Stephen Hawking fabulously said: “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the Universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation.” Though he metaphorically referred to God in his book A Brief History of Time, he clarified multiple times later that he was an atheist and that he didn’t believe in the existence of God or afterlife. He believed the human brain to be like a computer and said that just like a broken down computer doesn’t go to Heaven, similarly, a brain that stopped working has no afterlife.
Thus, as I saw thousands of RIP messages on my Facebook page and hundreds of them from celebrities and film stars that the masses look up to and idolize, I couldn’t help but feel sad for Stephen Hawking, the greatest physicist that our generation witnessed. The man who thought up ‘We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star’ has left behind billions of mourners, who don’t seem to even be in the category of advanced breeds of monkeys. How else do you explain saying stuff like “May his soul rest in peace” or “God, bless his soul” or “I pray for his soul”, while paying homage to a man who never believed in afterlife or God.
Many people have asked me what happens when we die. And my answer has always been that about 6 trillion bacteria take over our body; and before they spread a stench, we need to either burn it or bury it. That’s all that happens. There is no soul (there is nothing called a soul or spirit) that escapes the body and goes to the imaginary Disneyland called Heaven where it again takes the shape of a body and starts interacting with all the other souls floating around. It’s a nice fairy tale to console low IQ and unscientific people, but a really shallow conjecture to advocate as intelligent breeds of advanced monkeys.
But then, how do we explain it to masses who are so devoid of basic understanding of science and so swayed by the unquestionable faith on something that has no proof of existence (God), specially when everyone they look up to talks in the same low IQ language – be it the president of USA (not just Trump, who in any case has questionable intelligence, but even most his predecessors, including the so called intelligent Obama) to their favourite film stars?
While globally in sports, we have hardly anyone who doesn’t believe in God (that’s expected, given they are barely 12thpass on an average), in Hollywood, we still have intelligent stars who take a bold stance against religion and God. But in Bollywood, all our stars seem to be either unintelligent with respect to their understanding of the Universe and God or compromised individuals who, despite their intelligence, keep mouthing off meaningless words like “God Bless” and “Pray for you” and “RIP”.
I mean, how meaningless can these words be? Either their vocabulary is bad or they are completely uninvolved while they respond and think it’s a popular and stylish thing to say to foolish masses who they believe will swallow anything unintelligent that they say without asking questions. So every time that they end a speech, they say, “God bless”. Every time they meet fans, they say, “God bless”. Every time some devastation takes place anywhere, they say, “I am praying for the victims.” And every time someone dies, they say, “RIP”.
Let’s now explore what exactly are they trying to say, and what were the options they had. When they say “God bless”, they are basically saying something that I have no idea of or you have no idea of and no one has ever seen, but who we believe has apparently created this Universe that has about 200 billion galaxies (with about 400 billion stars each) about 14 billion years back, who should in his supercomputer press a button of his blessings for you. Yes, sure. That’s all that he is waiting to do, isn’t he? That too, when we believe that God already has a perfect predetermined plan for all of us. But alas, as Stephen Hawking himself put it humorously, “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
Could we do better? Of course, we could. The simplest thing that we could say instead is, “I wish the best for you/you all”. It’s a good wish without any blind belief involved.
What do we do when we say, “I am praying for the victims of the disaster”? They mean that they are basically praying to the same God who created the disaster that there should be less pain in the life of the ones He (tough to write she here, because if God actually existed and were a woman, then she wouldn’t be screwing things up so bad so often) left half-dead, in pain and orphaned. Could there be a bigger joke? In my mind, no!
What could they do? The least they could say is, “My thoughts go out for those who are pain and have been struck with this disaster”. They could even donate, so that the relief work could be more effective. And of course, as they say, two helping hands are far better than two folded hands. So they could even join the relief work like many often do. But the last things anyone wants are their prayers. They are meaningless and least involved.
Finally, what do they mean when they say, “RIP”? Well, they mean (in the case of Sridevi for example), you were just cruelly drowned by God in a tub full of water, leaving behind two little girls without a mother, but now you must get peace as you are with the same God who gave you this cruel death – or, in the case of Stephen Hawking, gave you 55 years of life with ALS syndrome (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a neurological disease that impacts movement). Sridevi’s death, if anything, should be taken as proof of non-existence of God or him being cruel in case he does exist, just like the painful life of Stephen Hawking proved. I mean, isn’t it time to get more intelligent than that? Especially if we are paying homage to someone like Hawking, who never believed in God?
So, what could they say instead? Well, as simple as, “You will live in our memories”. “You will remembered for your exceptional work”. “We will try to focus on your beautiful deeds than your painful death that has left us all shattered”.
Really, someone needs to take this message to our celebrities and ask them to behave more intelligently in public. Rather than, before every film’s release, going mindlessly to a temple to seek blessings of a stone idol run by a clever marketing manager or to a fake God-man (all God-men are frauds… Have you ever wondered how none can show a video recording of God coming and talking to them, though all claim to have conversations with Gods) and encouraging blind beliefs and unsubstantiated faiths. Or every now and then tweeting about God’s kindness and about fantasy concepts like soul, consciousness and spirits; and then, sending mindless religious wishes on so many occasions that are less of a cultural fun (like, say, Diwali) but more of a harmful tradition, spreading some social evil (like Karva Chauth). Above all, someone specially needs to have a chat with our sports icons. What do you have to say after winning this World Cup? “Well… I thank God for this World Cup. Without him, we wouldn’t have ever won this Cup. I dedicate this to him!!!” Yes, sure. He has no time to feed the millions dying of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, no ability to cure the ALS syndrome of Hawking in 55 years and even no time to save any drowning lady. But he was watching your match with keen interest and making sure you win the Cup. It’s like a style statement, “I thank God”. How about the hundreds of teams, which never win? How about the guys who come second or third? Was the reason they couldn’t win because you were more skilled on the given day or was it because God had decided to punish them despite their team being better?
I only hope and wish that we at least behave like an advanced breed of monkeys – that Stephen Hawking thought of human beings as – in our daily behavior, instead of like Stone Age and unscientific cavemen.
(SMS your views with your name and topic to
Connect with the author
or tweet him at https://twitter.com/DrArindam_IIPM
or follow his articles at http://drarindamchaudhuri.blogspot.com