Atanu Dey On India's Development

Ridiculing Religious Insanity — Part 2

This is a follow up to the Ridiculing Religious Insanity post. One reader, Alpana Sadya broadly agreed with the basic idea of the post but accused me of bias in that I did not object to incidents that involve goons of what she claims is my favorite party the BJP. She reported that there was a case of vandalism on Delhi University campus a few days ago and it was regarding the Ramayana. She feared that it portends ill for India and that India may break up in a civil war.

Just for the record allow me one clarification. I do not hold any brief for any political party or organization, foreign or domestic. I am free to criticize whomever and whenever I feel like. Most of the time my focus is on ideologies and not people. That distinction is worth keeping in mind. If ever someone misconstrues my criticism of an ideology with animosity against a group or a person, it reveals at best a reading comprehension problem and at worst guilt associated with a hidden prejudice of the reader against the group I am accused of opposing.

That last point is worth underlining. I am for or against ideologies, not people. I judge the people for how they behave, not what they fundamentally believe in. To lend support for my assessment of a certain ideology, I will have to point to specific actions by individuals or groups that acted in accord with the dictates of that ideology. I am given that opportunity by the actions of the followers of the ideology and is not something that I invent on a whim. If the facts I choose to highlight are in dispute, I’d like to be corrected. Otherwise I would like to hear an argument why the ideology cannot be judged, first, objectively without reference to actions; and second, by noting the consequences of the ideology as evidenced by the actions of those motivated by it.

Now on to other substantive matters.

By the time one has outgrown one’s childhood, most people without cognitive impairment figure out that one cannot eat one’s cake and have it too. We intuitively realize that there are trade offs in our universe: you either eat the cake and not have it, or you have your cake only if you resist eating it. Being unable to appreciate that basic principle is indicative of a mental defect. In very small children, it is cute to observe how they misapprehend the world but in adults that same behavior is pitiable.

Not everything that needs our attention can be attended to because we are finite creatures with finite resources. We have to prioritize things and then depending on our assessment of the urgency and importance of the things that need done, we sequence our actions. Not everything is equally urgent, or equally important. Some things are important but not urgent. The house burning down is urgent; getting daily exercise is important. Leaving the house to burn down because you have to get your routine jogging done is stupid.

The ability to make distinctions and see differences is absolutely critical. Perceiving the universe as one indistinguishable whole with no boundaries or distinctions is a wonderful mystical Zen experience perhaps but in our daily living we need to distinguish the benign from the malignant, the useful from the useless, the healthy from the diseased. We do that as a matter of course as it is ingrained in our genes: like all other living things, we are the descendants of a very long line of ancestors each of whom was successful in making that distinction long enough to mate and procreate.

We humans differ from other living things in one significant way: we live in a world of ideas, not just a world of things. Ideas can also be broadly characterized as benign, malignant or neutral. The same can be done for an ideology which is essentially a collection of ideas. The theory of evolution — like all scientific theories — is also an ideology, just like capitalism, or communism, or any other ism. Ideologies, like things, can be grouped and their characteristics examined. Any specific religion is an ideology. A group of related religions can also be examined as an ideology. Judging the goodness (however defined) of any ideology is no different from judging the goodness of things.

I have made the case that ideas matter elsewhere before and I am sure to do more of that later. But for now I will focus on religious ideologies only.

All religious ideologies are not created equal. They differ naturally because they were created by different people under different geographical and historical circumstances. Religious ideologies are contingent and don’t have any absolute existence, unlike say the ideology of the theory of gravitation. If you did the right inferences from observation, you would arrive at the same theory of gravity as someone who lived in a different land at a different time.

The major monotheistic ideologies were born in the Middle East and they share the same lineage. Their family resemblance is unmistakable. Judaism came first; the Christians acknowledge the Jewish bible and added their own two bits; then Islam came along and plagiarized bits from the preceding two and added its own twisted bits to it. Every age and every place that has been touched by the monotheistic ideology has suffered profoundly from its malignant influence. It has killed, raped, burnt, pillaged, and destroyed whatever it can. Not content with merely killing non-monotheists, it has encouraged its followers to turn their rage against one another. Sibling rivalry, perhaps. But the history books are full of rivers of blood shed by mutual hostility between Protestants, Catholics, Shias, Sunnis, and all of them at some point or the other against the Jews. Though Christianity and Islam are descended from Judaism, the Jews are held in special contempt by the followers of the other two. A Darwinist may explain that by saying that they all occupy the same ecological niche and hence the bitter rivalry.

But they are not equally vicious. The Jewish god is a monomaniacal savage but he does not command Jews to go out and kill the others. His world is restricted to the Jews and how he controls them. The Christian god is a much meaner god. He created a hell for non-believers and instructed his followers to go out and either convert or kill those who don’t follow him. A few hundred years later, the Islamic god upped the ante and instructed its followers to basically kill everyone who refuses to submit to him until the entire world is enslaved to him.

The sequence of origination ensures that the ideology which came later had the opportunity to revile the earlier one(s). Islam labels Jews and Christians monkeys and pigs; Christianity condemns Jews for having the blood of their savior on their hands. There is a progression of increasing violence in the three monotheistic ideologies.

