Will the veiled sister pray
For the children at the gate
who will not go away and cannot pray
When I first read these lines of Eliot in Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, I was amazed. These lines convey the depth of any non-believer’s most guarded fears as aesthetically as possible. Since then, I have wondered very often if spreading the idea of non-belief is really desirable.
The existential arguments that I have come to identify with have left the question whether god is or not, irrelevant for me. Probably, it was on reading reading Camus and Sartre that they deleted God from the syllabus of my life. However, it does not rush me into concluding that faith in itself is undesirable and evil.
For me, it would be intellectual dishonesty if I prayed or pretended to have faith in any form of almighty. Like Ivan in Dostoevsky’s Brother’s Karamazov, I could say: “It’s not God I don’t accept, Alyosha – only that I most respectfully return him the entrance ticket.” In some of my previous posts, I have made it clear that I have refused the ticket to eternity. However, I have failed to convince myself, despite all the ‘faith-head’ calling atheists in the world, that any one else who accepts it is either an idiot or a crook.
Faith has for most people served as a pacifying force and a place where they find solace and peace. Despite all the logical arguments that I or anyone else can think of, is faith (even if it might just be an illusion) evil or even undesirable? I must clarify that I do not consider faith and religion as synonymous and maintain thatreligion (each one of them) have in more ways than not proved to be destructive, counter-productive and evil. I consider faith, on the other hand, a matter of personal choice, not meant to be communized.
Many might refuse to accept, but those of us who are non-believers by logic know how gloomy the world appears when all pretensions of immortality, eternity, and after-life have been washed away. We learn to deal with it, but it takes some really serious ‘dealing with’. For an existential atheist alone, there is the painful angst and what I choose to call the beginner’s hangover. Most succinctly put again in Eliot’s words:
Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender…
In wake of all this, my mind might disagree but my heart seems to go out and agree with the following words of Miguel de Unamuno in Saint Manuel Neuno, Martyr:
“And they, the people, do you think they really believe?”
“…They probably believe without trying, from force of habit, tradition. The important thing is not to stir them up. To let them live on the thin diet of their emotions rather than acquiring the torments of luxury. Blessed are the poor in spirit!”