From: atanu@hpsemc.HP.COM (Atanu Dey)
Subject: Belief and the Universe
And now for something entirely different.
How many people realize that religion has been the root of most
of cruelty that is inflicted on the world?
I wonder when humans would grow out of this stupidity and learn
to be humane?
Beliefs - that is the basis of what this whole debate is about.
And if you have the power, then you use it to coerce or kill
others who do not believe what you believe in. Or else kill those
who your belief marks as the enemy.
A case in point: Hitler believed that certain people do not deserve
to live. (Note: the word 'believe'.) In what way was his belief
any less valid than the belief that a certain book is the ultimate
truth or that a certain people are chosen, etc etc.
Yet, very few religions directly preach violence. But, indirectly,
most drive the mindless followers to crimes far beyond human
When one believes that an action would result in a guaranteed
entry to heaven (or something equivalent), one may be willing to
commit a lot of grief on others. I suppose to a god-fearing person
the prize of entry to heaven would be the ultimate prize and he
would not stop at anything.
So, the ultimate reward is dangled in front of the ignorant masses
to that they can become a 'martyr' fighting god's 'holy' war! Children
can be massacred by that belief; children can be made to kill. You
can unleash the worst just by promising the believer to fulfill his
And it is ultimately greed that motivates that kind of religious
fanaticism. There is a greed for otherworldly happiness that far
exceed the greed for the pleasures of the flesh.
Greed and selfishness. Potent combination. But that is not all. There
is another ingredient. That is one of self-righteousness. The people
who conduct inquisitions are not people who doubt their mission. They
are confident that what they do is right and holy.
You have to believe that you have exclusive rights to the truth. You
have to believe that the book that you hold in your hand has the
TRUTH - for all times and all universe. And how do you know that
the book is the truth? Simple, the book says that it is the truth
and nothing but the truth!
How stupid and arrogant can people be!! Stupid enough to believe
that something is the truth because it says it is the truth - and
further the book perhaps has the warning that if you do not believe
that it is the truth, then you are going to be in trouble. And
arrogant - because the believer cannot conceive of others having
the brains to see through the believer's stupidity.
But, in the end, I do not despair. Although for an individual it is
a brief sojourn in this plane of existence, the living beings also
evolve along with the universe. And just as surely as we have come
this far along the evolutionary road, there will come a time before
the universe grows cold, when the sentient beings on this planet
will have understood the truth.
The ultimate truth - what is it? I don't know. But it surely isn't
that which motivates all the cruelty and horror. It could not be
found in the books which claim to contain the truth. What is it
then? I think that truth is very relative to the plane of existence
of the sentient being seeking it. An amoeba is perhaps not capable
of realizing the truth of quantum gravity even if you could explain
it in a book for amoeba.
Well, the universe continues to evolve supremely indifferent to the
things that are going on within it. The TRUTH would not be any less
for the fact that we do not understand it. The laws of nature (for
example, gravity) operate evenly on an amoeba which has no comprehension
of it compared to our knowledge. And one day our present day
comprehension would seem like the amoeba's comprehension when we
do know more.
Finally, in conclusion, my beliefs. Yes, they are my beliefs. But
I do not see the need to have anyone else endorse my beliefs nor
espouse them. They are not contained within a book and I will change
them when I grow and understand the universe better.
I believe that the universe is finite in time and space but it is
unbounded. The laws of the universe completely determine the nature
and the behaviour of its constituent parts. These laws are inviolable
because the fundamental constants of the universe do not change
randomly. There is no 'super'-natural because it is all within nature.
I believe that the universe is ultimately unknowable by sentient
beings within the universe because it would involve some degree of
self-reference and may lead to infinite regression. I can conceive
of an entity which is not within this universe being able to comprehend
this universe. But that is another story!
There is more, Josephine, but some other night.
"Tat Tvam Asi"
10670 N. Tantau Ave,
Cupertino, CA 95014