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Science & Religion – Why the conflicts remain?

Science and Religion – why are there so many conflicts between these two? Why do these two distinct feats of the human mind has not yet been able to join hands in the name of harmony? The answer is simple. The conflicts between science and religion still remain in this day and age, because though most people understand what science means, they do not have a clue what religion means – and they do not even have a clue that they do not have a clue.

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I do not expect anything from those in the side of religion, or to be specific, from those who hail themselves as “fundamentalists”, because they are incapable of bringing the faculty of reasoning into action when it comes to the authenticity of their doctrines. In simple terms, the fundamentalists are mentally ill people. So when you encounter such individual, wear a smile on your face and simply say to them – “get well soon.” This would probably not turn them instantly into some sort of sentient humans, but at least you would know that you did your part in the name of sweet harmony.

Now let’s turn to the other side – the side that I think you are on. Those on the side of science, i.e. on the side of rational thinking, are the ones I have the most expectations from. They can think for themselves, unlike the fundamentalist patients on the other side. You do not even know my friend, even you are on the side of true religion. Rational thinkers simply are not aware of this fact, because of the definition of religion that has been imposed on all of us by our deluded society. Even the atheists would start to see religion as a positive element of the human society once they recognize what true religion really means. So, let me give you the simplest definition of religion which I proposed in my treatise on religious fundamentalism entitled “Illusion of Religion”.

“Religion is the process of internal growth, not a lifeless bag of foolish words.”

So, far from what we all have been taught by our ancestors, that when you follow your cultural scripture, you are being religious, real religion has never really been attempted to understand by most of the human population. You are religious when you care about your fellow humans influenced by your own conscience, not due to obedience to your scripture. That’s why, the atheists and agnostics are the greatest religious people on earth. Remember this my friend, true religion has to do with humans, not with books. And that’s the religion I advocate, and indeed that’s the religion which most of the prophets of human history tried to spread. But due to the human craving for a messiah and secure doctrines, those prophets became divine figures and their teachings combined with later incorporation, ended up being divine irrefutable gospel.

So, you see, religion has nothing to do with scriptures. Religion is what your conscience constructs as your baseline behavior in your society. As I have said in “Illusion of Religion” –

“Whether you call yourself a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu or an Atheist, if you have kindness in your heart and compassion in your act, you are on the right path of religion.”

So my dear humans, the true reformation of religion lies in your hands. You are the most capable people to do so, because the fundamentalists on the other side, are too deluded to think anything productive and healthy, that concerns all humanity. Their illness makes them concerned only of the exclusive survival of their dearest scripture. Hence, the fate of humanity lies in the hands of civilized, conscientious and compassionate humans.

 

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Principia Humanitas

Mission of The Scientist

What is the purpose of a scientist? It is the search for truth of course. But is it all that a scientist is supposed to work for! The question that I shall be addressing in this article is what is the purpose of a humanist scientist? Now, here you may wonder, what the heck is a humanist scientist? Aren’t all scientists humanists?

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A person can be a humanist in his or her personal life, but in professional life the sole identity of a scientist is a scientist. Now in this case, there is a small proportion of scientists, whom I call “humanist scientists”. The goal of a scientist is to dedicate himself or herself to the search of the raw, unfiltered, pure truth. Here comes the twist. The purpose of a humanist scientist is to discover the purest form of truth possible, and then apply it to the human society in a way that brings most positive outcome in the path of global progress.

For example, the idea of God which has been imposed on us by our society, has nothing to do with the reality. God is not an Supernatural Entity watching over earth and its inhabitants. God is exclusively a part of human consciousness. Without the humans there is no God. Without us, there is no God, that any living creature should be concerned of. However, I never attempt to take away people’s God from them, because that God is associated with a lot of human sentiments in the human psyche that act as fuel in daily survival. If you try to take away some hungry man’s stale bread, he would fight back, but if you give him something healthier and more substantial than the bread, then he would throw away the bread himself and accept your better food. The same is for God. So, instead of adamantly trying to demolish that God, I rather attempt to channel those sentiments associated with it in the human psyche towards something more productive and humane.

My mission is to make the external God of human society obsolete in front of humanity’s internal Godliness.

As a humanist scientist I focus on giving humanity something rejuvenating, healthy and productive, instead of wasting my energy on the negative elements of the man-made God. Remember, negativity cannot be destroyed with negativity. Fill the humans with positivity and the negative elements would eventually become powerless. Darkness cannot be repelled with darkness. It takes light to do that.

