Religion?
#49
(19-Jul-2012, 01:56 PM)nick87 Wrote: Lije, what is the source of the quote? I'm curious to read the quote with a little more context.
Also is the TL;DR version: "You have sinned and now you will die. After you're dead, if I don't hear back from you about Hell, that means Hell doesn't exist?"

PM'ed you the source. Since arvind13 claims that there is a "scientific" theory for studying cultures, I thought I'd set up an experiment to see how the theory fares. Let's see if he can correctly identify what "paradigm" lead to the quote, as in whether it is the Judeo-Christian "paradigm", the marxist "paradigm" or if it is the clueless-Indian-atheists-mindlessly-parroting-western-ideas "paradigm".
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#50
In the above quote from the Payasi‑suttanta the author rejects the concept of 'rebirth'. alright.

This has nothing to do with my earlier point about developing a scientific understanding of other cultures. My point was that the current understanding of traditions and concepts from Indian and Asian culture (including punarjanma (rebirth), denial of punarjanma etc) have been understood using a theological framework.

Infact, the concept of secularism, a big topic in India, is itself a theological concept. Christianity spreads in two ways. The obvious way, which everyone is familiar with: is through proselytization. The other way is actually through secularization! In this process,Christian doctrines spread wide and deep (beyond the confines of the community of Christian believers) in the society dressed up in
`secular' (that is, not in recognisably `Christian') clothes. This quote from Balagangadhara explains the situation:

"Usually, the `enlightenment period', which is identified as `the Age of Reason', is alleged to be the apotheosis (or the `high point') of the process of `secularisation'. What people normally mean by `secularisation' here is the following: the enlightenment thinkers are supposed to have successfully `fought' against the dominance that religion (i.e. Christianity) had until then exercised over social, political, and economic life. From then on, so goes the standard text book story, human kind began to look to `reason' instead of, say, the Church in all matters social, civic, political etc. The spirit of scientific thinking, which dominated that age, has continued to gain ascendancy. As heirs to this period, which put a definitive end to all forms of `irrational' subservience, we are proud citizens of the modern day world. We believe in democracy and human rights and secularism.

The problem with this story is simply this: the enlightenment thinkers have built their formidable reputation (as opponents of `all organised religion' or even `religion' tout court) by selling ideas from Protestant Christianity as though they were `neutral' and `rational'. Take for example the claim that `religion' is not a matter for state intervention and that it is a `private' affair of the individual in question. (Indian `secularists' agitatedly jump up and down to `defend' this idea.) Who thought, do you think, that `religion' was not a `private' affair? The Catholic Church, of course. Even to this day, it believes that you should believe what the Church says, and that because the Church mediates between Man and God, what you believe in (as a Christian) is decided by the Catholic Church. The Protestants fought a battle with the Catholics on theological grounds: they argued that `being a Christian believer' (or what the Christian believes in) is a matter between the Maker (i.e. God) and the Individual. It was God (i.e. the Christian God), who judged man; and men could not judge each other in matters of Christian faith. The Church, they argued, could not mediate between Man and God. To cut the long story short, the Protestants won
this theological battle. The enlightenment thinkers repeated this
Protestant story, and this has become our `secularism'.

The doctrine of Human Rights (as we know them today) arose
in the Middle Ages, when the Franciscans and the Dominicans fought
each other. (Both are religious orders within the Catholic Church.)
All theories of human rights we know today were elaborated in these
*theological* debates.

I am not merely making the point that these ideas had their
origin in religious contexts. My point is much more than that: I claim
that *we cannot accept these theories without, at the same time,
accepting Christian theology as true.* What the western thinkers have
done over the centuries (the Enlightenment period is the best known
for being the `high point' of this process) is to *dress up* Christian
theological ideas (I am blurring the distinction between the divisions
within Christianity) in a secular mantle. What has been secularised are whole sets of ideas about Man and Society which I call `Biblical themes "


Secularism, far from removing religion from the public sphere, actually helps spread theological ideas in a 'neutral' guise.
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#51
(27-Jul-2012, 09:30 AM)arvind13 Wrote: My point was that the current understanding of traditions and concepts from Indian and Asian culture (including punarjanma (rebirth), denial of punarjanma etc) have been understood using a theological framework.

