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Quest Beyond Religion
First published 2006
At some time or others, while gazing at the unending sky or the vast expenses of nature, every one of us wonders: Who is behind it all? Who created it all? And who is managing it? It is what we call God? Then, where and how can one find him? Living on Earth, we keep on searching for God? We keep on trying to solve the mysteries of God and Satan, Heaven and Hell. And looking for answers to miracles.
These questions have created Religion and Philosophy. But can philosophy assists in Man’s search for meaning? Or can religions help man to discover God. This book examines the major religions of the world to find answers to these questions. It discusses my disenchantment with God and Religion. It also examines how Science has challenged religion but does not have all the answers. This book presents the stimulating quest of a Freethinker over many decades and makes compelling reading.
In India there have been, there are, and no doubt, there will continue to be, nastiks who do not accept the existence of God and have no use for Him. Dr I M Singh, an eminent physician belongs to this August fraternity. Down the centuries religions have been exploitive. Dr Singh reminds us how, over the centuries, man has exploited the concept of religion with sporadic ruthlessness for political, social and economic ends.
Understandably Dr Singh is opposed to religion. As he sees it, religious belief is passed on to individuals and communities which then became cultural ideas extending generation after generation. Religion, thus, tends to get accepted without challenge. In many interesting ways, he argues, the preoccupation with one’s God is so deeply etched on one’s mind that despite social and spiritual ills, one is unable to take an interest in the scientific alternatives to religion. As he further argues: “It is because one’s soul is mortgaged to God with docility and eagerness that a change or revolution on thinking is hard to grasp.” But what has religion got to do with God who, surely, is above religion?
Dr Singh, born a Hindu, says his disenchantment with God started when his childhood prayers remained unanswered – a very good excuse. He then proceeds to demolish all the myths about God, whether propagated in Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, in the name of rationalism. Would God cease to exist if one cannot accept the belief that Christ is the only son of God or that the Virgin Mary gave birth to him? Would again God be an anachronism if one does not accept certain tenets such as karma, rebirth and leela? Do we have to give God a gender?
Dr Singh makes the surprising point that “in general, the more uneducated a person the greater is the belief in God.” If we pursue that argument, then the greatest disbeliever in God should be the most educated. This is reducing his argument to absurdity.
Dr Singh quotes profusely from recent achievements in science to make the point that what is usually attributed to God is science’s contribution. He points out that the discovery of the human genome and its implications, that it would help us control our genetic makeup, has immense significance not only for the future of mankind but also for animal and vegetable kingdoms and hence man will be able to choose his own destiny.
According to Dr Singh it is not God or some unknown power that shapes man’s destiny but the “unleashed power of the atoms.” He observes, “For the scientists who are studying the origin of life, the question is no longer whether life could have originated by a chemical process involving non-biological components but the number of pathways that might have been followed to produce the living cell.”
As Dr Singh put it, “The progress in physical sciences has also been gradually eroding the paradigm of God.” Obviously, man is now on its way to becoming God himself. “I am quite convinced,” writes Dr Singh, “that science is fact and God is fiction,” considering that “in the not so distant future, scientists will be able to identify the path of chemical evolution that led to the initiation of life on earth.”
This ends Dr Singh’s quest for the meaning of life – and God. As a study it is fascinating. As one man’s long quest for the meaning of existence this book makes a fascinating study. Dr Singh is by no means arrogant even if he is dismissive of God and he has no use of prayers. His quest started as a child and has ended in his old age with a clear faith in science and its possibilities.
The book is aptly titled, Quest Beyond Religion. To Dr Singh “the continuing fascination with God is stressing the lapsed state of the human mind”. That sums up the entire thinking. God help him! The write insists that he will stick to his own thinking no matter if a majority of the world continues to believe in God’s existence. And Why shouldn’t he? The Buddha makes no mention of God. But does not prove that God does not exist? Let us rest the debate here. God, if there is God, will surely understand.
MV Kamath, The Pioneer
Friday March 24, 2006