Appalling no doubt the piece of news was to me. If I remember it correctly, I had already become quite skeptical about God’s existence even at that time. So this post is not about how theists could also go morally corrupt, but how the guiding lights of religion (theism) could themselves be atheists!
Just for a moment think about the following issues:
1. How do Godmen indulge in irreligious/immoral/illegitimate/unethical acts?
How many times have you come across incidents of religious leaders held in high regard being apprehended for illegitimate and/or immoral acts? I can remember a prominent Hindu leader being convicted for murder. A prominent religious mentor to a former Indian prime minister held for some scam. Day in and day out we come to know of how some Godman is found duping his followers. A temple’s basement in Vadodra, Gujarat had been found to be the place of illicit drug trade in night hours. There are a few charges of Christian priests indulging in pedophily. And it is common knowledge as to how sleight of hand and even elaborate stratagems are employed by these same Godmen to perform “miracles”. Almost none of the large religious organizations is free of hushed whispers of rampant corruption in their sacrosanct sanctums.
Have the above people told their devotees that it is morally alright to do what had brought them infamy? More precisely as example, have you ever come across a Godman urging you to have sex with someone who you have not married, or to rape or to kill, or embezzle large sums of money? You remember the strongest reason you are given to not do all of these and other things that we include under an umbrella term – “immoral”? That reason is “God will not like it. God will be angry (of course, it is not said in such simple-childish terms, but in more sophisticated manner like “karma” or “God sees everything”, etc.).”
How then they indulge in the same activities they proscribe for their followers? So, do these people think God will not get angry if they themselves do the same immoral things? What makes them think God is going to apply different standards to judge them? That they’ve been performing special rituals all their lives, that they’ve been “close” to the God by way of always being in physical proximity of some statues? Do they really think the omnipotent, omniscient God cannot see them sell narcotic drugs right under God’s nose? The real answer is they just do not believe in existence of God, or think God to be impotent!
2. What does it take for a Godman to climb up the religious hierarchy?
All the major religious organizations have a hierarchy. There are fewer people on the top, and proportionately more at the bottom. The one at the top enjoy greatest respect and privileges. No one right from the birth is declared the Pope, or the head priest of a community. So, what criteria are used to determine who should ascend to those coveted positions? One might casually answer that it is the one most pious, most devoted to the God, one most liked by the God that ascends. What are the objective units to measure piety, devotion and intensity of God’s love? None.
Most likely, a lot of bargaining, cajoling, canvassing, bribing go into such ascension. Basically, at the heart of such affairs is what we would otherwise in other spheres of human society unabashedly term as dirty politics. What does this indicate about our Godmen? That they are not free of worldly temptations themselves. They desire power, money, respect, luxuries at any cost. A most passionate singer would not be much bothered about how much laypersons praise them, would not be worried about where in the hierarchy of public perception do they fit. They would just sing. A true Godman should just devote his life to the God (whatever that entails, but most definitely not indulging in dirty politics). Can anybody deny that such people are simply not interested in God, or that other materialistic things fuel their desire much more? That they have no moral right to tell others to shun the worldly distractions and follow the path of God? At least not till they sufficiently demonstrate through their own deeds that they mean what they say.
Okay, so why am I even talking about thse issues? Many people openly concede that Godmen are not to be trusted. But then, they visit the same places of worship, consider the dwellings of same Godmen as sacrosanct. They themselves donate obscene amounts of money to the same religious institutions that are run by such double-faced “leading luminaries of religion”. They respect them to utmost degree when meeting in person. They have greater contempt for, maybe, a waiter in a restaurant earning his money through respectable means as than a Godman caught selling drugs (for who they actually have greatest degree of respect reaching levels of worship). They wishfully think how their own Godman is great and take pride each time a Godman of some other sect is publicly shamed. When the Godman they revere meets the same fate, they are quick to go in denial – “it’s a conspiracy”, or “See, God is now punishing him.”
But is it not ironic and tragic to no end that still the Godmen of the same species are revered and worshipped, entrusted with money and human life (think of young child priests being initiated into priesthood), with our decision-making (Godman are frequently consulted in matters of family decisions) and even our morality (“perform such and such ritual and your sin would be forgiven by the God”)? If you’re a religious theist, have you thought, who other than the same Godmen have shaped your religious beliefs and moral convictions? You might think it is your parents, but no who is the original source? No, not their parents. It is the very same Godmen – either from this generation or previous ones.
The persons who told you God exists, (perhaps) themselves do not believe so!