The subject of atheism was recently raised in a public talk I gave at Mantra Night. In the Western world there is the idea of two opposing camps and one camp (under the influence of some variety of Christianity or other) holds that atheism is condemnable and the atheist will be “condemned to hell” for all eternity. This idea while common the “Christian world” was not embraced by the rest of the ancient world.
The ancient Vedic philosophy did not hold such an opinion. They did not see the theist and the atheist as being enemies. The view of the ancient sages was far more liberal (in the true meaning of the word) and compassionate. Their explanations about the severe limitations of the bodily senses and the mundane mind and how these “tools” can never reveal transcendental truth or reality and neither can materially polluted consciousness penetrate the transcendental realm.
Some quotes I used:
Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those truth-seekers who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.1.2
This is the underlying problem: we have ignored a critical component of the cosmos, shunted it out of the way because we didn’t know what to do with it. This component is consciousness. – Robert Lanza (stem-cell researcher and cloning pioneer) author of “Biocentrism”
Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter. Our current model simply does not allow for consciousness, and our understanding of this most basic phenomenon of our existence is virtually nil. Interestingly, our present model of physics does not even recognize this as a problem. – Robert Lanza (stem-cell researcher and cloning pioneer) author of “Biocentrism”
(Speaking of some theologians) Furthermore, because of polluted eagerness to arrive at the right conclusion, their theories are incapable of revealing You, who are transcendental to their material conceptions. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 6.9.36
For this reason the enlightened person should endeavor only for the minimum necessities of life while in the world of names. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 2.2.3
My dear Lord, the Vedic literatures alone reveal confidential knowledge of Your supreme personality, and thus even such great scholars as Lord Brahma himself are bewildered in their attempt to understand You through empirical methods. Each philosopher understands You according to his particular speculative conclusions. … – Bhāgavata Purāṇa 12.8.49
“Abandon all varieties of dharma (religion, paths, teachings) and just surrender unto Me.” – Bhagavad-gītā 18.66