Blind Faith?

A friend, writer Ariane Sherine, is launching the Atheist Bus Campaign on 21 October 2008.
The short explanation:

The campaign has the slogan 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life'. It is designed to reassure people that they won’t be consigned to eternal damnation should they renounce religion and God. The motivation behind the campaign is explained on the Facebook group page, and in Article 1 and Article 2, written by Ariane for the Guardian’s Comment is free section.

If you are an atheist, please join the group and support the campaign. If you are not an atheist but aren’t particularly bothered about the wrath of God, do also join. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can e-mail Ariane through the link on her site with “Atheist Bus” in the subject line to register your support or interest. 

For the record, I haven’t joined the campaign because I do believe in God, but I think it’s a great idea purely because it provokes thought. It has reminded me of some of the questions I’ve asked in the past: do I believe in my religion because I’ve been conditioned to or because I truly believe it? Can the things I disagree with really be explained away with deeper knowledge and research? Can the fundamentals of my faith really be applied fully and properly in today’s world?

I believe in God. I believe there is a balance in my life that I haven’t achieved alone. I believe that I have been both tested and guided. I believe that many of my prayers have been answered because someone was listening.

The thing is, God is different from religion, albeit not entirely separate. I have discussed some of my issues with Islam before – sometimes questioning it, sometimes defending it – but to question the entire religion is a different thing entirely. I will admit that in the past I have thought, ‘What if Islam isn’t real and true? What if we just believe it because we’re meant to?’. Of course I immediately feel guilty about these thoughts, but surely it’s healthy to question the things that govern our lives?

I’m interested in asking followers of religion, and particularly of Islam, how they maintain strength of belief. In an age where science screams so loudly and atheist proselytisers tell us we’re not really enlightened if we still believe in God, how do followers objectively and logically maintain belief? These are not rhetorical questions. I genuinely want to know if there are Muslims out there who have ever questioned the worth of their worship. And if not, how are they so sure?


We Ain’t Got No Alibi

I wish John McCain’s Bangladeshi daughter was prettier. It may be an odd thing to lament but I have my reasons. You see, Indian women are renowned for their beauty; Italian, French, Spanish and Mediterranean women are exotic; Scandinavian women are leggy and blonde; Oriental women are mysterious and alluring; Latin Americans are seductive and sensual… the list goes on. But Bangladeshi women – well, no-one really knows or cares about us. And those who do, more often than not, think we’re all short, fat, ugly and downtrodden.

Take an episode of American sitcom How I Met Your Mother: A New York taxi driver tells Barney (one of the protagonists) ‘I’m from Bangladesh.’ Barney asks, ‘The women hot there?’ The driver takes out a picture of his wife. Barney recoils and whispers, ‘A simple no would’ve sufficed.’ I was amused but couldn’t help but grumble about our reputation for being a bunch of munters.

You see, your mates would never pat you on the back for scoring a Bangladeshi girl, a Google Image search for ‘Bangladeshi woman’ isn’t going to throw up a Miss World any time soon, and Lenny Kravitz would never tell a Bangladeshi woman to stay away from him because he’d never get close to one in the first place.

That’s why we really needed Bridget McCain – perhaps one of the most famous Bangladeshi females at this point in time – to fly the flag for us. Yes, I’m being superficial and vacuous but damnit, we need a boost! We really needed Bridget to stand up and say, ‘I’m not only helping dear daddy on his campaign trail but I am proving that Bangladeshi women are just as alluring and sexy as anyone else.’ Unfortunately, while Bridget is beautiful in her own way, she’s not going to win Miss World any time soon. Zut alors.