Sunday, January 20, 2013

An Atheist With Gandhi

Here, and here.
He had not been averse to my atheism nor did his god scare me away. He appreciated a principle far more for its efficacy than for its mere academic or intellectual considerations. His primary concern was humanity. On account of this deep concern, he could proclaim boldly: "I can neither say my theism is right, nor your atheism is wrong." He was not a fanatic to quarrel about method, nor was he a poet to praise the ideal; but he was a prophet who perceived the direction. He never denounced anything that contributed the commonweal; on the other hand, he helped it, in spite of the wide divergence between its method and his. His conception of god, as well as his estimation of atheism appear to me to be based on this essentially humanitarian consideration.
Besides, he was pre-eminently a practical man. As a practical man, he took any situation as it obtained with all its paradoxes. He never sat down to scan and to sift its contradictions intellectually; but he moved the whole situation towards the ideal of happiness for all mankind. He condemned nothing beforehand lest a good cause should be lost by bad judgement. He only let things drop when they could not bear the strain of progress. Practice was his test of fitness. He subordinated intellectual and sentimental considerations to practical purposes. He tested a system of medicine by the cure it effected; he tested the advocate of a cause by the work he turned out; he allowed me to dissect a frog when it served a practical purpose.