Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Faithful Students

I generally love atheists but I don't think they should go about making a big statement about their beliefs. The "There's Probably No God" ads on London buses are cute but I don't think they are necessary.

However I do admire how the statement is worded: the word "probably" shows that these people do admit a certain amount of doubt in their belief. If one day science proves that God does exist, I trust that they will reluctantly discard their own atheist dogma. Or will they?

These days, we are witnessing a sort of "revenge" from the atheists, with authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as their celebrity evangelists. Bill Maher's movie Religulous, is a wonderfully humorous jibe at religion. I love it, but let's not take it too far. Atheists and agnostics should be accorded the same respect as God-fearing people in society. But let's not over-react lest we make the same mistakes that many religion made throughout the ages--imposing your views on others.

I'm certanly not an atheist but I don't mind being labelled an agnostics. The definition of agnosticism is actually pretty wide (there are agnostic theists too--people who believe that God/gods do exist but accepts the fact that their existence can't be proven, or unknowable).

One thing's for sure: I'm awfully interested in spirituality and religions. I've spent a greater part of my reading life in the study of these subjects. If labels are necessary at all, I'd rather call myself a student of religions.

Some atheists, like their fanatical counterparts, are prone to dogmatism too. Once we treat these things too seriously, we are prone to becoming "sensitive" and would find ourselves easily "offended" or "confused" by remarks or views that are not in line with our beliefs.

For some reason, we humans find a certain comfort in certainty; we need ideological foundations to give meaning to our behaviour and actions. We feel good when we have a cause to fight for. We feel secure when we belong to a particular group or tribe. That is human nature, a behavioural quirk that is hardwired in our genes. Religious dogmas and fanatical ideological beliefs (such as communism and atheism) fulfils this need.

If we understand this well, we'll know how to handle these natural instincts responsibly. Every idea or belief is worthy of our examination, in the spirit of science and free enquiry. So let's all call ourselves students. A faithful student constantly seeks knowledge and recognizes that he or she still has much to learn. And if God does exist, I'm sure He's a good teacher. And if God doesn't exist, well, let's try and learn from Nature instead.

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