The question of God is too important to be settled by the question of whether he exists or not. Normally considered the most meaningful question, I consider the question: “Do you believe in God?” to be the most meaningless question one can ever hope to ask about God. People who ask this question only conceive of God as a physical-material entity. When something is said to exist or not exist, that existence can only be conceived of as physical-material existence – one that can be perceived by sight, sound and smell. I highly doubt that there is to be found in the heavens, a physical-material entity that takes an active interest in the affairs of our Earth. But in the case of God, his physical-material existence, or lack thereof doesn’t matter. God exists because we think he does. His physical-material existence is secondary to a belief in his existence. For thousands of years, men have acted on the basis of their belief in God. So, God doesn’t have to exist in order to have an impact on Earthly affairs – therein lies his divinity.
There is something beautiful about God. “God” was man’s first answer to everything he saw around him. When lighting struck, thunder roared, men died, women gave birth, crops failed or succeeded, man looked to God. God was man’s first metaphysical framework. It was the first flowering of civilisation. Going by the maxim, “Original is best” we must perhaps take some time to investigate Godliness rather than dismiss it as unscientific mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps I can make these statements because I live in the secularised, atheistic West, where God is not forced upon one, he doesn’t have a place in the public sphere and one is not admonished for failing to acknowledge his existence. Growing up in India, I always considered myself an atheist, a passionate non-believer in God. I still remain one in that I do not believe that God has a physical-material form and I do not base my decisions in life on the existence of God. I live wholly in the temporal realm and am sufficiently imbued with the Protestant ethic of the Indian middle class to believe that success comes from hard work, credentials and contacts. Being an atheist mattered in India because it signalled one’s membership in an elite, Westernised set. It also mattered because it allowed one a safe intellectual haven where one could retreat to perform cool, rational analysis away from the sacredness that surrounded. One never truly was an atheist in the strict Western sense because one could access the sacredness whenever one chose.
The West is different however. As I have often said of myself, “the third-world atheist was forced to develop an appreciation of the divine when confronted by the Godless West.” This indicates the second reason for my appreciation of God. God is man’s first and longest-lasting devotion to something beyond him and greater than him. God was the first entity to imbue animal man with a sense of divinity and divine purpose. If I were to employ wholly utilitarian reasoning I would say that God should not be sought to be banished from this Earth as he provides a source of meaning and sustenance for most humans. To de-sacralise the Earth (not that we have the power) would lead to an anarchy so dangerous that it would destroy civilisation as we know it. But, that is an aside. What I wish to say is that it is possible to passionately believe in the physical-material non-existence of God but still believe in the divine and pursue the divine. It is possible to acknowledge that something called the divine exists and existence on Earth is not merely about filling our stomachs, finding shelter and rearing children. But the journey towards divinity begins with God. If ever we seek to forget God and think we can do without him, we may in the process also forget that man is an animal, but an animal capable of divinity. The continued presence of God in our lives never lets us forget that.
Latest posts by Vijay Vikram (see all)
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