The good, meaningful life without God and religion: Malaysian atheists speak out

At the extreme end of the religiosity scale and obstinate against the rising tide of religiosity in the country are a small number of Malaysians—no more than 1% of the country’s population—who are atheists. Freethinkers, agnostics, and nontheists, as they are sometimes known, are merely different shades of the same meaning: an unbelief in any God and religion, or at least, a conviction that God and religion are unimportant, if not irrelevant, in their lives.

Some think it unnatural and disconcerting, perhaps even suicidal, for anyone to willfully forsake all religions. How can anyone, without religion, decide what is wrong and right, for instance? How can anyone be good or have a meaningful life without divine help?

Who are they, these unbelievers?

Atheism is no longer fringe but growing. Thirteen percent of the world’s population in 2012 are atheists, an increase by 4% since 2005, and, within the same period, world religiosity has declined by 9%. But whether religiosity rises or falls depends on where you are. Vietnam, Ireland, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Iceland, Ecuador, the US, and Canada are among the countries that have witnessed the largest decline in religiosity by between 10 to 20%.

But Malaysia has instead witnessed a rise in the number of religious people from 77 to 81% of the country’s population and a fall in the number of atheists by 4% between 2005 and 2012. Whereas people’s religiosities tend to decline with their age, Malaysians’ religiosity remains unwaveringly sky high across all age groups, from 15 to 54 years. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of religious Malaysians are fundamentalist—those adamant that their religion is the one true religion and the only truth.

If forsaking religion is bad, there should be some evidence that secular societies tend to fail or be worse off than religious societies. Yet, scientific studies consistently show the opposite: that people in secular countries, compared to those in religious ones, are more involved in charity work; are more trusting of strangers; have higher IQ scores; have lower levels of prejudice, ethnocentrism, racism, and homophobia; show greater support for women’s equality; are more appreciative of science; and have higher rates of subject well-being. Secular countries also show higher economic growth, higher democratic stability, and better governance than religious countries.

Such trends persist even in Malaysia. World Values Survey Wave 6 (2010-14) showed that, among Malaysians, religious people were more intolerant of other races and religions than the atheists were. For instance, a third of religious Malaysians indicated they would not want neighbors of a different race or religion, compared with only 9% of Malaysian atheists. Furthermore, the atheists were between 10 to 30% more supportive of women’s equality in marriage, education, job, and politics, and by as much as 38% more appreciative of science, compared to the religious.

Science in the religious Arab world has regressed since the 13th century. No major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for the past eight centuries. It is frightening to learn that people in the UAE countries read only an average of one book per decade, and that Spain has translated more English books into Spanish in one year than the whole Arab world into Arabic in the last 1000 years. Whereas the world spends an average of 2.2% of a country’s GDP on science in 2010, the Arab countries only 0.1 to 1.0%. The Arab world contributes only 1.4% of the world’s scientific papers and 0.1% of international patents. Furthermore, the entire Arab region can only boast of two Nobel laureates in the sciences, compared to more than 120 Jewish scientists. OIC countries have only 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1000 population compared to the world’s average of 40.7 and OECD countries of 139.3.

Arab astronomers. Since its glory days, there has no significant Muslim invention or knowledge breakthrough for the past eight centuries (image from utopiaordystopia.com)

Arab astronomers. Since its glory days, there has no significant Muslim invention or discovery for the past eight centuries (image from utopiaordystopia.com)

Correlation is not causation, of course. But societies appear to thrive, not collapse as they should, when religion is absent or exert little influence.

But, for some, being an atheist in Malaysia is difficult, if not dangerous. For ex-Muslims, coming out of the closet as an atheist is always an unsafe option, for severe discrimination and prosecution await them. Malaysia is among the most religious countries in the world and the least tolerant of unbelievers, as revealed by a 2012 report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Even our Prime Minister called humanism, secularism, and liberalism “deviant” and a “threat to Islam and the state”.

Amir (not his real name), who is 24 and a recent university graduate, is also both a Malay and an atheist. Having studied in many countries (both secular and Islamic) for nearly all his life, Amir has been exposed to a much greater diversity of cultures and outlook than most Malaysians have.

