Q: No matter what science or scientists say, my faith
in the existence of a prayer-answering God is unshakeable. Do you have
any problem with that?
A: As I was sitting in
I knew the bottom wasn’t there.
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat,
little things like that.
(William Hughes Mearns)5.2
Q: What is prayer?
A: Prayer means ‘to ask
that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single
petitioner confessedly unworthy’ (Ambrose Bierce).
Q:How can all knowledge be acquired only by physical,
objective, ’scientific’ means? Is it not possible that some types of
knowledge can be obtained only by ‘experiencing’ it in your head?
How can we humans be sure that such ‘knowledge’ is correct and
universal? How dependable can such ’subjective knowledge’ be, whatever
that picture-9term means? Even such knowledge is bound to lead to some
predictions (say about God) which are in the physical realm, and
therefore amenable to objective scientific verification. That has not
happened. Why not wait till science can make more progress? What is the
hurry?! In any case, what can you achieve by hurrying?
Q: I have experienced God. How can you
A: Please take the trouble of
gaining a mastery over the science of modern psychology.
up some good books on evolutionary theory. You will change your views.
Q: But if my God-concept is demolished,
I shall feel utterly lost and forlorn. How can I cope with that?
Please be brave and mentally strong, and try to face reality. There are
a huge number of atheists or irreligious people out there. Establish
contact with them, and share your thoughts with them. There is strength
Q: But religion has given rise to
so much art and literature. Should we abandon all that?
No. That is also our heritage. Nothing prevents you from enjoying good
poetry or music. I enjoy Sufi music, as also bhajans sung by Jagjit
Singh (yes bhajans, and not just ghazals). The Ramayan and the
Mahabharat are great stories. But only stories. They were aptly
described by Nehru as a curious mixture of fact and fiction. The point
is that we humans must move on as we acquire more and more knowledge and
understanding. In the beginning there was no science; only ignorance or
some fragmentary pieces of information. And there were superstitions,
born out of the fear of the unknown. Our perspective must change in the
light of new insights and knowledge. As more and more people come round
to the rationalist’s view of things, a new kind of art, music, and
literature would emerge. Things change with time. Don’t be afraid of
Q: Einstein’s famous remark ‘God does
not play dice’ shows that he believed in the existence of God. Right?
Wrong. This issue has been discussed in great detail in the very first
chapter of the book ‘The God Delusion’ by Dawkins (2007). Einstein made
this remark in the context of his opposition to quantum mechanics as
formulated at that time. Recently a letter written by Einstein in
January 1954 (just one year before his death) was auctioned for
$400,000. Here is an excerpt from that letter: ‘. . the word God is
for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses,
the Bible a collection of honourable but still primitive legends which
are nevertheless pretty childish’.
========Dr. V. K. Wadhawan is the Raja Ramanna
Fellow at BARC (DAE),
Mumbai and the Associate Editor of PHASE
TRANSITIONS. He is also the Ex-Head, Laser Materials Division at the
Centre for Advanced Technology (DAE), Indore.