Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Defense of Atheism: A Hegelian Reminder

In his “Brothers Karamazov”, Dostoevsky, the only truly gifted Human Lucifer after the Angel Lucifer, wrote in an anti-Satanic tone, which calls into question his relentless skeptic mind: “IF GOD DOESN’T EXIST, THEN EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.” That is, if there is no prohibition (thou shall not do that) or there is no fear of god, everything is permissible.

One must excuse Dostoevsky for his disgusting insight. He wrote at the height of the imperial arrogance of the old European nationalisms. The godless European modernity, in the robe of nationalism, was spreading all over the world. In this confused state of the chaotic spread of nihilism, he is perfectly justified in defending the Eastern Christianity (or the spiritual) from the Judaic Christianity of the west (the material) by evoking the figure of the god.

The moral: One should not fuck one’s neighbor’s wife, because god will punish you.

Years later, Lacan, the only truly gifted Machine Lucifer after the Human Lucifer and Angel Lucifer, added a negative to the second part of the formulation of Dostoevsky: “IF GOD DOESN’T EXIST, THEN NOTHING IS PERMITTED.” That is, if there is no prohibition, nothing is enjoyable.

One must adore Lacan for his disgusting insight. He wrote after the end of two horrific wars, and many concentration camps, and at the height of cold war of the two Orwellian 1984 systems. In these perfectly administered societies of the liberal west and the communist Russia, the only pleasure one hopes to have is from violations of the established codes.

The moral: If you want pleasure from fucking, one should fuck one’s neighbor’s husband, because fucking one’s husband is not pleasure but a duty administered by the society.

Years later, I, the Non-Existent Lucifer after the Machine Lucifer, the Human Lucifer and the Angel Lucifer, is adding a negative to the first part of the formulation of Dostoevsky: “IF GOD EXIST, THEN EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.” That is, if there is prohibition, everything is possible.

One must dump me for my disgusting insight. I am writing at the height of the evil dance of the most tyrannical of all systems known as liberal democracy and the equally evil dances of various god-fearing religious fanatics from Hindu, Islamic, Judaic, Christian and Buddhist camps. People are ready to kill, loot, and rape other people because they do it for a sacred cause, in defense of their supreme God.

The moral: Believe in the supremacy of your god and fuck brutally your neighbor’s wife in the name of the very same god, god will reward you.

This is where atheism, long after Shelley, plays a significant role. Atheists have no sacred cause, because they have no god. Hence they cannot kill, loot or rape other people in the name of a sacred cause. And if they do these things, they have to take responsibility for their action. They cannot hide under the cover-up of a sacred cause. So atheists are really a miserable lot. If you have observed world politics, you will see that in the contemporary era, the only people in the world who search for peaceful solutions to world dilemmas are the atheists. The god-fearing Hindus want to bomb Pakistan. The god-fearing Jews want to bomb Palestine. The god-fearing WASPs want to bomb the rest of America. The god-fearing Arabs want to bomb Israel and the west.

ALL OF THEM TOGETHRE WANT TO BOMB THE ATHEISTS.

My point is not that the atrocities are committed by people who are committed believers, but these atrocities are committed and justified in the name of god, religion and nation.

So the question remains: how can we turn committed believers into atheists so that no one is left in the world to defend atrocities in the name of god, religion and nation?

Deleuze’s greatest philosophical insight consists in the fact that it was he who first recognized that there are not only good and bad answers but PROBLEMS themselves are good and bad. Those who are familiar with Kant’s notion of ‘the antinomies of pure reason’ will understand that there is no point in asking the question “Does God exist?” and trying to prove to the believer that God doesn’t exist. That is a question that cannot be comprehended within the realm of reason, says Kant. So, Delueze would say, that when it is a question of questioning belief “Does God exist?” is a bad question.

The good question to confront believers’ belief is: “Why do you really need a god?” “To defend your acts of atrocities to others in God’s name?” “Or to get good grades in school?” etc. Now the believer will be forced to confess his or egoistic investment in belief. Doubt will soon dwell in their mind. They are already half-atheists.

