Answering the laments of "Hindu atheists"
#1
Update: Based on the discussion with karatalaamalaka below, I just want to make it clear that the criticisms in this post don't necessarily apply to all people who identify as Hindu atheists. The points listed in this post should identify who all the criticisms apply to.

A unique problem that freethinkers in other parts of the world don't face is dealing with people who call themselves atheists and at the same time identify with a cultural label that promotes irrationality. But in India the freethought movement has to deal with the problem of Hindu atheists.

They are a problem because in any discourse on the ill effects of Hinduism, they post indignant comments with special pleadings about Hinduism. This article "Is ‘Hindu Atheism’ Valid? A Rationalist Critique Of The ‘Hindu’ Identity’s Usurpation Of Indian Culture" address the Hindu atheist phenomenon in detail. The long comment trail of the article illustrates the indignations of Hindu atheists.

This thread is intended as a FAQ for common laments that Hindu atheists have with the Indian freethought movement.

1. "I am an atheist. Dawkins is an atheist. Hitchens is an atheist. So why am I not a freethinker?"

Hindu atheists most probably grew up hating Muslims (for crimes against Bharatavarsha) and Christians (for the crime of conversions). So it is natural that they are attracted to people like Dawkins and Hitchens because of their stringent criticisms of Christianity and Islam.

But criticisms from the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens are not borne out of hatred, or of a disbelief in a creator god, but out of a naturalistic and humanistic worldview. So when similar criticisms are levied at Hinduism, the Hindu atheist is baffled.

2. "Islam is the problem. So why aren't you fighting the good fight?"

Islamic fundamentalism is a well known and acknowledged problem. So that argument essentially is what-aboutery. These Hindu atheists just want to special plead to exempt Hinduism from the scrutiny it deserves. There is also a bit of juvenile logic involved in such arguments. "Why should Hindus reform first? Let the Muslims and Christians reform first and then Hindus will follow". Bigotry too is a cause.

These articles explain why is that Hinduism gets criticized more:

http://nirmukta.com/2008/09/30/why-i-cri...-the-most/
http://nirmukta.com/2008/11/15/further-t...-hinduism/

3. "Hindus have always faced persecution. So why are you criticizing Hinduism and not the real persecutors?"

The historical perspective - That the Indian subcontinent has faced invasions is a readily acknowledged fact. But as noted in the article on Hindu atheism, Hinduism is a modern religion. Ascribing attacks on Indian subcontinent as attacks on a religion that did not exist back then is disingenuous.

Present day perspective - Anyone who has seen India during Vinayaka Chaturthi and Dussehra and still thinks that Hindus face persecution has to be deluded. As Meera Nanda notes, the booming economy of India has made Hinduism a very strong religion. Statues are getting bigger, rituals more ostentatious and noisier, and the political involvement in drumming up participation during festivals cannot be missed.

4. "Hinduism is peaceful. What has it ever done to deserve such criticism?"

This involves turning a blind eye to the various cultural practices of Hinduism - caste discrimination, suppression of women's rights, repressive morals and attacks on freedom of speech.

Of course, the Hindu atheist will be well schooled in right-wing revisionism and rhetoric and will have canned responses -

  • "Oh, caste system isn't Hindu. Other religions too have it". What-aboutery, and subscribing to a revisionist history of Vedic dharma.
  • "Women are highly respected in India. They are worshiped as goddesses!". Freeing Devi: A Pragmatist Argument For Gender Equality In The Freethought Movement In India.
  • "Santana Dharma is a highly evolved moral system". The above point on women show how highly evolved this moral system is. Grilling on specific issues like the moral validity of affirmative action will also expose the high evolution.
  • "What about attacks on freedom of speech by other religions?". What-aboutery.

But still, a case can be made for some definitions of Hinduism that preclude the above maladies. Unfortunately for these Hindu atheists, the reasoning process used to arrive at such definitions will also preclude much of the bad stuff in Christianity and Islam that they so readily deride.

