I am a retiree from the government job of inspector for enforcing the Indian labour laws in factories and business establishments.I am a University graduate. I am a blogger.
I am an Indian residing in Bengaluru,India.
The agnostic says that there are no sufficient reasons for either an affirmation or denial of the existence of God, Satan and so on. He sits on
fence about these matters. But his stand is irrational, as we can see now.
Rational approach to truth
A belief to be true should be rational. It should have reasons for its acceptance by people.
Those reasons should compel us to accept it fully. The test of rational belief, as A.C.Grayling, the philosopher says, is ‘a question of an all-or-nothing affair and not a matter of degree.’
‘It is likely that God exists’ is an agnostic‘s stand; ‘there is no proof that God exists’ is a rationalist’s position. The former is a proposition of degree of belief and the latter is a proposition of total belief with evidence. The first statement is irrational and the second one is rational.
‘But agnosticism, as the position that entertains the possibility that there might be or couldbe one or more supernatural agencies of some sort, is an irrational position, for precisely the same reason as holding that there might be or could be fairies or goblins or the Olympian deities or the Norse gods.’-A.C.Grayling.
Again, “Is the belief that ‘rain might not wet me next time I do not have an umbrella’ less irrational or absurd than the belief that rain does not wet at all? Obviously not.”-A.C.Grayling.
Experience and experiment have long back found out that there is no evidence for the existence of God, devil, ‘fairies or goblins or the Olympian deities or the Norse gods.’
Theists resort to agnosticism to somehow defend their faith in God, heaven, hell, soul, afterlife, and so on. You now know that their religious faith dependent upon agnosticism too has no foundation.
Agnosticism is a believers’ ‘quibble that does not ……. hold water.’ It is a fallacy with a possible ulterior motive.
Books are products of our culture as inexhaustible and perennial sources of human knowledge and wisdom. They are revered as gifts of knowledge goddess. We believe that they always do good to us and can never do harm to us, their readers. However, we have to read religious books with critical and rationalist eyes.
The holy scriptures, the Bible, the Koran and, to a very small extent in recent times, the Hindu scriptures have caused incalculable harm to mankind through their literalist or fundamentalist adherents’ actions.
The fundamentalists have defiled and desecrated the sacred books. They have abused the words of the scriptures as the literal voice or word of God and, to protect the sanctity of the books, killed unbelievers and other innocent citizens with the use of suicide bombs, weapons, torture, and other barbarities.
Sam Harris, the American philosopher, neuroscientist and humanist has, in his famous book, The End of Faith, listed the abuses of the religious scriptures and their gruesome effects on the world. I quote from his book extensively:
“Our past is not sacred for being past and there is much that is behind us and to which, it is hoped, we could never return with a clear conscience: the divine right of kings, feudalism, the caste system, slavery, political executions, forced castration, vivisection, bearbaiting, honorable duels, chastity belts, trial by ordeal, child labor, human and animal sacrifice, the stoning of heretics, cannibalism, sodomy laws, taboos against contraception, human radiation experiments-the list is nearly endless.”
“Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. Recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews v.Muslims), the Balkans(Orthodox Serbians v.Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians v. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland(Protestants v.Catholics), Kashmir(Muslims v.Hindus), Sudan(Muslims v.Christians and animists), Nigeria(Muslims v.Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea(Muslims v.Christians), Sri Lanka(Sinhalese Buddhists v.Tamil Hindus), Indonesia(Muslims v.Timorese Christians) and the Caucasus(Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims;Muslim Azerbaijanis v. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. In these places, religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last ten years.”
“Over one million people died in the orgy of religious killing that attended the partitioning of India and Pakistan.”
In “the violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims in India in the winter of 2002”, “Over one thousand people died in this month long series of riots-nearly half as many as have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in more than a decade.”
Sam Harris has a striking insight into the mindset of the religious terrorist and the real source of inspiration for his mindset. The suicide bomber is relentlessly indoctrinated, has a deep interest in carrying out the literal mandate of the scripture, kills unbelievers and innocent people of his and other religions by bombing and then feels assured of his place in the paradise in his afterlife, mistaking paradise to be a fact.
Call To Violent Action
Sam Harris has quoted the pertinent extracts from the scriptures:
“If your brother, son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, ‘ Let us go and serve other gods,’ unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent,you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God………(Deuteronomy 13:7-11)”
” Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate. ( Koran9.73)”
“Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous. ( Koran 9:123)”
” Jihad is your duty under any ruler, be he godly or wicked. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again(in Allah’s Cause). He who dies without having taken part in a campaign dies in a kind of unbelief.
Paradise is in the shadow of swords.
Many hadiths of this sort can be found, and Islamists regularly invoke them as a justification for attacks against infidels and apostates.”
Dangerous Support To Bigots
A sizable section of the Muslim community worldwide defends the suicide bombers’ homicidal crime in the interest of and at the command ofthe Islamic scriptures. We may see the survey table produced by Sam Harris in proof of this fact:
“SUICIDE BOMBING IN DEFENCE OF ISLAM
Is It Ever Justifiable?
