As teenagers, we are naturally inclined to follow the trends. We engage ourselves to be a part of the modern teen era. But is being an atheist one of the so-called trends? Why do most people take pride in identifying themselves as an atheist and not as a theist?
It was just another normal Sunday. It wasn’t all too sunny and the weather seemed a bit cloudy. I was casually scrolling through Instagram when I found a post in which a lot of people were arguing about the existence of God. And so, with nothing to do, I was naturally curious about this. As I began reading the comments, I couldn’t help but marvel at them. One of them went like, “Why do we need to believe in Geeta, Quran or Bible? All of this is a myth and we don’t even know if they exist. “On checking the person’s profile, I found the profile picture to be that of Iron Man. I don’t blame that person’s ideology of the Geeta, Bible or Quran being fake or real. Instead of finding out if it’s real or fake why don’t we just follow the instructions, principles and apply them in our lives? If you can get inspired and motivated by a fictional superhero character but you refuse to believe in Holy books that preach the same good life, then that’s irony laughing in your face!
Most of the teenagers I have met and a lot of my friends identify themselves as atheist. When asked why I got replies like “I don’t believe in God. All the spirituality, rituals and worship are an unnecessary waste of time and money. Instead of wasting money on milk, bananas, candles, coconuts and offerings of such sorts why don’t we give them to the poor?” Well, at that point I couldn’t even answer. Because I was neither a theist nor an atheist. So, I tried to reflect on my life to find answers, and surprisingly I had made a discovery!
Being born and brought up in a middle-class orthodox Hindu family, I had an irresistible urge to question my elders about the practices and customs. But I was told to keep quiet as I was naturally expected to obey the elders and not question them back. I couldn’t get the answers to questions like “Why should we not cut nails or wash clothes at night?”, or “Why do we spend a hefty amount of money in the name of God, and why must we fear God?” (anyone born in a very orthodox Hindu family or any super orthodox-religious family, for that matter, can relate). In the search for these answers, I stumbled upon a book that had very different views on these issues, and mainly elaborated on ancient practices that did shed light and answered all the questions I had in my mind. According to this book, most of the religious customs were followed only during those times with the fear of God as a weapon used against the people for their benefit. This was done in order to rein in the society and bring order. But these customs and beliefs were passed on to generations without understanding the actual reason behind their being.
For example, the answer to the earlier question above as to “Why we should not cut nails in the night?” seemed very sensible. In ancient times, there was no electricity as a form of light that we now possess. There was a high probability of these nails being unknowingly consumed with food. But most of the people could not be persuaded to see this reason and thus the only way to maintain public health and hygiene was to induce the fear of God. This reason may not be known by many and yet it is practiced to date. These customs followed unwittingly by most of the theists are used as a weapon by atheists to question their beliefs. That’s when I decided to be neutral to these arguments.
The reason we visit temples, churches or mosques is that we sense positivity in those places. They are the go-to places for a positive or peaceful vibe. If you burn a candle, offer coconuts and perform rituals, there’s no way I would know if it does please God. But in the end, we gain a sense of positivity and peace, which, in turn, boosts our performance in our daily lives.
Having said that, if you are quite practical you can find positivity anywhere. You can find positivity in nature; when flowers bloom, when the cold breeze kisses your face on a hot sunny day, when birds chirp in a foggy morning. Now for the real question, if you find positivity in something else but God are you still an atheist? If you were to ask me, being an atheist or a theist does not matter as long as you believe in yourself and find positivity in life.
Because even if God exists, you would have to earn your own bread to survive.