Being a scientist does not mean simply saying the hard truth. You can do that in your journal publications, for later scientists to have the raw data to scrutinize and then draw conclusions from. But other than that you have another important job, that is to represent the truth to people beyond the bounds of journal articles, in a way that brings most positive outcome in the society. And that’s where you turn from a run of the mill scientist into a glorious humanist scientist – a thinker by all means.

Humanism itself is the basic quality that defines us humans. And every human who gives humans preference over everything else is a humanist. And when a scientist turns this simple internal character into an important part of his or her work, that scientist becomes a humanist scientist. Then on, his work is no longer purely about the discovery of truth, but also to mould that truth in a proper fashion before presenting it to the humans. Mind you o brave scientist, your job may be to find the truth, but the purpose behind that finding is to take the human civilization a few steps forward. You are a scientist, which means, you have the most effective tool in the entire world, that can actually shape the world, both literally and metaphorically. So, use that tool called science wisely. Science is like religion – in the wrong hands, they both do more harm than good.

So, make sure that your hands are the right hands. The world is filled with scientists, yet it is suffering from the agonies caused by its people. It’s because the world lacks courageous humanist scientists. What the world needs today my friend, is not yet another researcher of science, but a conscientious scientific researcher of humanism. Now, my question to you is – are you that person whom the world is desperately searching for? Are you?

Remember, as long as you deem science and philosophy merely as your work, such work shall only be a drop in a giant unfathomable ocean. You need to make science and philosophy your life, and only then you shall give rise to a tsunami of humanistic progress. It is a tsunami waiting to happen. It’s only a matter of time that you realize the true purpose of your life and make that tsunami manifest, first within and then without. Become the tsunami of practical optimistic truth and wash away all the weaknesses and horrible stains of the human world.

 

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Principia Humanitas

Abhijit Naskar, 2016, Love, God & Neurons: Memoir of a scientist who found himself by getting lost

Rise of Morality in Neurons

“A lot of you have asked to make a video on morality. What is Morality? The answer is quite simple – it’s just the basic human sense of right and wrong. Every human being has an internal mechanism that tells him or her, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s bad…”

 

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Life is not beautiful, if there is no human

They say life is beautiful. I ask – are you sure? Say all the humans suddenly disappear from the face of earth. Will “life” still remain beautiful? In reality, life is not beautiful, it is ugly and wild. Life is not beautiful, if there is no human self to deem and glorify it as such. Take away the advanced faculties of the human mind, and there shall be only one core force left at the root of life – that force is the force of survival. This very force has given rise to the wide array of life-forms on our planet. Among those life forms, there is us, the humans. The world is beautiful, because we see it as such. The world is ugly because we see it as such. All the ascetic qualities the world has, are imposed by the humans on the mental imagery of the world inside the human mind. Turn off the human mind, and all that remains is, rough, ugly and wild survival need.

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If we talk about life as a natural phenomenon, instead of seeing it as a human phenomenon, then it is all about survival. There is nothing else. It is the vanity of the human mind that adorns life with sophisticated qualities. It is the individual mind that determines the nature of life in its subjective reality. A person stuck in misery would see life as miserable. A person in the lap of luxury would see life as glorious and beautiful. The nature of life beyond the raw essentials of survival, purely depends on the internal realm of the human mind. A beautiful mind sees life as beautiful, whereas an ugly mind sees it as ugly. And throughout the lifetime of a human, the mind keeps evolving, hence, the qualities of life keep evolving. A teenager finds the beauty of life in the idea of finding true love, whereas, a parent finds the beauty of life in providing and being there, for his or her child. That’s what life is all about, or to be more accurate, that’s what human life is all about.

Think about the teenage version of yourself. What are the things that you wanted out of your life? Now think about the things that you want now? Are your wants now the same as they were when you were a teenager? Of course not! Why? Because your mind has grown. It has evolved into a more mature version of itself. It has grown new neural connections, while getting rid of many of the old ones. And this change is a relentless process. Which means, even right at this very moment, without being aware of it, your brain is going through various neurological shifts. Over time these shifts begin to show in your mental world, by transforming your needs, feelings, desires, passions, thoughts, beliefs and basically everything that makes you who you are. So, ten years from now, your needs and desires will be different, than they are now, just like, the needs and desires you have now are different from those you had as a teenager.

