I am an Atheist with background of Hindu Religion.

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Discussion by: prabinsharma.timilsina

There are very few number of Atheist here in Nepal. Its only 51 people counted till date with refrence to atheistcensus.com. Well , i am proud of myself because i believe in myself rather then so called god. I am proud that i am an atheist, because i believe being an atheist is itself a matter of great achievment. And i am really greatful for the people like Richard Dawkins who helped me to gain this level of thoughts and attitude. Well, where i find a problem being atheist is that i am incircled by all the religious people specially hindu….Actually its not a problem living with these people but with the point they raise against atheism, Sometimes they are so Scientific i can't answer them and how could a religion be Scientific??? They talk about Veds and all those Historic figure and facts. I need to oppose them strongly and i don't have any answer to their Question. So i request "Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science" to explain all those non-sense, orthodox and hoax related to hinduism. Could you please be more Specific about Hindu religion too. I can answer the Question raised by Christian and Islam but not by Hindu….Please help me.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I’m currently working on adding a list of links to help people connect with others who have similar backgrounds, and here is what I have that may help you as far as being an ex-Hindu goes:

    Nirmukta – promoting science and freethought in India

    Nirmukta forums – this one links directly to one about Hinduism

    Indian atheists

    I don’t know of anything specific to Nepal, though.

    And if anyone else knows of any useful websites, I’d be happy to add them to my list. =)

  2. I know next to nothing of Hinduism.

    However I’d suggest that this is unnecessary. As an Atheist it is not your responsibility to disprove every claim made by any religious doctrine it is for them to prove what they assert is true, and how they can know this. If they are suggesting their views are philosophically based this may well be the case, however I wouldn’t for example rely on a philosophic belief to hold me up in the air at 40 000 ft for that you need science and evidence. This is not to say there is no value in philosophy just that it can only take you so far.

    So you could ask them to provide empirical proof of how Hinduism. I suspect there are many Dogma’s asserted by Hinduism like all other ‘isms’ Catholicisms, Mormonism, Capitalism, Communism etc. It is here you should concentrate.

    What do they assert without evidence? What justification do they give for doing so? If they cannot actually empirically know then I would argue they would be better off just saying “I don’t know”.

    In short you do not have to prove anything that is their job, yours is to be skeptical and not take anything on faith without sufficient evidence.

  3. I understand your problems discussing these issues with Hindus who come up with those “figures and facts” that you speak of. Well I can tell you this, there is nothing in the Hindu Holy books which describes anything in Modern Science. They can use verses to interpret and reconcile with modern scientific facts. This is similar to how the Islamists use the Quran verses to describe big bang theory and others.

    Yes there have been ideas and practices developed in the “Hindu region” which contributed to our understanding of nature, but they can no way be reconciled to our current understanding..

    Next time ask them what they think about Pluto, or how many constellations we have defined right now.. ask them about hydrogen ..just basic science..and tell them to show you where is it noted.

    If you need more help.. like others mentioned.. please put up the facts they talk about..

  4. Hinduism doesn’t get much publicity or discussion by atheists, probably because it really isn’t very specific about anything, even the existence of a deity. This is how Wikipedia describes it,

    “Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism among others;[84][85][86][87] and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.”

    I have no idea how you would discuss such an ambiguous religion. But if you want to debate these people, you can always fall back on the simple tactic of asking them to prove any claims they might have about supernatural beings. If they have none, then tell them maybe they’re right:-)

  5. Hmm….look the thing you have to understand about hindhuism is…..when u go deeper into the scriptures…specially the Upanishads(the culmination of Vedas)……there are 2 aspects to a belief system….1-smruti 2-shruti………..the smruti is the part which include the things that are derived from skeptical questioning, reasoning and rational thinking…..here there is no theistic god….and it clearly says one doesnt need to believe in a god..
    the shruti is the part that has all the things derived from stories (puranas),tales etc…..it includes all the customs and such things….and it is said that the shruti is somthing that pertains to a given time….so a practice in the 1200 AD would be meaningful at that time…but absolutely stupid if one was to follow it now….
    when YOU talk to theistic hindus, you can tell them about this distinction and that all the superstitions/irrational beliefs etc are to change….and you have accepted the change…and adapted a more rational view of life…
    —–there is no compulsion to follow anything in hinduism…….but one need to follow his ‘dharma’ i.e righteousness……Hinduism more as a “way of life” than a religion…….

  6. I’d suggest you stay out of too many forums….try n think for yourself…….take the ‘god delusion’ and put it next to say a book of vivekananda…….and you’ll see that its very tricky and very difficult to handle hinduism……

  7. One way of looking at religion is as an attempt at “personification of the unknown”. Science is the best way for dealing with the unknown, often this involves using a Normal Distribution. Popular Hinduism strikes me as an attempt to put a god-face on every possible part of the ‘bell curve’, whereas monotheism tries to put a single god-face on the whole thing. But anyone who studies probability should see that there is no need to put any faces on probability distributions.

    its not a problem living with these people but with the point they raise against atheism

    What exactly is this point they raise against atheism?

