Good, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1286)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Mr Dawkins

My main message of this email is just to appreciate you work. I give some context in length but you can just skip all and read the last two paras if time doesn't permit.

I am a Hindu by birth from Delhi, India. I have had the good fortune of studying electrical engineering from IIT Delhi (one of foremost engineering institutions in India). It is claimed to house & nurture some of the brightest and sharpest students in India. And in my experience, I found that it truly is so, however, despite being trained in Science and technology, people here just seem to turn their minds off when thinking about religion, God, dogmas. Hopefully, you already know that Indian society is still very dogmatic, it is assumed that you have to be religious & I even face difficulties in sometimes explaining the concept of life without God & religion to my peers. I think there is some kind of compartmentalization in human minds – same person from my peer group would be absolutely logical and sharp when talking about engineering, economics or scientific problems in general and (alas!) will also completely turn off their minds, believe in religious acts without questioning and won't even understand what scientific methodology has got to do with their religious beliefs.
Basically, what I am saying that I think humans (most, based on my experience) are not naturally rational beings. They act more like believing machines. Indeed, most people I know believe in Science theories also just because it was told to them, they haven't really contemplated on them. In fact one of the responses when I questioned one of my peers about not being logical in all realms of life is – “So, do you expect us to question everything we do in life & test whether its logical, scientific or not?”. This further strengthens my opinion that humans have to make some mental effort for being reasonable, human brain has to face some “inertia” if I may say. Humans can be made to think logically by training but they are not so by default especially when it comes to abstract topics like religion and God.

My family is very fundamentalist. They just believe whatever has been believed about religion and indeed about other things in life. In fact I recently very painfully convinced them that Homeopathy is not real medicine. I have actually seen my mother's and mine suffering being prolonged due to homeopathy whenever we had some serious disease (high blood pressure in mother's case & tumor in mine). But I am pretty sure that my family can't even imagine me not being a believer (I plan to shock them shortly).

I hope last two paras would have given you some perspective of the society I live in. However, I must say that I feel more sorry for creationists & blind believers in countries like America because the training that is required to make you rational isn't provided in India because of economic constraints – school system is very bad (its horrible actually) so even those who go to schools don't get a good education, leave alone scores of people who don't get this privilege; where as I feel that americans have advantage of sound economy and arguably the best minds of world working in the country and still they choose to believe in creationism & such illogical blabber. I am amazed at people like, say, WIlliam Craig who are well educated, sharp and ostensibly pretty capable in logical thinking but they use these skills to promote idiotic beliefs of creationism and formulating arguments like – “where do you get your morals from?”. You won't find such an example in India – I am not saying this as a matter of pride, I just want to convey my amazement at such wasteful use of good skills and education. Indeed, most fundamentalists in India are uneducated or close to uneducated & don't generally challenge you for a worthless debate. Example of moronic politicians comes to mind but they start from the premise and assumption that you believe in God before starting their own rant. Basically, its hard to find a moron here who goes tries to prove the existence of God to a non-believer and calls himself a scholar of first degree. People here generally accept that they have turned their minds off in religious matters.

In these circumstances, I feel honored and lucky to have followed your work since last 1 year. I appreciate your concerns about freeing society of religion & applaud your patience of bearing the pains of the process. Pains, such as, encountering an utterly ignorant creationist or a disgrace to “logic” of a man like William Craig; should be pretty great. I am thinking of starting a rational thinking movement in Delhi – I will keep you posted on that.

I thank you for all the work you've done & hope that you continue this journey without exhaustion and increasing vigor.

Best Regards,
Deepak
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