Just like everyone else, I thought I was special and had a special connection with God. I imagined God probably, as a flash of light or in some form unfathomable to a human mind. Although as a young girl, I do remember trying to pick my favorite God among the thousands we have. I somehow convinced myself that Shiva and Krishna are my favorite ones and I didn’t care about the rest. Even though I prayed like others did, I could not ever wrap my head around the philosophy of praying to the almighty. Pray but what for? What can I ask from God? Wouldn’t he give me all that I deserved in the first place? Why do I need to ask for anything – can’t he read my mind? Why God, the generous, the kindest one, be so narcissistic and mean as to punish who don’t pray him or for that matter one God over the other?
My family is not religious and neither was I. However, we followed some customs during festivals and prayed everyday since my mother had (has) deep faith in God. Because my mother is an honest and righteous person, she is convinced that the God is by her side and would help her, if she had to ask something for her family, badly. As I grew up, people around me presented their clichéd beliefs about various customs but could never truly justify any. For instance, I recall, during “Ganesh chaturthi”, we used to offer fruits, flowers and “doorva”, a bunch of grass leaves. The “doorva” had to be a peculiar number like 21 sets of 3 grass leaves. I used to think to myself – who cares what number it is!!?? Will the loving, caring, Ganesh ji fail me in my exams if I offer him a set of 22 ”doorva” instead? Can any God stoop so low? Obviously not, then why bother? Realising the futility of all this praying business over the years, I made a statement to my mother: “Mom, I don’t want to pray. I don’t feel I need to pray to God” (My mother, the kind person she is, was fine with it although her faith remains unwavered in some ways). Never had the “cast” of religion on me whereas I got rid of the daily prayers/customs. However, I hadn’t given up on the teeny hope of some godly figure, out there in another dimension, watching upon me.
Shedding the last few layers of belief in God happened when I stepped into the world of scientific research. During my graduate life, I acquired the ability to distill out the facts and the inherent assumptions in any piece of information presented to me. I saw this as a natural progression in my ability to think critically which may have expedited owing to my professional activity of doing research. I often contemplated about the nature of God. The questions I asked changed from “why people believe” to “why people choose to believe” in such a super-natural being. I realized that the main purpose it served for people was of a psychological satisfaction, a hope that someone is there to take care and that someone will set it all right. It offers them a relief that whatever wrong has happened was not in their hands, is not their responsibility and they need not worry. As soon as this realization dawned upon me, I knew that I am not the kind of person who needs God. I know that I am responsible for my own actions. Surely, unfortunate and undesirable events may happen but I cannot afford to sit and whine over these things. It is I who has to learn to be opportunistic on a daily basis rather than wait for that day when “Ms. Opportunity” will knock my door.
God is merely a construct of a tribal human brain, according to me. It is supposed to be a supernatural entity which is responsible for all the mysterious events in the heavens and on earth. We created God (rather than the other way round) to comfort ourselves, to alleviate our fears of our own death or the grief of the departure of our loved ones. This God concept has been passed on to us as a cultural heritage but is completely vestigial in the modern scientific era. It is high time we appreciate what science is about and how scientific knowledge can truly empower us and free our minds of several cultural biases including God. We either already have answers and solutions to many of the problems or are in the process of solving them.
I feel I have come of age but we, as a society, still have a long way to go although thanks to people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, the awareness of “the God delusion” is permeating in the social structure. We are certainly moving forward but really need to catalyze our efforts to benefit truly from the scientific knowledge which we have gained over the last few centuries and focus on solving real challenges such as efficient use of natural resources (water and energy), global warming and space colonization.
Posted: 2012-04-13 05:18:04
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