It was a beautiful summer night. Majestic mountains were surrounded by a group of lazy clouds – they had no rush to go anywhere, nor were they trying to hide a sense of redundancy. Beneath the mountain, mystic wind was whispering through the tall, towering pine trees. For a brief moment, a disturbance broke the serenity – perhaps an owl flew off into the night. The dancing wavelets on the lake were busy – giggling and flirting with the reflection of a full-blown moon.
Far from a hostile world, while watching the nature’s hypnotic magic, the tranquility and a deep introspection ignited some simple, yet most ancient, questions in my mind. Has god created this elegant beauty? Is it the same god who created humans and foaming in vengeance to punish us when we die? Is the god a male, female or transsexual? More challenging still, is there any god?
The honest answer is that I do not know and no one should have known; yet, people have been enticed away by varieties of gods since the beginning of human civilization. Humans, unlike animals, are gifted with imagination and their imaginative mind invented the concept of god. Such concept compelled people to believe in god, a god who created the universe. It is further believed that he controls our daily lives and punishes us for all the wrongdoings. Although a quest for finding the architect of the universe will remain unresolved, it is possible that a powerful creator or a force may have created the universe. Or everything could have just happened naturally. But no one could substantiate the claim. Nonetheless, I respectfully admire the creator, if there is any, for the creation of a complex universe.
However, there is a clear difference between the creator, and the god of monotheists or the gods of polytheists. Whereas we may not discard the idea of having a creator, the concept of a personal god who monitors our daily lives is an illogical premise. If the creator created the universe, has he or she been tracking the course or did he or she stop after setting everything on a course? A religious person faithfully believes the creator is observing his creation, including all humans contiguously, though such notion does not have any scientific or logical basis. Furthermore, it is not just one god that all believers believe, but there are hundreds of gods who have different characteristics and the peoples of different faith have their own unique god.
Both the followers of Islam and Judaism believe their god is one and indivisible. However, the Jews’ god has different manifestations, such as The Spirit of God, The Lying Spirit of God and an Evil Spirit of God. The god of Islam, on the other hand, is known to have only one form. However, according to the Quran, the holy book of Islam, the Islamic god blindly upholds the superiority of Islam. Allah, the Islamic god, talked about the compulsion in religion a few times, but soon he changed his mind and ordered the killing of non-Muslims. Such mendacious character cannot depict the image of an all-powerful creator. Although most Muslims claim their god is the same as the Christians’ god, the Islamic god cannot have a son, but the god of Christians does have one. Hinduism, an Eastern belief system, has also one god, Brahma, who appears in different forms – sometimes as a river, sometimes as a mountain and even as a cow. Typically, Hinduism is not included among Monotheism, but most anthropologists describe Monotheism as a belief system that has one supreme god and may have many other deities. From this definition, Hinduism can very well be included in Monotheism. Then there are real polytheists who literally have hundreds of gods.
Amid the crowd of gods, one would wonder: Who is the real creator?
Most people, however, need a god in their daily lives for several reasons. Perhaps four of them are most important.
1. Finding solace in a god at the time of a crisis.
2. Conquer countries in the name of god.
3. Issue of afterlife.
4. Godly morals and ethics for a society.
Finding solace in god at the time of crisis
A chilling message of death, especially of a loved one, is often dealt with a consolation – assuming god has taken away his creation, but god never gives an explanation for an immature death. Millions of children are dying and god does not listen to their remorseful parents. When doctors go through a complex surgery to save a child’s life, the parents pray to their gods and make promises to pray more rhapsodic prayers. If the life is saved, it is the result of an importunate prayer; if the life is lost, the naïve humans blame their own fate, assuming it ought to be a result of their wrongdoings.
Personally, I would not spend time praying to the invisible and the untouchable god if my loved one is struggling in a hospital bed. Rather, I would beg the doctors and the nurses for such measure that will bear more fruit than praying.
People cry and beg for mercy to avoid an inevitable natural disaster but it comes anyway, jeopardizing people’s lives. No one scolds the god for such deliberate destruction. Can a god, supposedly the creator, kill thousands of its own creation ruthlessly? Some argue god has the right to be cruel; in fact, god can very well be a destructive person. It is a good logic; however, it is the believers who claim the god to be fair and just. For most of the notorious actions, they have another action figure known as the devil or Satan, and for polytheists, a different god with destructive characteristics.
Yet the influence of god remains critical and there is no harm if one finds comfort believing the unbelievable.
