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ATHEISM Questions and Answers (1/3)


What happens to us after death?
Thought of death has been the greatest fright of human beings. So from early, times people imagined the existence of soul in the body which survived death.
In order to find a place for the soul that left the body after death, heaven, hell, salvation or rebirth was also imagined. Belief in the existence of soul served to quiet the fear of death. But rational examination reveals the falseness of the belief.
If life and consciousness were the characters of soul and death were caused by its escape from the body, then all living bodies, plants and animals, should have souls. Is there one soul or many souls in a body? For instance, several plants like rose, banana and grass and even animals like Hydra and corals propagate by budding and cuttings.
Is the soul of their bodies cut or are there several souls in a body which also bud? It is possible, by medical science, to revive a body to life after it has been ordinarily declared dead due to drowning, suffocation or asphyxiation. Is the departed soul called back?
In procreation, the sperm of the father and the egg of the mother combine to go to form the body of the offspring. Sperm and egg are living bodies. Have they souls different from the souls of the parents and how do the different souls of the sperm and egg unite in the body of the child? These and many relevant questions of common observation expose the myth of belief in the existence of the soul. Soul is as much a falsehood as god is. The stories connected with ghosts, spirit communication, salvation and life after death are fancies of the primitive mind which answered the question of death in a primitive way.
Now we understand death as the failure of the mechanism of the body either due to wear and tear or to an accidental obstruction. Advances in medical science can repair the body and can, likely, protect it from death altogether. As it is, body becomes dust after death. Nothing survives death, except, figuratively speaking, memories of the good and bad of one's life continued in the progeny. Ancestral worship and the associate ritual is mere superstition.
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Apart from the question whether God exists or not, don't you think that people will go immoral if they lose faith in God?
For a long time, faith in the existence of god has been the sanction for moral conduct. But the spread of war, hate, poverty and prejudice shows that the belief in god has not proved an effective sanction. The reason is clear. Faith in god has been the indirect method to ensure moral conduct. For religious belief tells that god blesses those that are moral and punishes the immoral. If a believer could obtain god's blessings by means other than morality, he could afford to ignore morality with impunity. Prayer, worship, ritual and sale of Indulgence are methods to gain god's favour without caring to be moral. They pray loud who fleece fellow-men. Further, the growth of rationality reveals beyond doubt that god is an illusion. Therefore, by and large, faith in god is neither useful nor possible to keep man moral Atheism takes a realistic appraisal of morality. Moral values, like truthfulness and compassion, are social imperatives. One should do what he says and say what he does in social relations. Otherwise common understanding is not possible. Hence morality is a social necessity and not a passport to heaven. As believers of god do not understand the social significance of morality, war and inequality have prevailed in theistic civilization, despite ages of belief in god. But atheism encourages the people to insist on truthfulness, because the untruthfulness of any disturbs the happiness of others in a social milieu. Thus social checks and counter-checks are real and affective to keep up morality. As long as a belief in god lingers in the society, man's mind is divided between obedience to god and obligations to fellowmen. When faith in god is wholly dismissed, social checks grow strong and
the level of morality rises.
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When people are highly prejudiced against atheism, doesn't the label of atheism cut off your communication with people and shut you out from them? A different label should be more useful and desirable.
