Agnosticism is starting to become quite popular these days; everyone seems to be seeking refuge in it. Its perceived to be the safest route for the secular man. For those unfamiliar with it, agnosticism is basically the belief that there is no way to know whether or not there is a God. The agnostic therefore neither believes nor disbelieves in God, since both the theist and the atheist fail to conclusively prove the existence of one. There are different forms of agnosticism with varying definitions (e.g. ignosticism); but at the end it boils to the agnostic being someone who refrains from taking a stand and defends his ignorance.

Here’s the problem with the entire agnostic world view. It is based on one fundamentally flawed precept; and that is the assumption that the proof for God is an empirical one. It rests on the belief that if there was to be a proof for God then it would be very much like a philosophical or scientific proof which could be repeated by any one at anytime and would always yield the same result. Since nothing like that exists, the agnostic ignorantly yet confidently says, ‘There’s no way to know’.

What the agnostic fails to realize is that empirical proofs exist for things that are confined to the material world; things to which the laws of nature apply, things that are within the realm of human comprehension. God by definition is far beyond all this. How then does one expect to find an empirical proof for something that is metaphysical? How then does one apply science to the One that created science?

Furthermore, the demand for a proof for God begs the question, ‘What would qualify as a proof’? If you demand to “see God”, how would you recognize him? Were you to wake one day and see some holy figure hovering above your head, or a miraculous wonder happens before your eyes…would you take that to be ‘proof’ for God?  Of course not – you would dismiss it as a hallucination and go see a physiologist. The reality is, most people don’t know what they are asking for when they ask for a ‘proof’ for God.

The proof for God is not an empirical one but is experiential and logical. It is not like a mathematical proof that is based on fundamental axioms rather it is an experiential proof like the proof for love. How do you prove that you love your parents or your spouse? Certainly not by running scientific experiments and by debating with philosophers. We all know that love exists since it is a phenomenon that we’ve all experienced.

In addition, the proof for God is one that is logical. How does one prove that their great-great-great-great-great Grandfather existed? We don’t have any empirical evidence for that. However, we know this to be true because our existence is contingent on theirs. Similarly, anything that begins to exist has a cause and creator. The universe began to exist and it thus also has a Creator. It would be absurd to believe anything else.

As Imam Al-Ghazali once said, faith in God doesn’t come about by abstract proofs and speculative theology . Faith is something that is realized through contemplation and experience. The phenomenon of faith and the issue of finding God simply can’t be treated as a mere philosophical problem to which an abstract proof is sufficient.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say I was to give you a concrete proof for God’s existence right now. Assume that I’ve told you what it was and you see no way of arguing against it. It’s foolproof; flawless. Would you all of a sudden start believing in God just because of an argument you can’t rebut? Would you change you entire lifestyle and live in accordance with God’s will just because of one argument? Most people won’t. You believe in God when you realize that He exists, not when you are told He exists.

The issue of faith is directly related to experience. Finding faith and God is a journey that is ought to be undertaken; it requires a combination of the mind and the heart. Its not about blindly following faith or relying entirely on your brains; it’s the convergence of the two in perfect harmony.

There are numerous evidences of God all around, the greatest proof for the Creator is creation itself. Not believing in God implies the universe had no creator and came out of nothing; an illogical and unscientific belief. The only ones who will see these evidences and accept them are the ones that will sincerely seek God, those who look for the truth.

God in the Quran constantly pushes the reader to ponder over the world around him and to realize the beauty of God’s creation. He further says in a hadith qudsi, “Take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me and I will run towards you.” Those who ask God to guide them are the ones that will be guided. God is to be found where he claims to be, He doesn’t claim to be in books of philosophy but He does claim to be in the Quran. so I encourage you to read it.

“Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth;
in the alternation of the night and the day;
in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind;
in the rain which God sends down from the skies,
and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead;
in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth;
in the change of the winds,
and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;
(in all this) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise” (Quran 2:164)


I’ve pondered over the whole concept of ignorance quite a bit in the past. I always understood it to be the lack of knowledge about a certain matter. Based on that understanding, I would always come to the conclusion that we are all ignorant since no one knows everything. Socrates also believed in the same thing and he made it his life’s mission to prove to people how ignorant they really are.

However, these conclusion did not sit well with me. I didn’t like the idea of saying that we are all ignorant. We can all intuitively tell the ignorant fool from the wise man; what is it that sets them apart I wondered. I didn’t want to put the ‘wise man’ in the ignorant category just because he/she was uninformed of certain matters. My philosophy prof once said that ‘If you don’t know that Russia is a country then you are ignorant’. He implied that if you are unaware of very general knowledge, then you are an ignorant person. That seemed to be a better understanding of the concept. But then again his definition isn’t very concrete as ‘general knowledge’ is time dependent. Anyhow, I put those thoughts to rest and basically concluded that the reason I was having a problem with this entire concept was because of the negative connotations associated with the word itself. So whether I like it or not, I had to accept that we are all ignorant one way or another.

I recently found a new definition of ignorance in the most unexpected place. I was skimming through Kitab al-Waraqat ,which is a text in Islamic jurisprudence, when I came across a definition of ignorance that I hadn’t seen before. This book defined it as follows,

“Ignorance is conceptualizing something contrary to what it is in reality”

Wallah! There it is. Something that makes perfect sense and is yet so simple; almost makes me wonder why I didn’t think of this before. The interesting thing is that it makes no explicit references to knowledge or the lack of it. It is certainly implied since the lack of knowledge is what to leads to a distorted view of reality. My search for ignorance finally comes to an end. I’ve found an understanding which,as of now, makes sense. Perhaps it is flawed, I don’t know yet. Lets see if it can stand the test of time.

“The unexamined life is for man not worth living” – Socrates

Here’s an excerpt from an article I found. It comes to me with no surprise that I never saw this on the news. Source :  The Huffington Post

Nine members of a Christian militia group, Hutaree, were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more with homemade bombs. According to the indictment, the actions were done in hopes of igniting an uprising against the U.S. government.

News of this terror plot is likely to spark a great deal of discussion around the idea of domestic terrorism. But there are some things that are not likely to be part of that discourse. For example, we’re not likely to hear experts discussing whether or not Christian doctrine teaches its followers to overthrow governments and kill people. And, although the Hutaree website quotes scripture passages that allude to battle and sacrificing lives for the greater cause, the Bible is not likely to become condemned for inspiring acts of terror.

Hutaree means “Christian Warrior,” yet the American public is not likely to blame Christianity. And Homeland Security probably isn’t going to single out all people with Christian names in the airport security line. The FBI most likely isn’t going to start wire-tapping Churches and Christian homes, and it’s unlikely that the whole world will be expecting every peace-loving Christian to apologize for actions they had nothing to do with — just because it was done in their name.

Unfortunately, these rules do not apply to Muslims. When a Muslim commits a crime, the Quran goes on trial. For example, after the failed “Christmas bombing,” a January Wall Street Journal piece highlighted the fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had studied at the San’a Institute for Arabic Language. “He knew how to read and write in Arabic because he had learned to read the Quran being a Muslim, but his speaking abilities were very limited,” recalls Mohammed Al-Anisi, the institute’s director. Abdulmutallab may have also studied French poetry as a student, but that probably wouldn’t have been considered relevant to his crime. The study of the Quran and Arabic, on the other hand, seems to be.

If there’s news of a Muslim terrorist, Islam becomes complicit in the crime. Yet few people are going to accuse Christianity of motivating the terrorism of the Hutaree militia. These Christian terrorists are considered violent criminals who’ve perverted a peaceful religion.

