A matter of faith

Sudipta Chatterjee

Economists are always baffled by the apparent stupidity of humans. They seem to make some decisions which are completely irrational, and go completely against any form of rational logic.Take, for example, the fact that people go ahead and buy lottery tickets. As any statistician can tell you, the probability that you will win a 10 crore rupee prize after buying a one rupee lottery ticket is about the same as that of you getting the money after you flush the one rupee note down the toilet. And yet, people do it. What perhaps the academicians forget is that that one rupee also buys them some hope, a promise of untold riches and even for one moment, buys them a smile on the face.

I think something similar applies to the God phenomenon as well. Does it not occur to you at times that you are talking to thin air when you’re praying? Don’t you sometimes feel like snapping fingers in front of someone who is talking to a mound of clay and asking them to wake up? Or otherwise, don’t you sometimes feel this huge urge to shake those atheists and tell them, “Wake up – don’t you see the work of God all around you?”. Sometimes don’t you pity those who’re blind to the divine presence? Whether or not this God exists, the question is, does the thought comfort you to know that someone is there? Or does the matter of God present you with a challenge – something that prompts you to forge your own destiny and to show others, “Look – I did it without your God”.

Both sides ought to learn tolerance, I think. If you believe in God, well, be at peace with it. If you fanatically pick fights with atheists or the sceptics to prove that God exists, you will not come away any wiser. On the other hand, if you are one of those who thinks that the god delusion will pass similar to the flat world delusion, again, be at peace. Trying to rub your disbeliefs and scientific proofs into the pious man will get you nowhere except causing the man mental agony. Sometimes, though, you need to step in. If you see a man bereft of hope who seems to be fighting a losing battle against the many turmoils of life, maybe prayer will bring him some relief. Or for that matter, if you find a man being cowered into shelling out hard earned money to some temple because God ordered a minimum donation – give him good advice and ask him to see reason. At the end of the day, its a matter of faith.

I know what you’re thinking – if a matter of faith applies to this, then all vampires, ghosts, spirits, astrology – its all a matter of faith, isn’t it? How do you prove or disprove any of that? The point is – you can’t. All you can do is to choose to believe what comforts you the most. Perhaps I should add a little personal touch to this. About God – I’m sceptical. To quote, I think “God is a mean kid sitting on an anthill with a magnifying glass”. But I tend to lose myself in some devotional songs at times, and love the simply serenity that overcomes you once you are in a temple. There has been more bloodshed in the history of mankind in the name of God than anything else. And yet, a lot of our family gatherings and social events centre around this God. Whether you fast or not on a day which is auspicious or normal, and whether you started your business on a Friday or a Saturday, its a matter of faith.

Sudipta’s Life