One reasonable explanation for the savagery of Christianity and Islam is that they were invented by savages. They lived in a brutal and brutalizing environment. They lived in a dog eat dog world where worldly pleasures were few and far between. Their god is a reflection of that mentality that brutalizes humans and humanity. A brutalized male dominated warring society living in harsh conditions could not conceive of a god that was loving. The fantasies of a paradise which can only be described as an impotent man’s wet dream figures prominently in Islam.

How anyone can believe in a god of the monotheists is a fascinating subject. That god is literally unbelievable. This is widely recognized by the monotheists themselves — those who believe in the Islamic god vehemently reject the Jewish and Christian god, the Islamic god is unpalatable to the Jews and the Muslims, and the Christian god is idiotic in the opinion of the Jews and the Muslims. Each comprehends the utter stupidity of the other two, and non-monotheists arrive at the logical position — the logical union of the three views — that monotheism is utter stupidity.

What distinguished monotheism from other religious ideologies is that it is supremacist, exclusivist, and triumphalist. That attitude finds it most extreme expression in Islam — it claims it is perfection in every sense, no other ideology can be permitted to exist, and it will ultimately conquer every human for eternity. The non-monotheist religions are cautious and hesitant. Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism all claim to be correct but also make allowances that there are multiple ways and that different people will see the world differently. They are willing to accommodate other points of views, and other ways of living. But to the ideology of Islam, there is only one way and if you refuse to willingly submit to the dictates of Islam, you have to be subjugated and if need be, annihilated.

The followers of ideologies are humans. Human action is motivated by a wide range of impulses and incentives, not just ideologies — religious or otherwise. It is not too difficult to determine what the prime motivation may have been for a certain action. The kamikaze bombers of the second world war may have been Buddhists but the Buddhist ideology was not the prime motivator for their suicide missions. It was not an adherence to the principles of Buddhism but rather their allegiance to the Emperor and the nation that moved them. Stalin and Mao murdered scores of millions for a political ideology and not for their being atheists. They were bad people doing what came naturally to them as followers of a certain ideology.

Steven Weinberg has said: “Without religions, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But it takes religion to get good people to do bad things.” I would generalize that observation: Without ideological motivations, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But to get good people to do bad things requires bad ideologies.

So why am I writing about religious insanity in a blog which is about economic growth and development? How is religion relevant? Let me elaborate on why I think religion matters and why more importantly the ideology of Islam matters to India’s development.

As I have said before, all ideologies are not created equal. Some are benign and can be safely ignored. The Pastafarians will not sic their Flying Spaghetti Monster god on me if I call them ridiculous for their ridiculous beliefs. Well never mind the FSM as it was meant to parody monotheism. How about if I call Buddhists a bunch of retarded egg-heads and call the Buddha a dried shit stick? Not a problem. At worst someone may challenge me to a dharma duel which I could easily win by smiling stupidly as I make some seemingly profound statement like “what is the sound of one hand clapping” or “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

These days you can mock all ideologies — religious or secular — except one: Islam. Scribble something on a piece of paper and regardless of where you are and whether or not you have broken any local laws, Islam can and will take offense if it so pleases. That is usually followed by some of the faithful flying into a murderous rage (which is different from murdering people by flying planes into buildings) and setting out to kill you.

I object to an ideology that responds to criticism with violence and murder. Yes, the ideology has the response encoded within it. It is not the invention of the followers. By not allowing criticism, it forces a stop to human progress because it will not allow any idea — religious or secular — to survive if it is not consistent with Islam. This is why most countries where Islamic ideology is dominant do not figure in any area of science, technology, arts, and entertainment. Pretty much everything we know about the universe was discovered after the 7th century and therefore all that Islam could possibly know (and knows) was (and is) bounded by what was known by essentially ignorant people in the desert in the 7th century. So if Islam is allowed to dominate India today — today when it has finally emerged after a thousand years of servitude — it will be a disaster. What sort of disaster? Well, look at Pakistan and Bangladesh — those parts of the Indian subcontinent where Islam has triumphed.

Ideologies matter. Observe the differing performance of the differing ideological groups from the Indian subcontinent in Western nations. That is a natural experiment the results of which clearly demonstrate that Islamic ideology hinders the development of people because it prohibits precisely those freedoms that are most critical in human development and growth.

The ideology of Islam matters to today’s India and it has done so for around a thousand years. Will Durant, an American historian summed it up this way. ““The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in History. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown barbarians invading from without and multiplying within.”

The partitioning of India was based on that ideology of Islam. The Muslims of colonial India voted that they cannot co-exist with non-Muslims because their ideology did not permit that. The creation of Pakistan (and subsequently of Bangladesh) was the direct and unavoidable result of Islamic ideology. Thereafter, the constant state of war that exists between the three fragments can be reasonably traced back to the Islamic ideology of dividing all humanity into the land of Islam and the land of the kuffars. The millions of lives lost over the centuries continue to be added to every year — sometimes in bloody wars and more regularly in a war of thousand cuts of random acts of terrorism. Resources that could have been used in alleviating the misery of its poverty-stricken population, India is forced to use instead to buy weapons from the advanced industrialized nations to deter Pakistan from declaring and fighting one more of the Thousand Year jihads.

