Darwin’s anniversary has reignited the whole God vs. Science debate, and Jug Suraiya joins in–
In India, Darwin is not the bogey man as he is in the West. The Indic tradition which accommodates both atheism as well as a well-stocked pantheon of 33 million gods (including a monkey god) should have little problem playing host to evolution. However, many in India and not just those belonging to the Christian faith find themselves uncomfortable with the either/or position of the radical neo-Darwinists: choose between a Creator and Darwin; you can’t have your God and believe in evolution too.
Creationists or Godists ask how all the marvellous complexities of life could have come to be without a Creator. An often used analogy borrowed from a remark by physicist Fred Hoyle is that of a hurricane sweeping through a junk yard and by random chance assembling a Boeing 747: it just can’t happen. Therefore, there has to be a Boeing Engineer, a God working His intelligent design from behind the scenes. The neo-Darwinists retort: Oh, yes? And who created the Boeing Engineer who created the Boeing 747; another, an even more complex Engineer, and so on into infinite regress?
One fine morning Mr. Newman, the then Senior Superintendent of C.I.D., came to me. And after much sympathetic talk with me imparted-to him-the extremely sad news that if I did not give any statement as demanded by them, they would be forced to send me up for trial for conspiracy to wage war in connexion with Kakori Case and for brutal murders in connexion with Dussehra Bomb outrage. And he further informed me that they had evidence enough to get me convicted and hanged. In those days I believed-though I was quite innocent-the police could do it if they desired. That very day certain police officials began to persuade me to offer my prayers to God regularly both the times. Now I-was an atheist. I wanted to settle for myself whether it was in the days of peace and enjoyment alone that I could boast of being an atheist or whether during such hard times as well I could stick to those principles of mine. After great consideration I decided that I could not lead myself to believe in and pray to God. No, I never did. That was the real test and I came, out successful. Never for a moment did I desire to save my neck at the cost of certain other things. So I was a staunch disbeliever : and have ever since been. It was not an easy job to stand that test. ‘Belief softens the hardships, even can make them pleasant. In God man can find very strong consolation and support. Without Him, the man has to depend upon himself. To stand upon one’s own legs amid storms and hurricanes is not a child’s play. At such testing moments, vanity-if any-evaporates, and man cannot dare to defy the general beliefs, if he does, then we must conclude that he has got certain other strength than mere vanity. This is exactly the situation now. Judgment is already too well known. Within a week it is to be pronounced. What is the consolation with the exception of the idea that I am going to sacrifice my life for a cause ? A God-believing Hindu might be expecting to be reborn as a king, a Muslim or a Christian might dream of the luxuries to be- enjoyed in paradise and the reward he is to get for his sufferings and sacrifices. But what am I to expect? I know the moment the rope is fitted round my neck and rafters removed, from under my feet. that will be the final moment-that will be the last moment. I, or to be more precise, my soul, as interpreted in the metaphysical terminology, shall all be finished there. Nothing further. A short life of struggle with no such magnificent end, shall in itself be the reward if I have the courage to take it in that light. That is all.
Any man who stands for progress has to criticise, disbelieve and challenge every item of the old faith. Item by item he has to reason out every nook and corner of the prevailing faith. If after considerable reasoning one is led to believe in any theory or philosphy, his faith is welcomed. His reasoning can be mistaken, wrong, misled and sometimes fallacious. But he is liable to correction because reason is the guiding star of his life. But mere faith and blind faith is dangerous: it dulls the brain, and makes a man reactionary. A man who claims to be a realist has to challenge the whole of the ancient faith. If it does not stand the onslaught of reason it crumbles down. Then the first thing for him is to shatter the whole down and clear a space for the erection of a new philosophy.
He then goes on and puts forth the “problem of evil” argument against God. The Epicurean argument is-
Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
Singh’s argument is similar in nature and he challenges God’s omnipotence, as also people’s willing to tolerate His injustices as opposed to those of Nero and Genghis Khan. As I said, a powerful argument. The translation and proof-reading could have been better though. Another version is available from the Marxists Internet Archive; Singh, after all, was an anarchist/ socialist.