Discussing a Godless universe in classroom by a student of English Literature

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Discussion by: newbirth

I am a student of English Literature and can not disclose my University's name and location because i'll have to face the music then, but i am from Pakistan, and the very name will ring bells, so I think I don't need to explain how we have to endure our society rather than live in it.

In my last semester I was giving a class presentation on Tess of D'Urbervilles and the gist of my presentation was that there is no God and Tess (the main character of the novel) is suffering in a Godless universe, this changed the mood of my class mates and I was quite amazed that the teacher didn;t show any amazement but it was the class that got antagonised. In Islam, according to one hadith Allah loves his creatures 70 times more than their mothers (Bukhari, Vol 8, Book 73. Good Manners And Form (Al-Adab). Hadith 029), and I said in my presnetation, 'Can a woman watch the suffering of her children? No, then how can a God who loves 70 times more than her, watch his creatures suffer like Tess" and from this I Inferred that Thomas Hardy was being sarcastic indirectly on the idea of God. This statement has made my life miserable here now, I am not allowed to speak anything related to religion or even say the name of God in my presentations as my classmates minds it and find my presentations offencive, though they always target me in their turn indirectly by calling me names and my belief in atheism as my mental degradation.

I believe one should never expose his atheism in such society unless he has sufficient means to flee from such country. That may also be an understatement because Salman Taseer, governor of the province Punjab, was killed by his own guard for criticising the apostate's punishment in Islam as 'Black Law', and was killed in the name of blasphemy. I am an atheist, I don't believe in any supernatural being and life after death and 'unfortunately' I am a writer, so you could guess now that I cannot express my mind in any way. Just wish me luck, that I may flee this country of fanatics and extremists so that I may expose their true face to the world. This discussion is just and onset for more events to come. I hope I am not alone.

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. “I believe one should never expose his atheism in such society unless he has sufficient means to flee from such country.”

    Discretion is the better part of valor. I trust you are not in too much danger at present. All the best in your efforts to find safer circumstances for you to live and work in as a freethinking writer.

  2. Who says the universe is godless? I say there are 2971 gods who manage all its affairs. I know this is true because I have a list of these gentlemen (and ladies and deities without gender). On the list is their names, individual characters, relations with others on the god-list, duties, spheres of influence, and the names of the groups of humans who worship them. List provided free on request.

    To the ancient Sumerians and Akkadians, 208 gods are true, the rest are figments of other people’s imagination. To the ancient Egyptians 166 are genuine and forget the rest. To the Greeks 311 gods, but might acknowledge the existence of 213 Roman ones if you pushed them, and the Semites of Arabia, 121, etc., etc. Even modern Europeans acknowledge the existence of the Sun and Moon gods, also Tiwas, Woden, Thor, Freyia, and Saturn, as well as Janus, Februus, Mars, Maia (Mrs Mars) and Juno, not to mention the deified Julius and Augustus. Why else have they named the days of the week and some months of the year after them.

    OK, the Jews, Christians and Muslims created three nameless ones of their own and hijacked the attributes of all other gods to heap on their freshly minted Lords. I can understand all that, but what I can’t understand is how comes it that a smart student of English Literature never heard the ancient saying, “If you finger the devil’s bum, then don’t complain when he fingers yours”, particularly when you yourself said “I believe one should never expose his atheism in such society”.

  3. I evolved in my atheism in studies just such as yours, but they were in America, where I might be ridiculed, but not physically threatened for my conclusions.

    In your case, I am amazed that people can study literature that is critical of god or religion without having their eyes opened, even if only just a little. How do the other students interpret Thomas Hardy? Do they condemn him, or bend and twist his logic to suit the Islamic world view?

    It seems that post-enlightenment literature and its study at a Pakistani university are a sort of oxymoron.

    I can only wish you well and the right level of self-preservating discretion.

    • In reply to #4 by justinesaracen:
      In Pakistan everything is attributed to a moslem God. It is so weird that when you tell your theist muslim friend that ‘I am an atheist’, and the reply is ‘oh Allah is angry with you that is why you are an atheist, change yourself and you will find his mercy’…In a society where God even commands the way you sleep (according to some hadith, sleeping on your right side is a better way to sleep),one has no other option but to write all that is their on one’s mind, because if you speak it… God loves to meddle in everything here…

    • In reply to #4 by justinesaracen:

      I evolved in my atheism in studies just such as yours, but they were in America, where I might be ridiculed, but not physically threatened for my conclusions.

      In your case, I am amazed that people can study literature that is critical of god or religion without having their eyes opened, even if on…

      My dear friend, people in here, study in universities and colleges, only to get a good job. They are brain dead from inside. like a wood infected with termites. infer this from the comment that one of my classmate rebuked me with, he said that Thomas Hardy is a pessimist only and he has nothing to do with God it is I who brings God everywhere.

