Don’t misrepresent Atheism – The Shillong Times

Posted: August 22, 2020 at 2:55 am


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Editor,

Apropos the letter No Country for Atheists, (ST August 19, 2020), I wish to bring to your attention the factual errors and blatant misrepresentation of the humanist and atheist community of Meghalaya. I myself have been an atheist since the 6th grade. Now as a full grown adult I have still remained so. I wish to encourage the author of the particular letter and others who are interested to educate themselves on the beliefs and ideals of the great humanists or atheist thinkers like Voltaire, Nietzsche, B.R Ambedkar, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins etc. Much progress in the fields of science, literature, medicine, philosophy, etc have been made by atheists and humanists. Many of their books are available online for free or in libraries. I also wish for the authors to understand that atheism and humanism are mutually exclusive. Something which would have been easily understood if one would spend time to research the topic instead on relying on hearsay.

Humanism is a rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Atheism on the other hand is the absence of belief in any divine entity or power. Not all atheists are humanists and not all humanists are atheists. In fact you can follow a religion and be a humanist. As for the accusations that atheism is destructive there can be no denial that there have been some atheists who use their nihilism and depravity to justify their misdeeds just as there have been plenty of adherents of different faiths who commit atrocities in the name of their chosen gods. Beware of painting large groups of people with broad brushes. It is always wise to research and read up on an issue before writing. Calling one particular community as destructive is callous. If the author had been writing about another religious or ethnic community in such a way she would be liable to face legal consequences. As such, most of the humanist and atheist community are rather mellow, level headed and compassionate individuals. They would rather their deeds speak for themselves rather than argue pointlessly in the legal system. The world today is shaped by humanist and atheist beliefs. Without the pursuit of scientific, political and social knowledge the world today would be trapped in the barbarism of the mediaeval ages where feudal lords commit atrocities in the name of their religion. The ideas of liberalism, democracy, human rights, etc originate from humanist ideals that placed human life over that of the divine. In conclusion, I wish for everyone to read up on humanism and atheism even if they are faithful adherents of their religion. The pursuit of knowledge will broaden their horizons and perhaps next time when criticism is used, it will have some basis on reality.

Yours etc.,

Leon Gabriel Kharkongor An Atheist

Via email

Editor,

A sense of shame came over me after reading the letter No country for Atheists,(ST Aug 20th, 2020). We Christians need to introspect and face facts. Meghalaya has a majority of Christians living within its borders but when we look back at what has been done and what we have achieved since 1972, it is us Christians who need to keep quiet and stop justifying any kind of retort. Christ would really not want to be a Christian in Meghalaya. All important indicators show how bad everything is in the state and who has been leading it for years- Christians. This is not to take anything away from the unsung warriors of Christ because a lot has been achieved through their hard work and dedication.

We have churches in every corner and the freedom to worship anywhere but look at the condition of our state. Corruption is rampant, the weak are being oppressed, nature is over exploited beyond its capability to regenerate and we depend on outsiders to control any further destruction; the list goes on. I hide my face in shame (I cant repeat the word enough) and ask for forgiveness on behalf of all decision makers these past decades. We cannot defend anything when the evidence clearly proves otherwise. We need to admit to our mistakes and failures if there is to be any hope for the future.

To the highly controversial subject of forceful conversion, I personally have never been a fan of numbers. How many followers each denomination has will not matter to God when I was taught (correct me if I am wrong) ever since I was a child that He is interested in the heart? People follow Christ because of how he lived; he did not have to force anyone. This is what our churches need to teach people now more than ever. Heaven and hell is not going to mean anything for people trying to survive an already very difficult and challenging world. Maybe then we can face greed and pride head on and compromises like the planned shopping mall will not happen. Only then can we all work together for a better solution to the unemployment problem that the government is saying justifies this course of action.

Yours etc,

Via email

Editor,

It is interesting to read the opinions expressed by several writers through your esteemed daily. Some of the letters/articles are very scholarly and they never fail to inspire us to think big. They broaden our outlook.They even push us to soar up into the higher truths. The light of KNOWLEDGE can alone dispel the darkness of ignorance. So, that LIGHT coming from any source must be welcome. More importantly, the right knowledge helps us become saner and more compassionate towards our fellow beings regardless of what faiths or customs or traditions they practice.Mr. Sanwame War, in one of his letters, emphasizes that religion should encourage us in free-thinking, creativity, and self-inquiry. This really appeals to me. God is the supreme source of creativity.The realm of God is accessible to those who have come out of the narrow cocoon of dogmatism. Excessive dogmatism leads to hatred. Hatred spiritually drags us down weakening our thinking and intellectual capability. Free-thinking, of course within the boundaries of morality, can considerably help us shake off prejudices. Many of us continuously choose to carry a load of biased opinions against others, their faiths/customs without ever knowing that, at the end of the day, they are only going to pollute our mindset. Harbouring malice corrodes our inner self, obstructing our pathway to divinity or, more precisely, self-realization.

I would like to further add, that if religion is all about looking down on others and hurting them, then one needs to stand up and fight for HUMANITY FIRST. Todays major crises, nay, senseless brutalities and bloodshed, are usually due to the flawed interpretation of words of our beloved prophets who otherwise stood for humanity and peace. Just look at the recent incident of Bengaluru, Delhi-riots, Gurdwara suicide bombing in Kabul. also many other places across the world, which are in fact inspired by hatred for other faiths. If religions lead to such violence and killings, then we must have badly misread our holy scriptures. Lord Jesus, Lord Krishna, Prophet Mohammed, Buddha are doubtlessly the embodiment of love and service, they never preached violence. HUMANITY AND SERVICE TO MANKIND are what they lived for till their last breath. So, following in their footsteps, lets first believe in service to mankind, and love one and all without discrimination, being kind and compassionate as aptly concluded by Jennifer Dkhar in her letter Understanding religion (ST, 20thAug). It is our compassion towards His creatures that melts the heart of the ALMIGHTY.He will then surely open His doorway to heaven for us. HE might cut us to size if we hurt humanity inthe name of religion.

Yours etc.,

Salil Gewali,

Shillong,

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Don't misrepresent Atheism - The Shillong Times

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