5. "Hinduism is not really a religion because it has no central authority like in Christianity and Islam"

That all Christians and Muslims agree on everything about their holy books is a myth. They have numerous sects and denominations each claiming to be sole provider of salvation. A central authority would preclude such things.
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#2
It is not entirely a bad thing to be drawn to Dawkins-Hitchens based on their criticism of Semitic religions. That way the attention of the reader or listener is drawn to their other arguments against religion in general.

I read yours and AjitaKamal's articles, and I have a few questions generalizing the 'Hindu' label.

How do you allow for the fact that some people may seek to define their secular, cultural, identity with the caste labels? 'Indian' is not an identity everyone should necessarily subscribe to. Other than an imposed political order, there is nothing homogeneous about the country. I would argue, while it may sound regressive, it is ok for someone to identify themselves by their caste/sub-,sub-sub-sub-...-sub-caste.

Culture, cuisines, etc. sometimes vary dramatically across different castes. This may be due to entrenched practices which define tastes. Consider this very realistic (IMO) thought experiment: a person from caste X may have a cuisine, which that person is highly conditioned to. I have seen that food and taste sometimes vary drastically across castes even when the castes are all domicile to the same region. Is there any other name by which one can refer to that person's taste for food, other than by linking it to the caste X? Considering that food is entirely secular, is it wrong for a person to whom food is important to identify him(her)self by his(her) culinary tastes? One can find many secular attributes which are uniquely (surjectively?) associated with castes. How would you suggest such a person identify him(her)self without resorting to apparently religious/regressive labels?

I don't seek to justify calling oneself a 'hindu atheists.' I am also excluding the act of appending 'Hindu' (e.g. 'Hindu mathematics' of AjitaKamal's article) to anything other than one's identity.
Instead, I think we should cut them some slack in seeking to understand why this term is so common. Rather than an inability to think rationally, it may just be a case of sloppy terminology, with negligible socio-cultural effects beyond the fact that historically, culturally, and philosophically, it is a mischaracterization. Islam and Christianity are cosmopolitan, global religions. It is possible to find people from two drastically different cultures (e.g., Philipines vs. Armenia, or Indonesia vs. Iran), who are termed 'christians' or 'muslims' simply because of their belief in religious (strictly non-secular) bullcrap. Thus, for staunch christians and muslims, it is trivially easy to divorce the secular part of their identity from the non-secular.

Not so for 'hindus'. The 'hindus' of today and recent history define themselves by exclusion, i.e., 'hindu' is someone who is from the Indian subcontinent, but is not a muslim or christian. If a person seeks to not identify with the political entity of India, how can he or she culturally identify him(her)self without the label 'hindu'? Not everyone who uses the label 'hindu' necessarily appeals consciously to the religious aspects. The dangers of the ambiguity in terminology are overstated in the OP.

Quote:A unique problem that freethinkers in other parts of the world don't face is dealing with people who call themselves atheists and at the same time identify with a cultural label that promotes irrationality. But in India the freethought movement has to deal with the problem of Hindu atheists.

They are a problem because in any discourse on the ill effects of Hinduism, they post indignant comments with special pleadings about Hinduism. This article "Is ‘Hindu Atheism’ Valid? A Rationalist Critique Of The ‘Hindu’ Identity’s Usurpation Of Indian Culture" address the Hindu atheist phenomenon in detail. The long comment trail of the article illustrates the indignations of Hindu atheists.

I think Lije is being a little too harsh on folks calling themselves 'hindu atheists'. Aggressive commenters on blogs always represent the most rabid section of the society. These apologists, IMO, do not represent the majority of folks calling themselves 'hindu atheists'. By being derisive about 'hindu atheists', we are doing no good to folks who are rational yet are genuinely confused about using the term 'hindu'. The few self-proclaimed 'hindu atheists' I have met do not subscribe to the arguments listed in the OP. They are only mistaken about the term 'hindu', applying it to describe the secular, non-philosophical, and cultural parts of their identity without any 'usurpations' (cf. Ajita Kamal's article). To chide them or 'deal' with them, is a bit harsh.