Yes No DK/Refused
Lebanon 82 12 6
Ivory Coast 73 27 0
Nigeria 66 26 8
Jordan 65 26 8
Bangladesh 58 23 19
Mali 54 35 11
Senegal 47 50 3
Ghana 44 43 12
Indonesia 43 54 3
Uganda 40 52 8
Pakistan 38 38 23
Turkey 20 64 14″
(The relevant statistics in respect of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and other religious violence-infected countries are not available.)
Books Enlighten And Upgrade Us
Books are meant to be our intellectual companions. They upgrade us anddonot degrade us. We have to cry an immediate halt to the religious literalist madmen’s homicidal misadventure. Human blood should not spill on to the books. Human beings adore books and worship them.
All religious books have the right to be rationally looked into, studied and embraced. They are human, andnot divine, products which should not be put to torridly profane use.
I am entering a restricted or prohibited, sensitive and sacred area.
Religion-practitioners lay down the adoption of God, acceptance of scriptural literalism as God’s voice and religious miracle stories and rituals as prerequisites, and so on for a lofty spiritual human life. Faith can move mountains and prayer to God can bring rain to the divine creation of nature. Into the religious spirituality, rationality has no entry.
Contrary to this general conception, religion (faith) is not essential for spirituality in human beings.
Human beings are not only social animals but also spiritual beings. Spirituality is inborn and natural to them. Religion is an external imposition on them; God is an external burden placed on them. Both are not requisite for either human welfare or their spiritual expression in art, music, writing, sports, drama, adventure activities, dance, philosophical speculation, and so on.
The poet sings out of joy inspired by the sublime sea or sky, a young man, full of his intense love for his sweetheart, sings a romantic song, a musician plays his musical instrument inspired by his inner urge, and so on.
What Spirituality Is
Human spirituality is a human’s inner world, his mental realm, his realm within.
One popular view is that spirituality breaks human perceptual boundaries and enables the human to unite with the cosmic existence. This is described as self-realization, nirvana, and so on
Another stream speaks of spirituality as the process of the ultimate union of the individual soul with the universal soul or God, moksha, liberation from birth and death, and so on.
The well-known Indian mystic, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says in his book, Inner Engineering: ‘When you say ‘spirituality’, you are talking about a dimension beyond the physical. The human desire to transcend the physical is a completely natural one.’
A mystic’s self-realization is the highest stage of spirituality. Sam Harris, the American neuroscientist and philosopher observes, ‘Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not.’
Yoga is a way, a potent scientific tool to break the borders of human physical life and to unite it with the borderless nature or creation or cosmos, whatever one may call it. This is self=realization. The ancient yoga path is a science away, far away from God.
The Sadhguru continues:
‘That is why the yogic system does not talk about God. It does not talk about the soul or heaven. Such talk makes people hallucinatory.’
‘The problem is that religious nuts around the world have exported everything that is beautiful about a human being to the other world. If you talk of love, they speak of divine love, if you talk of bliss, they speak of divine bliss. If you talk of peace, they speak of divine peace. We have forgotten that these are all human qualities. A human being is fully capable of joy, of love, of peace. Why do we export these to heaven?’
No involvement of religion is perceptible in this spirituality. Spirituality is not the monopoly of the religion which imposed its God-linked spirituality on the people. Religious spirituality has faith without evidence as its basis and inevitably results in human enslavement to irrational dogma.
Massacre of Innocent Citizens
Extreme and blind loyalty to the scriptural literalism, a form of dangerous religious idiocy takes the dogmatists to violence and homicide. The horrifying explosion of religious fanaticism, its increasing network, and organized violence against people have shocked and shaken the world to its roots again and again.
The dogmatists are hardened robots remorselessly indulging in massacring innocent citizens with alarming ease and absolute fearlessness- with the divine scriptural sanction!
(Alas! Is there no way out for the world to vanquish the religiously indoctrinated robots and end religious dogma and their lunatic violent homicidal rampage?)
Decline Of Spirituality Of Religion
Jerry Coyne, the reputed American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and rationalist provides the statistical evidence of nontheistic people in northern Europe: ‘The degree of pure atheists-those who agree with the statement, ‘I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god or life force’-runs between 25 and 40 per cent of the population of countries like Germany, Denmark, France, and Sweden. The level of nontheistic spirituality ( ‘I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force, but not God’) is even higher: 25 to 40 per cent. When you add the two groups to get the total population of nontheists, it is a majority:71 per cent in Denmark, 73 per cent in Norway, 79 per cent in Sweden, 67 per cent in France, 52 per cent in Germany, and 58 per cent in the United Kingdom. In contrast, nontheists in America constitute only 18 per cent of the population, while 80 per cent affirm a belief in God.’
The European and American nontheists have been living their emotionally, culturally, spiritually, intellectually fulfilled life. They have been normal healthy human beings. Their secular rationality has not impacted their life in any adverse way.
Future Belongs To Rational Spirituality
This is a solid, incontrovertible and directly visible proof that religion is not needed for good human life ‘inspired by love and guided by knowledge.’
There are nontheists in other countries too, who also enjoy happy and fulfilled life in every field.
