Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Finding one’s religion
Maneesh on Twitter is having a hard time understanding how I could manage humour while stuck in a fire. I had posted:
A Corner House treat to whoever gets a picture of me looking out of the window. Seriously, people, there’s no need to panic. Bad for you. #
My colleagues prayed. I didn’t. I was a skeptic when I entered my teens and a confirmed atheist when I left them.
I prefer to call myself a humanist now. I believe that humankind created God to explain the mystery of one’s own existence. God represents all that is unknown and inexplicable. The domain of God has receded with each new scientific advancement. We have gone from the vengeful gods of natural forces to a single capitalized God, representing the human notions of love, mercy and justice, in both the Dharmic and Abrahamic traditions. What was once an Act of God is now mere probability theory. And yet, God won’t go away, because there will always be an unknown, and we fear the unknown.
What was to be our fate, trapped in that building? Was the fire moving towards us? Would we be rescued? Who knew? That is why we pray, to seek Faith as relief from uncertainty. Our tools of prayer have changed with time. A ghee lamp used to be mandatory, but a pulsing LED on your car dashboard is now a good enough substitute. Caught in a pinch like we were, our tool of prayer was the mobile phone. We called anyone we could, asking them to pray for us as per the traditions we had been raised in.
My tradition, atheism, has disconnected me from the traditions of my parents. I can not pray the same way. As far as I was concerned, we were trapped and helpless, and could only be saved by the people outside.
That tweet, then, was my prayer.