Sunday, April 22, 2007

The War Must Come to Colombo

Forgive my blatant disregard towards being politically correct. I intend to make my point as clear as possible, thus the usual diplomatic wrappings that form a masquerade around my true opinion will be set aside on this occasion.

The recent massacre at Virginia Tech University was indeed an event that we all condemn and regret. We as members of a global community have realized the necessity to empathize with our fellow brethren across continents whenever fate deals them a cruel blow.
However, it occurred to me that we in Colombo have a nasty tendency to empathize with the West at the expense of neglecting the issues within our present civil war. A classic example of this was the reaction of individuals in Colombo which even included facebook groups for the purpose of displaying solidarity against the massacre. It would have been equally polite to have a couple of groups dedicated to the children in the North and East that are lost to war each day.

To avoid misunderstanding, let me make it clear that I too empathize with the families of the victims of this massacre. However, I find it puzzling that events such as this along with Oklahoma, 9/11 and Katrina seem to affect our conscience in far greater proportions than events within our own country. The international media, which is for obvious reasons West-centric, will continue to inundate us with news items that relate mainly to the West. And we seem to simply fall in line like well-trained monkeys.

It is obvious that we Colombo dwellers are more Western than in fact Sri Lankan. We remember our nation mostly when the cricket is on. Feel free to despise me for hazardously generalizing. The ethnic conflict (and yes, there is a conflict out there which is deeply imbedded in the psyche of the people) will never cease unless the conflict comes to our own doorstep.

No, I am certainly not asking you to wear sackcloth, weep and gnash your teeth in despair. However, I invite you to ponder upon the dynamics of our conflict and how we in Colombo, as we grow tired of the politics, choose to ignore its realities. I feel it is unlikely that a viable solution will be found until we, as the supposed crème-de-la-crème, are physically affected by the conflict. What I mean by “physically affected” is open to interpretation. I however do not possess the morbid wish for violence to take place within our city merely for us to learn our lesson. Personally, I believe mandatory military service may do the trick. But that’s a different debate altogether.

The truth is, we have grown comfortable in our own depression and look elsewhere to offer our condolences. Charity must begin at home.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Letter to an Atheist - PART I: Do you "believe" in Atheism?

The following piece is in response to a very interesting article by Professor Mano Singham which appeared in his web journal some time back. The link for the original post is:

I have segmented my response into two parts for the purpose of easy reading. In this first part, I wish to bring to the attention of the reader, the logical improbability of the final conclusion an atheist would most likely reach. At this juncture, I have no qualms about the “belief” that there is no God. However, the purpose of this post is to challenge the “conclusion based on scientific analysis” that there is no god.

“The anthill is the ant’s world, the open savanna its universe”

Human beings have since time immemorial attempted to explain life and the position we occupy in the universe. However, it is seldom that one begins to appreciate the inescapable truth that human beings like all other life forms on Earth, are inherently limited to what they are able to perceive. When an individual observes his environment and thereupon arrive at certain conclusions, such observations and conclusions are inherently restricted in accuracy to the ability of such an individual to perceive his environment and corroborate his findings with prior knowledge or values.

Now the question arises as to how one can be certain that an atheist’s conclusions on religion are not infallible. The answer lies in the concept of "truth derived from probability" or what some may call "relative truth".

This is where it gets interesting…

If one is to accept the theory of evolution for instance, human beings are still in the process of evolving, and therefore are "less evolved" than the stage of evolution that lies ahead. If one is to accept the concurrent theory of natural selection, then our species would give way to a more sophisticated and biologically successful species at some point in the future. All these widely accepted scientific "truths" seem to point in one direction: the relative insignificance of humankind in comparison to the deep and infinite bounds of the universe. It is therefore likely that human perception is relatively flawed. There is no way of proving this, but then again, the probabilities of thinking otherwise seem logically puerile, unless you believe the universe centers on us human beings. The relative concept of truth would therefore suggest that in terms of scientific theory (and by "theory" I mean scientific speculations which are incapable of being proven beyond doubt) we are more likely wrong, than right.

Atheism would therefore require certain presumptions to be first accepted before it can claim logical superiority over any belief system. In fact atheism itself is more likely a belief system than, as some atheists would insist, an empirical conclusion.

Thus it is my opinion that Atheism, which is allegedly founded on scientific and logical reasoning, cannot be accepted in the absence of some fundamental dependency on the faculties of human perception and reliance on the probability that human perception depicts an accurate reality. Sounds like faith to me.

Thank you for reading.