These fictions enjoyed theological sanction in texts like the Bhagavad Gita long before the first 'Abrahamics' set foot on Indian soil. The Bhagavad Gita may have had many authors, but none of them were undercover Christians in secular garb conspiring to 'theologize' these 'concepts and traditions'. Both punarjanma (Verse 2:22) and the transcendence of it (Verse 8:16) are mentioned in the Gita, so is a disapproval of the denial of reincarnation and an emphasis of this-worldly concerns (Verses 16:8-9). What's more, these opinions are put into the mouths of an unmistakably theistic entity. So much for these concepts not being theological.

(27-Jul-2012, 09:30 AM)arvind13 Wrote: Christianity spreads in two ways. The obvious way, which everyone is familiar with: is through proselytization. The other way is actually through secularization!

That's an extra-ordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. What about Scandinavia where secularization is obviously denting the numbers of Christianity? What explains complaints like Dinesh D'Souza's here where he as a Christian proselytizer sees as a grave threat the secularism of the sort Peter Singer (and most here) espouse? What drives someone like Bishop Michael Nazir Ali to go out on campaigns like Hold Fast to stem the tide of secularism? A theory that these proselytizers' purpose would be served by a spread of secularism may appeal to those afflicted by HPC as described here.


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#52
(27-Jul-2012, 11:37 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(27-Jul-2012, 09:30 AM)arvind13 Wrote: My point was that the current understanding of traditions and concepts from Indian and Asian culture (including punarjanma (rebirth), denial of punarjanma etc) have been understood using a theological framework.

These fictions enjoyed theological sanction in texts like the Bhagavad Gita long before the first 'Abrahamics' set foot on Indian soil. The Bhagavad Gita may have had many authors, but none of them were undercover Christians in secular garb conspiring to 'theologize' these 'concepts and traditions'. Both punarjanma (Verse 2:22) and the transcendence of it (Verse 8:16) are mentioned in the Gita, so is a disapproval of the denial of reincarnation and an emphasis of this-worldly concerns (Verses 16:8-9). What's more, these opinions are put into the mouths of an unmistakably theistic entity. So much for these concepts not being theological.

(27-Jul-2012, 09:30 AM)arvind13 Wrote: Christianity spreads in two ways. The obvious way, which everyone is familiar with: is through proselytization. The other way is actually through secularization!

That's an extra-ordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. What about Scandinavia where secularization is obviously denting the numbers of Christianity? What explains complaints like Dinesh D'Souza's here where he as a Christian proselytizer sees as a grave threat the secularism of the sort Peter Singer (and most here) espouse? What drives someone like Bishop Michael Nazir Ali to go out on campaigns like Hold Fast to stem the tide of secularism? A theory that these proselytizers' purpose would be served by a spread of secularism may appeal to those afflicted by HPC as described here.


I fully agree that punarjanma was in Bhagavat Gita, Puranas, vedas etc
long before the 'Abrahamics' came. That is not the issue. What makes
punarjanma a 'theological'/religious doctrine? What makes the Bhagavad
Gita a religious scripture? What makes Krishna an "unmistakbly
theistic entity"? The Europeans presupposed that religion is a
cultural universal and 'saw' religion in Gita, punarjanma etc.


Regarding Secularism, Dr. Balagangadhara and his students (Jakob De
Roover, Sarah Claerhout) have written extensively about this issue. I
have quoted a very barebones summary of the research and his theory in
my previous post. He goes into it in much greater detail in his book
"The heathen in his blindness" (available online for free, for those
who want to take a glance). Jakob De Roover has also written a number
of papers about secularism. Here are two:

http://ugent.academia.edu/JakobDeRoover/...rn_Origins

http://xyz4000.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/...llectuals/