  4. I’m sorry to read about your predicament. We here in the UK often complain and comment about our government, society and aspects of our culture but at least we have evolved as a culture to be able to complain. It took many centuries and many people in the history of the west were ridiculed, rejected and sometimes killed for their views, comments and actions.

    Interesting that you are reading Thomas Hardy. His books are filled with examples of how conventions (the thinking of the time) paralysed and determined peoples’ fate. We still have this here to some degree (similar to Hardy’s ‘hero’ in Jude the Obscure who tried to break into academia).

    One can only hope that with such books, the internet and other sources of information, in time restricted thinking and beliefs will have a lesser grip on peoples’ minds – which I see as the only revolution.

  5. Hopefully as Western cultures become more accepting of atheism, so will countries like Pakistan. In the mean time do what I do here in the USA where we enjoy religious freedoms: Where your atheist t shirt under your regular shirt.

  6. There are centuries of history of mindless dogmatists physically suppressing thinkers to drag entire cultures down to their levels of superstitious ignorance.

    Perhaps humans will eventually have to designate contained “wildlife reserves”, for the evolving non-sapient sub-species of Homo, if education cannot win these battles.

  7. It’s impossible for lucky people like me who live in modern societies (in my case France and Britain) to really understand what it must be like to live under oppression. Christopher Hitchens said he always tried to visit at least one oppressive régime each year to remind himself what freedom really meant. Here in France I have five Pakistani friends who are here for a limited time to work – perhaps there will be a way for you to leave Pakistan? Good luck.

    • In reply to #8 by Alexinpessac:

      It’s impossible for lucky people like me who live in modern societies (in my case France and Britain) to really understand what it must be like to live under oppression. Christopher Hitchens said he always tried to visit at least one oppressive régime each year to remind himself what freedom really…
      I really want to flee.. but not to forget, because i don’t want my people to kill each other only because Sunnis think other companions were pious people while Shites think they were not. Religion has divided sub-continent, India would have been a whole new thing if what is Pakistan right now, were a part of it. Religion has killed the mental growth of our people. It is a region of brain dead fellows.

  8. I hope you are successful in escaping from your current predicament and wish you good luck in your travel plans. Alas such reactions aren’t uncommon amongst believers. Anonymity is often desirable in such circumstances, though unless people are prepared to make a stand at some point the mistaken belief that non-believers are alone just leads to isolation.

  9. Your predicament is similar, but worse, than mine when I was trying to introduce notions of gay lib to a country that universally rejected them. I had a heavy duty answering machine that fielded about 3 death threats a day and 350 obscene or abusive calls. This was sort of like a lightning rod. No body actually attempted to kill me. You might offer a website for people to spew their venom.

    I was firm and stubborn with my opposition. I was far surer than they of my correctness. This is surprisingly convincing.

    A similar thing happened when I opposed the Afghan and Iraq wars.

    Pakistan is the last country on earth I want anything to do with. I have heard too many news reports of religious fanatics behaving insanely. You might not be able to get to Canada, but you might be able to get to a nearby country that is not quite so bad.

    The very fact these people are so insanely touchy about having their beliefs questioned means they are uncomfortable with them themselves. That may be comforting, but makes them all the more dangerous.

    • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

      Your predicament is similar, but worse, than mine when I was trying to introduce notions of gay lib to a country that universally rejected them. I had a heavy duty answering machine that fielded about 3 death threats a day and 350 obscene or abusive calls. This was sort of like a lightning rod. No…

      Let me tell you a funny, rather annoying, fact about this nation. Though I am a part of this nation but that does not mean i shall favor them in their wrongs. The thing is that, they watch cable tv and channels like HBO and Star Movies, when they see any lady with short skirts or even pants, their remarks are “these people are obscene, their society is stinking and one day they will face the wrath of God”, after saying this, they go to washroom and masturbate. This happens in the remote villages, in big cities like the Capital Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and a few more, one does notice ladies in such attires, but they are rich people and can afford to pay the police enough to keep them safe. If you tell such ladies or even gents that you are a freethinker, their sudden reply is: “Don’t be obsessed with western thinking, wear like them but don’t think like them”, one cannot say anything but OK and zip.

  10. Humouring the religious can make life enjoyable, treat them like the idiots they are and have fun doing it, as they are so stupid they won’t be able to work out that you are humouring them :) You could try writing satire so the religious think your are supporting them when in actual fact you are mocking them.
    I wish you all the best in your life’s journey..

  11. Completely alien to my world. I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes.

    these people are obscene, their society is stinking and one day they will face the wrath of God”.

    These people brought modern technology, the computer, the car, household appliances, the Internet, jet planes, electricity, modern medicine, modern telecommunications, satellites, walked on the Moon, built the LHC, study the Cosmos down to its origins, the history of the earth. Shall I go on? No God necessary. So maybe we’re doing something right. We’re moving on, with or without them.

    • In reply to #16 by obzen:

      Completely alien to my world. I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes.

      these people are obscene, their society is stinking and one day they will face the wrath of God”.

