Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Believers and Non-Believers could both be Irrational



Vancouver Harbor: Enamel on Copper tile by Jean Grant Horner
Humans who believe that there is a Supreme Almighty Who governs the universe and all actions within it, attempt to do good deeds so that it may be noted by the Supreme Intelligence and they would be rewarded. This is the rational basis for their doing good. Many of them even have a rational basis to explain the difficulties that came to them because of birth. Perhaps they were born to very difficult circumstances or even handicapped. The rational basis in this case is that it is a punishment for wrong acts in a previous lifetime.

If a believer does not believe in reincarnation he just says that it is some of God’s doing that can not be understood by a human mind and put to rational reason. To that extent they are ready to live with irrationality. Well, even if they found a rational basis for the defects of birth through belief in reincarnation they can not escape the charge of being irrational by the non believing rationalists. These latter are persons who have acquired some knowledge of science, albeit a limited one. According to them science has found no evidence of an Almighty Power and therefore that belief is irrational. They also believed until not very long that the belief of planets around other stars in the universe is irrational at a time when science had no evidence of them but now that science has found evidence of such planets, it has become a rational belief.

Amongst the non-believers i.e. those who do not believe in God, we find many doing  good deeds that bring no foreseen benefit to them. They also avoid doing some very bad deeds even on remote islands where no one will notice. Most humans while rushing on an urgent personal errand would stop to rescue a child by the roadside who has fallen into a ditch and is crying softly for help, even if they are not believers, when they could have easily pretended that they did not notice because of the rush. When you ask such non-believers the rational basis for their actions they are not able to offer any. All they can say is  things like they were moved by compassion, it is the right thing to do, or it feels good, there would be a guilty feeling otherwise etc.

There is nothing rational about actions based on feelings and desires because such things are not open to a rationale. What could be the rationale for a President of the richest and strongest country in the world to lower his trousers in an office with Monica Lewinsky and risk that office? The only irrational answer that he can give is that he was momentarily overcome by unwarranted irrational desires.

The fact is that everything in the universe is not open to rational arguments whether you are a believer or not. Even science is not rational because scientists admit that the universe cannot exist as it does unless there is something irrational like dark matter that makes up most of the universe, a type of matter that cannot be seen and that can pass through other matter like a ghostly spirit. There is a whole post on Dark Matter in this blog for those who would like to check out. The term 'Invisible matter' is actually the appropriate name for 'Dark Matter' because dark matter has nothing to do with light or dark - rather it is a source of both in a manner of speaking.

When misfortune falls on a believer they at least have the consolation that it is a just punishment for some wrong acts of the past that perhaps they did not realize or were driven to by unwholesome desires or the devil. All of us, to different degrees, because of our egos are quick to recognize the faults and shortcomings of others while overlooking our own. The revered Saint Kabir who has expressed his spirititual wisdom in beautiful couplets expressed this in Hindi as:

Bura jo dekhan main chala, bura na milya koi
Apan dil jo khojya, mujh sai bura na koi

this translates as:

I went searching for a bad person but found none
searching my own heart, worse was there none

Thus while the believer can draw consolation from the fact that his difficulties are self caused, the non-believer on the other hand can only feel most frustrated at the world for his or her difficulties because this stupid random universe has perhaps dealt him the wrong cards.

The believers on the other hand not only attempt to avoid wrong acts because of their beliefs but also try to do good ones because they expect the same from the world. They repent when they are led to do wrong because of ignorance or evil desires. It is their relentless evolutionary journey through the universe. The non-believers on the other hand wait for that random deal of cards that will one day push them into joy or the bottomless pit according to as the dice plays out. To that extent at least the non-believers are rational that they admit that if it is random pickings, enough throws of the dice, given enough time, may yield that possibility :)

Update March 1, 2013: A Note on Saint Kabir:

Saint Kabir (1440-1580) was born to a family of very poor Muslim weavers. He grew up and married living the life of a mystic householder and weaver. He was liberal in his religious views and developed both Muslim and Hindu followers during his life, more of the latter because Hinduism permits freedom of belief. When he died both his Muslim and Hindu followers wished to perform the last rites. They stood arguing on either side of his body, the Hindus wishing to cremate it as Hindus do and the Muslims wishing to bury it. It is said that as the argument heated up his body rose into the sky and duplicated itself, one falling near the Muslims and another near the Hindus. Both claimed a body each and performed the last rites as per their customs. There are other versions of this story as is usual with saints of long ago.

While Kabir lived he did not beg for alms but supported himself in a small hut with the help of his weaving and did not display any miracles.  Many gathered in the evenings to hear beautiful couplets composed by him expressing spiritual and other wisdom about life. Besides Hindus and Muslims Kabir has followers amongst Christians and Buddhists too. He is regarded as a revered saint by the Sikhs and the sect of Kabir Pantis.

There is a photo of this saint with an earlier post of this blog and more information on him is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabir.

1 comment:

ashok said...

Thanks to Robert on linkedin.com where this link was posted for discussion in "spiritual writers network' for pointing out that compassion would be the primary reason for a stranger rescuing a child. I agree and have edited the post accordingly.