Muslim terrorists, on the other hand, are just following a violent, perverted religion. A Christian terrorist is considered violent in spite of his or her faith, whereas a Muslim is violent because of it. Are we now going to create a new brand of crime called “Christian terrorism”? Is the entire Christian community going to be put on the defensive, while media pundits begin the mantra: “Why aren’t Christians condemning acts of terrorism?” Probably not. The question is: why should someone named Christopher need to condemn the acts of the Hutaree militia any more than someone named Mohammad does? And why should Mohammed be expected to condemn the acts of the “Christmas bomber” any more than Christopher?

As FBI agent Andrew Arena said, Hutaree is just “an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society.” Their crimes are committed in spite of their religious affiliations — not because of them.

I have heard numerous arguments against religion. A friend of mine once dismissed religion on the grounds that ‘it divides people’. I’ve heard that argument before and after that conversation I was compelled to put some thought into it. Following are some thoughts on that argument.

Religion does divide people. That is true. However, I prefer the word separate rather than divide and you will see later why. Religion does group people into different sects. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus. These differences sometimes can cause disagreements and hostility between people of different religious backgrounds. Wars have been waged in the past and present in the name of religion and often times the resentment follows through generations to come.

But here’s the thing people tend to overlook. Religion divides people; but so does race, ethnicity, nationality, political philosophies (democracy vs communism), language (Quebec vs English Canada) etc. Look at the wars that have been waged in the past century. At least 60 million people have died in armed conflicts in the past 100 years. How many of these wars were ‘religious’? Did the Americans bomb Hiroshima for religious reasons? Did Stalin massacre thousands for religious reasons? Did the genocide in Rwanda happen for religious reasons?

The number of people that been killed in so called ‘religious wars’ is miniscule compared to those in secular wars. So the point is, why insult religion and put down its beauty by making it responsible for our disunity? Look at all the hate that has resulted because of democracy. I’ve never heard any one ridicule democracy or blame wars on it. Why the double standard?

Here is what people need to understand. Humans are inherently different from one another. No matter what you do, people will disagree over one matter or another and will always have different opinions. As humans we all have an identity, a set of values or a philosophy which suits our rational faculties. We cling onto people who share this identity and pledge allegiance to them. No matter what one tries to do, this cannot be changed and is in fact something that God has programmed into us and is there for a reason. God says in the Quran,

“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will not cease to dispute” (Quran 11:118)

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes, that you may know one another” (Quran 49:13)

I gather three things from the above verses. One the confirmation that we have been purposely made different and have been split into nations and tribes. Second that disputation is also a part of our nature and even if we were one nation we’d continue to dispute over religious matters. Lastly, the purpose behind our divisions: to learn from each other and not to despise one another. Living in peace and learning to co-exist is a divine trial and we as humans ought to live up to it.

If anything, religion unites people that are divided. Look at the history of the Arabian Peninsula before and after Islam for example. The Arabs had a strong sense of tribalism and maintaining the honour of their particular tribe was of utmost importance to them. This resulted in never ending wars where one tribe was always trying to take revenge and shedding blood in order to remain ‘honourable’. After the advent of Islam, not only was the Arabian Peninsula united but along with it were Eastern Europe, North Africa, India and Western China.

‘Okay fine, religion isn’t the only thing that divides people and maybe it can unite people sometimes too. But what about hostility, hate and resentment between people of different faiths? Wouldn’t our world be more peaceful without all this religious bigotry? One less reason to hate’

What people don’t understand when they ask the above question is the following: Religion isn’t the cause of hate amongst people; religion is the justification for hate. No religion inherently preaches hate. No religion inherently teaches one to be hateful to others; they preach the opposite in fact. Yes, religious people differ but differences don’t equal hate. Theological disagreements don’t usually amount to hate and deep rooted resentment.

Hate is a human problem. It is a manifestation of anger, pride, greed, struggle for power and other human flaws. The Palestinians don’t hate Israelis because they are Jewish; they hate them because they are oppressed by them. Even in that case, religion is used as a justification for hatred.