  8. Perhaps the most important need for literate Hindus is to find to a “non religious scholar” who could interpret the Upanishad and Vedas in an unbiased manner . These form the very basis and origin. As far as i understand from writings and explanations and various extracts and lines from respected scholars, Vedanta makes “atheism” as the starting point. It negates blind faith and asks the individual to build entitlement based on intuition, experience and common sense. The individual is exhorted and explained how to be free and to decide what to believe and disbelieve. Buddha asked his disciples not to accept any of his preaching if it failed to meet the test of reason ( this clearly excluded reasoning by physical threat to body and family by this sect). Those who follow Mahavira within Jainism would/should know that the concept of God is “Mithya” (a polite word for falsehood). The logic was simple in old texts (where perhaps the knowledge of the Big bang was still pending) that since universe had no beginning and limitless there can be no “creator”. Also for your comfort Hinduism officially accepts that Atheists can continue to be Hindu’s. To accommodate this belief in Hindu Mythology there is even a Deity for Atheists – Brihaspati. His philosophy of Charvaka or Lokayata maybe read and that appears to again reject any doctrine.
    There is thus complete freedom in Hindu philosophy. All the danger within any religion has emerged when humans believe and follow some individual as a self proclaimed leader, who propounds a “restrictive doctrine”. Any restriction to thought should immediately be rejected by a literate and now any scientific human mind because once on is educated, it should become very clear that though we are a result of “natural selection” there is something very exclusive (very easy to say God Given) to humans. That is the power to validate, evaluate, test and only then “believe”. In the 21st century even a belief cannot become doctrine, and must be considered “subject to change/upgrade” based on the rapid evolution of science and its ability to keep providing proof with every claim.

  9. These are Richard Dawkins’s opinions on Hinduism:
    “Hinduism and Buddhism offer much more sophisticated worldviews (or philosophies) and I see nothing wrong with these religions.”
    -Richard Dawkins

  10. One common argument I have heard from believing Hindus is that it is a ‘way of life’, different from other religions (particularly Christianity and Islam) and that Hinduism cannot be criticised in the same vein as other religions.

    In my view, the conflict between reason and faith is common to all religions. Hinduism is no exception. In Hinduism, there are just so many superstitions, orthodox practices, dogmas and doctrines that do not have any evidence or basis in science.

    The complexity of Hinduism only makes it more difficult to cure the indoctrinated mind. The complexity of Hinduism makes no case at all in protecting it from arguments against faith in general.

    I have had discussions with religious Hindus, including those who have a particular tendency to sell their own belief system and preferred Holy Books within Hinduism. Invariably, the intellectual dishonesty becomes manifest when reason begins to pinch them. To them, reason is alright only as long as it supports their arguments. The moment reason begins to expose their illogicality and questions their doctrines, they swiftly abandon reason and cling on to faith. Some of them go as far as finding fault with reason itself, forgetting that they use reason whenever it suits their convenience.

    In Christianity it is the Bible. In Hinduism, it may be the Bhagavad Gita or any one of the many other holy books. But the process of surrendering one’s mind in slavish obedience to the holy book is the same. The process of indoctrination is the same.

    As history (assuming history it is), Hinduism is a mess. The Puranas give different accounts of the same events. if you are a believer, you might want to ask yourself which are you going to accept as true?

    I have also not found any satisfactory answer to the conflict between freewill and predestination from Hinduism. Some preachers (or those who believe in their own strong opinions on this topic) have gone as far as saying that everything is predestined, as for example, my typing this comment right now. In support, they would quote texts or axioms from some obscure corner of the vast body of writing that go under Hinduism. But they also believe in accountability in practical life. They retaliate if injustice is done to them. They don’t accept injustice as a predestined event and stay put. By their own logic, they should go as far as saying that the retaliation was also predestined. But that reaches the height of absurdity and obscures the distinction between freewill and predestination. This is where they usually change topic. I have only seen them make decisions in practical life based on reason and experience.

    Believing Hindus, preachers and holy men invariably evade questions that cut at the root of their faith. For example, the caste system. Even today (some of you might find this quite shocking but it is true), there are people who believe that those who have no caste must be forbidden from entering a Hindu temple. To those who are unaware, there was a time when such proscription existed as a social custom. But it was agitated against by what is popularly known as the Temple Entry Movement. Today, the only thing that stops people from voicing such obscurantist views in public is that it is not a topical subject anymore, and then there is the law.

    But where do they get the theological support for this? To my knowledge, there is none. But the view has become so embedded in their minds that they refuse to question it or change it.

    Talking about the caste system, one common argument one hears is that Lord Krishna himself has said in the Bhagavad Gita that he created four Varnas. To the believers, this gives a divine sanction to the caste system. Many questions are connected to this argument. At the very root is the view that the Bhagavad Gita itself is an interpolated text in the Mahabharata. There is also the view that only a small part of the Bhagavad Gita was originally written, and the rest of it are later accretions. But, religious believers usually evade these questions and conveniently assume that Krishna is God and the Bhagavad Gita is his own words.

    Whatever be the religion, it takes a lot of courage to ask honest questions and still more courage to find honest answers. A closed and indoctrinated mind is unlikely to indulge in such an exercise. If the closed and indoctrinated mind also happens to have evangelical tendencies, it would help to keep far away from it.

  11. In reply to #11 by Logar:

    One way of looking at religion is as an attempt at “personification of the unknown”. Science is the best way for dealing with the unknown, often this involves using a Normal Distribution. Popular Hinduism strikes me as an attempt to put a god-face on every possible part of the ‘bell curve’, whereas…
    There isn’t a point against Atheists in Hinduism. Hindus preach acceptance. You don’t have to believe in a god to be Hindu. I’d really appreciate it if you would look deeper into Hinduism than you are now before voicing your opinions. Just a rule of thumb.

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