Monday, January 31, 2011

The idea of God

What is God, who is God, where is God, do we need God etc are questions that have piqued scholars and laymen alike for ages with each one providing a logic for his own stand. Here is my stand on the idea.

Unfortunately many of those who try to disprove God only end up "demolishing" a religious thought, and those who claim God try to establish the religious thought. Most scholars who an anti-God tend to attack the misgivings of certain religions, or they attack certain ideas of God for example a Christian God, a Islamic God, a Hindu God but do not get to the core of the idea - God itself. Then the questions remain: Who is God, what is God etc are and these can be answered to one's individual satisfaction and it is hard to convince anyone else, particularly those who do not want to be convinced. It is just like tasting a cake, no one can explain the taste of it unless on experiences it. The whole idea of God is an internal experience that needs to happen within whereas most people (atheists) who dismiss God only look at the external. Even the very idea of internal and external is disturbing to them and is easily tagged as "bullshit"; one needs to decide which is the real bullshit.

In a recent conversation with a friend on this topic, I got the typical answer - "I dont see the link or reason for god", and my typical response was - "the links are all there, otherwise I or million other may not have found ... you have not found the link or reason because you have not sought to find one, thats all; may be sometimes we deliberately create those links or may be we deliberately fail to create; its all in the mind". Quite a lengthy response for an innocent comment, I know. But I strongly believe that we find or create links and reasons for those that we seek out for, for that which we believe in; just like my relationship with those i have relationships with, either they were given or i created them out of need - a crude analogy. In essence, we are all "color blind" or may be "partially blind"; some see darkness, others the light, some see white, some see red but they could all be looking at the same thing.

The other common problem is that a majority of the people associate God with religion and religion with God, and tend to use them almost interchangably. Religion does touch upon the idea of God and is mostly centered around the very idea, but God is aloof, He needs no religion. God stands independent. Religion is only a bundle of all the human attempts to comprehend the one beyond comprehension. Religion is a finite ladder to reach the infinite sky. It does take us somewhere, it does take us close to the idea of God but even then leaves us infinitely far away from the idea of God. But in many cases religion takes us further away from God. And most atheists attack this ladder and presume to have demolished God (or the idea of God); all they will have done is scratch some external ladders but there are more internal ladders than external. No religion is free from imperfections how-much-ever the religious "fanatics" want to preach otherwise, because religions are afterall human made and any attempt to deny that is only futile. But, then there is spirituality that escapes human adultration and it is best to leave this topic aside for a while. Such spiritual experiences are subjective and thus hard to articulate.

As hinted before, when people reject God they actually reject different ideas of God. For example, my friend rejects the idea that there is a super power that governs everything. So, when we reject something we reject the idea of something. Given that the idea of God itself is undefinable it is impossible to reject all the ideas of God. All one will have achieved is dismissing a finite, miniscule fraction of an infinite aspect called God. If I say God is attributeless and full of attributes, this sounds like a paradox but one needs to contemplate on this a little deeper. Anyway. If i say so then what is that you will reject? If you dismiss the atributelessness of God then the attributed nature of that God remains and vice-versa. But one may entirely dismiss the very idea of God, but again the question remain "what is that idea of God that you dismiss". The usual response is "there is no need for the idea of God at all, science explains things that replaces the need for God. When people had no answers they had a place filled called God but we are closing more holes and as we do that the relevance of God is reducing every day". I agree, but then we need to get to the very idea of what God is, is it just filling holes. This is something that I would like to address here.

First, the idea of creation. When and how did everything get created. There are many possible responses: it was never created, it always existed; God created at the beginning of creation; everything was just an accident, a result of a Big Bang; i have no idea and i am not interested; i dont think anyone can answer this; so on. Each stand point is arguable, debatable. Each viewpoint starts with some hypotheses or assumptions and most people attack those very assumptions to shake the base. If we could learn to appreciate the different viewpoints this world would be a lovely place to live. Anyway.

Most common response for "creation" from the non-creationists is : everything happened just like that, like an accident by a Big Bang; no one was behind it. Most religions reject this idea but interestingly "Hinduism" (note: there is nothing called Hinduism as such but for the sake of the article we consider the Vedic system as Hinduism for convenience; that which includes the Vedas, Vedangas, PuraNas and Ithihasas) agrees to this and provides an excellent explanation.

Second common response is from the creationists, that everything was created by God, He said "Be" and there it was. Most religions agree to this and again interestingly Hinduism agrees to this and provides an excellent explanation.

Third common response is that the world always existed, it was never created. Most religions reject this notion but again interestingly Hinduism agrees and provides an excellent explanation.

Fourth common response is: I have no idea and i dont think it is possible to know. Again, while most religions reject this Hinduism addresses this viewpoint too.

It may appear that Hinduism takes a safe path, too meek, too weak, escapist or whatever. May be Hinduism is a confusing and a confused path! For one who studies it (yes studies it is the right word) learns to appreciate the various view points and each one has some merit. But this does not mean that Hinduism does not take a stand. It provides such a beautiful view that is rooted in philosohpy and logic that it opens up multiple options, numerous outcomes and umpteen possibilities. Its seers provide responses that encapsulate all possible responses - from the Big Bag to Creationism - depending on how one views. It is like a water source, a washerman views it as a tool to wash clothes, a swimmer views it as a haven for swimming, a thristy views it as a way to quench his thirst, a farmer views it as a lie saver and son on. Its significance changed with one's conditioning. Similarly, thr Hindu Dharma leaves it to the individual to accept whatever is right from his own perspective by use of proper logic, contemplation, and consideration. One has the choice to reject that which does not appeal to one, independence that no other religion seems to provide to its followers. Sorry that the discussion seems to have taken a religious deviation. I believe that this is important at this stage.

A common, layman's logic to reject God is: I cannot see and thus I reject or I dont believe. Where is stumbles is in acknowledging that there are many things that cannot be seen, that the human senses fail to grasp. For example we are sorrounded by things that our senses fail to sense: Dogs are far better in catching sounds and smell than escape human senses. There were radio active rays always around us until recently discovered. There were bacterial and other organisms around us that escaped the human eye but invention of appropriate devices have enabled us to see them. As we see them we believe them, but this is a crude level of inference called "pratyaksha pramaaNa" unsuited for intelligent human intellect. For example, a college graduate has access to Microscope and thus view the bacteria, but for a village illiterate who does not even know of a microscope the bacteria remains "non-existent". Interestingly, in these cases we are talking about our inabilities to see or sense gross aspects what to talk of the subtle nature of God. So, those who are equipped appropriately can see things that are otherwise unseen. So, that one does not see something does not mean that the absence of an object, it is just that we are not equipped enough to see those. A similar dilemma is faced by Arjuna on the battle field, he says humbly: manyase yadi tac chakyam maya drastum iti prabho yogesvara tato me tvam darsayatmanam avyayam - If You think that I am able to behold Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that universal Self. And Sri Krishna acknolwedges this: na tu mam sakyase drastum anenaiva sva-caksusa divyam dadami te caksuh pasya me yogam aisvaram. What to talk about one seeing the subtle divinity through naked eyes when one cannot even see a gross bacteria. Thus Krishna says that to see "yogam aisvaram" (divinity) one needs "divyam caksuh" (divine eyes). So, the logic that one has to see to believe is a very low level proposition.

To be Contd....

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