Amir described to me one of his early struggles with his faith: “[Imagine] you are in an international school and you are the only Muslim in the class. You look at everybody, and you think how could all of them be going to hell just because they don’t believe in the same things that I might have believed in. They are all going to hell even if they are not bad people … That was one of the first times I thought about atheism.

“When you realize that there are a lot of different ways of living, you find that maybe [what] you have been taught isn’t necessarily the right one.”

Amir’s mindset is just too different from the other Malays, so it is not surprising to learn that he has no Malay friends. Even the few he once had in the past eventually distance themselves from Amir.

“When I did tell them that I was an atheist—that sort of screwed things up,” Amir quipped. “It’s like there’s something wrong with [me]. [This happens] even with someone I thought I was getting along with previously. Some unspoken barrier comes up.

“I find even the religious moderates in this country, by my standards, to be quite religious.”

Each atheist has a different story to tell. Not all are like Amir, of course, who understandably has to keep his atheism a secret from his religious parents and from the society. Apart from Amir, none of the other atheists I met experienced any appreciable prejudice or discrimination because of their atheism.

Two other atheists I met were Willie, age 34 and a local university lecturer, and Kok Sen Wai, age 29 and a medical officer. Both are open atheists and outspoken about their atheism. Willie, in particular, has given many talks about rational thinking and humanism issues within and outside the country.

Willie, age 34 and a lecturer at a local university.

Willie, age 34 and a lecturer at a local university.

Both Willie and Sen Wai share a similar past. Both were once pious: Willie as a Christian and Sen Wai a Buddhist, and both begun their slide toward atheism by asking too many questions: first, of their own religion, then of other religions.

“I started by comparing the different sects of Christianity: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, and so on,” Willie recalled. “When I was going through all of them, I realized that there are lots of different interpretations of the holy texts. Then I started checking out other religions as well. I actually read a translation of the Quran, and I looked up Buddhism and Hinduism. After a while, I figured out that there doesn’t seem to be a correct way, like the perfect way, of interpreting all of them.

“There is no proof. When you are faced with a question of whether something exists or not, you would actually require proof of it before you start believing in it.

“In the beginning, I considered myself an agnostic … but, really, I discovered I was basically an atheist by definition.”

Sen Wai’s story is similar: “I guess this was the point in my life [after examining the different religions] when I realized that acquisition of [further] knowledge is fruitless if I am unable to tell if what I have learned is true or false. Though I did not know it at that time, I had inadvertently become a skeptic.

“The more you learn about religions, the more you realize that they are all alike in some way or another. They all demand faith that exceeds reason. Some of them even teach objectionable lessons that offend my conscience… I had stopped searching. I had come to accept that the well of religion is dry. I had become godless.”

While religious issues frequently occupy Willie’s and Sen Wai’s thoughts and concerns, Joey, who is 21 and a local university student, is rather indifferent. He has never been religious, so sliding into atheism for him was rather effortless, perhaps even inevitable.

“My family and I were Christian-ish, but who do not go to church, do not pray, do not say grace before we eat, and do not do anything that is Christian,” Joey explained. “I used to think that although I do not worship [God]—but if I am a good guy—maybe I will go to heaven.

“I was a freethinker for a while after that. But when I entered university, I hung out with some other atheists in my campus…and began to call myself an atheist. I wasn’t strong in my faith anyway, so it was easy for me [to be an atheist].”

But for many people, their conviction on atheism are often realized when they fail to find satisfying answers from religions such as the case for Willie and Sen Wai, or when they find religions offensive such as the case for Geetha, age 27 and a physiotherapist. That Geetha is also a feminist is important.

“All religions are essentially the same. They degrade women,” Geetha complained. “Women are seen as lower class and expected to conform to men’s expectations. The Indian culture and Hinduism are closely related to each other. I was in a culture and religion that disrespected women, that controlled women on how they should look and behave, for example. There’s no equality: women are a discriminated lot and expected to be submissive.”

Geetha, age 27 and a physiotherapist

Geetha, age 27 and a physiotherapist.