In my opinion, a more reasonable line of argument would be to just point out that by using the term 'hindu atheist' one is just being flippant. I think there is a derisive tone, in addition to the excellent historical/cultural/philosophical arguments, in the OP and Ajita Kamal's post. In my opinion, adopting the tone (with absolute words such as 'looting', 'most disgraceful', ) used by Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. against the obviously irrational practice of religion to criticize the much smaller crime of using being inexact in using 'hindu' is unjustified.
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#3
This is a good effort, just a few comments.smile
(20-Nov-2011, 08:01 PM)Lije Wrote: A unique problem that freethinkers in other parts of the world don't face is dealing with people who call themselves atheists and at the same time identify with a cultural label that promotes irrationality. But in India the freethought movement has to deal with the problem of Hindu atheists.
I agree that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Quote:grew up hating Muslims (for crimes against Bharatavarsha) and Christians (for the crime of conversions). So it is natural that they are attracted to people like Dawkins and Hitchens because of their stringent criticisms of Christianity and Islam.
I really do not think this is a universal phenomenon. I don't remember growing up like this, nor did any of my family members, some of whom are atheists. I think in making such statements, it is important to clarify the amount of damage made by Hindutva nationalists in bringing about an environment of hatred among members of different religions. In my opinion, this could be amended to: Hindu atheists may have come under the influence of Hindu nationalist views, which blame the present-day Muslim people of India for conversions made by some old kings hundreds of years ago.

Quote:2. "Islam is the problem. So why aren't you fighting the good fight?"

Islamic fundamentalism is a well known and acknowledged problem. So that argument essentially is what-aboutery. These Hindu atheists just want to special plead to exempt Hinduism from the scrutiny it deserves. There is also a bit of juvenile logic involved in such arguments. "Why should Hindus reform first? Let the Muslims and Christians reform first and then Hindus will follow". Bigotry too is a cause.
There is basically a lot of nationalism and chauvinism involved when people call themselves "Hindu atheists". It would be better to just point this out and state that Hindus are not some kind of race or nation as compared to Muslims or Christians, who are also not a race or nation. In any case, Hindus are not superior to any other religious people. In the case of casteist Hindu atheists, there is also a lot of caste pride etc that comes into the equation.

Quote:3. "Hindus have always faced persecution. So why are you criticizing Hinduism and not the real persecutors?"

The historical perspective - That the Indian subcontinent has faced invasions is a readily acknowledged fact. But as noted in the article on Hindu atheism, Hinduism is a modern religion. Ascribing attacks on Indian subcontinent as attacks on a religion that did not exist back then is disingenuous.
However, there are elements of continuity between the Hinduism of today and that of hundreds of years ago. It is not useful to deny this. It would actually be useful to acknowledge that in spite of Hinduism being a recent creation, it nonetheless exists in the minds of almost all present-day people of India. To argue that Hinduism is a modern creation just seems more of a pedantic way of putting it and it seems more of an academic critique to me.

Quote:4. "Hinduism is peaceful. What has it ever done to deserve such criticism?"

This involves turning a blind eye to the various cultural practices of Hinduism - caste discrimination, suppression of women's rights, repressive morals and attacks on freedom of speech.
In addition to this, as proofs of the violent nature of present-day Hindu fundamentalism, the actions taken by such outfits as Shri Ram Sena, Abhinav Bharat and other terrorist organisations should be pointed out. This wikipedia article is a good source: Saffron Terror.

Quote:
  • "Oh, caste system isn't Hindu. Other religions too have it". What-aboutery, and subscribing to a revisionist history of Vedic dharma.
  • "Women are highly respected in India. They are worshiped as goddesses!". Freeing Devi: A Pragmatist Argument For Gender Equality In The Freethought Movement In India.
  • "Santana Dharma is a highly evolved moral system". The above point on women show how highly evolved this moral system is. Grilling on specific issues like the moral validity of affirmative action will also expose the high evolution.
  • "What about attacks on freedom of speech by other religions?". What-aboutery.
With regard to women's rights movements, it has to be pointed out that even most liberal Hindus and so-called Hindu atheists have a very patriarchic view of women within Indian society. In addition to this, it should be pointed out that most of the anti-caste movements have come about only through those who broke away from mainstream Hinduism.
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#4
(20-Nov-2011, 10:13 PM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: How do you allow for the fact that some people may seek to define their secular, cultural, identity with the caste labels? 'Indian' is not an identity everyone should necessarily subscribe to. Other than an imposed political order, there is nothing homogeneous about the country. I would argue, while it may sound regressive, it is ok for someone to identify themselves by their caste/sub-,sub-sub-sub-...-sub-caste.

