Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Random Thought 3

The worst part of trying to mentally condition yourself with the atheist view is that when you want something to happen, something that is out of your control, you can't pray to someone and hope it'll happen. I catch myself very often these days midway in a God please....and then I have to remind myself. But then again, you can console yourself that no one's out to get you. ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To do or not to do

What do you do when a beggar begs you for money at a traffic signal? I know a lot of people who have a strict anti-begging stance and will not give money ever. There are other people who always give. Me, it depends on my mood. When I feel s/he seems sincerely unable to make a living otherwise, I give. Else, I don't. Of course, I don't always analyze like that. Many a times it also depends on how much accessible change i have.

So one day, at a traffic signal, there was this man selling boxes of facial tissues. The easy-pull boxes that people generally keep in the car. I don't recall whether we had some in the car already or not, but not buying atleast a box from the man, made me feel terribly guilty that day. Here was a man, who was actually working for his living. I could easily afford that one box which would have probably made his day, may not have, but it would have contributed to hard earned money. And I had a use for the product. But I didn't buy them. And I drove on ahead. And felt guilty. And then in due course of time forgot about it.

A few days back at the same signal I saw a man selling the same thing again. I did not know whether it was the same person, but here was my chance to work off the guilt of that earlier day. Then I saw that there were two of them. So I asked the guy standing at my car for the price. Three for a hundred, he said. That was a tad too much. I asked for just one. He gave me the emotional rigmarole, as a result of which I ended up buying two boxes for 60 rupees. All this while, the time spent in bargaining, haggling, fishing out for money, fishing out for the change, was enough for the signal to change colour to green. The man behind me started honking incessantly (see this for more on that) but I was helpless till I received my change. This was when the second guy realised he had a chance. I drove on (while the signal was still green) with him following me by the window, till the signal turned red. Meanwhile, honker behind me gets stuck in the second round of the signal, and is presumably (and understandably) heaping curses on me. Seller 2 wished to sell me more boxes. I told him I couldn't buy any more. Emotional rigmarole again then. He told me how seller 1 had now got his boni (first income of the day) and that he would also get his if I bought some. I fell for the tale within a few seconds (we're talking traffic signal cycles here.) Bought one more box from him for a 30. He asked me to buy another and this time I gave him my piece. I told him that even I worked for my money. It doesn't come easy. He didn't want to hear more. This time when the signal turned green I was ready to move. I gave way to the guy behind me, who in turn gave me the dirtiest glare he could.

At the end of it, I had mixed feelings about having helped someone (in a good way) and having been vulnerable enough to fall for all that they said. I could have done my bit with buying just one. I wished to give them the benefit of doubt. But I couldn't say. They'd probably had their boni and much more by that time of the day. But I couldn't say. I now have 3 boxes in the car. I will eventually use all of them so it's not a waste. I looked at the price on the box (late, I confess). Rs. 50. I wonder what I'll do the next time around. What would you do? Continue buying? Buy more? Buy less? Never buy again?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And then there were none.

"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank."

I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life. To whom, I can't say. Why things are the way they are, I can't say. While the mind wrestles the point of whether I must believe in the religious entity that my parents genuinely believe in, and to their credit, have never forced me to believe, a part of me wishes that life, in all its glory, wasn't so purposeless, as it so probably seems.

A friend recently got cornered into admitting something that I suspect a lot of us secretly think. When I asked him if he believed in God (the use of upper case is what got resolved after much deliberation and no substantial conclusion) he vehemently confirmed. Having been in the process of reading a book called The God Delusion (I still am) I was stongly inclined to atheistic views. So I confronted him with all the arguments I had so freshly been armed with against the existence of his deity. Whatever he said in his support, I had an argument against. Somewhere, though, the argument deviated to the difference between luck and coincidence. And somehow, the fact that some people are lucky, and some are not, lead to the God Conclusion. He, however, countered his own statement by saying ultimately that 'luck is just coincidence in your favour.' By the end of it, he gave up, (partly, as you shall soon see) and said, "Look, I know there is no God!.." (wait, its not over) "....but I use the concept as a tool to keep myself on the right track."
Said I, "When you know and admit that yourself, why would you need a 'tool'."
And then I heard the earlier statement again and again in different ways.
Are many of us closet atheists?

Quoting Richard Dawkins:
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."
And then there were none.