Atheists are sometimes regarded by others as rude, arrogant, and who are just as guilty as the religious fundamentalists in imposing their opinions onto others. The truth is the atheist community is diverse in many ways, one of which is by how atheists feel and react towards religion. Amir, Willie, Sen Wai, Joey, and Geetha exemplify such as a community.

While Joey is rather indifferent to religious people and religious issues, Willie is more diplomatic and wishes more for a rational but calm engagement with religious people.

“I chose to intentionally label myself as an atheist,” Willie revealed. “Part of the reason is to foster the conversation, to force people to ask the question on ‘What is this atheism?’ and the topics around it.”

Sen Wai and Geetha, in contrast, are less diplomatic.

“Religions are somehow considered sacred,” Geetha griped. “Nothing you can say about religion can be seen as constructive. Our arguments are always perceived as hostile by the religious.”

“If atheists are arrogant and disrespectful for calling Christians stupid,” Sen Wai added, “then one has to consider the Bible to be worse because Psalms 14:1 describes nonbelievers as stupid, evil, and incapable of doing good. Islamic preachers claim that my wife and I, being Kufrul-Inkaar, deserve to be tortured in hell. What can atheists say that are more arrogant and disrespectful than what religious people are saying about atheists? I am sure that rude, boorish atheists do exist (as they do in any group of people), but given how atheists in general are constantly being insulted and threatened by religious adherents, I am inclined to excuse them.”

But what about morality? Could atheists be both godless and moral?

“Morality is ingrained within us,” was Geetha’s response. “Morality follows a simple, basic rule: don’t hurt others. Yes, religions have good moral values, but they do have some very bad ones too.”

For Sen Wai: “My morality comes from my innate primate sense of empathy and altruism: my conscience. So far, it has served me well. For example, while most world religions denounce homosexuality, I see no wrong in the love of two persons of the same sex so long as it is consensual and harms no one. Also, I can empathize with gay lovers. I ask myself, ‘What if I love someone but I am forbidden to do so?’ That would be tragic and unfair. I would further assert that the absence of religion would actually make it easier for us to do right by our fellow men in this case.”

“Even in the absence of moral authority [from religion], you can actually figure out what is right or wrong based on how it affects people” Willie added. “Evolution has helped to select people who do learn to live cooperatively, so basically, surviving together is always better than surviving individually. And the laws or values that actually help the society should be the [morality] that move us forward.”

Willie’s answers are reminiscence of utilitarianism: that we should do whatever that will produce the best overall consequences for all concerned, and of the Golden Rule: “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor”. In other words, morality is decided on the basis that we do whatever it is the best, without bias, for everyone, and that we treat everyone as we like ourselves to be treated.

“[Morality] is actually quite an easy and straightforward issue to deal with,” Willie further explained. “It is just that people have the background that they must somehow be told what is right and wrong. At the end of the day, somebody who actually figures out and decides to do things because he knows it is right is a more moral person than somebody who does something because he is told it is right. So, if you believe and you do it, you are actually an agent of good, but if you are told to do it because it is good, then you are nothing, you are a robot, just following instructions. That’s just dumb, not moral.”

Like many Malaysians today, the five atheists I met each expressed concern over the rise of religious fundamentalism in the country.

“I am frightened at the rate by which we are losing our country to religious fundamentalism,” Sen Wai agonized. “Issues like Muslims touching dogs and gymnasts wearing leotards, which did not seem to matter in the past, are now headlining news. I am no political analyst, and I do not pretend to know the solution, but a government which continuously exploits racial and religious schisms cannot be healthy for a nation’s sense of unity.”

Yes, dogs are nice to see and even nicer to touch, but if you are a Muslim, you are forbidden (haram) to touch dogs (image from financetwitter.com).

Yes, dogs are nice to see and even nicer to touch, but if you are a Muslim, dogs are haram, and you have to curb your innate urge to touch them (image from financetwitter.com).

