“Do you believe in God?”
This question is one that eventually comes up, and it’s quite a simple question really. My patron, Mr. Hirani asked me to contemplate on some version of this question.
I was a blind theist till about 12, when my brother became an atheist and through his debates helped me and my family either grow closer to our beliefs or discard them. If you asked me from twelve years ago, I might have answered that there are gods, given a quick bio guided by nothing more than my amar chitra kathas and then gotten back to my books. Today, I am conflicted. To be very frank, I do not care for religion enough at this point to concern myself with whether there is a god. I pray in my own way while keeping distance from the whole thing. However, I do think it is very important for there to be a God, since weaker men like me need some anchor in our lives. So in the absence of any definite answer, let us try to create for ourselves a manual we can refer to. In the process of this I might just get back to square one, creating some already existing religion. Given that I am a lazy buffoon, I shall nonetheless stick my head out and try to share my thoughts on the matter.
A nihilist is right in observing that nothing has meaning in itself. We are reactions, chemical, emotional, hormonal, electrical etc. to every event about us. We are programmed to respond. We are prisoners of this massive existential crisis. We live to die and die for others to live. Given that accepting this principle will lead to profound sadness, let us now try to create a system of beliefs that will help guide us out of this misery. A system which focuses on some basic edicts which must be followed religiously for the sole purpose of ensuring that we do not regress to the sadness. One may call this philosophy, I choose not to. So my rationale for religion is peace.
Religion has always been reasoning. Thunder is justified as a divine force in order to understand it. Sadly, this reasoning has not kept up with the times. Now religion is being seen as an opposing force to science, rather than a way of living. Let us start by putting down the following principles:
Humanity is nothing but a speck of dust.
We shall take the strength to accept and submit to this realisation, so that we may harness our energies out of the perpetual sadness of knowing the nothingness that is life.
This figure will be given the title of God for the purposes of this article.
The implication of this whole thing is that “Man has created God to cope with having no inherent God.” The advantage of this is that now we can choose to hate other groups because we are bad people, not because anyone has said so.
One may argue whether we need a God. For me personally, having some central idea makes things less complicated and helps me focus my energies better. Others may be comfortable without any central figure. To proceed, let God be a symbol of anything that we hold precious. I shall propose two central tenets that I shall use to shape a divine being for myself:
“Respect”: Nobody deserves to be made felt unwanted.
“Love”: Everyone deserves to be loved.
Now as part of my staying true to my god, I will draw some baselines metrics to measure any deviation from the aim:
Using a diary to record the events of the day. Using different coloured pens to keep track of number of deviancies. This will allow me to see how close I am to reaching God.
Assigning one day in the year to calibrate my score and create a plan accordingly to stick to my plan.
One can envision a congregation where people come together like a group of recovering alcoholics to motivate each other to stick to their plan. They may also engage in discourse in order to update their beliefs based on other’s arguments. The pundit/rabbi/pastor/imam of this congregation acts as a coach or a mentor and helps you work on your goals accordingly.
This sort of religion would have to focus on “actions as symbols”. While Hinduism has “Om” symbol, here actions when done would help reaffirm the religious beliefs. Hence, my respecting people would help affirm my beliefs and honour my religion. People may still want to create symbols to denote such which is fine, but then these symbols cannot become the religion itself.
The final question would be whether there is any end to this? Any goal which we must want to achieve? This sort of religion would try to create a guideline to structure and uncomplicate existence for when people get up to when people sleep. The process is the end in itself. We all get to choose what this guideline is, but we all are bound by our rules and our God.
Can such a system lead to a happy existence? Maybe not. Perhaps people will still fight with each other or be depressed by the world at whole. However, with this system we give ourselves a choice in this vast pointless universe, we make meaning through our own determination to not fall for the trap that is rejecting everything. Whether you choose to create the above said religion or not, feel freed by the fact that you made a choice that in itself has some meaning. You are liberated by being decisive in a world that is just chaos. You are now the ubermensch.