I would say that the caste labels be done away with entirely or if used, be used with appropriate disclaimers. Had caste discrimination been just a thing of only historical interest, I'd have no issues with using caste labels.

Since you brought up food and cuisines, there is a custom in some parts of Andhra Pradesh to hold "Vana Bhojanalu" (forest feasts). These take place based on caste labels. It isn't just culinary tastes that bring people togheter in such feasts, but also a firm belief in the supremacy of their caste (as compared to other castes). The groups which organize such feasts in a big way also tend to publish books with achievements of their caste and have registered organizations to promote their caste pride.

In view of such things, the pain of finding secular labels or qualifying the usage of caste labels isn't too much to ask. For example, the foods of Andhra Pradesh can broadly be classified as andhra, telangana, rayalseema (and maybe nellore?). Drilling in, the cuisines can be labled based on districts like hyderabad, godavari, kadapa etc.. or even based on towns and cities like "kakinaada kaaja".

(20-Nov-2011, 10:13 PM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Not so for 'hindus'. The 'hindus' of today and recent history define themselves by exclusion, i.e., 'hindu' is someone who is from the Indian subcontinent, but is not a muslim or christian. If a person seeks to not identify with the political entity of India, how can he or she culturally identify him(her)self without the label 'hindu'? Not everyone who uses the label 'hindu' necessarily appeals consciously to the religious aspects. The dangers of the ambiguity in terminology are overstated in the OP.

I agree that not all people who identify as Hindu atheist will subscribe to the points I listed. This is no different than how religious labels are used by the new atheist movement. Not all criticisms apply to all people who identify under a religious label.

My intention in creating this thread is to direct people who make such arguments here instead of explaining everytime why is it that their views don't align with the goals of the freethought movement. An example use case is here (facebook link), which is also what made me come up with this thread. We do encounter such people every now and then. Also, from that facebook discussion, an agrument can be made that the rabid section of society has succeeded in their propaganda and given that context, I would say my OP is not overstated.

(20-Nov-2011, 10:13 PM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: In my opinion, adopting the tone (with absolute words such as 'looting', 'most disgraceful', ) used by Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. against the obviously irrational practice of religion to criticize the much smaller crime of using being inexact in using 'hindu' is unjustified.

That is a valid point, but still debatable. I have tried to temper my OP down quite a bit given the amount of impatience I have with Hindu apologetics. If you feel the tone is the problem, can you please point the specific instances in my OP?

As to Ajita's article, I think he has given enough rationale as to why the Hindu label is meaningless and the tone is consistent with that. So I feel your criticism should be directed at the premises and conclusions of that article rather than the tone.
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#5
Good points, Madhav.

(20-Nov-2011, 10:26 PM)madhav Wrote:
Quote:The historical perspective - That the Indian subcontinent has faced invasions is a readily acknowledged fact. But as noted in the article on Hindu atheism, Hinduism is a modern religion. Ascribing attacks on Indian subcontinent as attacks on a religion that did not exist back then is disingenuous.

However, there are elements of continuity between the Hinduism of today and that of hundreds of years ago. It is not useful to deny this. It would actually be useful to acknowledge that in spite of Hinduism being a recent creation, it nonetheless exists in the minds of almost all present-day people of India. To argue that Hinduism is a modern creation just seems more of a pedantic way of putting it and it seems more of an academic critique to me.

Agree that there are elements of continuity. But I think stressing the relatively modern origins of Hinduism has its merits. The first time I learned it, it was a surprising revelation. I mentioned it a few friends of mine and it was the same for them. Just goes to show how revisionist narratives repeated over 2-3 generations become the objective truth.
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#6
Also, quoting Johann Hari's article is not a good idea since he recently admitted to being a plagiarist and that he lied in many of his articles. See his wikipedia profile.
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#7
Thanks for the Facebook link, I didn't know the context. I also read the comment threads that follow Ajita Kamal's article. I know about the looney-vedic-apologist crowd, but didn't really think there were folks in that demographic calling themselves atheists/rationalists/humanists!