So, basically life is not about its true nature or anything like that, rather, it is all about your very personal subjective perception of life itself. Your perception can make life wonderful, and at the same time, your perception can make like pathetic. It is all in your mind. What you think, you see, and then, what you see, makes you think further. And the result is an ever-changing mesh of brain cells. Your brain determines who you are, what you are, and how your life is. Your brain creates your soul, and then gives a purely individualistic purpose to that soul. So, outside your brain, your life has no purpose. All the purposes in human life, that humans deem so valuable are all purely human creation. Without the humans, those purposes do not exist. Without the humans, life is merely about survival.

When a puppy dies in front of your eyes, you feel sad. But you feel a billion times more devastated if a human baby dies in front of you. That’s because you, as a biological creature, are evolutionarily programmed to have more affection towards the members of your own species than towards the members of a foreign species, or to be more accurate, an inferior species. It has nothing to with being immoral or cruel. It is just how life works. However, because you have an advanced neural network replete with circuits of humane elements, especially a fascinating neurological system called the “Mirror Neuron System”, you still feel bad at the agonies of other creatures. You can truly empathize with them. Now that’s called being human. Nevertheless, many of us will still continue to eat meat, even though we would not willingly cause harm to another creature.

The point is, there is nothing ideal in the world, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. We are not ideal. Life is not ideal. Nature is not ideal. Yet, it is our pursuit to attain that ideal absolute – that pure perfection, that makes us the real masters of this planet. So, keep on attaining that perfection bit by bit, but keep in mind that you shall never attain it. Perfection is not to be attained, but to be pursued infinitely.

 

(Simultaneously Published on Goodreads)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2015, Neurosutra: The Abhijit Naskar Collection

Abhijit Naskar, 2016, What is Mind?

When you are Wise, Peace shall follow

Peace and War are two sides of the same coin. Where there is peace, there will be war – where there is war there will be peace. War is only the making of peace. This war does not necessarily have to be external. In most cases, the real war is internal, which means, it takes place within the human mind – within you. One way or another, war will keep on festering on this planet, until humanity becomes a real wise species. And we have a long to go till we actually achieve it, mostly because, we are still not an advanced species, no matter how much we boast about it. We just like to feel that we are advanced, for all the basic technological discoveries that we have made. But the point is, technological discoveries may make a species advanced, but they do not necessarily make a species wise. A wise species would be the one at peace with the self. Without the self there is no excellence. Without the self there is no advancement.

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All creatures have it – the self, but the humans are the most advanced, because, they have the most complicated form of the self on this planet, thanks to the process of Evolution, which led to a uniquely intricate neural network inside our head. Other creatures just have the taste of it, because most of their brain power goes to managing the physical functioning of their body, and very little is left for mental faculties beyond the needs of survival. However, do not for a second think, that we are the best there shall ever be. Yes it is true, that in aspects of excellence, especially the ones that have to do with the faculties of the mind, we are indeed the best. But we still have a long way to go to become a real wise species, at least the way we hail ourselves to be in the very title “Sapiens”.

To become real Sapiens, we need to act as sapiens. And even though some humans do act as true sapiens, or at the very least, they try to act that way, the unfortunate reality is, most humans don’t. These humans often lose their basic faculty of reasoning to such an extent, that they adamantly vote for a narcissistic, human-looking, orange orangutan and make him the leader of a great nation. Such a scenario is only possible because a huge portion of the human society is still infested with superstitions, prejudices, sectarianism, mysticism and bigotry. And we the humans shall not be worthy of the title “sapiens”, unless we do away with these primitive evils, that consistently drag the human civilization back to stone age.

Do away with prejudices – do away with separatism – do away with bigotry, and you shall witness the dawn of a new world- a world of real peace – real harmony – real acceptance. In that world, love and kindness shall run in the veins of humans, instead dogma-induced hatred. Such humans will be worthy of the title Sapiens. They shall be qualified, by all means, for the title “human”. But the point is, it is not going to happen so easily. And more importantly, it is not going to happen, unless humanity learns to value humanity over everything else – and I mean everything else. No Bible, no Church, no Priest, no dogma of any kind, shall be above the humans – above basic human elements, such as love, compassion and reasoning. Human character should be judged only by the measure of these elements, not a book, a prophet, a messiah, or an institution. To quote from “Principia Humanitas”

“Human you are, and your religion Humanism.”

