Is it better to believe than never to have believed at all?

There is no question of never having believed. Belief or faith is inherent in human life.

Nobody can exist without faith, Everyone believes in something or other, and that conviction determines our activities and way of life.

People in general have faith in the daily activities they perform. They have faith in their culture, and way of life. For instance, you wouldn’t go to work every day, if you didn’t have faith you’ll get a check, at the end of the month.

You may say - I don’t need faith for that, I know I’ll get paid. I’ve gotten paid every month for ten years. Granted, so your faith is based on well-reasoned experience, but if you think about it, you can’t be completely sure, you’ll get paid. It happens that companies go bankrupt and can’t pay their workers.

So the question is not whether or not to have faith, but rather what do we choose to place our faith in. That's a basic choice everyone has to make in life.

Some people reflect over their faith, and wonder why they think like they do, but most people of the world today belong in the category of the broad masses, who accept what they are brought up to believe as gospel truth.

Regardless of that, the faith or conviction of a person, whether rational or not, will determine the course of his actions in life and thus behavioral patterns will evolve. In other words, people act in accordance with their faith and conviction.

The bottom line is that everyone, whether they call themselves Atheists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Democrats or whatever, subscribes to some kind of tenets or beliefs on which they base their outlook in life.

In Atheism, there is a claim to have no faith, but atheists are convinced that there is no eternal soul; they believe the self is the body and that life is meant to satisfy the bodily urges of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

They have faith that awareness or consciousness is nothing more than neuro-chemical reactions in the brain. Thus, to them there is no absolute truth. Everything is relative. They claim to only believe in facts, but they still believe in theories like abiogenesis, Evolution, and Big Bang. You just can’t get away from faith.

Since we have to have faith in something, it makes more sense to place our faith God or a Supreme Person, rather than placing our faith in blind natural laws or the big nothingness. The thing is, if everything ultimately happens by chance, it leads to a bleak outlook in life. This is also why, the more atheistic people become, the more depressed and miserable they become. It's a statistical fact.

How can we ever hope to control our own destiny if everything happens by chance? In that case we can't hope to control our own suffering and enjoyment, because if our suffering and enjoyment is random, it means we can't do anything about it. That means we are pawns in the hands of nature with no real influence on the workings of matter, except through politics, economics and technology.

Contrary to that scenario, there is the holistic idea - we are all parts of the same whole. The religion of the Vedas is the original belief-system in human society which holds that harmony will only evolve when individuals give up their selfish pursuits, and come together to serve the complete whole.

If we don't serve the complete whole, we are bound to be serving our own little spheres of interest.

But who can honestly say that he or she became satisfied by serving one’s senses and the senses of loved ones? The path to true satisfaction lies in giving up ego-centered pursuits and serving the complete whole - Krishna. Only such a course of action will bring lasting satisfaction to the self. The basic misunderstanding in the modern way of life is to confuse the self with the body and mind.

That's why no one can find satisfaction in the material world and frustration is widespread. It is actually not possible to satisfy the self or the eternal soul by trying to satisfy the body and mind.

It is like trying to satisfy a bird in a cage by polishing the cage. The self is the soul, the eternal observer within the gross body and subtle mind. And because the self is unchanging and eternal, it cannot find lasting satisfaction in the non-permanent sphere of the body and mind.

The body and mind are constantly changing, but the self is an eternal, atomic particle of consciousness for whom there is no birth, death, or old age. Therefore the conscious self cannot find satisfaction in a world of repeated birth and death. How can we find satisfaction when we know you are soon going to die, except by forgetting about it?

Therefore a conditioned living entity is willing to completely forget about the fact that he is headed for death, and that in the face of death, ultimately everyone's hopes and aspirations are rendered meaningless.

Of course, we don't think like that. We just go on in life as if we are never going to die, and that this life is the only chance we will ever get to obtain happiness.

So, in the meantime, while we are waiting for death, we try to find so many causes to believe in, but since everything is transient in the material world, whatever we place our faith in, changes, and becomes something else than we expected.

The only solution to the problems of finding our real identity is to accept divinely inspired knowledge descending from Krishna, and which furthermore has been recorded and transcribed in the Vedas, the most comprehensive body of knowledge known to mankind.

The essence of Vedic knowledge has been delivered and made accessible to the people of this fallen age by Srila Prabhupada, who comes in the ancient disciplic succession from Krishna Himself. Anything else is mental speculation. So there is faith based on speculation, and faith based on fact.

The process of Krishna Consciousness, or devotional service, is faith based on facts.

Krishna says:

Now hear, O son of Pritha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.

I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal and numinous. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know.

--Bhagavad Gita 7.1–2

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