      These people brought modern technology, the computer, the car, household appliances, the Internet, jet planes, electricity, modern me…

      tell that to a pakistani mind infested with religion ( 99.9 percent of its population is) and a banner will be put upon you, reading “kill me i am an atheist”, the problem is that you can never talk in facts n figures or evidence when you are talking to a religious freak… their hands and feet, talk more frequently than their mouths… brain dead…

  12. My deepest sympathies Newbirth :( Quotes come to mind that touch on your situation:

    “The crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.” Robert G. Ingersoll.

    Also

    “If religion were true, it’s followers would not try and bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity, but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artifical backgrounds or practical consequences.” H.P.Lovecraft.

    The fact Islam is instilled and maintained more often than not with violence to the body and mind is a telling indication of its complete vacuousness. You have an up hill battle in a country where a little boy was recently beaten to the point where he had his legs broken because he could not quite memorise his koran lines. I have “spoken” to fundamentalists in Pakistan online, the best description I can muster for them is “ruined”. They have been intellectually castrated by a religious system that quacks, walks and looks like a nasty cult. In other countries such cults would be put in their place however in Pakistan the insane are really running the asylum.

  13. Quote: [...my belief in atheism...]

    Excuse me, but… your “belief” in athe(ism)? As in, your belief in non-belief?

    you might want to think over how you phrased this, and why.

    Sincerely, Kåre Olsen.

    • In reply to #19 by kare.olsen.718:

      Quote: [...my belief in atheism...]

      Excuse me, but… your “belief” in athe(ism)? As in, your belief in non-belief?

      you might want to think over how you phrased this, and why.

      Evidently, English is not my mother tongue…

  14. Newbirth, don’t be downhearted ! It was the same in Europe some 400 plus years ago, where witches and heretics were burnt at the stake, tortured on the rack, and Christianity ruled with an iron rod. The fact that Christians of different varieties massacred each other, reminds me of Sunnis and Shiites killing each other today.

    So what changed in Europe ? Knowledge changed. The various claims made by the religios about reality were shown to be false over and over again. Christianity had to retreat more and more in the shadow world of Plato’s cave, where nothing was real, only manifestations of some “ideal”. Islam will be tamed in the same way. I don’t know when, but people aren’t stupid. With all the advantages of modern science and technology, knowledge is more freely available, and the mullahs and imans no longer have the monopoly they would so surely love to have. Your own posting is evidence of that.

    My own advice to you personally is to keep your head down, don’t be rash or bold, but sound out those among you who have similar ideas, and there will be quite a few. You probably have more friends than you realise ! By yourself, you can have a good laugh at the idea of the Prophet riding on a winged horse to heaven !

    • In reply to #20 by Mr DArcy:

      Newbirth, don’t be downhearted ! It was the same in Europe some 400 plus years ago, where witches and heretics were burnt at the stake, tortured on the rack, and Christianity ruled with an iron rod. The fact that Christians of different varieties massacred each other, reminds me of Sunnis and Shiite…

      You are right: but 400 years seems a long wait for newbirth and the doubtless other Pakistani atheists: it took Europe a long time to get over even execution of witches (1793 in Poland, ie just over 200 years ago) [Wikipedia]. What will newbirth – and indeed given globalisation, the rest of us – have to endure while we wait for religious fanatics to calm down and become reasonable?

  15. steve_hopker:

    You are right: but 400 years seems a long wait for newbirth and the doubtless other Pakistani atheists: it took Europe a long time to get over even execution of witches (1793 in Poland, ie just over 200 years ago) [Wikipedia]. What will newbirth – and indeed given globalisation, the rest of us – have to endure while we wait for religious fanatics to calm down and become reasonable

    Well it certainly won’t be 400 years ! Knowledge travels faster these days, and the Imans and Mullahs can’t keep the lid on it like they used to. Islam will be tamed. Don’t despair, that’s too easy !

    • In reply to #23 by Mr DArcy:

      steve_hopker:
      Well it certainly won’t be 400 years ! Knowledge travels faster these days, and the Imans and Mullahs can’t keep the lid on it like they used to. Islam will be tamed. Don’t despair, that’s too easy !

      I hope you are right. But unless Islam manages its version of the Renaissance and Reformation vastly better than Christendom, with modern weaponry the transition could be devastating in Islamic areas – and maybe beyond. Maybe modern education and communication can moderate the change and reduce the pain. Maybe.

  16. Of course you can express yourself… just be careful when you pick the place/circumstance. And maybe do it undercover ;) don’t worry things will change soon! let’s create a Humanist-Ummah. Together we stand. Hang in there till then.

  17. I think literature is a strong way of expressing yourself. It’s why I started writing my atheist fantasy series – to criticize religion. You should to the same and perhaps self-publish in the UK or USA using a VPN or proxy. Keep your writing private and by anonymous. It could be a good way of expressing yourself without fear of reprisal, as long as you were careful to hide your identity and keep your writing secret.

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