Being in a constant state of war with Pakistan is without doubt one of the reasons that India is miserably poor. I should hasten to add that it is not the only reason. Even without the existence of Pakistan, I am sure that some people would have figured out other ways of keeping India poor. And indeed they did. I have, for the same reason that it keeps India poor, opposed socialism and communism. But the Islamic specter haunting India is making the job that much harder. As the on-going conflict with Pakistan is religiously motivated — just like the partition of India was — I find it hard to evade the conclusion that India would have been much better off if it did not have to contend with Islam.

So now for the objections that prompted this essay. I agree that stupid people vandalizing property because of some offense they have taken is a matter of concern. But that is bad people doing bad things. None of the Indic ideologies (Jain, Buddhism, Hinduism) lend the least support to violence against people merely because of what they believe in or profess. I would worry about it but I would not lose my sleep over it. It is neither urgent nor important in the overall scheme of things. I could rant and rave about it but there are more pressing things that matter to me.

Which brings me to the point that I had made earlier in my response to Alpana in the previous post.

Alpana, it is a division of labor. You deal with what you consider to be the most pressing issues and I will do likewise. Our assessment will be different since we have different viewpoints. Besides, given that all tasks are not equally urgent or equally important, we have to prioritize and pick out battles. Complaining that I don’t balance out every instance of Islamic intolerance and terrorism I report on this blog with an instance of Bajrang Dal or Shiv Sena intolerance and mayhem is stupid at best. They are orders of magnitude different in their frequency and impact. And besides, like I have mentioned before, I am writing about a particular religious ideology and then illustrating the consequences of that ideology when it produces the natural result. Please feel free to do the same using your choice of religious ideology — I suggest Jainism as they are rarely taken to task and it has never been called a religion of peace. I am sure that you will have lots to write about Jain terrorism.

I know that I have a bias which reflects my personal history and upbringing. For instance, I am a non-Muslim and therefore my view of Islam is that of an outsider — an outsider whom Islam considers to be a little less than filth. As I was born to Hindu parents, I am a Hindu. As a Hindu I am quite familiar with the faults of Hindu society and I am critical of any bits of the ideology that is irrational and stupid. Fortunately, Hinduism is flexible enough that you can pick and choose the bits that appeal to you and reject the rest with nary a thought. For instance, I like the ideas behind the idols — the symbolic representation of the gods — even though I am not a theist.

Not only am I biased but I know that I am biased. I am not an impartial observer. I am partial towards rationality and reason. I don’t think tales of people rising from the dead and people flying off on their horses to the moon make any sense at all. Only those who don’t really understand what the world is clearly understood to be can entertain such idiotic notions. I think that anyone who seriously believes that the books that the monotheists follow were dictated by god — an omniscient eternal omnipotent being — is dumber than a doornail. Heck, those books are so full of nonsense and factual errors, that even a reasonably educated person living a thousand years before they were written would have known better. For instance, that the earth was a sphere was known since antiquity. Yet the authors of those books were clueless — they did not even have what is fairly common information. The so-called omniscient being apparent only knew what was known to ignorant desert nomads.

I have spent the last two hours writing this because I have had it up to here with the pseudo-secularists blaming the victims for the harm that is ideologically motivated and is unacceptable in a civilized society. I realize that it will not make me popular with that crowd because what I wrote will stick in their craw since they cannot factually refute any of the statements I made above. Their position is generally a fine mixture of illogic and ignorance — the antithesis of what I stand for. (It’s my blog. I can write this with only a hint of humor.)

So Ms Alpana, yes, India can break up in a civil war. It is quite possible. But to understand the likely cause, I would refer you to the previous break which was in the making for centuries but happened around 60 years ago. Examine the causes and it may give you a clue about the next one.

It’s all karma, neh?

  • http://www.cfdvs.iitb.ac.in/~amv BytePro

    Well done!

    I read the first exchange in the previous article of this series, and I was disappointed with your response. Was not like you, and I saw anger and rage in the reply. Was about to write, when I saw the promise to write in detail. And, am I glad I waited? You bet, I am!

    Abstract issues need to be illustrated using concrete examples. The problem with examples – esp. real life ones – is that they also contain “influences” from other sources. The earlier post in this series offers an interesting example. The paragraph that starts “Here’s a clue to those clueless retards …” is talking of an abstract principle applicable to everybody, including Muslims and the BJP. It is unbiased and it’s last line contains the answer for everybody (including the correct choice for BJP over the book issue, given a level playing field). However, being placed between paragraphs discussing a very specific example of Muslims calling for censoring the Wikipedia, causes confusion when read casually. I suspect Ms. Alpana has read rather casually as suggested by the last paragraph of her first response. What surprised me was your falling for that paragraph.

    I am not always clear when should I use examples, and when not. And then abstract concepts like Freedom, and equality are not easy. Consider:

    I, like everybody else, am a free human being. Free to move my hands around as I please, when I please, and where I please. Problem starts when another individual comes within the influence of my moving hands. As far as I am concerned, there are two cases:

    1. I stop my hands where his/her nose starts, or
    2. I require he/she move his/her self away so as to not impede my freedom of movement.

    Which of the two I choose, decides who I am going to be. Some one who respects you, or some one who doesn’t care. Let me begin the interaction game. If I choose the first choice, I’d better be prepared for you being the second kind (especially, if your moving hand holds an axe). And if I see you having an axe, one of the things I do is to shout out at you. No credit for analysis of the rest of the cases ;) . And hopefully the use of first person has a reader think in first person.