Their theory is simply this: the distinction between ‘the secular’ and
‘the religious’ is drawn within a religion, by a religion and that it
is a religious distinction. What is called ‘the secular’ is religion
secularized or is religion in a different set of clothes. That is, it
suggests that religions spread in two ways: through the process of
conversion and through the process of winning adherents to its
doctrines but by formulating the latter in a ‘neutral’ way.
Consequently, this theory suggests that the process of conversion and
the process of secularization are two faces of the same coin: the
spread of a religion. They have 'proven' this theory by doing a
threadbare analysis ( a good thing when it comes to research) of the
conceptual framework/origin, and development of secularism in
Christian Europe, how secularism was structured by what preceded it.
It clearly shows that secularism merely took over protestant ideas
that emerged during the protestant reformation and presented them in a
'neutral', 'rational' way.

Hence, the conflict between the secularists and people like Dinesh D'
souza is actually a theological debate that is taking place 'within' a
religion. The old battle between the protestants and the catholics is
being played out again albeit in a different form, with the
'secularists' taking over the role of the protestants, and the
'religious' playing the role of the catholics

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#53
(28-Jul-2012, 02:07 AM)arvind13 Wrote: What makes Krishna an "unmistakably theistic entity"? The Europeans presupposed that religion is a
cultural universal and 'saw' religion in Gita, punarjanma etc.

What leaves no doubt about the fact that Krishna is an unmistakably theistic entity are the verses that explicitly accord to him the functions of a Creator and Prime Mover of the Universe and all living beings (10:8, 7:10) , the originator of Scripture (15:15) and the Lawgiver of humankind (4:1). Therefore, the notion of a personal causeless cause whose Word is scripture, which is quite plainly acknowledged as a defining notion of religion, is quite a central notion in scriptures considered authoritative by orthodox Hindus and a notion that is not simply one dreamt up by later European revisionists.

(28-Jul-2012, 02:07 AM)arvind13 Wrote: Hence, the conflict between the secularists and people like Dinesh D'souza is actually a theological debate that is taking place 'within' a religion.

To cast the likes of Peter Singer as spokespersons of a faction within Christianity, is so far-fetched that it can be expected only from the inhabitants of a la-la land impregnable to obvious realities, which anyone valuing sanity would do well not to venture within miles of.


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#54
Arvind,

The obvious response to your point will be - not everyone believes that Krishna is the creator. Since a theory of religion by definition should be specific and should cover everyone who are called 'Hindu', anything short of that is not a religion. A working, but imperfect definition is impossible by definition. Moreover since it is not a religion and since any criticism is by definition a Judeo-Christian concept, and by definition nothing good can ever come out of Judeo-Christian framework, such criticism isn't valid.

arvind13,

The stupidity of what you are saying is mind boggling. On hand you want to use an extremely narrow definition of religion and on the other a very broad definition of Christian theology. That gives you leeway to ignore anything other than those two possibilities - like how you conveniently ignored that ancient Indian criticisms of rebirth are not much different from modern day critiques of it.

Such pointless academic sophistry arises from a hatred of everything western and post-colonial inferiority complex. That leads to an inability to just accept Indian contributions to various fields and at the same time recognize the various ills in Indian culture. Because accepting the ills mean accepting that the western accusations that Indian culture has some flaws. That just won't do. No outsider can point out the flaws. Or it may be that Indian culture isn't capable of having flaws because of the fantasy realm idea of a golden age India which was destroyed by outsiders.

Either way it is a myopic narrative that is hell bent on reviving Hinduism whilst white washing its flaws (as evidence by your link on casteism). But since directly saying such things doesn't really show one in good light, a systemic way of obfuscating it is needed. Hence the use of a narrow definition of religion which was constructed a few hundred years ago. Hence the ignoring of what happened since then and what is happening in the name of Hinduism today and what is understood as religion today. Hence the bait and switch to show that Hinduism isn't a religion at all. Hence the theatrics of language and roping in of Wittgenstein. And finally the grand conclusion that ills like casteism arise because of wrongly calling Hinduism a religion.

Pathetic.

But I should thank you for bringing to my attention yet another Hindu revivalist project. Not that I have any objections to reviving aspects of our history that have been sullied by euro-centrism. But I do object to narratives which can't accept reality.
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#55
A cult (Bizzare or abnormal behavior) becomes Religion when it is run professionally or it is a business managed by directors or company or CEO’s (E.g. Pope or Matadipathi or Shankaracharya’s or Mullah’s )
Religion has nothing to do with God. I believe God or spirit is the universal spirit in all of us and it cannot be commercialized.
Religion is not a belief in the sense that most people were conditioned (? Brain washing) from childhood like Hindu’s Christians and Muslims or Jews. They do not chose religion but products of the parents belief. Like any habit once they follow a religion it is easier to jump from one religion to other. That is how Sarva dharma Sammelan works. Because, a nonbeliever hits them directly on their purses.
Once someone is conditioned to belief, it is almost impossible to come out unless you spend a lot of money and time. By that time you have paid the dues to your religion and done permanent conditioning of your children.
USA prides itself as freedom of religion country. But freedom is not easy to get because once human being is conditioned it takes a traumatic process to get out of it though the reward of freedom is worth it . In India it is partially true because any truth about religion if you point out you can be arrested and they can file a case against you. In USA you do have the freedom to bash any religion , and that is why religion is disappearing fast in USA and Europe . (People see the truth or money making machine) Many of the priests are behind bars and have paid billions of dollars in fines for child abuse.
In China, Russia and educated Countries religion is fast disappearing because the conditioning does not exist and is banned. So religion is spreading fast in poor countries and is financed by illiterates (they do not need a gun to rob you once you are conditioned. The dogma of religion is perpetuated by calendars specifying the rituals, public holidays on religious days, tax free status for religious entities and like Karnataka Govt. spending 100 crores to develop roads to temples. A country like India full of superstitions (Biggest superstition in the world is believing that you go to haven after you die) is hard to come up and compete in the world. Thanks to Nirmukta web site where I can express my learned opinion and free thought.
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#56
(29-Jul-2012, 07:31 PM)jawahar joseph dsouza Wrote: Religion has nothing to do with God. I believe God or spirit is the universal spirit in all of us and it cannot be commercialized.

In a manner of speaking, the concept of 'god' which notoriously eludes definition, can be thought of as occurring in three variants (i) the 'tall stories' approach, as a protagonist in ancestral epics (and also some urban legends), in the role of primogenitor or saviour or both, ably assisted by prophets (ii) the 'invisible tenant' approach, which is little more than a homonculus argument attempting to explain away the mystery of consciousness (ii) the 'pure Existence' approach which posits at entity that neither explains nor interferes, but simply is. In freethinking circles, there is little patience with any of these variants. For instance, author Eckhart Tolle does reject tall stories outright but only to replace them with mention of a 'transcendental dimension', and is therefore subject to the critiques of naturalists like Tom Clark's, offering alternatives to provide numinous experience without resorting to supernatural assumptions.
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#57
(28-Jul-2012, 04:51 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(28-Jul-2012, 02:07 AM)arvind13 Wrote: What makes Krishna an "unmistakably theistic entity"? The Europeans presupposed that religion is a
cultural universal and 'saw' religion in Gita, punarjanma etc.

What leaves no doubt about the fact that Krishna is an unmistakably theistic entity are the verses that explicitly accord to him the functions of a Creator and Prime Mover of the Universe and all living beings (10:8, 7:10) , the originator of Scripture (15:15) and the Lawgiver of humankind (4:1). Therefore, the notion of a personal causeless cause whose Word is scripture, which is quite plainly acknowledged as a defining notion of religion, is quite a central notion in scriptures considered authoritative by orthodox Hindus and a notion that is not simply one dreamt up by later European revisionists.

(28-Jul-2012, 02:07 AM)arvind13 Wrote: Hence, the conflict between the secularists and people like Dinesh D'souza is actually a theological debate that is taking place 'within' a religion.

To cast the likes of Peter Singer as spokespersons of a faction within Christianity, is so far-fetched that it can be expected only from the inhabitants of a la-la land impregnable to obvious realities, which anyone valuing sanity would do well not to venture within miles of.