“Malaysians weren’t like this before this,” Willie exclaimed. “In the past, you even have an advertisement of Guinness that said, ‘Guinness: [baik untok kita]’, and you had Malays in that ad. The fundamentalism wasn’t there in the early days of the country. So, how did we even get to this? There are a lot of scholars who went to these Arab countries, and they brought back a lot of the values that they actually saw from those countries which wasn’t actually here in the early days. The whole idea that there is only one way to be a Muslim or one way to be a Muslim country is ridiculous…I think a lot of people [from a lack of reference] have lost sight of Malaysia’s own past.

A Guiness advertisment in 1968, picturing two Malays (presumably Muslims too) in an ad for an alcoholic drink (image from hareshdeol.blogspot.com).

A Guinness advertisment in 1968, picturing two Malays (presumably Muslims too) in an ad for an alcoholic drink (image from hareshdeol.blogspot.com).

An early ad from the 1970. Good, old days, or sinful, old days? (image from nurulrahman.com).

Your aurat is showing, miss. An early ad from the 1970. Good, old days, or sinful, old days? You have to wonder how people in the past managed to get to heaven (image from nurulrahman.com).

“The opposite voice is not being heard. People don’t dare to speak out, especially from the politicians … You [also] have politicians who are saying secularism is bad for the country. This is a very sad state of affairs.

“We are living in a world that is enormously globalized, and it is very seldom where you can go to a country without actually seeing many Christians and Muslims living side by side regardless of which majority is in power. So, if you impose one set of fundamentalist values based on religion then you will run in contrary with others. So, in today’s world—especially in today’s world—you can no longer run this one-kind mind where only this set of values is the right one. The only way to apply all sets of values fairly to everybody is actually the secular kind of system.”

For Geetha, she fears the rise of religion fundamentalism will create a society that is increasingly irrational and less open. But it is women’s rights, she fears the most, that will be the hardest hit from increased religious fundamentalism.

When I asked her what the country should do, she simply said, “Keep religion out of politics.”

You might think the atheists, having forsaken their religions, would be happy to see the back of religion or glee at its destruction. Remarkably, none of those whom I interviewed desired to destroy religion even if given a hypothetical chance.

“I would rather promote science than to destroy religion,” Geetha revealed, “because science encourages critical thinking. Destroying religion is pointless. I have many friends who are religious, but they are also liberal in their thinking.”

“I think religion is natural, like the most natural human thing.” Amir opined. “Religion becomes people’s identity, especially during times of trouble and persecution. Strip a person of everything, and a person’s religion is only that is left.”

“If I destroy religion, will I also destroy its culture?” Joey asked. “I don’t like religion when it affects people’s decision-making. But I like the culture that comes from religion[such as its festivals and celebrations].”

Destroying religion means denying people their religion. And that would exacerbate, not resolve, human conflicts because for many people, their identity, self-worth, and culture are derived, sometimes in large parts, from their religion. All human civilizations, past and present, have been influenced with varying degrees by religion, giving rise to amazing creations of religion-influenced art and architecture. Destroy religion and the world could be poorer for it. I can appreciate why Amir and Joey are reluctant to see an end to religion.

For Willie and Sen Wai: freedom of choice means freedom to believe even in religion.

“Fundamentally, we must give human beings choice,” Willie explained. “That means, even making sure the false choices are still available. You cannot tell somebody that ‘You must reach a [certain] conclusion’. You can hope they reach the correct conclusion. The whole idea of promoting science or scientific literacy is that humanity will become an intelligent species who will work based on evidence. Even within science, the principle is always to question yourself. At the end of the day, you must make sure everyone has the freedom to [even] make their own mistakes and to figure out their paths.”

“I think it is neither possible to be rid of religion entirely nor do I want to,” Sen Wai answered. “I believe in secularism. I believe that people should have the freedom to believe in whatever they want to believe, so long as they do not harm anyone by it or try to force others to comply with their beliefs.”

I came away from my research enlightened that far from being deluded, immoral, or aimless, atheists can be very clear and articulate on their principles, stance, and concerns. Without religion, the atheists have found freedom, not to inexorably fall into a life of aimlessness, depravity, and despair, but freedom to discover that having a moral and meaningful life is not only desirable and possible, but also a better outcome than that prescribed by religion. Unlike the religious who are fixated on the afterlife, these atheists are instead much more focused on the here and now, on whether they are making full use of their single finite life, for the afterlife, to these atheists, is a simply a lie.

