Saturday, February 16, 2008

IHEU - Feb 2008

Download the full IHEU magazine here.

My personal highlights include:

Why am I an atheist? by P M Bhargava

Here are the ten reasons that have left me with no other choice than to be an atheist.

1. There seems to be no place for God in our evolution. Most scientists agree that our Universe began with a “Big Bang” about 13 billion years ago. We have no way of knowing now exactly what happened at the exact moment of the Big Bang but we do know what happened from a tiny fraction of a second later....the very first life on our planet – the first living cell that satisfied the criteria of life as we know it today – must have arisen from the products of chemical evolution on our planet as it cooled down sometime between 3.5 and 4.0 billion years ago. Once we have the primitive cell, there is no difficulty in understanding how biological evolution gave us the variety that we find in the living species around us. Where is God in this scenario?

I have no problem in assuming that God was responsible for the Big Bang but after that it seems he must have died or lost total control, because everything soon afterwards followed the laws of science.
So as a rational human being I have greater faith in these laws than in God since we are surely controlled by these laws today. There is not a shred of evidence to say that our universe is controlled by anything other than the laws of science.

3. How did God come in? Through our fear of the unknown. As our fear has diminished with our increasing knowledge, there has been less reason to believe in God. Today, we have reached a stage in our understanding of natural phenomena, including life, that we need no longer fear the unknown. We can say with confidence that where we do not have the answers, the answers will be found within the framework of science, if not today, then tomorrow.

4. Belief in God implies belief that man is special, something apart from the rest of the natural world. But man is not that special. He is a product of evolution ... if man is not unique, and all life evolved from non-living materials, where is the need to put man in a special category as a special creation of God?

5. Belief in God implies belief that God put man on Earth pre-formed, as stated in the Bible for example.

6. Those who believe in God, believe that God has a grand design. There is not a shred of proof in favour of this belief.

7. Belief in God kills one’s initiative. If you believe that everything that is going to happen to you is pre-ordained, why make an effort to do something different from what may come your way without any effort?

8. The practice of religion is highly dependent on the clergy and their role. I believe that clergy of all religions are guilty of seven deadly sins....

9. I am willing to accept, as a matter of freedom of belief, a personalised view of God, which implies a direct personal relationship between the believer and his or her god. What I find difficult to accept is the institutionalisation of this belief involving clergy. This is tantamount to the imposition of unreason on people; it contradicts the value of evidence. Such an institutionalised belief in evidence-less faith is bound to lead to irrational decisions in every sphere of life, private or public.

10. There are enormous contradictions between science and religion. There is no compatibility whatsoever between science on the one hand and the dogma that defines each religion on the other.... Science denies the existence of the supernatural: be it miracles, extra-sensory perception, clairvoyance, or psycho-kinesis.

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