Being Agnostic in a Religious Nation

This is an article I wrote for my school magazine in high school. It invariably suffered rejection for heresy, at the hands of the School Magazine Board, despite me being the Editor then.

To be agnostic in India is like being a Jew in Nazi Germany – you’re just not supposed to exist! People tear at you like wolves on a hunt if you even dare mention that your religious beliefs do not lie on either side of the river. Forgive me my exaggerated imageries, but my experiences implore me to present such a picture.

To all those who have been fortunate enough not to have heard about agnostics – it is a state of utter religious confusion. The mind of an agnostic honeymoons in no man’s land, unsure whether to give in to religious clamour, or to join the ‘blasphemous’ atheists. In India, a believer always finds refuge and so does an atheist, who finds political asylum in communism, but what about the man footed at both gates? There is no escape for him – he is always under pressure to join one or the other to gain acceptance among the ‘normal’ society. Yet, one wonders how society calls itself normal. Is it just because they can identify with a common cause?

As an agnostic, I always tend to play the devil’s advocate, proposing counter-arguments whenever I find someone who is staunchly on one side of the religious street. Due to the fact that I meet a (much) higher number of believers than not, I tend to weigh a little more heavily on the atheist side. But am I worse off than those who have already crossed over?

Is it true that a believer (or a non-believer) is much better off than an agnostic because he has chosen his side? To me, many of these people seem to have unthinkingly taken the plunge, like a Hindu boy, who cannot kill a cow (as the creature is deemed ‘holy’) but can butcher Muslims in riots, or murder his own sister for having married outside their caste. Does religion give him the right to scar humanity? Others take up the cause due to relentless brainwashing, like the Muslim who kneels before the almighty, but makes thousands of innocents kneel in front of the whole world, so that he can spread ‘jihad’, taught to him by loony fanatics. Does the almighty give him the right to instil fear without even understanding his own cause? Still more hypocritical is the Christian clergyman, who advocates celibacy, and yet practices paedophilia without any regret whatsoever. Also, he refuses to accept science or logic, and caused the darkest centuries in mankind’s history and still continues to torment the spirit of free enquiry. Where does God stand for all the victims of this religious sacriligion?

Or is it that an atheist stands on a higher pedestal? He, who openly denounces the presence of God but secretly prays to the heavens when he or his family is taken ill – does he stand on tougher moral ground? Or is it that he, who needs to take out the frustration of his own shortcomings on society, gets to preach non-religion? Is it not that the pretence of opposing religion actually gives him something to be noted for, and thus fulfil a need to be important?

These questions are just a small part of the colossal number of enquiries an agnostic carries with him. Religion always seems to have more demented and inhumane followers than the dedicated and civilized ones and so is the atheistic world full of pathetic and flawed personalities grappling with the very demons they wanted to exorcise. Then where does a sane man stand?

He stands on the invisible and agnostic third side – attending to the call of humanity. As believers and atheists slug it out, I believe that the real trials lie on the face of this earth, and it would be much wiser if we focused on being human, rather than holy. Religion can always be treated as a sub-topic to humanity – humans must be higher than the concept of God. As to the question of whether to be a believer, atheistic or maybe turn agnostic, I refuse to recommend a side. It’s your choice – you decide.

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