Now, there are pure believers who will submit to the God for the sake of submission and not for any egoistic concerns. But they are not different from atheists. Are not atheists precisely those people who submit to a non-god for the sake of submission, without any egoistic concerns?

6 comments:

  1. We need a god to exist in this world but it should not be compartmentalized as a hindu/muslim/xtian god. Of course one has to admit that there is a supreme power governing this universe. Each life has its share of sorrows and misfortunes and in such crises belief in God ,prayer and meditation soothe us with peace, hope. Joy, and a desire to lead a healthy life. But communal riots and genocide in the name of religion or to safeguard the interests of a particular sect cannot be tolerated. But I don’t claim that believers are better than non-believers / atheists ,that depends on each one’s point of view. I cannot agree with your argument that atheists are great achievers/peacemakers. Many revolutionary feats in different disciplines of knowledge have been ascribed to believers like, Mother Theresa, NEWTON, Einstein , Milton ,Browning ,Eliot, Yeats’Abdul Kalam, A. R. Rahman, Ilayaraja and so on. I disagree with your remark that if all willing submissive believers are converted to atheists this world will be transformed to a trouble-, free one.Be it any sect, caste or religion ,experiences have taught us that the most prioritised sect/religion is HUMANITY, the most important religion is HUMANITARIANISM, and the most acclaimed gods are HUMAN BEINGS themselves. ORDINARY PEOPLE WILL BECOME EXTRAORDINARY WHEN THEY WORK AMONG THE POOREST OF THE POOR. Gandhiji Tagore and Jesus Christ have advised us that by serving poor people we serve God. They have also told us that God lives in each one of us and that identifying and realizing that supreme power is the highest form of knowledge.the same view has been endorsed by great masters like Plato, Aristotle and Emerson. In this context what are the connotations and denotations of Lucifers,Gods, Religions, Believers, atheists and so on? Problems{good or bad} will be there inspite of the presence or absence of God. The manner in which one faces the problem is the deciding factor. Everything can/cannot be permitted according to one,s own wish or pleasure quotient. It is our sense of morality, education intuitive power and power of discrimination which tempt/compel/ restrain us from fucking our neighbour’s wife or neighbour’s husband.

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  2. Thanks, teacher, for the comment.

    You need God at moments of crisis. That is my whole point. Belief is a UTILITARIAN STRATEGY TO SAFEGUARD ONE'S INTEREST BY OTHER MEANS. Why can't you love God for the sake of love, just as Jesus has done, expecting nothing in return? Of course, I know that Jesus becomes utilitarian for a split second in his life when he cries out in despair on the cross, demanding of his father why he has forsaken him. But immediately he recognises his mistake and submits to the will of the god. Can you point out the existence of a believer who believes in God, expecting nothin in return? If there was one, he or she is not different from atheists in the sense that the atheists too do not expect anything from god. The only difference is that they just don't believe in God.

    Is humanism really human enough? I doubt.

    I did not say that non-believers are great acheivers, nor did I undermine the acheivemnets of believers. All I said was in contemporory world politics only the non-believers are trying to make peaceful solutions to political dilemmas. Maybe, I am wrong. But still the fact remains that all the major war-mongers of the present are committed believers, be it Bush, Bin Laddan, Benjamin Netanyahu or Narendra Modi! Can you name a war-monger from the present politics who is a non-believer?

    I would say that Christ was a radical philosopher. But Gandhi and Tagore, hmmm, political conservatives in two different robes.

    " Gandhiji, Tagore and Jesus Christ have advised us that by serving poor people we serve God."

    That's a quote from you. I know you personally and I know very well you are concerned about the marginalized and the dispossessed. But there is a real danger if we see poor people as our MEANS/TOOLS for serving God. Its logical implications are dangerous: (1) they are just tools for us. (2)if we want to serve the god, we want people/tools to remain poor.

    Helping others, is egoism at its best. When we see a poor man, there is pain in our heart. We help him/her tempororily because we cannot stand pain that we feel within. Once we help him/her, our pain is RELIEVED. Now WE are HAPPY. The help is just pretext to get away from the pain of our heart. The concern is egoistic. We worked for OUR own HAPPINESS. It just that he/she happened to be at the receiving end our paternalistic mercy.