  • adnanhb

    Mr. Atanu,
    This post of yours just reflects your inherent hate against the monotheistic religions. You are wrong regarding some many so called facts of yours. First of all, Islam does not in any way say to murder non believers. You should check the number of “non-muslims” living in Muslim countries at the current moment as a token of proof. Secondly, Muslims, Christians and Jews all believe that “their” God is the same God. Now obviously, you will find exceptions where people belive otherwise. But as far as the tenets of the religions go, it is explicitly stated that the God is the same.
    You are no different than any other violent person. Some people use physical means to hurt and spread hatred and some people use a pen.

    Peace out

  • http://avadhoot.blogspot.cm avadhoot

    Hi, Atanu,

    I have been reading your blogs from more then a year. Earlier, I had a vague idea that capitalism is better then socialism in terms of creating wealth. But my knowledge in this regard as grown hugely after reading your blogs. I thank you, for your blogging and coming with clear concepts.

    The current blog on religion was very well written too.

  • http://avadhoot.blogspot.cm avadhoot

    Hi,

    I have been reading your blog for more then a year now. I enjoy reading your blog and the insights you give in the economic problems India faces. Earlier, I supported capitalism by the example of USA, but your blog has given me an informed opinion how capitalism and socialism work. Thanks for the knowledge.

    The above article is very well written. It just goes to show how an ideology can misguide sane people to do wrong things.

    BTW, i had commented earlier, too, but somehow it did not show up. So here, i comment again.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Adnanhb wrote: This post of yours just reflects your inherent hate against the monotheistic religions.

    Damn, can’t get anything past you, can I? I bet you were the smartest cookie in your class. How on earth did you ever figure out my antipathy towards monotheistic ideologies? Could it be . . . umm let me see . . . could it possibly be . . . ummm . . . the paragraph after paragraph of argument detailing that I think monotheism ideologies are evil?

    Nope. That could not possibly be the reason why you concluded that I dislike monotheism. Must have been something else because otherwise it is too transparent a conclusion.

    Since you are so clever, I have decided that there is no point in my arguing the other points in your above comment.

    Sincerely,
    Atanu

  • pankaj

    Alpana sadhya faltu , GET LOST if you dont like this blog go to some other which you like.

  • rmanocha

    I was going to comment on your first post until I saw the link to the second one. So here goes.

    I hold the same opinion as Alpana does on some of your writings. In my opinion, while they are balanced in most cases, they wheels come off the wagon when it comes to you writing about religion, and specially Islam. I am no supporter of either, but to single out Islam as being the only religion capable of killing others in the name of their beliefs seems completely unjust to me.

    I have not read the Quran (or the Bible or any other religious text for that matter) so I don’t know whether your claims of the Prophet commanding all muslims to kill anybody who isn’t, is correct or not. Either way, I will say this (and I guess we agree here too), it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) matter what is written – what matters is what should be done. Given that, we must judge Muslims (and maybe Islam) by their actions. Here again, I concede that a lot of Muslims seem to have trouble with accepting criticism of their faith, but to use that to say that the whole religion, and hence all the people who follow it are guilty of the same, is unfair. To me, it’s the equivalent of saying that all Hindus think and hence are just as guilty as the perpetrators of the Godhra riots of 2002.

    I also take issue with your assertion that if India were to become a majority mulsim state, that we would end up the same way as Pakistan or Bangladesh have. This, in my eyes means, that religion, not the people of the land, has everything to do with how the land is run. You are actually discrediting the people who have run this land in an admirable way (at-least in comparison to our aforementioned neighbors). India is run the way it is because of it’s people, they may happen to be hindu’s, but that does not have anything to do with it.

    What I’m trying to say is this – all religions are bad, and all are good, in their own ways. For a long while, Islam was not percieved as a threat (I don’t remember any rhetoric about Islam being bad up until 09/11/01), let’s not make that the case with any other religion.

    Best,

    R

  • girishsv

    On the contrary, we owe a great deal of thanks to Ms. Sadhya for being the genesis of such a great piece.

    As a nation, we seem to be incapable of engaging in dialogue – at best we have 2 monologues in progress.

    Let’s hear both sides and have the “free market” determine which one has merit.

  • shakti

    Atanu,
    I have been waiting for the explanation you promised for a while now. Must say you did not make it any easier for me by embedding the one-line explanation in a mile-long post! :)

  • Alpana Sadya

    Thanks Atanu for your very detailed response.

    Again I agree to your argument that people should be judged on their actions, not their beliefs. I lived extensively in a country that was dominated by monotheists. And quite honestly I found them much more tolerant of others’ views than many of the polytheists. So allow me disagree with you that polytheism is inherently more tolerant than monotheism.

    Secondly, I am myself a Jain. So thanks for the complement. (Though I certainly did not make any effort to get born as a Jain). Now growing up as a Jain in India, did I ever feel a “minority”? Certainly not. However I am not so sure of it now. In my own lifetime I have seen an increasingly jingoistic version of Hinduism taking over this country, which does not tolerate a deviation from its own world view. It does not like books written from a different perspective; does not like films made from a different perspective; does not like paintings made from a different perspective and insists on imposing its own cultural mores on everyone else. It has been a gradual but a consistent onslaught in one direction only.

