"Prof. Kumar", my walking friend Sreeni asked " what were the initial emotions in you when you felt you have lost faith in gods, soul, afterlife & the works?"
I said, " Well, I soon realized that I was a free bird! I was accountable to myself, not to some divine voyeur constantly looking over my shoulder and marking down my every transgression, no matter how insignificant, to use against me later. A picture came in front of my eyes. I am writing an exam and the invigilator is hovering near me and I find it extremely difficult to concentrate on my answers. Time is short and I still have to tackle many questions. But my mind goes blank. All of a sudden he disappears and I feel a sense of immense relief. My creative juices start flowing again."
Sreeni: That must have been a very liberating experience?
Me: You bet it was! It is like the delivery pain which a woman experiences during childbirth. Unless you are a mother, you cannot imagine how intense it is. So it is with this disillusionment. You have to experience it to feel the joy of emancipation! Yet. Along with this freedom, there is a responsibility we are constrained to shoulder.
Sreeni: What would that be?
Me: Having concluded that God(s) are a delusion of the mind and if Gods are not ruling the world and seeing that justice is done, taking care of needy people, guiding our priests and leaders, answering prayers, rewarding the good……. then each of us shoulders more of the responsibility for those things. In short, without God, our lives could become more responsible & meaningful, because without an omnipotent God each individual must assume more responsibility for what happens. Only humans in the biosphere, can empower themselves and learn to save the environment, live in peace, love one another, help the poor and disadvantaged and help themselves too. The other constituents of the biosphere like animals & plant life cannot do these things.
Realizing that belief in gods leads to a lack of responsibility, or belief in eternal life diminishes efforts to improve real lives on earth, as a secular humanist, you feel powerful like a god and as ' noblesse oblige ' you start treating others with compassion & kindness. You do whatever you can to ease the misery in other people's lives. Since God is dead, you are constrained to assume the role of a “Badli worker” (substitute).
Sreeni: That's a colossal & formidable responsibility if you ask me!
Me: You bet it is. Though it is a nice feeling to be a free bird, the freedom is tantalizing. Worry lies the head ......... Sometimes I feel some ice has formed on my wings which is weighing me down & slowing my ascent to the upper atmosphere of ecstatic euphoria!