Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A stroll into the realms of atheism

Recently, I watched an episode of the animated series 'South Park' wherein one of the characters (Cartman) who is a selfish, foul-mouthed and a modern version of Satan inherits a million dollars from his deceased uncle.  He buys an entire amusement park and keeps it to himself.  He does not allow anyone, especially his friends Stan and Kyle, because he hates them.  He enjoys all the rides alone.


Kyle, who believes in God and is good at heart, angers at this.  To make the matter worse, he contracts  Hemorrhoid and is in immense pain.  He begins questioning his beliefs.  He is angry at God;  he curses Him for treating a bad person like Cartman with riches and him with a hemorrhoid.  He becomes hopeless which worsens his condition.  Doctors say he may not make it unless someone instills his lost faith.  He almost concludes that God does not exist.  His parents try to revive his belief by reading the Bible to him, but it only diminishes his hope.


The story goes on for a while through a series of twists and turns and ends with Cartman losing his million dollars (and ends up owing 16000 dollars to the IRS).  Seeing all this, Kyle's belief reignites as he thinks God punished Cartman.  The story ends with Kyle recovering and thanking God and Cartman cursing God.


That story suddenly made me wonder if this actually happens in real life; are bad people are actually punished by Him, and good people rewarded?  That, in essence, raises the age old question, 'Does God exist?' or 'Is there someone out there who is looking after me?'.  Frankly speaking, I don't know as I don't have proof from either side.  But having been raised in a religious family, deep within, I do believe in God strongly, but my rational mind questions it persistently.  All in all, I am not going to answer the question whether God exists.  


What I do intend to achieve with this post is try and figure out whether bad people are actually punished.  Let's take an example.  When I was in ninth grade, I was a believer head to toe (I still am, but perhaps from head to waist) and thought that a human should live by the word of God,  following the highest level of ethics.  I decided then that I will never ever cheat,  be it in exams or in everyday life.  I have never copied in any test since then, even in the most opportune circumstances.  But still, most of those who did cheat scored better than me.  I had similar experience in college.  But even then, I stood by my beliefs.  As time progressed I came across more and more instances when the bad people were rewarded while the good ones punished.  The good ones were called cowards.  They consoled themselves by thinking that God will avenge for their loss.  It did not happen.  They spent their entire lives thinking they will enter the kingdom of heaven after death for their good deeds and for what they suffered their entire life.  Almost all religions enshrine suffering.  It's a ticket to heaven.  Obviously no one knows for sure if they landed in heaven or just decomposed.  
To my utter disbelief, I saw good people suffering on the same scale as the bad ones.  Effectively, it was random, there was no pattern showing a deliberate crafting of lives of people.  Adolf Hitler lived an opulent life throughout the world war and committed suicide before he was caught.  The common German civilians suffered instead.


For a moment let's assume that there's no God.  An offshoot of this is a moral dilemma.  In absence of  the belief in a powerful entity that monitors our actions some would turn to anarchy and malevolence.   This proves that human beings can only be forced to be good under fear of punishment.


There's no logical conclusion to this discussion.  Scholars have argued for centuries, from Aristotle to Plato to Newton to Darwin to Dawkins.  There are more theists than atheists, and perhaps this will remain so forever. To give this discussion a deceptive conclusion, I only state that one's goodness should sprout from one's ego as opposed to one's fear of punishment.
Post a Comment