Conquer countries in the name of god
Throughout history, numerous wars have been fought and an ocean of blood has been shed because of religion. People of certain groups thought (and still a certain group of people believes) their god has commanded to subdue the believers of the other faith. Sadly, gods never fought the wars but it is the believers who took others’ lives. A cynical ploy to subdue others in the name of religion and god, perhaps, is the most notorious characteristic of human beings.
Gods of ancient history were full of cruel intentions. A Greek god of war, Ares, whom Romans worshipped as Mars, did not care about winning the war but continued killing as long as blood was shed. The Mayan civilization of Mesoamerica, similar to other pagan religions, venerated several gods. One of their gods, Buluc Chabtan, was in command of war, violence and human sacrifice. Mayans believed Buluc Chabtan loved to set fire to buildings, stab people and roast them over a fire. Human sacrifice was rampant among almost all believers of polytheism, including Hinduism.
Perhaps Buddhism is the only religion that strictly prohibits killing. However, in the 14th century, Buddhist fighters evicted the Mongols from China. In Japan, Samurais were trained by Buddhist monks to engage in fatal confrontation. Other notable incidents are the civil war in Sri Lanka, fought between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils, that claimed more than 50,000 lives, and some Nichiren sects of Buddhists are blamed for terrorism. Yet, Buddhism is the only religion that may claim that the violence caused by the followers of this religion have misinterpreted Buddhism, for non-violence is the core value of this religion. Such pacifism may, on the other hand, very well be construed to be extreme because Buddhism even prohibits violence for self-defense, which could lead them to extinction.
From the ancient age to the mediaeval age, most of the rulers of the world were inspired by the so-called god’s rules and involved themselves in meaningless warfare. The history of church-dominated Europe of the mediaeval age is soaked with blood and they did not come into sense until the church was separated from the state. Muslims went to conquer the world for the sake of their god Allah. It is a fact that Muslims did flourish at a certain point of the history, but they did so because they undermined the religion and the god’s command. The unfettered minds of notable Muslim scholars such as Ibn Sina, Ar-Razi, Omar Khayam, et al. challenged god’s command and promoted human rights. Nonetheless, over the centuries, humans strived to build a better civilization based on humanistic values and often defied god’s commands.
Although the believers of all religions are proud of their own religions and their god, the god of Islam has a unique characteristic. Allah, the Islamic god, refuses to compromise with any other religion and seeks for world domination. Consequently, the followers of Islam are on a mission to subdue everyone under Islam. It is the only religion left that has failed to reform and there is no hope that it would ever be reformed.
Issue of afterlife
Almost all religions confirm that life after life is a reality and it is the god who is privy to such a hidden scheme; however, there is no evidence that a dead person has returned with a bag full of experience. The advocates of NDE (Near Death Experience) try to make this subject a scientific issue and deliberately claim humans have consciousness after death. Raymond Moodi’s book Life After Life, published in 1975, is perhaps the most controversial and the bestselling book on this subject.
Mr. Moodi studied 150 people and observed his subjects experiencing nine different sensations. Some heard strange sounds, some had a sense of tranquility, and a few of them felt no pain. Others underwent out-of body feelings, going through a tunnel, entering the heavens, seeing a creature made of lights, reviewing one’s own life and finally a reluctance to return to the body
The first two words of “Near Death Experience” indicate the person in question was not dead. These two words, “Near dead,” and “Dead” have a significant difference. If a person, who is clinically dead, wakes up after a year and shares his experience with the others, then we may know the real story of afterlife. Otherwise, such observations are no better than pseudo science.
Except for a few stipulations of “Near Death Experiences,” humans are utterly ignorant of the afterlife. However, incessant propaganda by the believers and a loathing for the unknown have created varieties of afterlives. Some believe people will reincarnate into animals or humans; however, the majority of the believers are in no doubt of having heavens and hells.
Obviously, the god who allegedly sends humans to one of those imaginary facilities manages heavens and hells. Humans are supposed to meet the all-powerful god when they die and be punished or rewarded, depending on what they did in their earthly lives. The question of personal actions that would determine one’s fate in the afterlife brings the issue of moral and ethics.
Godly moral and ethics for a society
A society needs certain rules that would separate humans from the animal world and set the standard of how people would live their lives. Morality and ethics are mutually inclusive – whereas morality defines right and wrong, ethics is the implementation of morality on a certain individual. All moralities are the product of human conscience but often attributed to the god.
