Sunday, 3 April 2011

Musings on God, Allah, Deities, Evil and Che Guevara

All the recent controversies about God, Allah or whatever name one wishes to ascribe to the Deity, get one thinking personal thoughts. For the purpose of this article, let's just call Him God. God is a sufficiently neutral name, implying neither a particular religion nor (for the hardcore feminists) gender.
God means different things to different people. But to everyone He implies hope. Hope that the future will be better than the past; hope that we win the lottery; hope that good health does not desert us ... and so on and so forth.
Alas, God is also no stranger to controversy and evil.
God, in various manifestations and forms, has been the cause of much bloodshed. God's name is used by us to kill each other. Soldiers, rebels, ideologues of many sorts use His name to kill.
Bullets speak only the language of death. Bullets do not require a translator. Nor do bullets have to couch their point in flowery terms. Bullets make their point without asking questions or looking for answers.
Perhaps killing is part of what it means to be God.
The problem of evil has led many to question the nature and even the existence of God. The most common answer to this vexing question: free will.
Humans have the freedom to sin. And many take these freedoms seriously. But how does one account for natural disasters? Humans do not indulge in floods, earthquakes or tsunamis to exercise their free will.
Undoubtedly, these natural disasters are Acts of God. One can understand humans committing evil deeds but evil acts ascribed to God is another thing altogether.
It comes back to faith and the ability to believe in an idea. The way communists believed in a Godless system, Christian Crusaders in the Pope, Jews in the Holy Land and Islamic Jihadis in their desire to impose Islamic law.
Hope embodied in such ideas is so powerful that revolutionaries like Che Guevara fight entrenched systems, or German leftists took up the communist cause  in the 1970s and 1980s. Clearly, the absence of God can be as intoxicating an idea as the existence of God.
Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara during a light moment
Despite the odd leftist attack in Europe, Godless violence has dissipated in today's world. Islamic revolutionaries (yes, let's call them revolutionaries) seem to have taken over where communists left off.
Islamic revolutionaries have more in common with their Godless counterparts than is often acknowledged. They operate in secretive cells (mainly because they are illegal)! They believe in a 'higher, universal' goal which justifies violence, even against civilians. Their end objective is to overthrow the existing social order and replace it with a 'pure' society.
Incidentally, there was no tolerance of dissent by either the communist terror cells of the 1980s or the Islamic terror cells of today.
The world has moved to a black and white conception of God. A rigid interpretation of God has implications for the world in which we live. Free will loses in such an environment.
The freedom to call God 'Allah' by non-Muslims disappears, as does the freedom to build minarets in Christian lands. Within the Muslim world, the space to practice 'deviant' faiths, whether Islamic or otherwise, diminishes. Within the non-Muslim world, Muslims have come to accept a sort of global pariah status, often singled out by name alone.
Muslim states providing safe havens to persecuted Christians and Jews by bigoted religious authorities are a distant memory.
Despite all the killing, maiming and intimidation in His name, God remains a powerful force for many. One of the few extant forces which often motivates people to commit crimes against humanity.
It is not important which God one believes in - or does not believe in. Believers and unbelievers alike are capable of tremendous acts of good or evil.

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