That’s it. That’s all there is. If you are a human, you have all the religions in you, if not, then no matter how many scriptures you hold dear, it will not make you worthy of the title “human”, let alone the title “religious.” As I have said in “Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism”
“Let your conscience be your scripture and your actions be your religion. Let the humans be your church and compassion be your worship. Let love be your gospel and acceptance be your revelation.”

When you are wise, peace shall follow, or we can also see it the other way round. When you are at peace with the self, you will be wise. And from that internal wisdom, shall emerge peace for the whole world – real peace – peace that will unite, not divide – peace that will be celebrated, not fought for. So, start working for that peace my friend. Let your child have a better world, than the one you were born in.

 

(Simultaneously Published on Goodreads.)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Principia Humanitas

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism

We Are All Jihadis

Are you a good person? Or, are you a bad person? It’s a simple question. Yet the answer is not so simple as you might think. In most cases, a conscientious human being would probably answer that he or she is a good person, or at the very least tries to be one as much as possible. The reality is, no human being is purely good or purely evil. We all have the faculties to be good, and at the same time we have the neurological predispositions to be evil. In the end, the choice is ours. And that choice determines our external characteristic image.

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The way we behave, becomes our identity. If we behave more in the line of goodness than evil, then hopefully we are hailed by others as good. And if we behave more in the line of evil, instead of practicing the good in us, we are hailed as evil or bad. One way or another, each one of us is struggling to act in the line of goodness as much as possible. Each one of us is struggling to become better – to become a better human. And that struggle makes each one of us an active Jihadi.

Because, the term “Jihad” does not actually mean some imaginary “Holy War” (“war” in Arabic is “harb” and “holy” is “muqadassa”) in the name of God or Allah, as presented by modern media. “Jihad” means our internal “struggle” to become better. The term may have come from an Islamic background, but the religion Islam does not have an exclusive authority over it. Think about the term “Yoga” for example. The term “Yoga” which means “union”, comes from ancient Sanskrit literature of India, but the nation India does not have an authority over it. Every human endeavor is the possession of the human mind, and nothing else. Every feat of the mind is the possession of the mind, not of a nation, a race or a religion.

Jihad is a feat of the human mind. And as such, no religion in a clear state of mind, can claim any sort of copyright of it. Also, just because ignorance and bigotry have made the term Jihad highly infested with elements of violence in the minds of the non-muslim population, does not mean that Jihad actually is all about spilling blood and killing non-muslims. Just like, Yoga is not merely about various body postures. The physical exercises which most of the Western population hails as Yoga exercises, are actually only one type of Yoga, which is “Hatha Yoga”, commonly misrepresented as “Hot Yoga”.

However, we cannot also ignore the fact that in the text of the Quran, Jihad is normally found in the sense of fighting in the path of God. In the Islamic texts the term Jihad is mentioned mostly to describe warfare against the enemies of the early Muslim community. In the Hadith, the second most authoritative source of the sharia law, jihad is used to mean armed action. And the reason for this is, in the ancient times, when Islam was a young religion, it had to defend itself from foreign invasion, by whatever means necessary. Hence, it sanctioned external Jihad, that is military action against invasion, just like in India Sikhism sanctioned military action to defend itself against Islamic invasion. Eventually, in the hands of authoritarian fundamentalists, unlike in Sikhism, the defensive external Jihad turned into radical imperialist external Jihad in the religion of Islam. In the process, the actual internal Jihad got lost. It got lost both within the Muslim population as well as outside of it.

The point is, in the ancient times external violent Jihad might have made some sense, but in the modern civilized society, the only Jihad that is qualified to be sustained by the humans as a part of the civilized society, is the internal Jihad, that is, your internal struggle to become better. To quote from my book “Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism”.

“The real Jihad is an internal process, not an external one. It is the jihad between the good and evil characteristics inside you. The most intriguing example of such inner jihad can be found in our studies of racial attitudes in people. This specific internal jihad is between the subconscious expression of racial attitude and the brain’s conscious control of that attitude.”

Basically, Jihad, struggle or cognitive dissonance, whatever you call it, is the battle that goes on everyday inside every human being- the battle between good and evil – between selfishness and altruism – between love and hatred – between humanism and animalism. Once the humans recognize this simple fact of the human mind, it would inadvertently contribute to the eradication of prejudicial evil of “Islamophobia”. And getting rid of such prejudicial stereotypes is imperative if we are to become a real wise species.