I know a few rationalist-humanist-atheists among my friends who call themselves 'hindu' simply because of the apparent lack of a more concise and accurate word to describe their cultural background.

I will confess here, perhaps my offense at the tone of the argument against 'hindu atheist' comes from my own experiences and guilt. For a while, some years back, I classified myself culturally as belonging to 'sanathana dharma', though I was indifferent to the religion itself. Only on further reading did I realize the real implications of that tag. I never subscribed to any of the moral and theological pontifications of the Bhagavadgeeta, and Vedanta, but just earnestly believed that 'sanathana dharma' was how one classified the culture I belonged to. I knew enough history to not call myself a 'hindu', but not enough about 'hinduism' to know that classifying oneself into 'sanathana dharma' isn't cool. My first exposure was to the cultural aspects of being 'hindu', only later did I attempt to understand the theology and Vedantic philosophy. It wouldn't be a stretch to claim that it is so for most people. The only three nails in the coffin of my (dead-on-arrival-) religious ideology were indeed the first (and only) three books I ever read on this matter- Ramakrishna's biography, (much of) Bhagavadgeeta, and the hippie-cool 'Autobiography of a Yogi'.

The point of narrating my own story (and mentioning other atheists I've known) is to illustrate that it is possible to mistakenly tag oneself, without the intent to deceive, as a 'hindu atheist' given the geographical/cultural connotations of the term 'hindu'. One doesn't have to be like the sanathana-trolls of that Facebook post and other comment-threads to be a 'hindu atheist'. This is also the reason I find a dismissive and derisive tone in Lije's post and Ajita's article. I can imagine one of my genuinely atheistic friends calling themselves 'hindu atheists' ignoring/glossing over the useful parts of Ajita's article (or the OP). It is my opinion that some of the more caustic terms lessen the effectiveness of the otherwise excellent arguments (of both Ajita and Lije) against using the the term 'hindu'. There are people who are genuinely atheist-humanist-rational, and genuinely confused about appending the term 'hindu' when describing themselves, and who still don't believe in the HJS/PN Oak level nonsense.

I would like to reiterate, given that I think my arguments are tangential to the context, that I am not justifying that use of the term 'hindu', but just that everyone using that term is being unfairly chided as though (s)he is a HJS-type looney.

Quote:Since you brought up food and cuisines, there is a custom in some parts of Andhra Pradesh to hold "Vana Bhojanalu" (forest feasts). These take place based on caste labels. It isn't just culinary tastes that bring people togheter in such feasts, but also a firm belief in the supremacy of their caste (as compared to other castes). The groups which organize such feasts in a big way also tend to publish books with achievements of their caste and have registered organizations to promote their caste pride.

As long as traditional hierarchies and rules of castes do not come into play, how is this different from tribalism, or rivalry between villages/towns? Suppose one replaced all occurrences of 'caste' in the above quote with 'village' or 'state', wouldn't it be rather innocuous? Problems would arise if traditional casteist hierarchies are asserted. Is there anything more that happens at these events (e.g. blatant discrimination against lower castes) that would distinguish them from secular forms of rivalry? Again, I swear I am not saying that casteism is ok, but just trying to see how we can understand and accommodate Indian identities ('hindu' being one of those) within a rational/secular framework.
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#8
(20-Nov-2011, 11:48 PM)Lije Wrote: If you feel the tone is the problem, can you please point the specific instances in my OP?

"dealing with," and the assumption that all folks calling themselves 'hindu atheists' subscribe to the views listed in the OP.

Quote:As to Ajita's article, I think he has given enough rationale as to why the Hindu label is meaningless and the tone is consistent with that. So I feel your criticism should be directed at the premises and conclusions of that article rather than the tone.

