By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam
6 August 2022
It's Time for 'Evolved' Humans to Go Beyond the Idea of Theism and Atheism and Embrace A Non-Structural Belief Beyond Belief Known as Eptonica in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Aqeede ya ilhaad ki nahin fikra mujhe
Guzarta Hai Naagavaar Ye Zikra Mujhe
- 'Nashtar' Nishapuri
(I don't care a fig for faith or unfaith/ The very subject bores me to death)
I appreciate Mr Shahin's balanced reply to my opinion of god being fictional, not because he's the esteemed editor of this popular portal, but because he doesn't condemn those who don't believe in a supernatural entity or power like yours truly.
First of all, it's easier for an agnostic or sceptic like him to believe in god than those who've no faith in god at all. That said, calling me an atheist will be an error of opinion and judgement. I too believe that the most idiotic philosophical debate is god's existence or non-existence. That's forever inconclusive because as we say in Sanskrit, Neti, Neti (nothing for sure). Theists and atheists will continue to spar over this issue till the cows come home. Yet, nothing definite will and can emerge from such futile debates, because both theism and atheism are doctrines and doctrines work on premises, which are called minor and major premises. Both have definite preconceptions which we call Flawed Perceptual Inferences (FPI). Atheism, like theism, is yet another belief system, which's no better or worse than theism. Whether a theist or an atheist, both have prejudices and an unyielding approach to Truth. But, there are humans who've gone beyond the idiocy of theism and atheism. They're apatheists, a beautiful term coined by Robert Nash, a Theology Professor at Mercer University, in 2001. But even before that, Ashvaghosh of Saaketa used its Sanskrit equivalent Iish-Paran(G)Mukh for Gautam Buddha in his epic poem Buddhacharita, composed in the early second century CE.
We all need to develop Buddha's nous of apatheism; complete insouciance to god's existence or non-existence and total indifference to theological hair-splitting. Buddha never believed in the existence of a Supreme Being or some imaginary all-pervasive divine power. What he believed in the Divinity of humans and Sacredness of existence. There's a sutra in Pali: Nakham Benu Paritanam (What cannot be proven, should be ignored). A large section of Eastern consciousness still believes in this dictum. So, apart from Buddha, you've Mahavir, Confucius, Laotse, Charvakas, all apatheists. They never cared for god and the afterlife. Narasya Narayanam (Man is god) has been the leitmotif of oriental consciousness. But, Semitic belief system is at root, distinctly dichotomized into Humans and their Creator. That's ingrained into a Muslim, Christian or Jew's mental makeup.
For all practical reasons and purposes, it's time for 'evolved' humans to go beyond the idea of theism and atheism and embrace a non-structural belief beyond belief known as Eptonica in ancient Greek philosophy. Mankind is not going to gain anything from the armchair debates and dialectics of, is there a god. Instead, we all must reach the collective level of An-al-Haq (Upanishadic Aham Brahmasmi/ I'm the Truth) and Tatvamasi (Literally meaning, Yes, you're/that's your pure essence; originally occurs in Chandogya Upanishad).
Most of the readers across the globe have often mistaken me for an arrogant nonbeliever who loves to pontificate. I'm an apatheist for whom belief and unbelief both have lost their significance. To quote my favourite author and Nobel laureate Albert Camus, " I'm beyond all existential conundrums and esoteric enigmas. God is just a word for me. "
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.
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