Human beings are borne free, but religions have enslaved them to irrationality. Let the religious irrationalists assiduously try to re-gain their-
‘Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning call of the future.’
‘Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet’s world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience for the
master of a show to be stirred into a mimicry of life’
(The above quotations are parts of a stirring poem of Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate, which he passionately addressed to India when the nation was not free.)
The world calls upon them to become rational and free from the religious, spiritual cage.
The reader can easily understand who has been a ‘puppet,’ who has been a ‘master of a show’ and which are ‘brainless wires’ in therealm of religion.
The faith spirituality is fake and has an ignoble past and nofuture. Rational spirituality, reliable, ennobling and robust, has a bright future.
‘Searched for the non-existent God
In the temples of stone and soil everywhere,
Failed to recognize the love and
Friendship present among ourselves here.’
This is the intense outpouring of the rationalist heart of one of India’s national poets, Dr.G.S.Shivarudrappa.
God is present in the heart of man in the form of love and goodwill among human beings. Men are Gods when they are in harmony and co-operation with their fellow beings. A man helps a man in every situation.
Human brotherhood is the natural and noblest bond. Human conscience is the universal binding force. A good man is God if we prefer to call him so.
The celebrated poet continues:
‘From the beginning, I have no interest in the subjects of God and spiritualism. More than these, my basic concern is for man and human relationships.’
REAL GODS ‘ ‘As I see, more than the invisible God, Jesus Christ, Basavanna, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Gandhi, who lived like us and reached godly heights, are venerable to me. Their concern for the life and solving the pains and privations and upholding the values-because of these, they deserve our veneration! And because of this, temples and related concepts of God did not enchant me. So I do not like the class of people, who exploit common people’s superstitions as their capital in the name of God…………… Instead, love, friendship, kindness, mercy are our Gods.’
WORLD WITHOUT GOD
The poet’s sensitive heart has seen the truth of the ultimate reality that is life on this planet. He has sharply differentiated the truth from the myth, the myth of the other world( heaven and hell). Life is the truth and after-life is the myth; life is the beginning and death is the end.
The poet eloquently echoes Basavanna, the 12th-century Indian religious rebel extraordinary on humanism and enlightenment.
NATURE IS GOD
Man is next to Nature. Nature is his mother. Nature, in a sense, is the god and man her child.
This is our world; the other world is illusionists’ dream world.
Life on this planet is good without god; the godless world is real and good.
And this has been the truth since the flowering of life on this planet.
Responses are welcome.
A heretic is a rationalist whose religious views differ from the established religious practices. He is a rebel not only in religion such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and so on but also in any intellectual area.
The heretic’s ideal is to rid human mind of the religious and intellectual irrationality. The heretic maintains that to challenge and defeat religious bigotry and intellectual irrationality is to free the human mind from them, from the dogmatism. He debunks religious myths like the soul, ghosts, witches, afterlife. That, religious orthodoxy lays down, amounts to punishable conduct here. He does not accept religious scriptures as infallible and unquestionable divine revelations of truth. That is punishable heresy by religious authority.
Religion punished the heretics in the past inhumanly and cruelly and has been punishing them even today in various ways.
Opposition To Scriptural Literalism
The free-thinking heretic’s method of searching truth is evidence-based and, hence, rational and to him, any statement without evidence is a myth. He acts upon his truth, rationally arrived at, without fear or favour. Rebels like the Buddha, Giardino Bruno, Galileo, Basavanna, Freud, Jefferson, Voltaire, Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi effected a revolution in their areas of activity. As Graham Green says,’ Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.’ Himself an outstanding American heretic and a robust rationalist, Robert G.Ingersoll profusely showers praise on the heretics in his resounding, inimitable and inspiring words in his book, Heretics and Heresies:
Heresy, the Eternal Dawn
‘The heretics have not thought and suffered and died in vain. Every heretic has been, and is, a ray of light. Not in vain did Voltaire, that great man, point from the foot of the Alps the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. Not in vain were the splendid utterances of the infidels, while beyond all price are the discoveries of science. The Church has impeded, but it has not and it cannot stop the onward march of the human race. Heresy cannot be burned, nor imprisoned, nor starved. It laughs at presbyteries and synods, at ecumenical councils and the impotent thunders of Sinai. Heresy is the eternal dawn, the morning star, the glittering herald of the day. Heresy is the last and the best thought. It is the perpetual New World, unknown sea, toward which the brave all sail. It is the eternal horizon of progress. Heresy extends the hospitalities of the brain to a new thought. Heresy is a cradle; orthodoxy, a coffin. Why should man be afraid to think, and why should he fear to express his thoughts? Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that a man should investigate the phenomena by which he is surrounded?. Is it possible that a god delights in threatening and terrifying men? What glory, what honour and renown a god must win on such a field! The ocean raving at a drop; a star envious of a candle; the sun jealous of a fire-fly. How long, O how long, will man listen to the threats of God, and shut the eyes to the splendid possibilities of Nature? How long, O how long will man remain the cringing slave of a false and cruel creed? By this time, the whole world should know that the real bible has not yet been written, but is being written, and that it will never be finished until the race begins its downward march, or ceases to exist. The real bible is not the work of inspired men, nor prophets, nor apostles, nor evangelists, nor of Christs. Every man who finds a fact, adds, as it were, a word to this great book. It is not attested by prophecy, by miracles or signs. It makes no appeal to faith, to ignorance, to credulity or fear. It has no punishment for unbelief, no reward for hypocrisy. It appeals to man in the name of demonstration. It has nothing to conceal. It has no fear of being read, of being contradicted, of being investigated and understood. It does not pretend to be holy; it simply claims to be true. It challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores every reader to verify every line for himself. It is incapable of being blasphemed.’
