Title

I Ain't Afraid of No God: Atheism in Hindu Traditions

Faculty Sponsor

George Pati

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Communication

ORCID Identifier(s)

orcid.org/0000-0002-7802-6417

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017

Abstract

Hinduism separates itself from the standard polytheistic and monotheistic religious traditions of the modern age by establishing itself as a fluid philosophy over a structured religion. Contrary to its popular counterparts—namely the Abrahamic traditions—Hinduism is a henotheistic set of traditions that are rooted in duty and action over faith. Though many Hindu traditions follow and worship a deity, the presence of such deity is not universally fundamental for salvation. Rather, many traditions within Hinduism are atheistic in nature, focusing on the disciplining of the mind to achieve salvation. The research focuses on the representation of modern atheism in society versus its actual definition, and how this atheism plays a key role in aspects of the Hindu traditions that may be overlooked or ignored. This research seeks to cultivate an understanding of salvation separate from faith, and how salvation and the liberation from the cycle of rebirth can be achieved without the presence of a creator deity. Through analyzing the Hindu traditions of Yoga and Sāṁkhya in an philosophical lens, it becomes established that they can achieve salvation, fulfill their duties, and thrive in their culture without the presence or worship of a creator deity. This paper will demonstrate the functions of atheism in the modern time, the atheistic Hindu traditions, the models of salvation in Hinduism, and conclude that the lack of a creator god does not actually impede salvation.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Kayla Houp is a junior communication student. Her paper attempts to combine her interests in different religious traditions and atheism, and was written as part of a final research project for a Hinduism course taken in Fall 2016.

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