Is Atheism A Kind of Superstition?

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This past week I fell into a snake pit – I mean I bumped into a few radical atheist blogs. I instantly felt like I had entered a den, creatures peering at me, ready to break my neck and hang me upside down should I tell them I’m a believer. I told them I’m a humanist and they let go but not without much interrogation. We had an interesting discussion though. One thing I admire about atheists, is their brutal honesty with regards to their thoughts.

Most atheists believe in evolution or natural selection. They reject a belief in God or gods because they say there is no evidence for the existence of God or gods. But the truth, the real truth, is that everyone has faith or a belief in something. Without which, psychologically, one will have to live in ageless confusion.

Since radical atheists believe that, once upon a time we were all apes or prehistoric lizards or monkeys, it gives us an impression that they put their faith in archaeology and chance occurrences. Meanwhile, just as no one has seen God or any gods, so has no one seen one organism transform into another. We are all inferring. Sometimes science infers with “concocted” facts.

I am saying this from a humanistic perspective. A sweetened thousand-page-story can sometimes be told of a single common jaw bone with missing teeth. And sometimes they even go as far as telling us at what age the creature died, what it ate, its typical schedule for the day and many other absurd specificities; they often sound certain that the creature is the missing link between ape men and humans. Today it may be “Lucy”, tomorrow it’s “Turkana boy”, the next day it’s Neanderthal. What are we to believe?

How do we know the history of this insufficient fact (jaw bone) is not coloured with human imagination that suits expectations. Faith indeed, is a fine invention as Emily Dickinson puts it; when gentlemen can see but microscopes are prudent in an emergency. They put their faith in scientific labs and theories and insignificant truths that can never be harmonized. This compels me to conclude that atheism is a type superstition. A superstition not based on fear but on misinterpreted facts.

In as much as true religion is a powerful tool for the organisation of society and the inculcation of certain ethics and moral precepts, my type of Humanism is closer to theism than it is to atheism. I admit, lately, religion has been used for more evil that good but I believe the world will be much worse without religion. The truth is that most of these religious extremists are actually disguised radical atheists. They worship death.

But this is not to say that there are no mild atheists who are concerned about human welfare.

PS: I am told “Turkana boy” is now “Nariokotome Boy.” So hilarious! a new role has been created for another imaginary actor.

Primitive Perspectives

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Excerpts From “The Gods Must Be Crazy I”

 

“For the first time there was something that could not be shared because there was only one of it. Suddenly everyone needed this thing and the thing became a necessity. Unfamiliar emotions began to stir – a feeling of wanting to own and not wanting to share. And other things came: anger, jealousy, hate and violence.”

 

Xi (pronounced “key”) was angry with the gods. He shouted,

“Take back your thing we don’t want it. Look at the trouble it brought.”

 

 

But the gods did not take it back. He shouted again,

“You must be crazy to send us this thing, take it back!”

 

The gods did not take it back so Xi carried the thing and buried it away from the shelter.

“That night the family was very unhappy. A strange feeling of shame had come upon them. They began to talk about this thing which had come into their lives. They did not have a name for it. They called it the evil thing.

 

Gaabu said:

(a) Perhaps the gods were absent-minded when they dropped the evil thing on the earth.

 

(b) They have always sent only good things like the rain, trees, roots and berries to eat

      because we are their children and they love us.

 

(c) But now they’ve sent us this evil thing.

 

 

Xi said:

(d) The thing does not belong on the earth. Tomorrow I will take it to the end of the earth

     and throw it off.

 

 

Goobu said:

(e) I think the end of the earth must be very far. I think you may have to walk for twenty

    days, perhaps forty.

 

 

Xi said:

(f) I will start walking tomorrow.

 

Here, one will notice how the primitive men dealt with the problem of evil. If there is a single benevolent God, from where, then, comes evil? The bushmen believed that the gods who gave them good things also occasionally sent evil unto the earth. Their gods were dual-natured and to me it sounded like even they, detected, something of the internal dialectic in matter. In behaviour, they were also far more humane than their civilized counterparts. If you watch the full movie, you will agree with me. I have often felt that to understand the universe, one must trace the evolution of the human thought from the earliest Neanderthals to us. If only that’s possible. I am not even sure if the stories told by these discoverers are accurate.

