Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

God save goddamn atheists!

Of late, many Buddhas have been laughing. Laughing all the way to their banks. It’s of course a pleasant change. Atheism, today, is a very profitable, and thus successful, and thus desirable, business. Hemant Mehta, who authored the recent fly-of-the-stands I Sold My Soul on eBay, is one such blessed atheist. He claims to be a very friendly atheist; so friendly that he’s happy giving speeches even at churches. If they are willing to pay, that is. You can read him without paying a penny at Friendly Atheist and eBay Atheist.

I’m an atheist only as much as I’m a Christian, and that would probably categorise myself to be called a Hindu. Thank God! Atheists are only atheists! One fornicating atheist can differ in his or her reasoning from another, and still be saved from burning for eternity in hell. For that reason I’m free to agree or disagree with JP, who writes in Criminalenglish. He had posted an interesting read on the subject sometime back, which has some questions listed by Hemant Mehta, with JP’s own answers to them. These are questions that are commonly asked to atheists by the naturally sceptical theists. Theists, against popular belief, always look for rational answers. Well, not always, but for sure, always from atheists. Here are their logical questions rooted in Christian theology, and my not-so-very-logical answers rooted in a Christian upbringing.

Why do you not believe in God?
More or less for the similar reasons why I don’t listen to Britney Hilton or watch Bollywood movies. I don’t enjoy it; and I don’t feel it’s necessary. Call my answer a glib. Britney is not God, you might say. Thank God for that! I’m too kinda friendly sort to theists. Whenever one of those evangelic believers sincerely starts feeling sad for my soul, I reassure them with their own words. There’s nothing rational about faith. It’s God’s grace. You either have it, or you don’t. And if you are really worried about my rotten soul, please run to the next church, fall on you knees, and tell the God to courier one big piece of grace as soon as possible to my address. You will have to pay in hard cash at the Church; I don’t think they have started accepting credit cards.

If you want a theological reasoning, I can give you one. A very Christian one. I have my answer in Mathew 19:16-19. When a man came and asked Jesus, what should he do to have eternal life, he was asked to follow the Commandments. The man asked which commandments; and Jesus deliberately omitted the first three of them. The only three that has anything to do with God and Humans. The first three commandments tell that there’s only one god, and every one should believe only that god. Take your pick. Believe in your Bible, or believe in your God.

Where do your morals come from?

Thank you for assuming that I have some. I’m not a nihilist. The cardinal sins are my fundamental virtues. Lust help me to see beauty in every woman. Gluttony enhances my sensual pleasures. Greed differentiates living and surviving for me. Sloth saves me from the insecurities of the rat race. Wrath keeps the fire in me burning. Envy gives reasons for me to grow and look forward. Pride breaths life into me. Now, how did I realise that these are virtues, and not sins? Use your head, and you might find out.

What is the meaning of life?

Currently there are over 6 billion meanings that are strutting around. Some are similar, but never the same. You are free to choose what suits you. Life is existentialist.

Is atheism a religion?

What’s that you call a religion? A set of canonical, irrational laws? A group of meaningless rituals? A parasitical clergy? A huge mass blindly follows an irrational way of living? In those terms, atheism has a long way to go to qualify itself as a religion. Atheism is almost as old, or even older than, theism. There were well established atheist schools of thought that denied the existence of a creationist God as early as in 500 BC in India. There was even the classification of atheists who believed in the scriptures and those who don’t. Samkhya and Mimasma sects of Astika school and Buddhism, Jainism, and Charvaka sect of Nastika school of thought. Even the theists were rational sceptics. “You should reject an illogical task like a straw even if the order comes from Bhrahma,” said Brahspati, one of the authors of Rig Veda. Regard only that which is an object of perception, and cast behind your back whatever is beyond the reach of your senses,” wrote Maharshi Valmiki in Ramayana. The rationalist philosophy, unlike what Christians believe, is a few centuries older than Plato. And there were people who debated about enlightenment, a few millennia before Emmanuel Kant gather up the courage to ask, “What is enlightenment?

If you don’t pray, what do you do during troubling times?

If you pray hard, you won’t miss the bus, and the boat. When I was younger, that’s when I was in school; I was a very pious theist. For six years I defied the universal law – children walk to school and run back home. The distance to my school was about 800 meters, and situates over a hill that looked steeper than Everest in those days. All of 183 steps to the courtyard. The regular school assembly started at 9:50 and ended at 10:10. The teacher arrived in the class, if he also is not late for school, at 10:13, giving you three crucial minutes to sneak in. And I used to, very promptly, leave for school at exactly 9:57, with a bag that weighed about 3-4 Kg. En route, there were four dog-points where unchained dogs waited. One has to slow down, not to invoke the wrath of the holy canines, even if he’s trying to break the record of 24 Remember, o gracious Virgin Marys in 7 minutes. Praise thy lord! The dogs, and the teachers, never barked at me on a single day for 6 years! The dear Lord was also manipulating the question papers and already written answer sheets for these 6 years, for a charge of one rupee per paper, and five for a really badly attempted one. Let me testify once again that it had worked perfectly. But later, I figured out it would be a great kindness, if I give enough respect to my efforts. I really don’t think 24 Remember, o gracious Virgin Marys in 7 minutes would have teleported me, or God had changed the printed questions or written down answers. Now, I pray to give me back my money.

Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God?

Those who has strong sense of social responsibility, and genuinely worried about the exploits of religion should. As for myself, I believe strongly in individual responsibility.

Weren’t some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists?

Yes. Just some, though. Most of the atrocities were committed by committed believers. Mussolini was almost a good Christian by the time he was the dictator. Hitler too by no means was an atheist. Neither is George W. Bush. Or Shimon Peres. Or Osama Bin Laden. And why specifically 20th century? May be to avoid the discussion on Crusades and Inquisitions and the Churches’ whole-hearted support to colonisation, I think.

How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God?

That’s a very democratic way of trying to win the argument. And reason to believe Christianity is the right religion as of now. It’s not a question of majority, and even if it is, the theists are at the losing end. Because, I believe no one really believes in God, whichever religion they belong to. Believers support the rituals in the mere hope of that might help, and for the lack of balls to take any risk in life without it. If you disagree, show me one person, ever lived or living, who followed every word of the scriptures of his or her religion as it is written.

Why does the universe exist?

Now, don’t expect every atheist to be an evolutionary physicist. It was there thirty years back, and I hope it’ll be there for another 30 years. That’s more than I could ask for.

How did life originate?

Mine? My daddy and mommy copulated, I think. An amoeba just heard the question and you got it into splits. Whether it was the chicken or the egg first originated, neither would sing hallelujah, for sure.

Is all religion harmful?

Is the kitchen knife in the hands of a rapist harmful?

What’s so bad about religious moderates?

Are opportunism, hypocrisy, and passiveness to exploitation also taught as great religious values?

Is there anything redeeming about religion?

Yes. Some believers do get enlightenment, open their eyes and might start using their heads before maggots start feasting on their brains. All the egalitarian philosophies are rooted in religious values and talks against the fallacies.

What if you’re wrong about God (and He does exist)?

In that case, She will have one less person lamenting to her.

Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be respected?

Of course. But not without including all the contradictions. Once you are managed to do that with a sensible head, that might make enough sense to give up almost all the beliefs.

Are atheists smarter than theists?

I think so. No atheist will be sceptical enough to ask, ‘Are theists smarter than atheists?’

How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don’t believe in his divinity?

You mean, Biblical, I guess. Well, I like that guy a lot. When asked to turn stones into bread, he said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ (Mathew 4:4). And when asked to turn water into wine, he said, ‘Fill all the pots with water’ (John 2:7). How can I not like him? He also said, ‘the Sabbath is made for man, and not man for the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:27). Isn’t this philosophy any less existentialist?

Would the world be better off without any religion?

To me, it would mean no more festivals! No poorams and utsavams. No pooja holidays. No Christmas. No long weekend on Easter. (Now you know, why they call it the day Christ was crucified a Good Friday.) I’ll better opt to have all religions and it’s stupid believers around.

What happens when we die?

“What do I care? Put me in an oil expeller and run the mill, if you want,” answered the wise Sri Narayana Guru, when asked how his body should be treated after his samadhi. “If a beast slain in the Jyothishtoma rite will itself go to heaven, why then does not the sacrificer forthwith offer his own father?” Asked Charvaka. If I they are going to do what I ask, I would ask them to turn my body into fine ash in an electric crematorium, and put it in a toilet and flush it proper. One has to live all his life amidst thick shit. And just by the time he starts to feel okay with it, you shouldn’t make him feel out of place. I just hope they won’t leave my body in a morgue full of necrophiliacs. Not because, I’ll suffer from agraphobia after death, but only because I’m hedonistic to the core.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The White eclipse of the land of the red sun

OR, The territorial pissing over a 100-thousand year old civilisation
Aussies have been on the piss, getting pissed, drinking piss, drinking more piss and, most definitely, taking the piss for the past two hundred years.”
– From the website of an Australian beer brewer
Pissed, as a slang meaning drunk, is quintessentially Australian. My search for the reasons of the origin of the term didn’t return any satisfying answers. A possible logical explanation is not a very difficult one. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning, a substance that prevents the secretion of ADH that instruct kidneys to reabsorb excess water. Naturally, this effect causes kidneys to produce diluted amounts of urine. Alcohol relaxes muscles, and one of the first muscles to affect by it, is the sphincter muscles of the urethra – second only to the muscles of your eyelids. Now put one and one together and you will end up in the loo when you are drunk. This physiological trivia is not as trivial as most of us might think. It has an astounding effect on human civilisation and its explanations of evolvement.