    Now tell me when do I have a reason to get concerned about my future in India? When 180000 muslims sign a petition to Wikipedia for taking out pictures of the Prophet or when Hindutva brigade ransacks the offices of a University Professor? Honestly I think, signing petition for taking out pictures was the most civilized way for those people who found it blasphemous. I would take this form of protest any day over ransacking of a Professor’s office who might have introduced some blasphemous papers.

    Do I feel threatened by what happens in Bangladesh or Pakistan or Palestine? May be so. But only as a concerned world citizen. OTOH I feel a palpable alarm when I see an art gallery being vandalized in my backyard by cultural brigade. You may think that isolated incidents like these are not any matter of concern, but I see a consistent pattern here which which has been getting increasingly consolidated over the years.

    If you do not see this pattern or think that it is of little importance compared to larger events going on in the world, then you obviuosly have your reasons. May be your world view already matches to this predominant version of Hinduism and so you do not see any cause of getting personally alarmed. Or may be since you still carry your US passport, you do not see any reason to be unduly perturbed to what happens to this country.

    Look at the commentators on this blog. They are a cross section of India. Do you see many people here who feel concerned that there are many many people living in India, whose worldview is not the same as Hinduism – at least not the version of Hinduism they hold dear? If you do not see them, then in my view it is much greater cause of alarm than some people writing in protest to Wikipedia.

  • http://the-redpill.blogspot.com vakibs

    Hi Atanu

    It is an obvious fact that the scientific method is not a product of monotheism. Monotheistic religions tend to be non-accomodating, and closed to any criticism. But what makes you think polytheistic religions would not be the same ??

    After all, as you have acknowledged yourself, we did not invent the scientific method in our polytheistic India. It was done in a monotheistic Europe during the 15th century !

    You have diagnosed the disease incorrectly, Atanu. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you keep hitting the nail down, but is it the right nail ? All this hammering wouldn’t open you any new doors.

    Michel Serres, whose lecture I had the fortune of listening to (transcript available here in French), traces the development in human thought to revolutions in the way we handle information. Principally, we had 3 revolutions in the entire history of mankind.

    STEP 1 ) The first revolution was the invention of writing – this has brought in the notion of state (Hammurabi’s code written on a stone), money (value written on a coin) and also the religion of a book (monotheistic religions). Our religion in India has been rooted in an oral tradition which are the Vedas. The written tradition stepped much later in Indian religions, but indeed brought significant changes such as Buddhism, BhagavadGita and so on.

    STEP 2) The second revolution was printing. This has brought in the notions of capitalism (banks) and the scientific revolution (where knowledge became accessible to everyone). So, why did the Europeans invent the scientific method ? Because they invented printing. Not because of poly/mono-theism. In the sphere of religion, the protestent movement began due to printing, because “every man is equal to the Pope with a bible in his hand”. The same notions of equality brought in the system of democracy.

    The thing is in India, we didn’t have a natural evolution of these phases, and most of our society is still hardwired to an ancient era. The same is true of the Islamic world, it is not because of monotheism that they are so unproductive.

    STEP 3) This is the invention of computing. We are still experiencing the birth pains of this revolution. We have no idea what changes this will bring in the spheres of state, business and religion / ideology. But, we can be sure that we Indians will not be lagging behind.

  • dodo

    Atanu,

    Excellent post! I think you have made your stance clear ealier also ( but not in such a detail) where you wrote about the difference between Islam and Muslims, and you clarified that you dont have any problem with Muslims, but it is Islam that concerns.

    BTW, in today’s Indian Express, Sudheendra Kulkarni in his column made the exact opposite statement: “I condemn those Hindus who, explicitly or implicitly, hold Islam to be a religion of terror.” He, like other politicians , thinks ( or claims that he thinks ) that it is not the ideology but some of the members following the ideology is a problem. Sad!

    Alpana,

    I was expecting a well-reasoned argument. But you disappointed me with babbling anecdotes.

    As they say, plural of anecdote is not data. And all your arguments are specious.

    Thanks for informing that you have stayed in a country dominated by motheists. I am assuming it is a western country. Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am not, then I do not think this issue needs any more discussion than some chuckle. If I am wrong, then really I am pleased to learn that.

    Now, you get concerned about books, films , movies. To preempt any misconception, let me tell you, we do too. My spouse is an artist and we are absolutely great admirer of Hussain. Whatever happened to MSU baroda and happening in other places make us sick. I hate BJP, BD, SS or whatever.

    But as Atanu has pointed out, if one’s house is burning then only a fool will go for his regular jog , ignoring the house. It is the order of magnitude, can’t you see?

    You see the DU ruckus, you see Hussain’s exile, but you can’t see the ethnic cleansing in Kashmir, you can’t see the monthly bomb blasts in which just people like me and you get wiped off ( may be I deserve to be because I am an infidel but when the bomb detonates, believe me it does not leave the liberals unhurt), you can’t see the home imprisonment of Taslima ( alarming, since you seem to be concerned about happening in art and academia), you can’t see a whole community being seen as a vote bank rather than voters, you can’t see the profusions of anger in the streets on every pretext ( if you happne to live in India , how could you miss this last part)?

