Why Are We Here?
Did God create Man or is it the other way round? Who created who in whose image? Will God continue to exist when Man has disappeared from the face of the Earth?
“Too much dependence on supernatural factors may lead, and has often led, to a loss of self-reliance in man… blunting his capacity and creative ability.”
— Jawaharlal Nehru
Why are we here? This highly philosophical question has dogged Man ever since he attained the Age of Reason. Why are we here, what are doing here, and where are we heading? There must surely be a fundamental, logical reason that justifies our existence on Earth? Who put us here and, more importantly, why? Did we arrive here by ourselves from another galaxy? Why did we leave and never return? So many questions!
Religion or Indoctrination
It is a common feature of mankind that we wish our children to grow up, if not exactly as clones of our own selves, at the very least with our traditions, mores and values. This is never truer when it comes to matters relating to our religion and our religious beliefs. I do not know of any Hindu parent who wants his progeny to grow up as anything other than a Hindu or a Christian who wants for his child to be anything but a Christian.
Thus, the process of religious indoctrination — some may say brainwashing — begins from a very early age. So it was with my friend Keshraj. Growing up in a rural village next to a baitka surrounded by Hindu families, it was not only his parents, but also the whole community that was involved in the building of the edifice that would become his eventual set of religious beliefs and values. The local Pandit, who was also a family friend, completed the group of teachers who were to have a profound effect on his early beliefs. Like most people, he followed blindly, without any question. Indeed, no question was permitted!
This state of affairs continued until he attained what he describes as his very own personal Age of Reason. Suppose, he said to himself that there was this God, who created this beautiful Earth in which he put Man to live, having first created him in his own image. He would certainly like to see his creation exist forever.
We are further told that this God likes his children to revere and offer prayers to Him, in some cases so many times a day. He is not happy with one selected individual to be delegated do so on behalf of his community; it is the duty of each one of the entire horde of Humanity to be involved. Everybody must drop whatever they are doing to offer him his daily fix, just like one would administer heroin to a drug addict. Should anyone fail to do so, he is bound for hell and damnation. In order to have a maximum number to cater for this insatiable need, He gives Man the ability to procreate and increase his numbers by geometric progression.
Queston 1. Did it not occur to this all-creating, all-seeing, omniscient, vengeful, megalomaniac God that, by unleashing this mad race towards an uninterrupted, incessant growth of believers, He was programming the destruction of the very Eden which He had created with so much care? And, when Man has destroyed all, including himself, there would be no one to offer Him the veneration He so craves? For, no one has ever seen a dog or a cat pray! Clearly, it does not make sense.
Question 2. Did God create Man or is it the other way round? Who created who in whose image? Will God continue to exist when Man has disappeared from the face of the Earth? Which of the many Gods is the best? At a gathering of Nichiren Shoshu1 in the UK in the 1980s, a friend made the pertinent remark that every religion on Earth is but the word of one man. So, who is to say which one is the right path? Who holds the monopoly on Truth, or the true word of God?
On the other hand, the famous Swiss writer Eric von Daniken (EvD) believes in a Supreme Being (or Beings) who is responsible for “creating” and, by extension, controlling Man. But, it is not the God of any of the many bibles that have been written by men and peddled as the true word of God. They are super intelligent beings from other parts of the Universe. But, what do these ETs get out of setting us up so nicely on Earth?
Thus, we have the creationist prayer-hungry God who programmed us to self-destruct and EvD’s God(s) who did it just for the fun of it, or maybe as an experiment.
Diametrically opposed to both these “creationist” views, the evolutionist Darwin believed that, like all other forms of life, Man is the result of evolution and random selection. He postulated that Life started in a kind of primordial soup with the primitive one-cell amoeba. And that Life will only continue on Earth as long as there is enough material to sustain it.
In this model, there is no difference between the bacteria that thrives on putrefying material and human beings who rely on wholesome food and water for their survival, regeneration and multiplication. No putrefaction, no bacterium; no food/water, no man.
Therefore, the seemingly infinite multiplication of any specie being so, the intriguing question as to why we are here ceases to have any relevance. Like the bacteria, we are here and will go on expanding our numbers so long as there is enough material to sustain our burgeoning numbers.
Having considered all these scenarios, Keshraj concluded that this God thing is a rather confusing affair. Whatever is responsible for it, Life is a but one long chain of events, strung together by a series of spontaneous joy and infinite struggle, happiness being the small decorative pearl that sits on the large ring of suffering. For life itself is suffering. We are born; we live our three-scores-and-ten, procreate and die! That’s all there is to it, except for the destruction and pollution we live behind.
Question 3. What kind of wise God would create such a wilful creature?
A Mahayana Buddhist sect (also known as The Buddhism of the Sun) that was founded by Nichiren Daishonin in Japan in the mid-13th century