It was in The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin, I first read about the native Australians, and amazed by their superior, almost parapsychological, mental faculties. About their abilities to read land like a book. About their abilities to code and decode geographical information in the form of musical notes. Songlines are songs that describe the journeys of a Totemic Spirit. Sometimes spread across hundreds of miles, with each community singing only the part that crosses their region. Astonishingly, an experienced singer of one community is able to identify the geography when someone else sings another part of his Songline, without understanding a word of it. I have never been to Australia, or have met any of these native Australians in person. Most of the things I know about them is from this book, The Songlines, which I read eight or nine years back. After that I sure have read more about their life and culture, including the much celebrated, almost amateurishly written, novel Walkabout. The Songlines is widely criticised for being colonialist and thus unreliable as a source of information. Nevertheless, it sure has told me many untold stories about the world’s oldest living culture, and I have found his narrative neutral and detached in most parts of the book. In the book, Chatwin describes the following conversation with a policeman he met in a bar:

“[…] ‘So why do you bother with them?’ The policeman jerked his thumb at the Aboriginals.

‘Because I like them.’

‘And I like them,’ he said. ‘I like them! I like to do what’s right by them. But they’re different.’

‘In what way different?’

The policeman moistened his lips again, and sucked the air between his teeth.

‘Made differently,’ he said at last. ‘They’ve got different urinary tracts to the white man. Different waterworks! That’s why they can’t hold their booze!’

‘How do you know?’

‘It’s been proved,’ said the policeman. ‘Scientifically.’


From having different waterworks was an easy step to having different grey-matter. An Aboriginal brain, he said, was different to that of Caucasians. The frontal lobes were flatter.

‘I like them,’ the policeman repeated. ‘I never said I didn’t like them. But they’re like children. They’ve got a childish mentality.’ […]”

That’s what you can derive, when you think with your piss-mechanism. The native people were living in the land for about hundred thousand years when the Europeans landed on their coast in the late 18th century. In the next 100 years, by the time the nation christened as Australia was established, the native population was reduced to about ninety thousand from over a million. Of the 750 native groups, currently there are about 200 that survived the hospitality of the guests, constituting 2.3% of the current population with about 90% Europeans. Majority of these native Australians today live in the urban areas – bearing the mark of misfit, uncivilised, inferior race.

The Northern Territory Land Rights Act, 1976, is one of the most important legislations made in Australia after the founding of the nation. The Act was made to give back some rights, mainly ownership of their sacred land, back to the natives. Northern Territory has about 1% of Australia’s population, and is the least densely populated area in the country. Nearly half the geographical area belongs to the four Land Councils under the 1976 Act, though the native population is hardly 29% of the total in the Territory. The native population in NT is hardly 12% them in the country. It’s not that only NT is aboriginal land, or the rest 88% belongs to nowhere. It’s just that the Whites had already taken over all of the other regions except the desserts by then. And then, they found enticing deposits of minerals in the Northern Territory. And then, they found the most suitable land for nuclear waste dumping. And then, last year, the John Howard Government amended the 1976 Act. The effects were not as fast paced as the White man’s calculations, though they had managed to sign a deal for a 200-year lease of land for nuclear waste dumping.

In this time of trouble, Howard gets an inquiry report – tastefully titled, Little Children are Sacred – on child abuse among aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. The 320-page report reveals some shocking facts. Like, the miners widely engage in prostitution with children as young as 12 years. The report clearly states that it’s not just aboriginal men who commit the crimes; and the widely believed view that aboriginal culture and laws protect the abusers is a plain myth. The report strongly says, “The Inquiry believes there needs to be a radical change in the way government and non-government organizations consult, engage with and support Aboriginal people. A different approach is urgently needed.” It very clearly says that the government service provision is pathetically inadequate, and there should be an urgent need to take the aboriginal ‘world view’ seriously, instead of imposing the European ‘world view’ on them. Howard flips all these pages too quickly and stops at where it says, “The Inquiry was not told many stories concerning intra-familial child sexual abuse. However, given the experiences of the community mentioned above, and noting the findings in other Australian jurisdictions, it is safe to assume that it is more prevalent than was identified in consultations.” Howard found what he was looking for, and his government decided to ban alcohol in the region and take over the communities slashing the aboriginal rights.

