Greetings!
#1
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Hello, all. My name is Michael. I am a former Christian minister and Hindu spiritual teacher who has lived in India for more than three years. I became an atheist because, after spending many years thinking Hinduism was different from the Abrahamic aberrations, I realized the dangerous potential of Hindu nationalism and other faith-driven, anti-humanistic practices within Hinduism. When faced with the reality that Hindus are not unlike Christians or Muslims in their potential for extremism and hate, I questioned what evidence I had for god and concluded that atheism was the only rational course, the only conclusion reflective of evidence.

Take care.
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#2
(25-May-2013, 06:50 PM)Lagoy Wrote: Hello, all. My name is Michael. I am a former Christian minister and Hindu spiritual teacher who has lived in India for more than three years. I became an atheist because, after spending many years thinking Hinduism was different from the Abrahamic aberrations, I realized the dangerous potential of Hindu nationalism and other faith-driven, anti-humanistic practices within Hinduism. When faced with the reality that Hindus are not unlike Christians or Muslims in their potential for extremism and hate, I questioned what evidence I had for god and concluded that atheism was the only rational course, the only conclusion reflective of evidence.

Take care.

Welcome to the forum. Your path to atheism seems to be an unique one. Can I ask you a question. How has your de-conversion to atheism affected you given that you were professionally (were you?) a religious leader (Christian minister and Hindu spiritual teacher) of some sort before that?
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#3
(26-May-2013, 05:40 AM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: Welcome to the forum. Your path to atheism seems to be an unique one. Can I ask you a question. How has your de-conversion to atheism affected you given that you were professionally (were you?) a religious leader (Christian minister and Hindu spiritual teacher) of some sort before that?

Thanks for the welcome. My decision to reject theism didn't cost me much. As an independent minister and teacher, I only lost a few friends. I had lost my family before, so I didn't lose any of them (because of my de-conversion). I lost a whole blog following of more than 1000 people that I had spent a long time building up. I've gained more than I've lost, I think. I'm freer, more able to think and speak openly. That's more important than temporal relationships.
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#4
Hello Lagoy,
greetings and good luck.
what experience did you have to realize "the dangerous potential of hindu nationalism" ? that is a pretty strong statement and was wondering if this was a realization due to any specific event or a gradual one.?
regards
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#5
(27-May-2013, 11:37 AM)arunsamvarghese Wrote: Hello Lagoy,
greetings and good luck.
what experience did you have to realize "the dangerous potential of hindu nationalism" ? that is a pretty strong statement and was wondering if this was a realization due to any specific event or a gradual one.?
regards

I came to India from my home country of the United States in 2010, and soon after converted to Hinduism, seeing it as fundamentally different from the legalism of western religion. I practiced and taught Hinduism for almost the next three years, gaining a few followers here and there, before I realized I had been wrong about the immunity of modern Hinduism from fundamentalist evil.

These are indeed strong words, and I feel they need to be.

In my experience with Hindu nationalists, they see themselves as India's saviors; they see this country as lacking a great worthiness simply by being codified as a secular nation. They see secularism, and indeed anything other than State Hinduism, as contributing to the moral degradation of India, as if without the sexist and casteist literature of the Vaidika Dharma, India would collapse into barbarism. While in the very same sentence that they condemn the destruction of India at the hands of Muslims and Christians, they often embrace the very false moralism that the Abrahamics gave them. Nudity and sexuality are seen as grotesque and even unnatural, and same-sex relations are condemned with great force. One man, an extremist and a nationalist though not Indian by birth, said that homosexuals were "suffering from their karma," and could never have "a legitimate Vedic family," and could never be true Hindus without being "cured." While on one hand declaring profound respect for women, they on the other hand beat or subject their wives and daughters according to obsolete and inhuman patriarchal ethics, upholding the laws of Manu as profound, laws which state that a woman is never to be independent, that she is to be subjected first to her father, then to her husband, and finally to her male progeny, and which pronounce her as the source of all impurity.

All of this is multiplied by their profession of Hindu nationalism as an ideology, as an unsubstantiated profession of racial and cultural superiority bordering on the Nazist in its contempt for liberalism of any rational sort. Inhibiting personal choice in accordance with the laws of Manu, professing a single religious construct dependent upon the Vedas as the State Religion, emphasizing quite offensively to scientific reality the superiority of a single race and culture, misrepresenting and outright rejecting scientific knowledge that doesn't complement the flawed intuitions of illiterate hermits and jungle-bound godmen, and declaring that any nation would be morally desolate were these principles not implemented, Hindu nationalists work for little more than the degradation of humanity through false liberalism, racial prejudice, and religious extremism.