When it comes to finding moral and ethics, I am the god; more specifically, I am my own god. I don’t need a god to tell me what is right and what is wrong. In fact, with the exception of religious bigots, all humans are their own gods.It is ironic that the challengers of a typical god are frowned upon by the believers for not following the god’s commands, and the believers have the audacity to call them godless, immoral and unethical scumbags. Yet the same believers look for excuses from inhuman godly commands.
Some of the fundamental immoral acts are slavery, rape, murder, child abuse, theft, and harming others. Personally, I don’t need a god’s command to avoid doing any of these crimes. My conscience dictates me that these are inhuman acts that I must not do. If I commit any of these crimes, my conscience will bother me the rest of my life and I don’t have a personal god from whom I will beg forgiveness. On the contrary, when a religious person commits a crime, he has the option to receive forgiveness from the god.
Slavery, for instance, was rampant in all religions and no god of monotheists or polytheists cared to abolish the system. If truth be told, most religions have a history of practicing slavery with a tacit approval from the god. In the U.S., Abraham Lincoln dared to make executive orders for emancipation and later sponsored the famous Thirteenth Amendment that ended slavery. Later, it was universally accepted that slavery must be abolished. Then again, god did not interfere but it is the humans who overruled the religious practice.
Female infanticide was common in most of the polytheistic religions, including Hinduism. Such practice was so widespread in the Greece of 200 B.C. that Polybius (205-118 B.C.) blamed female infanticide for the decline of ancient Greece civilization. Today, in some parts of rural India, baby girls are considered a burden to their parents and the society. The infamous dowry system in which the parents of a girl must pay a considerable amount of money to the family of the groom, and because girls are unable to work in the fields, parents would often kill their female child. The practice of female infanticide in rural India has not stopped despite having strict laws. Furthermore, most of the polytheists were notoriously famous for human sacrifice. Then again, no god of these polytheistic religions cared to stop them. Monotheistic religions, however, took a fervent stance against infanticide and human sacrifice. Specifically, the Bible of Christianity and the Quran of Islam sternly forbids any of these inhuman practices.
For any decent person, raping is unimaginable. In point of fact, not all religions solicit for raping but Islam in particular gives the mandate and Allah, the god of Islam, gives blanket permission to his warriors for raping captive women.So-called moderate Muslims, perhaps, may not participate in such a crime and frantically look for excuses that would nullify the god’s command. Yet, raping a captive woman is a god-approved rule that Muslims are at liberty to practice. Most moderate Muslims, however, will bring odd excuses, for most people are benevolent in nature and do not approve such inhuman religious dogma.
To love others, with the exception of a very few, is a basic instinct of all humans, and benevolence is deeply rooted in everyone’s minds. The knowledge or lack of knowledge makes the difference because a penchant for godly knowledge divides the humans, and an urge for actual knowledge that promotes altruism dignifies the humanity. Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher, had a very simple definition of benevolence and knowledge – “Benevolence is to love men and Knowledge is to know all men.” Those who seek knowledge to know mankind and better the civilization are the true humans. On the contrary, religious knowledge, vexed by godly commands, has often beset the humanity.
Yet, god’s silent and salient presence indulges many people’s lives. There is nothing wrong in believing the unbelievable, as long as humans have the consciousness to judge the right from wrong, and have the courage to ignore any inhuman godly commands – in other words, when humans are able to become their own gods.
Although the chances are remote, what if, after we die, we meet our creator – not one of those hundreds of gods perceived by the believers of different religions, but the real creator? How would we answer him for our beliefs and killing of other humans for the sake of an imaginary god? If a creator has created all humans and the universe, he surely is proud of each of his creation. A loving parent would not allow one of his or her children to kill the other and, likewise, the creator cannot be happy for one of his creations being killed by the other.
With the exception of some erroneous and delusive claims of some people made thousands of years ago, we have no communication with the creator. Furthermore, he does not interfere in our daily lives, nor does he bother to set any rules. Yet, if there is one, he might want to see how we have treated his other creations. Then again, neither should we reject the concept of not having a creator, nor should we waste our lives praising an unknown god. Besides enjoying the every moment of our lives, which may sound like hedonism, a philosophy of “Eat, drink and be merry,” we may consider how we could contribute to the humanity.
Instead of fighting over our invented gods, we need to look into our souls and ask if we really need a god to worship. After all, why do we need a god if we, the humans, can act like a god – the fair, just and loving god, rather than looking for godly commands? Wouldn’t that make the creator happy, if there is one?