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three people standing each other during golden time

By Prakhar Patidar

Atheism sounds like such a paradox, the belief of not believing. It is the rejection of the idea of a god or deities and, in turn, religion. However, it is not as black and white as it may seem. Belief systems are a multilayered grey area that comprises all the worldviews that exist in the world. Theist: someone who believes in God can be someone who ardently believes in the creator of the universe and follows their religion as best as they can. It can also be a person who accepts the existence of God but renounces religious rituals because to them, rituals aren’t necessary. Similarly, an atheist is a person with an absolute lack of belief and/or any inclination towards religious practices of cultural significance like festivals or, it can be a person who rejects God but accepts cultural byproducts of religion. What’s common between the two is knowing what one believes in. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is agnosticism: when a person entertains the existence of God but insists that it can’t be proven or disproven.

Historically, science in its classical opposition with religion has been a field that harbours an inclination towards atheism and agnosticism. It is understandable. What is in conflict here is religion’s reliance on faith and that of science on proof. Apart from science, inclinations towards non-belief and religiousness are observed amongst the young. Why is it that atheism appeals to the young?

In my opinion, it has a lot to do with identity. Identities are complex concepts people often struggle with, sometimes even for their entire lives. The question ‘who am I?’ is up close with ‘what does it all mean?’ on the list of most difficult philosophical questions. Who are we? There are several constructed categories we find ourselves in by the virtue of our birth: gender, nationality, religion, caste and class, etc, are all predetermines of the identity one is expected to grow into. Religion: if not the biggest, then at least one of the biggest influences on our identity and reality. The intention is in no way to throw a shade on religion; they are integrated into our socio-cultural fabric and have proven to be very rewarding for some. I merely suggest that since often these constructions don’t come with a choice, it isn’t surprising when people can’t resonate with them, especially in their formative years.

What happens if who you are conflicts with who you are expected to be?

You look for options that accommodate your reality than mould it.



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