge ot the Universe 2500 years ago transcends most modern-day men. But a human for sure.

    Coming back… i get bemused. I am more kind-hearted, more charitable, sense a more kindred spririt with the world and find the world to be a magical place since then. God bless the others !

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