Basavanna, the twelfth-century Indian religious rebel. rationalist and humanist blasted and rejected the Hindu Vedas and Shruthi for their superstitions like animal sacrifice to propitiate god and illogical karma concept, restricting human effort for his growth, in his celebrated vachana (a type of Kannada prose poetry):
‘Shall I say scriptures are great? They praise karma. Shall I say the Vedas are great? They tell of animal sacrifice. Shall I say Shruti is great? It searches what is before one’s eyes. ……………………………………………………….’ (Vachana-2012, Basava Samithi).
As rationalists and humanists, the heretics have been playing a courageous, ennobling and heroic role in the human history. They have been adorable new path-finders. Have you a different stand on the heretic?
The world knows that Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation, the legendary leader of the non-violent struggle for India’s freedom and an apostle of non-violence was a deeply religious thinker and a unique statesman of simplicity the human history has ever seen. He was a committed believer in God and performed religious rituals daily. And he was rare rationalist too!
He was a martyr to the cause of human brotherhood Follower of Faith
‘Reason is powerless to know Him. He is beyond the reach or grasp of reason.’
‘If we exist, if our parents and their parents have existed, then it is proper to believe in the Parent of the whole creation.’
This is an irrational approach to the concept of God and is a traditional view of the Faith. Rare Rationalist At the same time, Mahatma Gandhi is progressive, rational, humanist and secular.
He says: ‘To me, God is truth and love: God is ethics and morality; He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist……He simply is to those who have faith. He is all things to all men.’
‘Since faith cannot be proved by extraneous evidence, the safest course is to believe in the supremacy of the moral law, the law of truth and love.’
‘My belief in the Hindu scripture does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired. I decline to be bound by any interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense’
‘But those, who want to deny His(God’s) existence, are at liberty to do so.’
Mahatma Gandhi’s words are simple, unambiguous and self-explanatory.
That means, inter alia, no harmful consequences will follow if they have no faith in God. God does not punish them. God is not a punitive divine power.
But He is the universal symbol of the highest human values like love, goodwill, justice and humaneness towards all human and other life.
Romain Rolland, the French Nobel laureate defines Mahatma Gandhi’s rational outlook in these words in his Mahatma Gandhi:
‘His religion must satisfy his reason and correspond to the dictates of his conscience’
Mahatma Gandhi was a liberal, a rationalist in a rare sense, a noble humanist and not a fundamentalist. His sole concentration was on human welfare and on nothing beyond that. His view of human life is unconcerned with the unknown world of heaven or hell.
Faith in God is inessential for human happiness, spirituality, and culture.
He introduced the world to a new path in the human life-a path of non-violence in human activity and fight against injustice and oppression(satyagraha) in society. We need to follow him now both in word and deed. The world always needs him.
Basavanna ( about 1115-1167) meaning elder brother Basava ( he is also venerably called as Basaveshwara or simply Basava) was a rationalist revolutionary, unique prophet, pragmatic humanist and irrepressible social organizer and reformer. He revolted against the Vedas, their unjust social caste structure and irrational and harmful religious rituals. He founded a new religion named as Lingayat with the support of the common people of all social statuses. Basavanna uniquely stands out as a rationalist revolutionary.
This religion has no supernatural God as its governing and guiding supreme head. The rationalist Lingayat religion has been enjoying the whole-hearted support of the Lingayat people of the Karnataka State of India from the 12th century to this day. The scripture of the Lingayat is the prose-poems composed and described as vachanas(in the Kannada language)by Basavanna and other writers from the 12th century onwards.
Basavanna’s views are solidly based on rationalist and humanist principles and contained in his vachanas.
Basavanna’s concept of God is that the God is only one, that He has various names and that He is formless, invisible and omnipresent. He goes further and affirms that human conscience is the God and that a godly man also is a God. Kudalasangama Deva is Basavanna’s symbolic God who is man’s conscience itself. This God is not in any temple. This God is in the human mind as his conscience or symbol of dhyana or meditation in the form of ishtalinga(personal God) on the devotee’s palm. This God is neither a gift-giver nor a gift-taker nor a miracle-maker. This God demands that man should be of good conduct and work. He should work not only for himself but also for the society. Man must make his destiny individually for himself and, as part of the society, for the society. Man can become more than the symbolic God, Kudalasangama Deva by contributing to the various types of daasoha( free offering of useful thing or service) for the society.
‘There are some gods
That always watch by the doors of the houses of men.
They do not depart, although told to depart.