The interesting is this: since the “evil thing” was interfering with their happiness, they didn’t blame or wait for the gods. They figured a practical solution was to get rid of the thing at the end of the earth themselves. To them, the end of the earth was a steep valley where the evil thing, once thrown in, could never come back again.

One other question which had always been on mind was this: why was it always necessary to ascribe human qualities to the gods or God if they are different entities from us?

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Beyond The Physical

There lived a mad woman in my home village by name Beatrice but we all called her “Bee.” She was young, probably in her late twenties back then. No one knew how she became mad. When I was a kid, the other kids and I will mock at her and go into hiding and she will chase some of us with a big cane. I am speaking of a time when I was about seven or eight and “Bee” was very fat then. Now she has grown a little lean.

Sometimes she got her senses back when the gods were on holiday or when they let the locks lose. During those brief moments, she will be calm, even if you teased her and yelled her name. I was told she even responded to greetings nicely.

It has been a long time, about twenty years now, since I went back to the village and I was shocked to know that “Bee” was still alive. In fact I saw but didn’t recognize her. We were watching a traditional dance one late evening when someone came and stood right in front of us thus not only blocking our view but polluting the atmosphere with a pungent smell – as a result of not bathing for almost two decades.

“Hey Bee, move away!” one of my cousins shouted and I asked him if that was the same Bee I knew as child to which he responded in the affirmative. It got me thinking. This is someone who eats from the trash can and drinks from the gutter and is still alive. She has no sense of hygiene at all and probably houses thousands of bacteria in body. Yet she is still far from death. Over these years many people have died of warfare, diseases, drugs and simple recklessness.

Let us take a look at the war in Syria and Iraq, where almost daily, hundreds are lined up and massacred. Or let’s come down to West Africa, Boko Haram, which has killed more than 2000 people during the first half of 2014. Could these things have happened by chance? Certainly not. Are there higher malevolent invisible forces involved? Maybe.

Human behavior is very intriguing. The seeds of evil are sown by humans but the larger invisible evil forces help water them daily and nurture them until they grow into unimaginable dimensions. Think of this as pouring gasoline on a piece of burning flame. There is a force behind all evil. Many people call this force “the devil.” But I am not sure if this is an accurate description because the forces that I have sensed are also dynamic – metamorphosing into other forms every now and then. So that something that initially appears good suddenly transforms into evil and vice-versa. How then can evil come out of good? How can hate come out of love? And how can death replace life if there are no malignant demonic forces involved?

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Where ever there is conflict, for once, we know that there are at least two opposing forces – usually good and evil or sometimes all evil. The only medium for these forces is the human psyche. Here, let me try to, in psychological terms, define spirituality. It is at that precise point where emotions is joined with intellect or reason. It is like the confluence of two rivers, so you cannot know where one ends and the other begins or which direction each river is going. This is the arena of all mental struggles and this is where invisible evil forces perch in wait, like sea eagles, to dig their talons into innocent souls. Surely you will need an anchor. This anchor is called morality. And immortality is considered the ultimate reward  for being moral.

In another sense, evil forces are like malicious computer software, they cannot destroy physical things on their own. They need hardware (humans) as a medium, so brothers and sisters let us guard against our emotions and reasoning. The point of this post is to draw your attention to the metaphysical aspect of the world in which we find ourselves. The physical material world is just one side of the coin. Science does not and cannot teach everything.

Bee, the lunatic, is still alive because the evil forces do not need her. She is a damaged piece of “hardware” so why would they want her. But those of us in our prime let us be on guard. I am just saying be careful. In the spiritual world there are no remedies, it’s a predator-prey kingdom, and it doesn’t matter whether you are on the side of this god or that god. A little mistake and you are gone and who is to tell whether there is another world beyond? If you ask me the answer is simple, I don’t know.

But I, personally, will never chose oblivion over immortality though the former is more obvious and the latter, simply speculative. This is because a belief in immortality makes one happy in the here and now. The ultimate purpose of cultivating faith (in anything)  is to make one happy.