Believe It or Not

P K Surendran

I have often wondered if it’s a believer or an atheist who is better for Earth. And, with the amassed wisdom of several decades, I now declare it is, of course, the non believer — be it an agonistic or an atheist. Because at least he will not come after you with a hatchet like the believer does.
Therefore, I watch with alarm that atheism or non-belief has been declining in the developing countries, mainly because of the fall of communism. Conversely, unbelief has been growing in theFirst Worldbut, but not enough to counter the rapid growth of believers in the countries that we call theThird World. Since the ‘60s atheists have been declining in world population. A study by Britannica says atheists are now 2.4 per cent of the global populace. It was some 10 per cent in the ‘50s. Agnostics (who believe the world is beyond the limited sensory realm of man but believes there’s a spirit) and those who are indifferent to religion are also somewhat on the decline. They are now 11.5 per cent from 20 per cent.
What does it mean?
ForSouth Asiait means a lot. Believers tend to fall prey to religious bigotry which we see today inPakistanand many other Islamic countries. Believers also are easily bamboozled by a wily priesthood. InIndiamuch of the social discrimination and community crimes are associated with religious beliefs (like Sati) and are justified by the priesthood.
While, not surprisingly,Indiadoes not have data of believers and non-believers (it never had data on anything, anyway), it is believed by Rationalists Associations that the country has less than two per cent population who publicly admit to be non-believers. Many atheists are coy, too. For instance, AK Antony is an atheist but he would never admit it in public for fear of reprisals from the majority — the believers. Atheist Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru could do little forIndiawhile he infused a bit of enthusiasm for ‘scientific temper’ in social life. But the Communists had this advantage of professing atheism publicly but now they are so compelled to allow believers a big say just for the vote bank. For example, in Kerala, which gave Communists the first toe-hold in freeIndia, the Communists changed their tactics four decades ago asking the cadres to intrude into temple management so that they could hold a sway over them. But their strategy worked only with Hindu temples.
West grows opposite!
A pleasant surprise is in the developed West. The number of atheists is rising, though not phenomenally. TheFirst Worldwill probably become a larger part of the world’s total population, so atheism may be headed towards a long term recovery. Greg Paul, an independent researcher, wrote in the Washington Post last September: “The future of American faith is grim as the nation undergoes the secularization process that has already pretty much wrecked the churches in the rest of the West. So what will happen to American society as it too becomes as non-theistic as, say,Canada? My next essay will show how the loss of religion is not the big social/moral deal many make it out to be.”
Discrimination against atheists
According to a 2005 Eurostat Eurobarometer poll,Francetopped the list of atheists with 30 per cent, followed by Czech andBelgiumwith 33 and 27 per cent respectively. Several studies provedSwedento be the most atheist nation in the world (agnostics included). Leaders say secularism flourishes when people become non-believers. Which in other word translates into this: a non-believer tends to be more humane than the religious, whether you like it or not.
“I do not understand how any woman on the face of the planet can call herself religious with the knowledge that these atrocities are being committed to women in the name of religion,” Kelly Quantrill, an astronomy enthusiast of South America, wrote in her blog, Waxing Apocalyptic. She wants all women to be either agnostics or atheists. You say man will subdue you? Well, how and for how long. Nature has chosen female over male for survival of the species, doesn’t it? Man is dispensable syringe but woman is essential drug, got it?

Courtesy: Postnoon