 

(Simultaneously Published on Goodreads.)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, The Islamophobic Civilization: Voyage of Acceptance

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, We Are All Black: A Treatise on Racism

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism

The Brain creates Morality, not the Bible

“Morality” – it is a fantastic term, so much so, that almost every single religious institution wants to claim its exclusive authority or rather copyright of this simple psychological element. The cave-men of the church keep claiming, “morality comes from the Bible”, and so does every other mindless fundamentalist on earth no matter their religion. They truly believe that without their holy scripture there would be no morality on earth. They truly believe, without their doctrines to guide humanity in the moral path, we are destined to be punished in an imaginary hell. So let me tell those fundamentalists – You need to visit a psychiatrist, pal!

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Here let me make something clear at the very beginning. Beliefs are a quintessential part of the human psyche, but they can be both healthy and harmful. And the beliefs of the fundamentalist Australopithecines are particularly harmful. These beliefs are what we call “delusions”. Except unlike in a neuropsychological ailment, the delusion of the fundamentalists is not just harmful for the individuals suffering from it, but more importantly it is the greatest threat to peace, progress and wellbeing of the entire human species.

I am not going to go into the details of which scripture is more moral than others and which one is most immoral. It does not depend on the scripture itself, as much as it depends on the person reading the scripture. All human creations, including all sorts of literature are bound to have flaws, because it is the human mind that creates them. No literature, including the ones in the domain of religion, comes from some Imaginary Big Monkey, high up in the sky. They all rise from the human psyche. Hence the elements of the composer’s mind gets distinctively imprinted into the content of the literature. So the morality depicted in a certain text is not the ultimate standpoint of moral characteristic of a species, it is merely the textual echo of the composer’s internal moral compass. If a pedophile writes a book, he would probably deem abusing a nine year old as morally justified. On the other hand, if the book is written by, say Tolstoy, it would have a completely reformed depiction of morality, ethics and human principles. The depiction of morality by Tolstoy can be something that the human civilization can look up to and expect to march ahead towards becoming less primitive. But a pedophile’s subjective morality would only drag the human civilization back to the days in the wilderness.

So, where does morality come from exactly? I will tell you where it comes from in a little while, but before that let me focus on where it does not come from. Morality does not come from the Bible. Morality does not come from the Quran. Morality does not come from the Torah. Morality does not come from the Vedas. This beautiful mental element which we call morality, does not come from any scripture, any institution or any God. Morality is born in the human brain, from the electrical impulses among the neurons. Morality like any other mental element, such as love, peace, orgasm, rage or hatred, is simply the expression of electrochemical impulses. These impulses in our brain define who we are, what we are, how we feel, how we think, how we behave and how we distinguish between right and wrong, and good and evil. In fact, we our the impulses within our brain. If you mess with even a tiny portion of the neural circuits constantly sharing electrochemical information among each other, it would radically alter your personality. It can alter your entire identity.

Part of that identity are your moral characteristics. These along with other analytical traits of your mind, are distinct creations of the frontal lobes of your brain. This is the region that is most responsible for making us a uniquely intelligent and wise species. This is the part that gives you the sense of an internal moral compass, based on all the available data. It is here that your innate primitive urges and instinctual responses born from the limbic system, are filtered according to the norms of the society as well as your internal ethical elements. Therefore, when a person thinks and behaves as a civilized human being, he or she is doing so because of the civilized elements within him or her, not because of some book, even though the book may have certain influence on that behavior. Burn all the scriptures in the world, still morality will remain intact. But mess with the frontal lobes, or to be specific the prefrontal cortex, of all the humans in the world, and you would inadvertantly jeopardize the intellectual faculties of the entire human species including morality.

To quote from my book “Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality”

“Morality does not come to this mortal world from some imaginary paradise. It rises from the neurons of mortal humans to aid in the process of a healthy conduct in both personal and social life of the mortal humans. Hence, it is the existential responsibility of the humans to reconstruct the moral parameters of a time based on the advancements and achievements of that time.”

All kinds of external information regardless of where they come from, do engage in the shaping of a person’s neural network of moral characteristics as well as other mental features. The environment we live in, has a deep impact over our psyche, but for the human civilization to keep on moving forward in the path of progress all environmental information must be scrutinized by our internal civilized faculties. Nothing from the external world as well as the internal one, should be accepted to be true, good and healthy, unless it passes the test of reasoning.

 

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads.)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Principia Humanitas

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism