Faith and Illusion


Question

Some people claim that religion, God, scriptures, etc. are all an illusion. It is made as a means to control other people’s minds. My response in essence is that a person can know God personally through a reciprocal relationship. The response was, “But that’s just an illusion. You’re creating that experience whether you realize it or not.”
I find it difficult to move forward in the conversation at this point, because no matter what I bring up from Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, or any scripture, is automatically categorized as illusion. So no matter what point I bring up, no matter how logical or advanced as it is, is no more than an illusion because I’m a human and my brain or mind produced it. It might be a beautiful thought, but it’s just an illusion only for me.
This “illusion argument” also serves as a foundation for many other atheistic arguments. Because if it is an illusion, then any scripture penned by a human is just an illusion. My question is how does one engage a person who bases their argument and counters everything with- “it’s just an illusion?”

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture

I think the problem with talking to people who claim “that it’s just an illusion” is this: before engaging in discussion with such people, one must first establish reasonable ground rules for the discussion.

Simply saying “that is an illusion” does not constitute an argument and much less proof of anything. Someone is simply giving their opinion and assuming that their own experience is universal and applies to all other living beings in the universe. That is pretty silly. Probably, I would first tell such a person, “You are creating the experience that I am creating an experience, and that is the real illusion here. Why can I not say the same thing to you that you say to me? What are the rules for discussion? What constitutes proof? What is a valid argument?”

That person is free to speak for himself or herself. That person may choose to believe that their own experience is illusory, however on what grounds can they impose their view on someone else’s experience?

If there is no God, it is very likely that there is no omniscient being. If no one is omniscient, no one knows everything. Therefore, no one knows if there is a God or not. That is one of the main problems with atheism, it necessarily contradicts itself. The atheist claims to know what, in principle, only a God could know, namely everything.

Before entering into serious discussion with another person, I strongly advise you to ascertain whether you are dealing with an open-minded reasonable person. If not, then you will be wasting your valuable time. A Vaishnava speaks to an appropriate person, that is, a person who is at least willing to entertain a reasonable, open discussion. A dogmatic, silly person who claims to know everything, as if that person were God, is not a promising discussion partner.

A Vaishnava accepts that God is omniscient and, therefore, perfect knowledge is available by submissive hearing not by vain boasting. By submissively hearing, we experience the reality of Krishna in a self-evident way. We invite everyone to share this sublime experience and perfect their life.