They are worse than dogs, these same gods.
There are some gods
That live by begging from men.
What can they give?
But our Kudalsangama Deva
Will give you whatever you ask.’
‘I did not see those so-called gods alive,
When the four yugas (ages) and eighteen cycles
Of those yugas were being destroyed;
Nor do I see them now.
I did not see them,
When all was burning,
Nor do I see them now.
Neither that day nor this day,
Do I see those gods
Except Kudalasangama Deva.’
‘God Is One, Names Are Many’
‘God is one, names are many.
A chaste wife has just one husband.
Should she desire another.
He will chop her ears and nose off.
What would you say then of those
Who relish leftovers of many gods, Kudalasangamadeva?’
Priests as God’s Mouthpieces
Priests have been dependent upon God and exploit the common innocent followers of a religion for their livelihood in the name of God. Basavanna has very harsh words of his righteous anger against the ignoble profession of priesthood throughout the human history.
‘Is there anybody in this world who says to another
“Eat for my body, and enjoy my wife for me”?
Hence you yourself ought to work with eager mind.
You yourself ought to work, laboring with your body.
If you do not work with your body,(and mind together),
How will Kudalasangama Deva be pleased with you?’
To reach God, a man should directly approach the isthalinga (personal god) or meditate on it for his spiritual growth and goal without using the intermediacy of any priest. Priests have been parasites on God’s devotees in the name of God!
He rejected the Vedas which perpetuated human exploitation in the form of four castes structure of the society, etc. and were (and are to a large extent) against the interest of the common majority of the people.
‘I shall put leather sheath to Vedas
I shall put shackles on the Shashtras
I shall skin the back of Tarka
I shall cut off the nose of Agamas.’
‘The Vedas shivered,
Scriptures stood aside,
Logic became dumb, Aagama just went away,
All because our Kudalasangayya
had his food in the house of untouchable, Maadara Chennayya.’
‘Shall I say scriptures are great?
They praise karma.
Shall I say the Vedas are great?
They tell of animal sacrifice.
Shall I say shruti is great?
It searches what is before one’s eyes.
As you are not in any of those, Kudalasangama Deva,
You can be seen in nothing but three kinds of daasoha. Temples of GOD
Those that are rich build temples for God
But alas! What can I do?
I am a poor man.
To me my legs themselves are pillars.
My body itself is the temple.
And my head itself is the golden crown.
(The stationary perishes, but not the moving one.)
Man’s body itself is the abode of God. Man purifies his conscience with the aid of meditation on the isthalinga, the physical symbol of God on his palm. To enable man to be away from the temples and the priests, Basavanna created man’s personal God in the form of isthalinga on his palm. If the devotee did not need to go to a temple to propitiate God, the priest had no chance to mislead and exploit him. Man was free to meditate on his ishthalinga always worn on his body at any time and place. This God was not stationary but mobile together with his devotee.
Basavanna had the indomitable courage and waged a relentless, organized and peaceful war against the Vedic superstitions. He held that heaven, hell, rebirth, astrology, devil, auspicious day and time, etc. do not exist and are deluding and harmful illusions. But they had gripped most of the masses at that time. When a man has no rebirth, heaven and hell have no raison deetre . Man’s real heaven and hell both are here on this planet. Man’s good conduct and good work make for heaven, and their opposite leads to hell, in this world itself.
‘My brothers, behold,
What are called the divine world and the mortal world
Are not far away.
To speak the Truth is the divine world,
And to utter a lie is the mortal world.
Good conduct is the divine world
And bad conduct is hell.
For this Thou Thyself art our authority,
O Kudalasangama Deva.’
‘The pot is god
The winnowing fan is god
The stone on the street is god
The comb is god
The bowstring is god
The measuring vessel is god
The small cup is god
There are gods and gods
No place to set foot in.
There is just one god, Kudalasangama Deva.’
There were-and are- thousands of Gods in India in so many strange forms! Basavanna harshly disapproved of them. For Lingayats, there is only one God, the symbolic Kudalasangama Deva.
‘Offering sheep to tiny troublesome gods carried on winnowing fan
They dance in joy.
Does sheep die and protect those with whom Shiva(a Vedic God) is angry?
No sheep, no calf,
Just worship our Kudalasangama Deva with leaves, it is enough.’
Basavanna condemns animal sacrifice to propitiate Gods.
Caste System In Hindu Society
‘Father is Maadaar Chennayya,
Elder uncle is Doahara Kakkayya,
Uncle is Chikkayya,
Elder brother is our Kinnari Bommayya.
Why do you not know me as such Kudalasangayya?’
The followers of Basavanna named in this vachana were of the lower social rung. Basavanna, though born in a higher caste, asks God to identify him as one of them. His view was that they are equal to him and all other people of higher social status irrespective of their lower social status. His other followers did not discriminate against them in any way.
Mortification of Human Body
‘If you quell the senses you are guilty.
The five senses will hereafter come and torment you.