    Believe me, bomb blasts are not fun! On the mumbai blasts in July’06, my wife could not board a train due to crowd and a compartment of that train was blown up in Borivili. We have lived that day from very close quarters. And I would remind you many among the victims were liberals.

    And it did not stop there. Diwali Blast in Delhi, Blasts in banaras, Hyderabad and innumerable not so big ones but indeed fatal which go reported ( such as IISc ) or not much reported ( such as one sided riot in Mau). When they are not blowing infidels up they blow up each other ( Malegaon, Hyderabad mosque blast).

    Pleased to know you are not concerned about happenings in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

    May I remind you, the persons who hijacked the Indian plane IC 814 have all made Pakistan their home. But that may not be of much importance had it ended there. But from Pakistan they are controlling they are exporting murderers who have already made hundred s (if not thousands) Indian children orphan.

    May I remind you that in Mumbai bomb blast, the police has established that all of the persons who carried out the operations were from Pakistan?

    Haven’t you seen the burgeoning illegal immigrants from Bangladesh? I am not against the immigrants because they are fleeing their own nation in tatters, for livelihood. But due to the situation in Bangladesh, India is being bombarded with additional poverty/ terrorism. Don’t you know most of the terrorist organizations now use Bangladesh as the recruiting ground? Can’t you see the rabid anti Indian stance is the only ploy to win an election in Bangladesh? Did not you notice that a liberal person such as Shaikh hasina had to wear a head cover to gain a mass base similar to Khaleda? Did not you know the Rajakar leaders who fought side by side with Khan army in ’71 and butchered tens of thousands of polyteheists had to be made ministers in last Bangladesh government? Do you think those ministers with “liberal” history and with only one elections manifesto ( anti-Indian/ anti-infidel) brought love to India?

    You must be living in your own ivory tower!!

    Now your last dig at Atanu’s passport is as deplorable as the comment made by Pankaj. You don’t have any argument but to tom-tom your liberalness. So why compensate for your lack of reasoning by mean mudslinging on personal info?

    Sorry Atanu for this long post.

  • dodo

    Sorry for some spelling mistakes in the above post…

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Alpana:

    My apologies for arguing with you. I see my mistake. It is unfair of me to engage you with logical arguments. May I suggest an introductory course on logic? Many generations have profitably used Copi’s introductory text on logic. Check your local library or place an order at Amazon.

    I make this suggestion because I certainly don’t have the time to point out all the logical fallacies you have delightfully demonstrated in the comments recently. I am sure that after a brief encounter with basic logic you yourself will see the gaping logical holes in your argument. I certainly will not rob you of the joy of discovering your own mistakes.

    I also recommend you ponder the implications of the Dunning-Kruger effect (wiki). You’ll see what I mean.

    Goodbye and be well.

    Sincerely,
    Atanu

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    I think it would be appropriate to make a personal note here. I enjoy a good argument. In the stone ages of the internet, I have spent years arguing with people across the world on the usenet.

    Ah, those were the days! The quality of the discourse was amazing because the internet then was limited to only those in universities and in research labs in the US. It was a pleasure to engage extremely bright minds in debate because it was a great learning opportunity. You could not debate a topic without coming away refreshed with deeper insights into it.

    Posting to the usenet was also a time of honing one’s skills. Fighting in countless flame wars equips you with the skills to devastate your opponents and delight your friends. Even though I say so myself, I am not too shabby when it comes to flaming. I have never actually taken off the gloves on my blog. You have to be restrained on a blog. It is like your home and you don’t flame visitors however much they deserve it. The usenet groups were more like public places. You did not have to play host to people. Sort of like meeting in a cafe or a bar. You could tell it like you actually meant it. On your blog, you treat others with restraint and courtesy.

    With the coming of the world wide web and blogs, most of the veterans of the usenet days moved on to blogs. But while blogs are good in what they do, they can never quite capture the dynamic of a usenet group.

    Sigh. I miss the usenet. Over the years, I must have written a few thousand posts. Now I am come over all nostalgic and should google for my old usenet posts — I am sure some yet survive.

  • Alpana Sadya

    Atanu:

    Talking of logic, I found your reasoning on inherent tolerance of polytheism hilarious — to put it mildly. Knowing fully well how “tolerant” polytheists have treated and continue to treat half their brethren in a very “tolerant” manner.

    It reminds me of Russell’s quote that if a lizard could argue it will most certainly claim that lizards are the greatest speceis in universe because they can crawl upside down on a ceiling and other lizards will find this argument most convincing.

    I do not blame you for your beliefs because I have been there myself. When I was at your level of understanding, I had found it equally difficult to grasp. Though I think it a sheer waste of resources that you had to spend such long time in the US to learn what you could have picked up in a two day camp at local Bajrang Dal.

    May be if you grow up someday (and not just age) then you will be able to see things in a different light. Till then good luck with your blogging!!

  • Amit

    The above article is very well written. It just goes to show how an ideology can misguide sane people to do wrong things.

    Well said. And that includes capitalism too. Remember a certain East India Company? :)

  • rajsand

    [quote]
    Talking of logic, I found your reasoning on inherent tolerance of polytheism hilarious — to put it mildly. Knowing fully well how “tolerant” polytheists have treated and continue to treat half their brethren in a very “tolerant” manner
    [unquote]

    There the Jain’s manoritism showing up ;-)

    I think you are honestly confused between persons and ideologies.