Firstly, picking up a verse from the Gita or any other verse from other texts creates enormous interpretative complications. but leaving that aside, let's assume that the website that translates the sanskrit verse into english is accurate.

Verses 10:8 and 7:10, says "I am the original generating cause of all causes, everything originates from me" "eternal origin of all living entities"

Verse 4:1 does not mean "lawgiver of humankind" it says "instructed imperishable science of uniting individual consciousness with universal consciousness"

Verse 15:14 doesn't say "originator of scripture" it talks about 'compiler of vedas'. You are assuming that vedas are 'scriptures'.

That brings me to the second point, once again: what makes Krishna into a "theistic entity"? Is it because he is described as the creator and 'cause' of the universe? We have many such creation stories (stories of Brahma or Prajapati creating the world). Common tendency is to put Zeus, Krishna, Ganesha, Thor, Durga, and the biblical God as "theistic entities". What makes these guys part of the same category set?

more fundamental than all that: What makes any entity into a "theistic entity"? At a basic conceptual level we have to answer that first.

thirdly, you are assuming that texts like Bhagavad Gita are making truth claims about the world, and attempting to provide descriptions of the world, and describe it as "scripture" (again fundamental question: what makes a text (any text) into a scripture?)


The discussion started out with a simple meta-level issue: we have to know what the phenomena of religion is, before we can decide whether one or another object is a religion.

You responded by providing definitions. I pointed out the problems with definitions: anyone can come up with any definition of religion (or any other thing), and the definition doesn't point to any object or entity in the world.

Furthermore, in the history of religious studies and social sciences, definitional debates are endless and pointless. There have been hundreds of definitions of religion, many of them contradictory and disputing. The definitions don't help us understand anything. They just function as a convenient (often modified) label to classify something as religion. This is not about which definition of religion is right.

The problem is that we don't have a scientific theory of religion, what is the theoretical framework we are using to classify some or another thing as religion, what is the theoretical framework we use to create definitions of religion? we are using theological terms like "scripture" "theistic" to decide what religion is.

About Secularism: i have provided links to papers, quotes from papers that argue that Secularism is 'Dechristianized Christianity'. Christian theology in a neutral form. Please atleast read one of the papers and the arguments and evidence they provide, before dismissing it.







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#58
Translations, especially from religious sites, are seldom reliable and carry added doctrinal baggage Notice a case in point here (reference to Bhagavatam 6:4:9 ISKCON 'translation'), where the translator out of the blue chooses to exclude cows from four-legged creatures in order to slip in a beef-ban. When I link to a verse, it is more for ease of retrievability and the interested reader may look up a reliable translation (if he/she may need one in English in the first place.).

As for the 'lawgiver verse(s)' in the Gita, here's Aurobindo's translation if you will, and the term lawgiver is not far-fetched in the description of a situation where a code of conduct for 'royal sages' who function as 'divinely ordained rulers' (note the references to Manu and Ikshvaaku) is handed down by a celestial authority figure. The narrative differs only in details from the receipt of the Ten Commandments by a prophet and the formation of a 'covenant with God', which in Indic terms maybe thought of as 'union with the Supreme' as some translators put it.

The point here is that whether the concept is one of a 'covenant with God' or of 'union with the Supreme', whether the language employed is one of 'religion' or 'spirituality', whether the vocabulary is explicitly theological or implicitly transcendental; naturalist and materialist critiques nevertheless apply.

For instance, Payasi's critique of rebirth, referenced earlier here, still applies and can be called a secular critique, because it is not grounded in its own set of supernatural claims, and Payasi was no 'deChristianized Christian'. Further 'traditions' are as subject to rationalist and humanist critique as 'beliefs' and here is a case in point. To recognize affronts to Reason and Compassion irrespective of whether they arise from 'beliefs' and 'traditions', does not require readings of ponderous tomes on how to distinguish 'traditions' from 'beliefs' and to suggest so is a classic Courtier's Reply.
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