As I was nearing my late 20’s, I realized that my rationality had boundaries. The foundation of so called atheism which I tried to build all through my late teens to mid twenties began to shake. Some inexplicable events pushed me to give some benefit of doubt to the concept of god.My brain fatigued dealing with the ideologies which were polar opposite of each other: the rational me and then the believer me.
Then I decided to borrow a few pages from the book of religion. I created a small belief system which could exist in harmony with the rationality.Whatever lied beyond my ability to rationalize could be attributed to the few pages of religion which I had borrowed. I gave myself that leeway. But certainly the post puberty atheism which I had acquired over the years was not strong enough to sustain on its own. It really didn’t come to the rescue during turbulent times.
Speaking of religion, you can be religious and then you can be very religious. There are different degrees to which you can measure your faith on the basis of intensity and frequency you might follow some religion. You might pray daily or visit a shrine weekly.Or you might not pray at all and still have a strong belief.
But more important question arises: Can you afford to be a weak atheist? In most cases either you are a atheist or not. It is either 0 or 1. I think weak atheism is more dangerous than having a weak faith.
And then there are agnostics. But agnosticism is way too different, Wiki says “Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable”.
The other day, I was reading Why I am a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor, and as I was reading it, I came across the following lines. Tharoor says ” I am a believer , despite a brief period of schoolboy atheism of the kind which comes with the discovery of rationality and goes with an acknowledgement of its limitations.”
I realized that something I went through is a common phenomenon. And to say the least, it is easy to be rational! yes!. It is just training your brain to accept some objective rules of this world. It is easy to appreciate every action has equal and opposite reaction. It is easy to appreciate why good choices lead to good life. Hard work and good preparation and not prayers give you good marks. Getting a good life partner could be a matter of patience and more trials. A perfect life partner is not matching Kundalis! So it is easy to be rational. That is what formal education gives you.
But belief takes some serious efforts. A calculated rational action is easy but it is a different ballgame all-together to take that leap of faith.
I can just build a stupid imaginary scenario here. Around half a million years ago when some tectonic plates were shifting , I can imagine an ever widening crevasse which was short enough for the leap of faith but impossible for rationality. There were two sides to the crevasse, on one side there was this troop of apes exposed to famine and nasty predators. On the other side there was more hope and food and no predators. Some rational apes decided not to take the leap and discouraged some who were uncertain. The rational apes thought that the jump was impossible!But then those few who were fueled with tonic of faith just took their chances to jump, survived and flourished.
Maybe developing a belief system which aligns to the unknown is far more difficult than being rational.