'Why I Am an Atheist' - Book Review
One of the best pieces by Bhagat Singh was 'Why I Am an Atheist'.
Title - Why I am an Atheist
Author - Bhagat Singh
Number of Pages - 24
If I were to say that I have been an atheist for half of my life, I would not be completely lying. In earlier years of my life, I was an obedient, orthodox follower of Hinduism. As Bertrand Russell said in his rather very famous lecture—Why I am not a Christian, "Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason." Well, it was a part of those millions as well!
(Now, I believe there are so many books and essay compilations out there bearing similar titles to this one, but having read most of them, I can say, if this was a series, it would be my favourite one so far!]
I have been following Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga and some other scholars to gain some perspective on this whole philosophy of religion thing for some time now and quite frankly, I am getting lured into learning as much as I can about it after reading their arguments. However, I came across this book by mere accident. One of my friends, (also an atheist) suggested it to me. You can call him Bhagat Singh's fan, if that is not too much! He was not aware that I am equally interested in getting more material and I was not aware that Bhagat Singh, whom the world sees only as a freedom fighter in India's freedom movement, would actually be an intellectual person beyond imagination.
Bhagat Singh was only 23 (I am the same age right now and I wish I could compile something like this!) when he wrote this letter (yeah, it not actually a book as can be seen from the number of pages) and it is quite a sad fact to know that millions of adults do not have the simplicity of thoughts that he possessed at that age! This essay was actually written in form of a letter originally and in it, Bhagat Singh has tried to justify his views without being offensive to anyone. He has put some very intelligent yet simple to understand counter-questions to popular beliefs, dogmas and religious rituals. He has not only questioned those things, but also gave a simpler justification of why he turned from being a God-believing Orthodox Sikh into a true non-believer, who would not turn again even at the time of facing death.
The reason I liked his approach was because in the first 25 percent or so portion of the essay, he explained why he believes in not believing. He said that the fact that he is a non-believer does not relate to the quality of vanity or ego. I feel this was needed to be said because the Indian culture values humility a lot. To make a point in front of those millions of believers, who, in fact, have been believing in God and religions 3000 years before Christ came into existence, it is quite important that you remove the doubt from the reader's mind that the writer believes himself to be omnipotent or the almighty's rival. Then only, he explained his point in detail.
[A little note to my readers: I have been reading Mr. Hitchen's 'God is Not great' and Mr. Russell's compilation of essays at the same time and hopefully, I get to review them soon, as well.]
Rating and Conclusion: 4/5
[Reason—due to the shorter length, otherwise the content is actually 5/5]
As, it is a quick-read, I would not go into the details of the contents in the book. But, I would definitely recommend this to anyone with even a little interest in religion, theology, or simply rationalism.