Some people argue that a world without religion might not be perfect, but at least better than what it is today. I argue that we’d be in a position that is far worse as the good that religious values bring far out weight the divisions attributed to religion. The divisions would remain the same even if you remove religion. People would find other excuses to justify hate and oppression. Removing religion would just rid the world of the good that it brings about.

The problem of evil is an old theological problem that has plagued God-conscious people for centuries. It’s the anthem of the atheists and a threat to many religious people, particularly to those that follow the Judeo–Christian tradition. In this tradition one of the attributes of God is the All-Good and All-Powerful and this leads to the following problem. If God is All-Good and All Powerful then he would not allow evil to exist. But since there is evil in our world, a God does not exist. This argument is probably one of the strongest philosophical arguments against the existence of God and with atheism and secularism on the rise it continues to be debated today.

The question that arises is, ‘What is Evil’? Proponents of this argument will tell you that it is something that causes harm to human beings. A tsunami, a famine, a flood, disease, poverty, rape, murder etc; the list is never ending. Here is where the irony arises. If you look at the atheist movements of recent times, you will notice that they have risen from industrialized Western nations. What is interesting is that none of the ‘evils’ that these people talk about have actually affected them. Poverty, famines and widespread disease is not something that has, for the most part, personally affected the people that are leading atheist movements in industrialized nations. Its something they see people, in Africa for example, suffer through and hence arrive at the conclusion that there isn’t a God.

One would think that this argument would be lead by people in poor developing nations where they experience ‘evil’ on a day to day basis. This, however, is not that case and in fact some of the poorest countries have the most devout believers. Also to be noted is the fact that most of the religious historical figures were generally poor as well. One would think that people deprived of the blessings of God would be the ones who turn against Him; and the blessed ones would be the ones who would be stronger in faith and would be thankful. But what I see is that the it is usually the wealthy ones that become arrogant and turn away from God while the poor bedouin is the one who turns to Him. I end with the following words from the Quran,

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To God We belong, and to Him is our return” – they are those on whom (Descend) blessings from God, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance” (Quran 2:155-157)

zoo20snoozeWhat does it mean to be free? I was reading ‘The Life of Pi’ and Yann Martel makes an interesting point. He was talking about how people perceive animals in the zoo as being chained and imprisoned. People think that they are being denied their freedom because they are in a confined space. He argues however, that since animals are territorial, a biologically sound and spacious zoo enclosure just decreases the size of the animal’s territory. The zoo serves as the animal’s shelter, provides food and a safe place to procreate. It defends them from the diseases, predators and natural disasters. The zoo is actually a safe haven for animals. They might not have the freedom to go where ever they want to, but they automatically would not want to leave a place that fulfills all that they require.

I am not arguing about whether or not it’s moral to cage animals in a zoo. The thing I am trying to get is what it means to be free. Imprisonment is considered to be the opposite of freedom but as I showed in the earlier example, it’s not that obvious. We are told over and over again that we live in a free society. Freedom of speech, religion, education … the list goes on. While I believe that those are great values, I don’t think that having them makes us free beings.

Look at the society around you. Every one’s a victim of materialism and consumerism. Our men are slave to sex, pornography and gambling. Our women are slaves to fashion, cosmetics and weight loss. Young boy and girls are slaves to pop culture. Kids spend too much time trying to imitate their role models; Miley Cyrus and Jamie Lynn. A thirteen year old girl’s goal in life is to have a boyfriend. Young boys sit on their asses all day and play video games. Families are in debt that they probably will never recover from since they can only manage to pay the interest every month. People are so busy planning out their retirement that they can’t enjoy their present lives. They spend 45 years of their life planning out the 15 years they probably won’t get to live completely. No one can breathe without technology. Facebook and cell phones have taken over our lives. People aren’t as free as they think they are.

