Commentary by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Thinking about the virtues and faults of this world, some moralistic monotheists concluded that this material world is not a place of unalloyed pleasures. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They decided that the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit?  Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus disobeying God's command. In this way they fell from that garden into the material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth. Not seeing any other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a humanlike form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died.  All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a humanlike form, punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent person cannot make sense of any of this.

To accept this mixed-up religion one must first believe these rather implausible things: "The living entity's life begins at birth and ends at death. Before birth the living entity did not exist, and after death the living entity will no longer stay in the world of material activities. Only human beings have souls. Other creatures do not have souls." Only extremely unintelligent persons believe this religion. In this religion the living entity is not spiritual in nature. By His own will God created the living entities out of matter. Why are the living entities born into very different situations? The followers of this religion cannot say. Why is one living entity born into a house filled with sufferings, another living entity born into a house filled with joys, another living entity born into the house of a person devoted to God, and another living enttity born into a wicked atheist's house? Why is one person born in a situation where he is encouraged to perform pious deeds, and he performs pious deeds and becomes good? Why is another person born in a situation where he is encouraged to sin, and he sins and becomes bad? The followers of this religion cannot answer all these questions. Their religion seems to say that God is unfair and irrational.

Why do they say that animals have no souls? Why do birds and beasts not have souls like human beings? Why do the human beings have only one life, and, because of their actions in that one life are rewarded in eternal heaven or punished with eternal hell? Any person who believes in a truly kind and merciful God will find this religion completely unacceptable.


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