Ricky Gervais, the English actor and comedian, said it best about living his atheist life: “[When I die,] it’s the end of something glorious, so I have to pack it all in. But, you know, I’m not depressed about it. I don’t want to die any more than anyone else. And I think there’s this strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.”


I like to thank Amir, Willie, Sen Wai, Joey, and Geetha for their time and frankness to be interviewed for this article. They are members of MAFA (Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers, Agnostics and Their Friends), a social and discussion group on Facebook.

References

  1. Charities Aid Foundation. 2014. World Giving Index 2014. Charities Aid Foundation, Kent, UK.
  2. Hoodbhoy, P.A. 2007. Science and the Islamic world – The quest for rapprochement. Physics Today, August 2007. pp. 49-55.
  3. WIN-Gallup International. 2012. Global index of religion and atheism. Press Release. Zurich, Switzerland.
  4. Zuckerman, P. 2009. Atheism, secularity, and well-being: How the findings of social science counter negative stereotypes and assumptions. Sociology Compass, 3: 949–971.
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Comments

  1. You have missed out perhaps the greatest example of institutional secularism – communism. Look at China and the forner Conmunist countries. Within a lifetime this secular ideology has failed miserably and destroyed the social fabric of millions of citizens. No nation in human history has survived for long without an element of spirituality. Humans are not normal animals- we have the ability to act against our instincts and faith moderates our conduct. It is also unfair to compare Malaysia with countries that were not subjugated by Empire.

    • Communism is a political ideology, whereas atheism isn’t. Saying they are the same is like saying, “A woman yesterday was raped by a man who wore glasses; therefore, people who wear glasses are rapists.” Communism practised in China today is not exactly the same as practised before, but to highlight only China as an example of “failure” is to ignore the other many more secular countries (which I wrote about) that are indeed exemplary that secularism do work and work much better.

      • Communism is the political manifestation of atheism. As the famous communist quote puts succinctly- “religion is the opium of the masses.”. If this does not espouse atheism then i am flummoxed. No human society in history has survived being atheist. China comprises perhaps the majority of atheists in the world. It is a solid example conveniently avoided. In atheist countries which you cite as being charitable- indeed has a heritage of Christianity – a religion whose adherents are also generally known for their charity. The religious background set the charitable culture. China who has broken with its past culture would explain the uncharitable nature of their citizens.

        • Then, by your own argument, better to be a Christian, then an atheist. You should really look at evidence, then just offer conjecture with little proof and ignoring other evidence that do not conform to your beliefs.

  2. Hi, I’m feeling so fortunate to have stumbled upon this article. Thank you for speaking out as an atheist in Malaysia. People around me are always skeptical of my morality whenever I revealed that I don’t belong to any religion. Even teachers in school would say those without a religion have no morals, which is really upsetting to hear. I’m really happy to see that there’re actually other people like you and the ones that left comments, in Malaysia, who are also atheists other than my siblings and I. I enjoyed reading your blog, please keep up the great work!

    • Atheists are fully entitled to their lack of belief and should not be personally criticised for it. It is their own choice in life However. their references point on conduct is uncertain and this then turns into championing “human rights” in an attempt to normalise inmoral and unnatural conduct which erodes the family structure.

  3. Dear Christopher,
    Your write-up is indeed a well written piece. Love reading it. Just like to share some of my feelings about the issue.

    Life is tedious when you are different from the majority. As time goes by, I find religion becoming more and more ludicrous, to the extent that I simply just cannot stomach it anymore. I am a peace loving person and I have no desire to quarrel or antagonize anybody, believers or otherwise, neither do I relish debating endlessly with them until kingdom comes. If people are convinced about God and religion and feel satisfied that those are the truths, well good for them. I only expect that as much as I respect them for their beliefs, they would also respect my standpoint on the issue. Yet, I am always regarded with suspicion and inferiority, even contempt. Not that I ever admit I am an agnostic, an atheist or a free thinker. It is just because people notice that I do not perform all the religious rituals and I also do not dress appropriately as I do not put on the head scarf.
    I too very much believed that I do not need religion, in order to lead a life with morality. In fact, the atheist or the agnostic, in my opinion, would be a more responsible individual because he or she does not expect to be monitored by any deities or angels and does not do good because of some rewards promised in the afterlife.