The prejudice against atheism is a fact. People are accustomed to consider atheism wicked. Bible and Quran rail at "unbelievers". "The American Atheist" recounts the disabilities imposed upon the atheists in U.S.A. It tells that "Atheists cannot adopt. Atheist cannot have blank dog tags in the army. Atheists cannot join the Masons Scouts or V.F.W. without first lying by taking an oath of belief in god. Atheists are now excluded from government employment, unless they lie. Atheists have difficulty with passports. Atheists cannot even purchase time on most T.V. and radio stations." Owing to the prejudice, there is difficulty in communication, as the questioner points out. Therefore, the method of reformed theism, instead open atheism, is also in vogue for wider communication with people. Mahatma Gandhi's ways were the latest illustrations in this regard. He taught rationalism and humanism in language of theism and led whole masses of people into new practices. Stage by stage he changed the concept of god till finally he shifted the emphasis from faith in god to the practice of truth. He told, "In fact it is more correct to say that Truth is God than to say that God is Truth.' Earlier, Jesus Christ also worked out a revolution in minds of people by the easy communication of theistic language. To the same end, rationalists and humanists today insist more upon the propaganda of objectives than parading the label of atheism. What are the results of those methods? Indeed, they commanded the facility of easy communication with the masses of people. But when Jesus took a firm stand on his objective of revolution, he was accused of "blasphemy", and was crucified; when Gandhi came out boldly with his humanist stand he was assassinated for irreligious stances. Rationalists and humanists enter into compromises that do not allow them to go far in the practice of laudable principles. Also reaction set into the ways of Jesus, Mohammad and Gandhi. Their followers are content to pay lip homage to their prophets. But in practice, they are as greedy and sectarian as any other. Therefore despite the advantages of communication, a label different from atheism does not achieve stable progress. Only open atheism is the clear method for the establishment of the human values of love, equality, realism and active achievement. All other labels compromise with the theistic stand which has opposite values. The spread of prejudice against atheism is deliberately and mischievously done by vested interests in capitalism, racism and imperialism. For those who desire permanent revolution, the label of atheism is indispensable. Thanks to the earlier martyrs who, with their blood and sweat, washed the mud that was slung at atheism. Due to their undaunted efforts they have brought the atheistic ideology very much to the forefront, though not wholly to the surface. It is now the work of those who are devoted to the actual realisation of rationalism and humanism, banishment of war, and establishment of social justice and economic equality, to champion the cause of open atheism. Adoption of atheism openly and boldly is the answer to the problems of the present times. Every generation of revolutionary idealists is emerging out of the prejudice against atheism and it is establishing wider communication with people. Instead of looking at the difficulties, we have to Proceed towards 

the cherished ideals.
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I have ambitions but I am unable to achieve them. My friends do not help me. I find deceit and selfishness rampant. The atmosphere is suffocating. Life looks dreary. Some times I feel like committing suicide. Why should I not? What is the atheist remedy? What is the purpose of life, if there is no other-world?
The mood of the questioner is common among several persons. An early purpose of life was to provide oneself with food and shelter, the indispensable needs of life. They are basic animal needs. But man has outgrown those needs. With superior skill and intelligence, he has provided himself with food and shelter in plenty through the processes of agriculture and technology He has now further ambitions of honour and power. It is here the real purpose of man's life begins and troubles start. Honour and power have social significance. A savage in wilderness can pick fruits, dig tubers or hunt animals and satisfy his hunger. Likewise a hermit in seclusion can grow some crops around his thatched abode and live. But millions of people are more ambitious than to live like savages or to retire into seclusion. Because they live in social relations, they have to develop sociability, with qualities like love, sympathy, honesty and neighbourliness. When the questioner complains of selfishness in others, he forgets that others may have a similar complaint against him. Complaint itself is a sign of non-sociability. It is non-sociability that has given rise to exploitation and enslavement leading to denial of food and shelter to the downtrodden. Exploitation is not between man and man alone. It extends in social association to relations between groups end groups, races and races, cultures and cultures, nations and nations. Sociability, at whatever level it may be, requires sacrifice of selfish comforts for sharing them with the less favoured brothers. When the individual lacks this amount of sacrifice, he finds friends unhelpful. Evidently, the questioner has not appreciated the need of sacrifice in social relations. He would far rather commit suicide than sacrifice and share his advantages with brothers. If he is prepared to give up his life, why not he give up his special privileges and live more sociably? This is the difficulty of the questioner. He does not see that a change of the systems of exploitation, caste and communal feelings and inequalities, is necessary in order to facilitate life free from deceit. So if he addresses himself to social change, he will find life enjoyable. He should give up complaint altogether and go about to change the system of inequalities into an order where all people live equally. It looks a big task. But when an individual starts to act, he gains sympathy besides resistance from vested interests. For one who is prepared for suicide, no trouble is great. He will find his efforts richly rewarded as he proceeds to act for social change. After all, society consists of individuals and individual action does count in social change. Because one does not see the importance of his or her role as an individual in social relations, he or she finds life gloomy and escapes into suicide or into the illusions of the other-world. Atheism reveals the reality. The purpose of life is to live with honour and respect in social relations without escaping. To this end one has to effect social changes, even at the human level, beyond the confines of country or caste or sect, with will and sacrifice. Thoughts of other-world and suicide are escapes. There is no reason to complain. There is ample scope to act and to achieve. Ambitious action and wide sociability is the purpose of life. Progress with the purpose conquers troubles. When technological skill and cooperative action enabled us to journey to the moon, the prospect is open for many more conquests.