I have no bone to pick with Ajita's premises and conclusions. Suffices to say that I agree with almost every one of those (It would be a digression from this thread to go into a critical discussion, and anyway, I don't think my quibbles warrant a post). It is just the usage of specific terms such as described in my earlier post that I find unnecessary.
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#9
(21-Nov-2011, 09:23 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: The point of narrating my own story (and mentioning other atheists I've known) is to illustrate that it is possible to mistakenly tag oneself, without the intent to deceive, as a 'hindu atheist' given the geographical/cultural connotations of the term 'hindu'. One doesn't have to be like the sanathana-trolls of that Facebook post and other comment-threads to be a 'hindu atheist'. This is also the reason I find a dismissive and derisive tone in Lije's post and Ajita's article. I can imagine one of my genuinely atheistic friends calling themselves 'hindu atheists' ignoring/glossing over the useful parts of Ajita's article (or the OP). It is my opinion that some of the more caustic terms lessen the effectiveness of the otherwise excellent arguments (of both Ajita and Lije) against using the the term 'hindu'. There are people who are genuinely atheist-humanist-rational, and genuinely confused about appending the term 'hindu' when describing themselves, and who still don't believe in the HJS/PN Oak level nonsense.

I would like to reiterate, given that I think my arguments are tangential to the context, that I am not justifying that use of the term 'hindu', but just that everyone using that term is being unfairly chided as though (s)he is a HJS-type looney.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think I fully understand where you are coming from. It certainly wasn't my intention to brush all people who identify as Hindu atheists as subscribing to the points I listed nor as HJS/PN Oak types. I know that many of their views have quite a bit of overlap with those of freethinkers. My only beef is with the impediments some of them cause whenever Hinduism is criticized and that is what I addressed. That is also why I said "This is no different than how religious labels are used by the new atheist movement. Not all criticisms apply to all people who identify under a religious label." I guess qualifying the OP with "some Hindu atheists who hold these views..." would address your concerns.

Quote:As long as traditional hierarchies and rules of castes do not come into play, how is this different from tribalism, or rivalry between villages/towns? Suppose one replaced all occurrences of 'caste' in the above quote with 'village' or 'state', wouldn't it be rather innocuous? Problems would arise if traditional casteist hierarchies are asserted. Is there anything more that happens at these events (e.g. blatant discrimination against lower castes) that would distinguish them from secular forms of rivalry? Again, I swear I am not saying that casteism is ok, but just trying to see how we can understand and accommodate Indian identities ('hindu' being one of those) within a rational/secular framework.

Even if it just comes down to tribalism, it is still undesirable because allowing such associations to continue without much questioning in the first place has contributed to the caste problem. Had the rivalry been understood universally as being nothing more than rivalry between fans of two sports teams, I agree that it is innocuous. But with caste, the rivalry isn't anywhere near to being that innocuous. Think of KKK holding forest feasts.
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#10
On second reading, the KKK analogy is too extreme. A correct analogy would be people of race X celebrating the pride of their race when there is a clear problem of racism in their society.
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#11
(20-Nov-2011, 08:01 PM)Lije Wrote: Update: Based on the discussion with karatalaamalaka below, I just want to make it clear that the criticisms in this post don't necessarily apply to all people who identify as Hindu atheists. The points listed in this post should identify who all the criticisms apply to.

A unique problem that freethinkers in other parts of the world don't face is dealing with people who call themselves atheists and at the same time identify with a cultural label that promotes irrationality. But in India the freethought movement has to deal with the problem of Hindu atheists.

They are a problem because in any discourse on the ill effects of Hinduism, they post indignant comments with special pleadings about Hinduism. This article "Is ‘Hindu Atheism’ Valid? A Rationalist Critique Of The ‘Hindu’ Identity’s Usurpation Of Indian Culture" address the Hindu atheist phenomenon in detail. The long comment trail of the article illustrates the indignations of Hindu atheists.

This thread is intended as a FAQ for common laments that Hindu atheists have with the Indian freethought movement.

1. "I am an atheist. Dawkins is an atheist. Hitchens is an atheist. So why am I not a freethinker?"

Hindu atheists most probably grew up hating Muslims (for crimes against Bharatavarsha) and Christians (for the crime of conversions). So it is natural that they are attracted to people like Dawkins and Hitchens because of their stringent criticisms of Christianity and Islam.

But criticisms from the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens are not borne out of hatred, or of a disbelief in a creator god, but out of a naturalistic and humanistic worldview. So when similar criticisms are levied at Hinduism, the Hindu atheist is baffled.