    To me, what is most important is the welfare and well-being of humanity and other earthly creatures. Instead of focusing on trying to secure a place in heaven, it would be much more beneficial if all energy and resources be focused on the betterment of life on this earth for humanity through science and technology.

    • Thank you for sharing. Yes, many people believe morality only comes from religion, but that is simply not true. Religions have a fair share of atrocious and contradictory morality issues that religious people either gloss over or cherry pick the ones they like.

  4. This is such a well written article. The reality of being an atheist/agnostic in Malaysia is truly harsh. It’s definitely a curse to be born Malay and a Muslim. I couldn’t ignore the doubts I’ve been having all of my life. I couldn’t renounce my faith, that will mean losing my family, friends, country and everything I hold dear. I can’t even get married. I wish Malaysia is better than this

    • Thank you for sharing. The moment we care born, our race and religion are set for us. If we were born in India, our religion would most likely be Hindu, if in France a Christian, and if in Pakistan a Muslim. At least for other religions, one can opt out, but for Malay Muslims, such an option is not available.

      I can only imagine one way to escape is to leave the country, but then this would mean leaving behind your family, friends, and everything. It is sad and tragic.

  5. We all know the only true God is the Sun. Anyone who is says otherwise is a blasphemer and deserves a painful life and death, and an eternity in a piercing icy hell.

    On a serious note, it’s astounding that humans live (and still reproduce) in a contradictory, and a rather awful world. Doesn’t make lots of sense for propagation of genes and continuation of species.

    I’d argue that our ‘higher’ cognition allows us to recognise that creating human life in itself may not be moral.

    Then the lizard brain goes ‘No I have to live and I have to make more people’ and many religious ideologies facilitate that precisely.

  6. Life for the atheist would always be in confusion, afraid and full of uncertainty. That’s reason people need religions to guide them to true god and meaningful life. I wonder why do we really care of the atheist because that what they chosen and they chose to lives in confusion. I pray they will end the atheist and find the true religions before they die because they even didn’t know what happen after death.

    • As an atheist myself, I feel no confusion whatsoever. I lead a life that I think is a great deal more ‘moral’ than many who claim to be religious.
      I feel no need to find my moral compass through religious teachings. In fact I believe that if one is only following a moral path because of religion, then it shows a lack of personal integrity. All religions have a basic teaching of do unto others… I strongly believe that comes from being human, rather than because a book tells us to do it.
      As for what happens after death, well I think its pretty much what it was like before we were born – nothing.

      Great blog by the way, Christopher. Excellent research and insightful writing. Love it!

      • Thanks for your reply. Morality can simply be boiled down to “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you”. Such a simple concept, but yet many people still believe morality only comes from religion, and without religion, anarchy and all sorts of human depravities will take over, even if the evidence are abundant that secular countries tend to be more successful and peaceful than religious ones. I do get comments from religious people for my blog (and FB) and their comments tend to sound alike after a while: “It’s God’s plan. End of discussion.”

    • “Life for the atheist would always be in confusion”. => Usually atheists are also rational/ist, therefore they are probably less confused than irrational people.

      “afraid” => Usually atheists don’t believe in ghosts, jinn, demons, Satan, Papa Legba, vampires, zombies, apocalypses, etc.. therefore atheists are probably less afraid than religionists.

      “full of uncertainty” => Why confused? Who says that not believing in Apollo or Birrahgnooloo makes people confused? Anyway, somebody said, ‘The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence’. Was he totally wrong?

      “That’s reason people need religions to guide them to true god and meaningful life.” => How about people who end up following the wrong religions guiding them to the wrong gods or goddess?

      “I wonder why do we really care of the atheist because that what they chosen and they chose to lives in confusion.” => How can somebody seriously believe that not believing in Wurrunna or Aphrodite leads to a ‘life of confusion’? I am missing the logical connection.

