Many atheists have written books describing their religious experiences; and one of their most prominent complaints is that they do not know why exactly they oppose God if not hate him. One popular children’s author says it plainly: “My books are about undermining God’s authority.” At the same time these people want to live a happy life while having nothing to do with God or religion.

There it is a desire to live happily and a hatred of God. A specific verse in the Bhagavad-gita points out this mentality with surgical precision. “O scion of Bharata, O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate.” (Bg. 7.27)

 Our desire to enjoy this world puts us in the position of an enjoyer. Although we are described as prakrti, or subordinate, we have given up that idea and declared ourselves as purusha, or dominator. We want to declare independence from God.

The world we live in is called “creation,” but the spiritual world is not created. In our daily experience we can see that the serene blue sky is spread endlessly, but the cloud hovering in it is a creation. Thus the clear sky can be compared with the spiritual world, while the cloud can be compared to the material world. In this material world, although we desire happiness in every effort we associate with different modes of material nature. In other words, we are infecting ourselves with different combinations of these modes, and so we find every living being put in a unique pigeon-hole condition of distress. We, however, cannot say that “I shall rebel, I shall not accept my suffering.” That is simply not within our power. We have to accept whatever suffering material nature gives us. And as the Gita verse explains this situation is existing since the beginning of creation.

Thus since the beginning of this material creation we have an aversion to serving God. We can, if we desire, nurture this condition and continue to suffer, or choose to remove this infection and restore ourselves to our normal condition. Vedic history describes some prominent examples of those who chose to oppose Krishna and thus increased their infected condition. Kamsa was one such personality. As soon as he heard that Vishnu or Krishna will take birth as his sister Devaki’s eighth son and kill him, he immediately drew his sword to kill his sister. At that time Vasudeva, his brother-in-law, intervened and offered to bring all the sons to Kamsa as soon as they were born. Thus Devaki’s life was spared. But why in the first place was Kamsa so envious of Krishna? The answer is simple: dvesa, envy. Today’s atheists are a tiny, insignificant sample of the stalwart atheists of yore, but they bear the same hallmark of that particular trait deep envy toward Krishna. Even today we see criminals exhibit these two things, desire and hate:

“Why shall I abide by the government law? I can do anything I like.”

And, “I shall work independently without the law.”

So it is exactly like that. We are in this material world on account of this iccha and dvesa. We wanted to satisfy the senses, material senses, independently. And we wanted to disobey the orders of the Supreme Lord. These are the two causes for which we are put into this material world. So we have to rectify this mentality, that “I am independent. I am God. I can do whatever we like.” (Syamananda Dasa)