In emphasizing that Hindus should become more rational, more subject to skepticism, more able to question the bold and unsubstantiated claims of ochre-robed rishis, and more willing to accept a humanistic liberalism in accordance with human advancement, I was exiled, as it were, from among the ranks of many Hindus with whom I was acquainted. For simply this, I was labeled “worse than Gandhi,” “a Christian spy,” “a dangerous skeptic,” and “a pro-homosexual extremist.” I was told that I couldn’t be a trustworthy Hindu because I “blindly believed in science.” I was condemned for “slandering the Holy Vedas” because I called into question a series of verses from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that encourage a man to beat, overcome, rape, and curse his wife into infertility if she is unwilling to give him a child; to these evil-minded people, faithful to a moral aberration, upholding the infallibility of the Vedas is more important than defending a woman’s basic right not to be raped, or even to simply be seen as a human being worthy of life and respect.

I realized rather quickly that Hinduism was, though different from other religions in its theological essence, identical to other religions in its potential for divinely-justified inhumanity. And, with that realization, my time as a Hindu was finished, as was my respect for any supernaturalistic faith.

As a humanist, as someone who is boldly honest about our nature as a single species, as someone who is deeply confused and saddened by the needless segregation of members of our species according to religious, racial, sexual, or cultural divisions, I cannot respect any creed of nationalism, nor the interests of any one nation over another, any more than I can respect religiofascist indoctrination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other evil plaguing our supposedly-civilized age. I believe firmly that humanity should share with one another, rather than withhold, our rich and profound cultures, that we should all be able to participate in and appreciate the creativity and progress of our species, without any divisive care for which race or clan it does or doesn't belong to, and I feel that all forms of nationalism, and almost especially those of the Hindu variety, oppose this end.
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#6
Dear Lagoy,

If I may ask another question. Why did your path from Christianity to Atheism had to go through Hinduism. You say that you tried Hinduism because you thought it will be different from the Abrahamic religions. Why didn't you simply ask the question "Are there any evidence for the existence of God(s)?" when got disillusioned with Christianity?

Just curious.
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#7
(29-May-2013, 04:57 PM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: Dear Lagoy,

If I may ask another question. Why did your path from Christianity to Atheism had to go through Hinduism. You say that you tried Hinduism because you thought it will be different from the Abrahamic religions. Why didn't you simply ask the question "Can there be any evidence for the existence of God(s)?" when got disillusioned with Christianity?

Just curious.

Two reasons were involved in that, I suppose. Before I lost my faith in Jesus and the Christian doctrine, I had already been studying and practicing Hinduism in addition to it for just short of two years. At that point in time, my understanding of karma and rebirth provided an option other than those presented in the Epicurean dilemma, which really struck me in the early days of my atheism at that point in time. While the Epicurean dilemma employs logic to categorically disprove the existence of the Christian god, it cannot apply in the same manner to Shiva, at least not as understood in the Pratyabhijna and Shaiva Siddhanta systems, both of which I borrowed from in my aupadhika bhedabheda philosophy.

The other reason I didn't remain an atheist after losing faith in Christianity was that some part of me felt lost without god. It had been so major a part of my life, from the time I was 16, that it was hard to simply let go of. Intellectually, it was easy, but emotionally, I had invested many years in my faith, and I had gained friends and followers along the way that I didn't want to lose. I feared that some part of me would die with my faith, that the beauty of life would fade, that my morals and hope for living would vanish, and that I would be stuck with nothing but my own emptiness - all of the usual things that believers are led to believe of atheism while they still practice their religions.

It was beneficial that I left atheism for a time and embraced Hinduism further. Before that final realization, I had been one of those atheists who condemned with great ferocity the inhumanity of Christian and Islamic religion, but who saw a glimmer of positivity in the theism of the east. Now, I know better. Short of secular Buddhism or other atheistic philosophies developed in the east, there is, as Christopher Hitchens said, no eastern solution. While I still appreciate the Hindu gods in a metaphorical sense, honoring them for their symbols, and while I appreciate Hindu art and music, I will never again call myself a “Hindu;” if anything, I would be a carvaka, for they were the atheists that sprang up from the Hindu religion, and condemned it for its evil.
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#8
Hello!!

Its nice meeting you, You seem to be an interesting man!
btw, I for one agree that Hindu Nationalism is a dangerous force and that might turn itself into something similar to Taliban..
I still think Naruto is the best manga ever \o/

" Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
"
~~~ A Psalm of Life
~ H.W. Longfellow
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