    Can we not work to change the situation of the poor by not being paternalistic? I am troubled by this question. I just do not know the answer.

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  3. "Why can't you love God for the sake of love, just as Jesus has done, expecting nothing in return?"

    true. sometimes love(beleiver) and non-love(atheist) are in the same lost boat. the misfortune is that it is their boat that always sinks.

    but dear , isnt it also true that just as all lovers dont love, many non-lovers also hate. are all atheists as good as u try to convince? i dont trust either of them .

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  4. Where did non-thought try to convince that atheists are good? Does it believe in good or bad?

    "Atheists have no sacred cause, because they have no god. Hence they cannot kill, loot or rape other people in the name of a sacred cause. And if they do these things, they have to take responsibility for their action. They cannot hide under the cover-up of a sacred cause."

    Is this quote what forced you to such a conclusion? Or what? Let Sree clarify the point first.

    In fact, non-thought is of the opinion that some non-God-believers, like believers, fought for a sacred cause (socialism) and externalized the responsibilty for their action in the name of 'historical necessity'. But in Stalinism, it was total 'desubjectification' (watch the films of Eisenstein). Stalinism was not battle between the good believer and the bad beleiver/non-believer; rather it was history revealing itself. Individuals were just TOOLS of history; no paradise awaited them. When Lenin got paralysed, he asked Stalin to poison him because, true to a historical materialist, he thought his role in history as a TOOL was over! There was not a little bit of sympathy for one's own pain and life!

    Trust no one, not even you!

    Poor thing--this tool of history known as non-thought. Earlier it had to tell Gupthan that he was putting words into its mouth. Then it had to clarify to Elizabeth teacher that it did not say the things that had been attributed to it. Now, it seems to it that hisory, to out-quote both Marx and Hegel, is repeating itself a third time! First as farce, then as tragedy, and the third time as .......

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  5. dear "tool of history", is sacred cause the only reason why people hate and kill? isnt nationalism, ideology and the like become equally sufficient to kill? i feel god is only a pretext even for atheists to blame or not blame someone for all the illogics of life. my point was simply this. there are good and bad beleivers as much as there are good and bad atheists. every sacred cause- even socialism is one- begins from the hearts of good, withers at the hands of many and dies, crushed beneath some bad beleiver's feet.

    No other animal but man kills simply to kill. taking up its responsibility is the highest farce. whether in the name of any sacred cause or historical necessity, what difference does that make?

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  6. “there are good and bad believers as much as there are good and bad atheists.”

    Are we talking about personalities? Or logical positions stemming from objective situations? Even if we accept that it’s all about personality clash as in the American presidential elections, how can one differentiate the good from the bad? Who will be the ULTIMATE JUDGE? Can we not look at them from beyond good and bad?


    “No other animal but man kills simply to kill.”

    Your statement has all the perfection except that it is not true. Does man kill just for the sake of killing? Can you point out a single instance in human history where it is so? Let us recall Alexander Kojev, the most brilliant commentator of Hegel: “Anthropogenetic Desire is different from animal Desire (which produces a natural being, merely living and having a sentiment of life) in that it is directed, not toward a real, “positive,” given object, but toward another Desire. Thus, in the relationship between man and woman, for example, Desire is HUMAN only if the one desires, not the BODY, BUT THE DESIRE OF THE OTHER.”

    In other words, every killing is a statement! In human world Killing is not killing (as in the animal world) but something else! It could be sexual jealousy (Othello), libidinal excess (Bacchus), petty patriotism (Pentheus), oil (Bush and Dick Cheney), revenge (Manju Warrier in Kannezhuthi pottum thottu) etc.

    In a society build on ethical norms, one can punish or reward ONLY those who take responsibility for their actions. Whether it gives any justice to the dead or not is an insignificant question, because in an ethical society justice is ONLY for the living! Can we punish the dead for not defending him or her properly and for getting killed? We can't punish them just as we cant give justice to them. They are beyond good and bad, punishment and reward, profane and divine. T

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