    We come across many of your species in the internet

    Dharma is far larger than thes dichotomic thought streams which makes things easy for the majority of the population.

    I concede that you are one amongst them.

    What Atanu has been lucidly explaining is as simple as this:

    Let dharma be.

    Let not the dichotomic and dividing and discriminating thought stream poisoned minds not disturb dharma.

    If you want to elevate yourself to a higher level, please digest Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara’s “The Heathen in his blindness” book. Perhaps that will activate many more nuerons

    Regards

    Rajagopal

  • kaunteya

    ya right Alpana, “vandalizing” “art” that depicts nude goddesses is same as blowing women and children in a train.

    thanks for getting our “logic” right. i am enlightened.

  • mdYahoo

    Dear Alpana,

    You can easily win this debate with Atanu by citing some clear examples. You came close by stating that, “Knowing fully well how “tolerant” polytheists have treated and continue to treat half their brethren in a very “tolerant” manner” . All you need to do now is to get down to the specifics.

    Fo starters:

    *) Talk about the wonderful tolerance you experienced ( or would have experienced) if you were to carry around and read Jain or Hindu philosophy books in the monotheistic country of Dausi Barabaria, where you seem to have spent a significant portion of your life.

    *) Talk about how the polytheists since historical times have spread out to far corners of this world, with sword in one hand, and their hate-filled polytheistic holy book in the other, destroyed great monotheistic cultures, temples and in some cases whole civilizations of Ygept, Repsia, Rysia, Psain, South & North Aremica, and Nidia.

    *) Talk about the civil war in which the great historical monotheistic Kapistan sub-continent was brutally divided in the civil war of August 1947 by the intolerant polytheists who demanded the formation of an intolerant polytheistic country called Nidia.

    *) Talk about how the polytheists show cultural intolerance by throwing out a writer such as Naslima Tasreen from GanblaDesh.

    *) Talking about universities, do present Atanu with the example of how tolerant the monotheists are with scientists such as Adbus Samaal and honoured him even though he was not the right flavour of monotheism.

    *) Talk about how one monotheist brother never kills another monotheist, but have civil arguments. There is no record of any Nussis killing Hsiaa, or vice-versa.

    *) Talk about how the monotheistic Latiban tried to honour ancient culture by preserving the Mabiyan Dubbha statues.

    *) Talk about how the intolerant polytheists in Nedmark and other Ueropean countries, when their prophet’s face was drawn in cartoons, set ablaze many a bus and car and wreaked havoc and mayhem all over the globe.

    With such solid examples, you should throw the gauntlet in Atanu’s face, and challange him to put his money where his mouth is. You shouldn’t stop now.

    Good luck!

  • http://vaibh.blogspot.com vaibhavg8

    @adnanhb
    “You should check the number of “non-muslims” living in Muslim countries at the current moment as a token of proof. ”

    Were you serious while writing this comment? You can just compare percentage of non-Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1947 and their percentage now. Minorities have been wiped out there.

    And the conditions of non-Muslims in Arab countries. They have to follow all the Islamic rules and regulations and severely punished if they dont do so.

  • http://the-redpill.blogspot.com vakibs

    Well Atanu

    Looks like the objective of your blog is to gain fanboys over flamewars. You get what you ask for. As Alpana has said, what a waste of an education in Berkeley.

    Please try to criticise my earlier comment, the values of the enlightenment (spirit of enquiry, age of reason, equality of humanity..) have nothing to do with poly/mono-theism.

    Readers (vaibhavg8, md yahoo … )

    We are trying to build a new and modern India here. Our objective is to carry the light forward in the world. Let’s not compare ourselves with deepshit that is flying around in the neighborhood. Why do we aim so low ?

  • http://vaibh.blogspot.com vaibhavg8

    @vakibs
    I am not comparing ourselves to deepshit in the neighbourhood. It was a response to adnanhb’s this comment:
    “You should check the number of “non-muslims” living in Muslim countries at the current moment as a token of proof. “

  • mdYahoo

    Mr Vakibs,

    A spoonful of your medicine will help you go a long way in understanding what is being said here. If you truly show a ‘spirit of enquiry, reason and humanity’, you will realise that religion and progress (or, sometimes, lack there-of) are intimately linked.

    The dark ages of Europe are mostly due to the overriding influence the Church had on every aspect of daily living during those ages. People who could think rationally and logically were either barbecued on the stake or imprisoned or banished. Galileo was an unsung hero in his own neighbourhood. The northern Europeans and England, which had shaken off the shackles of the Vatican much earlier, benefited from such ‘blasphemous’ enlightenment. The printing press, in particular, brought about the ‘death’ of an interfering church. This was the main mechanism, rather than making ‘knowledge’ more ubiquitous, the printing press was able to usher in a new revolution. This is lost on a great number of people who think their education has not been a waste. If the printing press alone were to be the engine of progress, the middle-east would not be languishing in the state in which it is now – where the spread of free knowledge and speech are tightly controlled.

    It’s easy to pigeon-hole people into fanboy/adversary category rather than carefully analyse what is being said. Especially with the arrogance of one who believes that the other guy’s education was a waste, it will be even harder to see through the fog.