2. "Islam is the problem. So why aren't you fighting the good fight?"

Islamic fundamentalism is a well known and acknowledged problem. So that argument essentially is what-aboutery. These Hindu atheists just want to special plead to exempt Hinduism from the scrutiny it deserves. There is also a bit of juvenile logic involved in such arguments. "Why should Hindus reform first? Let the Muslims and Christians reform first and then Hindus will follow". Bigotry too is a cause.

These articles explain why is that Hinduism gets criticized more:

http://nirmukta.com/2008/09/30/why-i-cri...-the-most/
http://nirmukta.com/2008/11/15/further-t...-hinduism/

3. "Hindus have always faced persecution. So why are you criticizing Hinduism and not the real persecutors?"

The historical perspective - That the Indian subcontinent has faced invasions is a readily acknowledged fact. But as noted in the article on Hindu atheism, Hinduism is a modern religion. Ascribing attacks on Indian subcontinent as attacks on a religion that did not exist back then is disingenuous.

Present day perspective - Anyone who has seen India during Vinayaka Chaturthi and Dussehra and still thinks that Hindus face persecution has to be deluded. As Meera Nanda notes, the booming economy of India has made Hinduism a very strong religion. Statues are getting bigger, rituals more ostentatious and noisier, and the political involvement in drumming up participation during festivals cannot be missed.

4. "Hinduism is peaceful. What has it ever done to deserve such criticism?"

This involves turning a blind eye to the various cultural practices of Hinduism - caste discrimination, suppression of women's rights, repressive morals and attacks on freedom of speech.

Of course, the Hindu atheist will be well schooled in right-wing revisionism and rhetoric and will have canned responses -

  • "Oh, caste system isn't Hindu. Other religions too have it". What-aboutery, and subscribing to a revisionist history of Vedic dharma.
  • "Women are highly respected in India. They are worshiped as goddesses!". Freeing Devi: A Pragmatist Argument For Gender Equality In The Freethought Movement In India.
  • "Santana Dharma is a highly evolved moral system". The above point on women show how highly evolved this moral system is. Grilling on specific issues like the moral validity of affirmative action will also expose the high evolution.
  • "What about attacks on freedom of speech by other religions?". What-aboutery.

But still, a case can be made for some definitions of Hinduism that preclude the above maladies. Unfortunately for these Hindu atheists, the reasoning process used to arrive at such definitions will also preclude much of the bad stuff in Christianity and Islam that they so readily deride.

5. "Hinduism is not really a religion because it has no central authority like in Christianity and Islam"

That all Christians and Muslims agree on everything about their holy books is a myth. They have numerous sects and denominations each claiming to be sole provider of salvation. A central authority would preclude such things.

Anyone who becomes an atheist has no religion, but it is not necessary for an atheist to hate religion or god. Every religion has some defects but I think, hinduism is much better than today's other religions. The history of Islam and Christianity is full of brutal violence. Even today, we know the nature of Islm and although most of us do not know about today's Christianity, it is a truth that most Christians in Europe are moving away from Christianity and becoming secular and atheists because of disillusionment with Vatican. I appeal to everyone here to become a member of Atheist Nexus and participate in their discussions to widen your knowledge of the present status of world religion. It does not matter whether you are good at writing in English or not. Madhukar Kulkrni.

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#12
(13-Jan-2012, 11:17 AM)Madhukar Kulkarni Wrote: Anyone who becomes an atheist has no religion, but it is not necessary for an atheist to hate religion or god. Every religion has some defects but I think, hinduism is much better than today's other religions. The history of Islam and Christianity is full of brutal violence. Even today, we know the nature of Islm and although most of us do not know about today's Christianity, it is a truth that most Christians in Europe are moving away from Christianity and becoming secular and atheists because of disillusionment with Vatican. I appeal to everyone here to become a member of Atheist Nexus and participate in their discussions to widen your knowledge of the present status of world religion. It does not matter whether you are good at writing in English or not. Madhukar Kulkrni.

Your points have already been addressed. Either you have not read this thread or have read and chosen to ignore what has been said.
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