Our society is physically free but is intellectually and spiritually imprisoned. Every person from every walk of life is jailtied into some part of the materialistic web spun by either the media or the corporate world. You could be the guy who can’t think about anything else but getting buff or the girl who is addicted to breast implants and weight loss. It’s important for us to recognize these traps and rise above them. When your body is caged at least you can see that you are confined. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same way when your soul is a prisoner.

First published in The Silhouette (incorrectly credited on website)

Following are 10 realizations/observations that I have made.

1.  If everyone stopped moving simultaneously, time would stop

2.  No body is smart enough to understand why negative times negative is positive

3.  Everyone thinks that every one else is a party animal. People like to believe that they are better than the ‘other’ people that party.

4.  The rate at which time passes increases as time moves on

5.  People that you think are bad and those that you look down at are people that you don’t really know

6.  Subtraction is an illusion. Its really just the addition of negative numbers

7.  You need faith to be an atheist

8.  The perfect soul mate you are looking for does not exist

9.  Due to the conservation of momentum, it is possible for you to fart your way through space.

10.  Lowering your expectations and standards is the key to happiness

American Idol, American Apparel, American Idiot, America this and America that. Why is there never a Canada something? ‘American Eagle’ is pretty popular in Canada; but how come no ones opened up a store called the ‘Canadian Beaver’? Would such a store be popular amongst Americans? Why is the 1st of July not celebrated with as much pride as the 4th of July? Why did a Canadian not think of writing ‘Born on the 1st of July’? (Pamela Anderson could have written that one…)

I am trying to point out the fact that Canadians aren’t as patriotic as the Americans. I hope I don’t offend anyone, but I think it’s true. A lot of people aren’t even sure what Canadian really is. So why is it that way? People would say because a big percentage of the population descends from immigrant parents or are recent immigrants. It is true, early Canadians (excluding First Nations, who btw in my opinion are the ‘Real Canadians’) emigrated from parts of Europe and later Canadians from parts Asia. One might argue that it was due to this mix of ethnicities that people failed to come together to create a Canadian identity. Perhaps it was not possible for them to pledge allegiance to two nations at the same time. However, this argument does not work because the American population has a similar history as well. In fact, America has a larger immigrant population and has historically attracted more immigrants than Canada. If anything, their population is more diverse as, unlike in Canada, they have a larger black population as well.

The other reason might be because Canada is not as old as America. Its true, America is approximately a hundred years older than Canada. However, Canada is still a 141 year old country…that is a pretty old. There are countries which are a lot younger than Canada, but the people are more patriotic than the average Canadian. So that argument doesn’t work either.

So what is the real reason Americans are more patriotic than Canadians? WAR! That’s right. After a lot thinking I have concluded that the reason why Americans are more patriotic is because of the numerous wars they have fought. It sounds sad, but this violent and dreadful activity is actually what helps give the Americans their identity. They take pride in how their forefathers died in the War of Independence or during the World Wars defending their country. Numerous books, movies and songs deal with this subject matter and help instill patriotism amongst its American citizens. In fact, I would go as far as saying that war is what helps bring out patriotism in any country. It is a part of a country’s cultural heritage and the lack of it leads to a weaker culture.

Canada doesn’t have that. No war had to be fought for Canada’s independence; it was formed as a result of a series of meetings. And even after it was formed, it had strong ties with Britain and was part of the British Empire. Canada didn’t even have its own flag until 1965 i.e. 98 years after confederation. Every time Canada’s been to war it has never fought for its self, but for some one else. During the World Wars it participated because of Britain and it’s in Afghanistan due to American pressure. So I think it is the lack of bloody wars due to which the average Canadian isn’t as patriotic. If you think about it, what are some of the things Canadians take pride in? The War of 1812 and Vimy Ridge! So there you go, I think my theory checks out. Canada is a great nation and I am proud of the fact that it is a peaceful country, but I guess peace comes at a price too. (Modern peace keeping is a Canadian invention!)