Did Shiriyala and Changale abandon the pleasures of life
And that enjoyment of happiness as husband and wife? Curbing the five senses is physically, mentally and spiritually unhealthy. One need not necessarily be a bachelor or spinster or celibate to achieve the spiritual and social goal of Lingayat which is universally open to every person irrespective of his or her social status, gender, age, educational level, marital status and social caste. Lingayat embraces sinner too and teaches him to attain the goal of the Lingayat.
Women of all social statuses were equals to men in the spiritual and social parliament called as Anubhava Mantapa spiritual and social think-tank) set up by Basavanna. They actively participated in the collective activities of the of the Anubhava Mantapa.
Basavanna’s sparkling rationalism and humanism shines in his stands on God, priests, Vedas, temples of God, religious superstitions, social caste system, mortification of human body and gender equality. Basavanna’s new view of pragmatic humanism is strikingly similar to the modern concept of humanism pithily outlined by A.J.Ayer, the British philosopher and humanist:
‘the world and this life are all we have (and) we should try to live full and happy lives ourselves and, as part of this, make it easier for other people to do the same.’
Robert G.Ingersoll, the humanist expresses a similar view in his book, The Gods:
‘ Reason, Observation, and Experience- the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that the happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief, we are content to live or die.’
Basavanna makes man the centre of all human activity both as an individual and as a member of the society. To him, what matters is man’s all-sided interest only both as an individual and as a member of the society. He does not make us pursue mirages.
Basavanna is a star in the galaxy of the outstanding rationalist and humanist thinkers of the world.
The lingayat religion founded by him deserves the lofty status of a world rationalist religion.
Existing Method of Payment of Wages of Employees
The government of India amended Section 6 of the Payment of Wages,1936, a major Indian labour law on 28-12-2016 to the effect that payment of wages of employees shall be made either in currency notes or by cheque or by credit in their bank accounts. The amended law empowers the State governments to notify selective industry/industries in which the employers shall pay the wages of their employees by cheque or credit in their bank account. The Karnataka State government has not specified any industry so far in pursuance of the amended law.
The amended law goes against the twin policies of the government of India in regard to the paperless money transactions among citizens and between the citizen and the bank or other financial institution and mandatory opening of bank accounts by all Indian citizens.
The Central/State government should not have been empowered to specify any industry under the amended law. The present statutory position may involve undue delay in the issuance of the notification of the specific industries.
The amended law should have made the payment of the employees’ wages by their employers mandatorily ONLY in their bank accounts in pursuance of the Indian government’s twin policies of paperless money transaction of Indians and the compulsory opening of the bank account by Indians. Properly, the amended law should not have empowered the government, at least without any time limit, to notify specific industries in which employees’ wages shall be paid by cheque or in their bank accounts. Discretion in the exercise of power usually results in a delay in exercise of power or no exercise of that power. The amended law is an eye-wash and has no teeth.
Required New Amendment
The defective amended law needs to be amended again by substituting the existing amendment by the following suggested amendment to Section 6 of the Act:
‘Section 6. All wages shall be paid by credit in the bank account of the employee.’
This new amendment will serve the desired purpose and also resolve the conflict between the existing Section 6 and the above twin policies of the Indian government.
It is high time that the trade unions, labour leaders, intellectuals, knowledgeable employees and news media bestir themselves to the gravity of the issue and initiate a movement for the desired fresh amendment of Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act,1936.
From the ancient times to the present day, there has been a continuous conflict between religion and science on the correct method of finding out the truth about the world or reality. It was an unequal and unjust fight between the two till the recent past. Religion won the battle most of the times, though it could not-cannot- perpetually defeat the human spirit of inquiry into the truth about the world. The fierce battle was sometimes violent against the inquirers in their search for the truth about the world. In short, it is nothing but a perpetual clash between rationality and irrationality approach to discovering the truth about the world, living or non-living.
Religion relies on divine scriptural revelation for uncovering the truth about the world, living or non-living. The scriptures are the divine authority texts which, according to the believers, contain unquestionable eternal truths about the world and life. But science employs its method of hypothesis, observation, experimentation and repeated and open testing at any time to reach the truth about the world. Such truths about the world are reliable and acceptable -and accepted. Scriptural evidence is oral unverifiable evidence recorded: It cannot pass the test of the scientific method. Divinely revealed truth has been repeatedly proved to be unreliable and false.
Some major past claims of religion disproved by science- we may highlight them:
1.’He(God) hath fixed the foundation of the earth forever, that they may not be moved.’ Planet earth is flat and the center of the universe. This is a geocentric theory of the universe and Ptolemy, the astronomer supported it.
‘Comparative theology shows us that this is the conception of Nature universally adopted in the early phase of intellectual life. It is the belief of all nations in all parts of the world at the beginning of their civilization: geocentric, for it makes the earth the centre of the universe; anthropocentric, for it makes the man the central object of the earth.’ ‘On the basis of this view of the structure of the world, great religious systems have been founded, and hence powerful material interests have been engaged in its support. These have resisted, sometimes by resorting to bloodshed, attempts that have been made to correct its incontestable; errors-a resistance grounded on the suspicion that the localization of heaven and hell and the supreme value of man in the universe might be affected.’ (J.W.Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science(1875).