      “I pray they will end the atheist and find the true religions before they die because they even didn’t know what happen after death.” => There have already been trillions upon trillions of prayers for this and that through the years, yet results remains as elusive as the Gods and Goddesses themselves. Are you sure your prayers will be answered?

  7. That is a very great and indispensable truth..thank you and those who are in the closet..get up and walk the mile..its life you need not fear..nothing is free in this life..not for anyone..be a human being and be humane..thats all u need..the rest will come..i freed my mind the rest will follow..thanks a zillion again..:-)

  8. Im impressed with your articulation. An overall excellent write up on a very sensitive topic in malaysia.

    Which brings the question:
    how did the jews become so successful in the field of science and technology while being religious (fundamentalist?), and not forgetting to mention the existance of powerful and influencial jewish state called israel.

    • Thank you for your compliments. You will be surprised to learn that the majority of Jews are not religious. It is possible for Jews to be non-religious and still be proud and loyal to their culture and country Israel. Jews have always been a hard-working lot and considering their history of the receiving end of discrimination and abuse, they have learned to be extremely self-reliant and creative.

  9. I can’t believe I’ve stumbled upon this. Well articulated sir. I take my hat off to those brave atheists living “out of the closet” in Malaysia.

    Fantastic blog. Keep up the good work!

    🙂

  10. Nice article Mr Christopher.. It is spot on pointing the current situation in Malaysia. I’m from a muslim background, with a very religious parents, so the only option for me is to be hiding in the closet as i don’t want to hurt them. I also fell in love with this christian girl, a fairly religious one. So i’m stuck in the middle. It is disheartening to see our loved one still living in a lie created by ancient men. Sometimes, i thought of just letting them be as long as they are happy. I do left them a couple of hints over time hoping that someday they would figure it out the truth by themselves..

    • Thanks for the compliment and sharing. Yes, I can only imagine it tough for you being in a religious family and society, more so if you have a relationship with someone outside your official religion. Society can make it very difficult to a sustain such a relationship unless both of you go to extraordinary lengths to persevere being together. This would of course depend on how strongly both of you feel for each other. At the end, you have to decide if continuing such a relationship is worth all the troubles both of you will face. Religious Christians too can make it difficult for your GF to be with you especially if the relationship become very serious. Christians are expected to marry other Christians too. All BGF relationships start off with romance but they eventually develop into a more mature and serious relationship where deep emotions and thoughts are shared between you two. Sometimes the early part of romance is nice but the relationship starts to falter when deeper emotions, personality, and thoughts are required from you both. Maybe religious (or lack of it) differences between you both is not critical in the moment, but they will soon be when the relationship goes into deeper levels.

      I hope the best for you, and thank you again for your visit and comments.

  11. I am an atheist but i have a dilemma. My legal religion would be islam as I was born in an islamic family. Mr Christopher I truly respect you for speaking up and telling the truth out in front of everybody but do you have any idea on how I can be legally atheist in Malaysia?

    • You will have to present your case to the Syariah Court and you will need a good lawyer. However, renouncing your Muslim faith is never ever granted unless you had to convert into Islam such as when you married a Muslim partner or your parents converted you into Islam from another religion when you were younger. In other words, if you are a Malay, then you have only grief, disappointment, and risks of severe persecution if you even reveal your intention to renounce your Muslim faith.

      • So I have no chance to even renounce my faith unless I migrate to another country.So I guess I have no choice but to hide and just sit in a corner with fear and anxiety that people would found out that I’m an atheist and be stoned in front of my family.Thank you for the reply.

  12. Christopher, thanks so much for this article. I am now completely convinced and confident that atheism is what I want to hold on to for the rest of my life. Through your interviews, questions and the answers you’ve received, all of it has basically summed up the ‘correct’ way to go about with atheism. Particularly, the simple principle of morality and not wishing harm on religion.

    Kudos. ?

  13. Hi Christopher,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Very reliable information and easy to understand.
    I read your Blog on Reading Habits and obtained some very useful information that will be helpful as we are about to start a Reader’s Community Blog.

  14. Wow… Really well written. I had committed the “sin” of sharing before reading, but here I am making reparations.

    P/S: nice design too!

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