  • http://idlinginc.blogspot.com idlinginc

    Alpana,

    We can keep on giving examples all day – but we’ll be talking past each other. Let us stick to basic arithmetic and stick to similar objects that we can compare. Otherwise, you would call us lizards, bigots, hilarious reasoning and intolerant (and many things usually not mentioned in polite company) and we’d end up calling you something else which you might not be very pleased with. :)

    http://www.deeshaa.org/2003/10/11/the-need-to-do-arithmetic/

    When you claim monotheistic religions are more tolerant, do you have any numbers to substantiate your claim?

    Percentage of minorities in Pakistan went down from 15% at partition to lower than 3% now. Ever heard of a muslim country with a burgeoning ‘other’ religion? In the meantime, population of muslims in India has been increasing and the rate of increase is growing as well.

    Next, India accepted a christian at the helm (Sonia – in case you don’t understand) and a Sikh PM and until recently a muslim President – without batting an eyelid. Minorities have held top positions throughout history. CM of AP is Christian, and many other CMs as well. Can you show us countries with this kind of acceptance? How many times have you witnessed a hindu PM/president in Pakistan/Bangladesh/Iran/Iraq/Tajikisthan?

    Please do give us some numbers and let us debate on them. When we have numbers it is easy to measure. We can understand the relationship between the two numbers, using one of these signs =, and make some claims. “When I was at your level of understanding”, “hilarious reasoning”, “US Passport”, won’t settle matters. It shows intellectual dishonesty and illiteracy.

  • tommy

    Ms Alpana Sadya should take up the case for islam against Wafa Sultan. Wafa actually lived under islam and perhaps knows a bit more about islam than Alpana. So is she able to tell us why we should disregard what Wafa is saying?

    What is Wafa saying about islam?

  • http://the-redpill.blogspot.com vakibs

    @Yahoo :

    You have just eaten your own words and you dare to give me medicine :) Your previous comment was a lengthy satire about the “evils” of polytheism as against the “goods” of monotheism. The immediate next comment was about the general evils of “religion” – poly/mono put together.

    In fact, you just walked into the camp of Alpana (and me), where she was bemoaning the fact that those professors in India got attacked by a group of angry-”polytheistic”-religious-zealots. She pointed an apt similarity between the this and the Islamic petitions to remove the prophet’s picture on wikipedia. Neither of these are different from the witch-hunters of USA or the religious revivalists of medieval Europe. Instead of patting her on the back for her observation, all you guys started flaming her. This is what I call a waste of education. Let facts be facts.

    @idlinginc :
    Seriously, why do you want to compare us Indians with “deepshit flying around in the neighborhood”. If the protestant thinkers of the enlightenment kept on comparing themselves to the catholic fiefdoms down south in Europe, they would have got nowhere. We in India are at a privileged position, that doesn’t mean we are perfect. Accepting our blemishes is the first step towards betterment.

    Also, Alpana has never said that “monotheistic religions are more tolerent” Neither did I.
    All our argument is that this intolerence has nothing to do with mono/poly-theism.

    I went a little further and pointed out that technological advances in the spread of information (writing=>printing=>computing) have more influence on the cultural mores of a society. This has just been gulped down by my friend md-yahoo who wants to give me a little bit of the same medicine :)

  • http://jihadwatch.org/ Notsure

    Sheer intellorance eg
    :- Theres no diety but Allah and his Rasuls Mohammed.
    and much worse for apostasy for those who were born into the religion
    and then theres the blashphemy issues.

  • http://onlyvoid.blogspot.com Shivani

    The fruits have been plucked from the tree of existence, and brands built out of them.

    No one knows of the roots of the tree.

  • jayant-manik

    After all the “reasoning” on Monotheism (Judeo/Christian/Islam) and Indic religions, I feel compelled to introduce to all readers of this blog, Mr. Gore Vidal’s views on the same –
    link below:
    http://www.isebrand.com/Gore_Vidal_Monotheism_1992.htm
    No sane person would discount some of the good things done in the name of religion. The “evil” however, far outweighs the “good”.
    Or just Google “Gore Vidal on Monotheism”

  • vasudevan

    India is a land of converts (monotheists). They are not the originals like the Arabs or the whites. In a land of converts where the originals are only the Hindus, the Hindus would show maturity and tolerance. Same way like the Arabs and whites might show tolerance and maturity towards the minorities. I agree that except for Saudi Arabia, in most of the other populous arab lands the tolerance levels are higher. I am told there are some temples in abu dhabi and dubai and they have regular Ayyappa procesions and SSRS classes.
    The problem is when the converts try to impose their religious fervour for a few dollars and dinars more. Therefore you would find intolerance and violence amongst such converted pestilence as live in the lands of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Whether Islam converts want to impress their Arab masters for a few Dinars more or whether Christian converts want to please madam and Bush and get some more dollars (probably US is in recession due to extra extravaganza showered by Joshua Planners in converting Hindus to christianity in india)…the truth is that these converts of old and new try to play ‘house nigers’ by becoming holier than thou.
    Time someone said thank you Hindus for permiting you muslims, christians, jains, budhists, sikhs converts to live in India, criticise Hinduism and get away with it.
    Beware! It may be lesser and lesser so because hindus are getting tired and vary.

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