Nicolas Copernicus, the Polish astronomer published the theory in 1543 now universally accepted as the heliocentric theory of the universe which holds that the sun is the center of the universe, that the earth orbits itself in one day and orbits the sun in one year, and that the planet earth is a globe. For supporting Copernicus on this theory, Galileo, the astronomer was jailed and made to recant by the Church. For siding with Copernicus and Galileo on this theory, Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher was burnt alive on 16-2-1600 at Rome. What a brutal and inhuman punishment for telling the truth! What a noble life laid down for the truth!!
Religion’s claim is untrue
2.’God created everything out of nothing.’Lucretius(c.99-55 B.C), the Roman poet and thinker firmly says: ‘nothing can emerge from nothing’ and ‘ nothing is brought forth by any supernatural power out of nought.’ The scientists and the people have unequivocally accepted this view and demolished the religion’s creationist theory.
Religion’s claim is false.
3. God created man in his image.
‘All things grow, little by little, as they ought,
From a certain seed, preserving their own species as they go,
So each thing needs its own kind of material to grow.’-Lucretius, The Nature of Things.
Man and the other life on this planet are products of the natural process going on in the world for millions of years which is well-known as Darwin’s evolutionary theory. The supernatural God has nothing to do with the creation of all life on the earth. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, with exhaustive evidence, dethroned God from the exalted unique position of the Creator of the universe and man.
Religion’s claim is baseless.
4. The scripture is God’s voice and judge of what is or is not human knowledge.
The above elucidation at 1. and 2. clarifies that the scriptural truth claims about the world, living or non-living, are false, that the scripture is not the infallible voice of God and that God is not the arbiter of what human knowledge is or is not. Bertrand Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy, says: ‘All definite knowledge-so I should contend- belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology.’
Religion’s claim is without any basis.
Claim to Be Only True Religion and Its Disastrous Effect
5.’ I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’One ’s religion is the only right and true religion for humanity: Other faiths are false.
This rigid stand of religion begot its tyranny and intolerance of other faiths. Bigots of one religion attack physically and ideologically innocent followers of other religion with bombs and arms and do away with them in the name of their God! The attackers are indoctrinated with the scriptural promise that violence against their religious counterparts is no sin and that they will have the happiest afterlife with God in heaven for faithfully executing the divine command on the earth.
6. Prayer to God brings good luck and God’s gift.
God has never answered man’s prayers in the history of the world. Prayer is a zealous wish of man’s seeking someone’s helping hand in his adversity. It remains man’s wish not granted. When God does not exist, how can He grant prayers?
‘But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.’ This is a scriptural prohibition against transfusion of blood of a healthy person into a needy patient’s body for his medical treatment Medicine requires another’s blood to be transfused into the body of the needy patient to save the patient’s life and medical professionals use this treatment despite the bigots’ resistance in some parts of the world. Those patients religiously going by the rule of the scriptural moral code may die; actually, many have died. Scriptural commands cannot cure human disease!
‘Medicine can cure: faith cannot.’- Jerry Coyne, the biologist.
Our short journey in the world of the long historical conflict between the two contenders for the correct method of reaching the truth about the world and life on the earth and its study has now convinced us that God does not exist and that the scripture is not the repository of the truth about the living and non-living world. God and scriptures are human creations. The concept of God is a gigantic human illusion. Scriptures as human records are fallible. Science employing freedom of the spirit of free inquiry, thinking and expression can lead us to truths about the world and life and propel the continuous enlightened growth of human life in all its aspects.
In France, England, and the USA, there have been calculated and mindless massacre of innocent citizens and in India and Bangladesh, assassins have committed cold-blooded murder of individual anti-superstition activists in the name of religion. These countries have secularism as their law and ideal. Clash of tenets of religions is the right path for us as humans having freedom of expression. In India, Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a medical professional , rationalist, and organizational multiplatform campaigner against superstitions, Govind Pansare, an organizational anti-superstition activist, communist and a rationalist, Dr M.M.Kalburgi, a reputed research scholar and a rationalist and Gauri Lankesh, editor and owner of a journal and rationalist-all mature and respected individuals of erudition and impeccable dedication- were shot dead, on the ground of their rationalist views, by killers allegedly hired by religious bigots. The police investigation into the assassinations is on and the murderers are not traced so far. They are martyrs to the cause of science and the truth. This type of homicidal crime unheard of in India in the past has rudely shocked the intellectual conscience of the Indian society.
Is It Not Insanity?
Let me end our short journey in the world of the battle between religion and science with the resounding message of J.W.Draper, the American polymath:
‘Then has it in truth come to this, Roman Christianity and Science are recognized by their adherents as being absolutely incompatible; they cannot exist together; one must yield to the other; mankind must make its choice-it cannot have both.’ THE WORLD CANNOT HAVE BOTH.
The message encompasses ALL God-based religions.
Science is victorious and eternal; religion is mortal and dying.
According to philosophy, there are three ways of knowing things, living or non-living:1) directly through the five senses,2) indirectly through senses aided by the scientific instruments like microscope and telescope, 3) again indirectly through the testing models developed and used in scientific research.
