Atheist Centre 1940-1990 Golden Jubilee
International Conference Souvenir
Vijayawada, February 3, 4, and 5, 1990
[OCR, HTML, editing, by Cliff Walker]

Atheism -- A Creative Challenge
E. P. Menon
Director, Friends World College, (S. Asia)

When the father of Indian freedom struggle bluntly told Prof. Gora, the greatest living atheist of India then: "I Can neither say my theism is right nor your atheism is wrong. We are seekers after truth. We change whenever we find ourselves in the wrong.... There is no harm as long as you are not fanatical. Whether you are in the right or I am in the right results will prove. Then I may go your way or you may come my way; or both of us may go a third way. So go ahead with your work I will help you, though your method is against mine". He was not only respecting the other human being fully but also providing inspiration to millions of people for years to come. Because the physical structure and nature of the universe is so incredible and beyond the calculation of human mind, most human beings have grown up with a strong belief in an ultimate creator for everything. Thus god has become an inevitable part of existence to majority of humanity all over.

When one rationally analyses human society, the relations between individuals and the relations between humans and gifts of nature, one will have to come to the conclusion that an enormous amount of deliberate miscalculation has taken place in the process of culture and civilization. Consequently in all societies millions of people have been victims of the selfish schemes and actions of the few. The important causes for this state of affairs has been thoroughly analysed and scientifically explained by Karl Marx. In other words materialistic relationship and interests are the most important factors that determine all human actions and relations.

In this process ever since civilization started the institutions of god and religion have become convenient and efficient tools in the hands of few against many. Therefore conflicts and bloodshed have become part of human history. Only few people have the guts and courage to stand up against such mischiefs and calculations invented and imposed upon the common people. Prof. Gora was one such individual who created an impact on a tradition-bound superstitious god-fearing lethargic society of India. He was able to understand the inherent strength of the masses once they were made free from the exploitative relations. Therefore be did not hesitate to follow Gandhi as far as the social goal and collective freedom which Gandhi was fighting for. But Gora very well knew that unless a totally radical new structure was created, better individual and social relationships and common objectives outlined, India's freedom could not reach its expected fruition. Therefore facing all kinds of hardships, having thrown out of the conventional corridors of the academics, he ventured into the society and started creating alternative institutions and value frameworks.

The Atheist Centre is the result of that untiring effort of a true lover of India and her people. In the 50 years of its existence and functioning its contribution has been very significant in order to create a new spirit and awakening among the masses and as well as thinkers of our country.

Most of the uncompromising attitudes and relationships propounded and established by the Atheist Centre may not be relished by many in this country. Yet for all those who have been associated with the Centre they constitute the fundamental base upon which a new civilization will grow.

In the present context of our country's development radical humanists and institutions like this must play a serious role. Otherwise the anti-human activities of fundamentalists, obscurantists and other dividers of the country and culture are bound to create havoc. The educational input provided by the Atheist Centre is commendable in this direction. I hope the Golden Jubilee celebration will provide greater confidence and inspiration to the young generation of this country who are floundering without a proper destination and groping in the darkness of social tension, individual confusion and collective madness that erupts in our country from time to time.