I’m pretty sure you’ve all met him: The Pharisaic, militant atheist. I mean the guy is more complex than I am. He’s full of aporias and contradictions, and that’s his blind spot. It’s crazy. He hates God with a vengeance that borders on worship. He’s obsessed with God. Each post or Facebook status revolves around the same nucleus: God. And you begin to wonder if this man is an atheist at all. It’s always God, God and God. God the genocidal tyrant, or God the vengeful Yahweh, or God the bloodthirsty civilisation wrecker. He knows his scriptures better than the religious or agnostic person, and just can’t leave the topic alone. He’ll quote verses and say, “See! What did I tell you. I’d rather drink booze in hell than worship a dictator,” and he’ll say there is no God, but strangely enough God is present in everything he writes out of anger or hurt or vengeance. It’s crazy. He just can’t get a grip. He’s obsessed with the deity. He’s like a man who stalks God. His anti-piety is so strong that it makes an apostle’s veneration seem weak. He breathes, eats and drinks God (albeit in a negative way). An anti-fundamentalist fundamentalist. He blasphemes, slanders and disregards God, cherry picks from postmodernism, and yet the singularity of truth or monotheism is imprinted in his DNA. What do you make of such a man? In his anti-salvation militant stance, he’s actually close to the real deal. The truth is that he worships using hate. But bring that up, and he’ll bark at you, and preach as powerfully as a prophet of wrath. He doesn’t succumb to nihilism, but an atheism that pries deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God, because he wishes to stand with his sword and shield and scream, saying, “You can’t touch me!” Even though he’s weak both physically and emotionally, and mortal. He hates absolute truth, and yet can’t get enough of the topic. He hates concepts like good and evil, and yet labels God as evil. He hates totalitarian notions, but thinks in black and white when it comes to God. He believes in science and fact, but talks more about religion. He doesn’t mind humanity living in a simulation, but disdains predestination and upholds free will. What on earth drives such a man? It’s mind blowing. He reads everything from the gnostic gospels to the apocrypha to the Bible and the Quran and the Vedas and eastern mysticism, and knows everything from early pagan beliefs to Buddha to Constantine to Luther to Calvin. He tunes into religious shows, and watches them intently for the sole purpose of dismissing them. In a twisted way, he seems to have more faith than any of us.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)