The five sense organs are 1) eye, 2) ear, 3) nose, 4) tongue and 5) skin. The eye sees the colours of the world. The ear hears the sound of the world. The nose smells the flavour of the world. The tongue tastes the sweetness, bitterness, etc. of the world. The skin feels the touch of the world. They are the gateways to the knowledge of the world; they are the windows to the world.
The microscope, telescope and all other scientific accessory instruments enable scientists to perceive the world beyond the normal reach of the senses but ultimately, indirectly through the senses.
We can see the planets and other gigantic heavenly bodies also indirectly with the help of the telescope.We can view the tiny germs through the microscope.
Models created by scientists predict the expected things based on the models and provide us with the knowledge of the remote reality. If they fail to do so, they are rejected.
The mystic too is believed be aware of a glimpse of the world and not the entire truth of it. His intuition or insight may be a ray showing a direction of the road to the truth of the reality. His insightful clue is misty and unreliable.
Bertrand Russell aptly says, ‘ Of the reality or unreality of the mystic’s world I know nothing…..’ ‘What I do wish to maintain– and it is here that the scientific attitude becomes imperative– is that insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth, in spite of the fact that much of the most important truth is first suggested by its means’
Science uses the inductive(scientific) method for attaining the truth of the reality, whereas logic and mathematics apply the deductive method for discovering the truth of the premises or statements.
If anything or being is beyond the boundaries of the above means of knowing, that thing or being is unreal and belief in such an unreal thing or a being is a superstition. God, miracle, fairies, rebirth, disembodied soul, heaven, hell, magic, devil, astrology, etc. which are untestable and unknowable are unrealities and superstitious beliefs of the human imagination, a result of human ignorance, fear, and misleading teaching. They are illusions, concepts formed by humans without evidence.
For centuries, there has been a continuous and fierce conflict among the divinely ordained moral codes of the religions. The moral code of one religion is against or different from another moral code of another religion. But every faith proclaims that its moral code is the only right one binding on all humanity and can be followed by all. It has been an ethical turmoil involving rationalism and irrationalism in regard to religion. Some of the religions try to forcibly impose their moral law on followers of other religions. The world knows that they use brute force and violence in the name of their God and their divine moral law against the followers of other faiths.
For them, the scriptures like the Bible, Koran, and the Vedas are the word of God and scriptural commands are God’s own orders.’There can be no morality unless there is a deity’ and ‘…the argument in effect says that there can be no moral code unless it is laid down, policed, punished and rewarded by a deity.'(A.C.Grayling, The God Argument). That is their rigid and dogmatic argument.
This irrational dogmatism in religion has inescapably resulted in horrendous crimes against humanity. Innocent people have lost their lives; some are maimed; children are mutilated in suicide bomb attacks and other armed attacks-all in the name of God and His moral code! The threat of mindless religious violence has continued. ‘Religion breeds wickedness’ and ‘So potent was religion in persuading to do wrong’ (Lucretius, The Nature of Things) even at that ancient time.
The pivotal question to be posed to humanity is: Should some inhuman religious bigots be allowed further to play with lives of innocent people? Has human conscience no answer and solution to this gigantic anti-human world problem?
Science has repeatedly and conclusively proved that there is no supernatural God in the theists’ sense. The scriptures are not the word of God and are the records made by the religious followers of their faiths.In fact, based on these scriptures, the followers of the religious prophets frame the ‘divine’ moral code also and enforce it. The ‘divinely’ authorized human beings are the sole ‘divine’ moral lawmakers. It is another matter that they may have an axe to grind in discharging their ‘authorized’ duty of moral legislation.
Men, the Makers of Their Own Moral Code
Men can manage their moral life without a God and the divinely ordained moral code.They are able to make proper choices for the society in which they live. There is proof that the godless atheists and rationalists are morally exemplary and good citizens.Forty percent of the Czech population is atheist and they are morally faultless.They lead a happy life. Atheists and rationalists in other countries too live a morally disciplined and contented life.
Men are social animals and they have the inborn, intuitive empathy and responsibility towards, and interest in, the welfare of themselves and all their fellow beings.They intuitively adhere to the Confucian moral principle: ‘Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself.’ Man is not-can not live- alone. No external threat or reward by a God is needed to make men moral. Men cannot be slaves to commands of a non-existent God and his blind followers. Punishment is necessary in case of abnormal men for their correction. As rational men, they are capable of framing their moral code and modifying it in tune and harmony with the changing social conditions. Non-existent God and his followers’ religious bigotry and pressure cannot compel them to surrender their self-respect to irrational’ heavenly’ orders issued by the religious bigots.
Julian Baggini, the philosopher says, ‘I believe that at the root of morality is a kind of empathy or concern for the welfare of others, a recognition that their welfare also counts.This is, for most of us, a basic human instinct.’
Instinctually and naturally, men are born to live socially and morally, since to do so is in their natural and collective interest. They know how to manage their individual and social morality.No role or moral right the God and the scriptures have to lay down and enforce the ‘divine’ moral code in the humans’ ethical world.
What can be the urgent next step to eradicate the religious irrationalism from our planet?