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You seem to be giving value to change externals. Change of outward conduct cannot be stable unless the outlook is changed. Therefore is it not more proper for the atheists to carry on educative propaganda to change the outlook than wasting time in such work as replacing flower plants with edibles or insisting upon pomplessness?
In human affairs out outlook is an important factor. The pattern of behaviour corresponds to the outlook of person. But the nature of outlook cannot be known unless it expresses itself externally in deeds. Therefore the importance of outward conduct cannot be belittled. In fact what one does is more important than his intentions. For instance, a principle of Hinduism professes equality not only among all people but among all living creatures. Hindus pride themselves on this outlook of universal love. But in practice Hindus are divided into castes and treat some fellow men untouchables. So shall we judge Hindus by the outlook of universal love or by the external conduct of the practise of untouchability? Therefore we cannot give credit to a person for the outlook he professes unless it is manifest in external conduct. The external conduct is the objective proof of the outlook. So if we lay emphasis upon external conduct, we can take it for granted that he has the corresponding outlook if a person has split mind, we shall not question the split, until it expresses itself in contradictory behaviour. Therefore it is safe, honourable and profitable to judge a man by his external conduct rather than question his motives. Then the pattern of behaviour becomes more important than claims of education. Education which is not expressed by visible conduct is sterile and materially in vain. The programmes of replacing ornamental flowers with edible crops and of insistence on pomplessness check the dishonesty of claims of
concern for food scarcity and for the condition of poor
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Atheists do not pray. They do not observe feasts. fasts and ceremonies. They consider nothing either holy or unholy. Then where is discipline in their life? Where is scope for joy in the life of atheists?
Ages of religious faith habituated people to so much to its disciplines, joys and sorrows, that they do not see a way of life outside religious faith. Prayer and ritual have indeed developed certain disciplines and pleasures of life. But they gave scope for the growth of superstition and fanaticism too. Religious wars like Jehad and Crusades and strife and prejudice are evils that rise from religious faith. Atheism comes in to ward off those evils by developing disciplines based on a sense of reality and social obligation. Unlike divine commandments of religious faith, atheistic disciplines are deliberate adjustments to social association, keeping, in view needs of progress. The first principle of atheistic discipline is truthfulness. Consistency between word and deed is indispensable for common understanding in social relations. Therefore, truthfulness is a social necessity. When truthfulness is presented as a divine commandment, religious believers could transgress it by craving for divine mercy through prayer and fast. But when truthfulness is regarded a social necessity its transgressions are checked at once in social relations. From truthfulness follows the principle of equality of all humans. All humans should live equal because they belong to the same kind. But religious faith removes sanctions of human conduct outside human life to god's will or fate's decree. Consequently man is deprived of his freedom and honest believers allow themselves to be exploited and enslaved by cheats. Atheism dismisses sanctions outside human life. It restores the freedom of the individual and free individuals fight against inequalities. The basic disciplines of truthfulness and equality make atheists moral. They shun individual licenses and selfish pleasures. Austerity is a social necessity. But atheist austerity does not degrade itself into asceticism. It is open for pleasures to rise with social comforts. Atheists permit play of their imagination to project ideals and to develop fine arts. Instead of the imagination running riot into licentiousness and idle dreams, atheists temper imaginations with social obligations. Replacing ornamental flower gardens with edible plants and conduct of beef and pork functions are example of atheist disciplines and pleasures. Many more items can be formulated likewise keeping in view honesty of behaviour, social equality and progressive idealism.

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