If you have failed to grasp the connection between the report and action, that’s only because, there’s no apparent connection at all. “"Let me say there is not a single action that the commonwealth has taken so far that corresponds with a single recommendation,'' Ms Pat Anderson, one of the authors of the report that suggested 97 recommendations for the problem, tells us. “The Government is treating aborigines like children,” a fuming Ms. Anderson, who headed the inquiry team, told the reporters. Seems like Prime Minister Howard’s attitude towards the aborigines is not any different than that of the drunken policeman Chatwin describes in his book. But there’s much more to the conspiracy.

The 2006 amendment of the Land Rights Act, 1976, allows individuals to own land, and enables them to get loans on a subsidised interest rate on that land. It’s a pretty old trick. Someone who’s not happy with the community elders decides to own his own land and approaches the bank. The bank, happily gives the loan, taking the documents. And the owner will most probably lose the land to the bank in a few years. The region, with 29% of people with ‘inferior waterworks’ has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world. Alcoholism has been a major concern for the communities for years, and the elders are obviously against the drinking behaviour of their people. Howard thought, an alcohol ban would be welcomed by the elders and ‘piss off’ the drunkards. That would naturally increase the chances of the drunkards wanting to be ‘independent’ and go to the banks. Exactly the kind of people they wanted to come to the banks with land. The exaggerated publicity on the grounds of alcoholism and child abuse will prevent leading socio-political agencies from opposing Howard’s move strongly. Anyone opposing the new legislation can be portrayed as ‘supporters’ of alcoholism and child abuse. Something, any organisation that needs public support will be wary of risking.

The new legislation is ready to be put before the parliament. It will scrap off almost all the rights aborigines were granted. The permit system will be removed, and any non-indigenous person can go to the aboriginal areas without any prior permission. The customary laws or cultural practices will be stripped off from their validity in courts, while all other ethnic groups in the country will continue enjoying the privilege. The Government will take over the aboriginal lands for next five years. It proposes to completely stop the funding of Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), through which over 30% of the aboriginal adult population earns their and their families’ living. The sole income for majority of the families will be stopped that way. This means, they will be more vulnerable and completely dependent on the federal government forces, which will be taking over their lands for the next five years. That’s the wisdom of the highly evolved Caucasian brain.

Let me quote a passage from the very popular novel Walkabout by James Vance Marshall. It’s a small novel the describes the story of two American school children stranded on the desert plains of Australia by a plain wreck, who then meets an aborigine boy on his walkabout – the six month solitary journey on foot across his ancestral land as his test of manhood. The passage that describes their first meeting reads like this: “The three children stood looking at one another in the middle of the Australian dessert. Motionless as the outcrops of granite they stared, and stared, and stared. Between them the distance was less than the spread of an outstretched arm, but more than 100,000 years.” The rest of the book tells a few things humankind learnt to forget in the100,000 years.

One of the very basic beliefs of the native Australians is people don’t own land, but the land owns everything that it allows to grow on it. One of many things the ‘highly evolved’ Europeans can never understand. The European idea of evolution and advancement of civilisation is pretty much skewed. And with their industrious colonisation efforts across the globe, they have successfully established their notion and standard about being civilised and advanced, in all modern communities. This allusion of evolutional advancement is the very foundation of their assumed superiority. Educated people all over the world are blinded with the belief that equality means rising to the levels of European standards of human development. I am too uneducated to understand how a society that can go helpless and paralysed, if all the electrical fuses burn simultaneously, can be called evolved and superior. Call it a highly optimistic society, if you want. A society that survives only on the hope of having every fuse intact. Or, one that is too dumb to think of such a high possibility of a few fuses burning together.

Ridwan Laher has initiated a campaign that calls for a global tourist boycott as a message of protest against Australian government’s move to take over the aboriginal lands. The campaign plan is to collect signatures of all the people around the world who think Howard Government’s move is insanely racist, and against basic human rights. More than an attack on human rights, it’s an effort to destroy a superior civilisation by a pathetically crippled one. Go and add your name to the list of people who supports the campaign. You can do it either by going to Ridwan’s blog, or by clicking on the banner you see on the right hand side of this page. Don’t support the campaign thinking you are helping the aborigines; they don’t need yours or anyone else’s help. Their way of life has survived a hundred thousand years, and will survive even after yours and mine bite the dust. Add your name, only if you think, you, the Australian government, or anyone else has no right to endanger their life and their 100-thousand years’ wisdom of land and life. The petition is open only till October 17th, 2007. If you have a blog, and if you support the campaign, you can get the banner to display in your blog from Tom.

You can download and read the inquiry report, Little Children are Sacred.
You can also read more about:
The report authors' reaction to Howard's move
Withdrawing the plans of existing government funding
Plans to nullify the validity of customary aboriginal laws

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