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Religious rites of a loved one!
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mohankarthik Offline
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Post: #1
Religious rites of a loved one!

Hi

I was thinking about this scenario on a lazy sunday afternoon and could not come to a conclusion! So hoping your replies and remarks spark a conclusion in me.

Imagine a typical chennai brahmin family where the boy turns athiest (me :P). Now my family (parents, uncles, aunts, cousins) are all very religious and visit temples often and such. Now I know at some point of time I'll be faced with the tragedy of loosing a loved one. Lets take an example, and say that I lost one of my parents. Now I know that they being religious would have definitely wanted me to perform all the religious rites and karma and wat not.

As an athiest and a free thinker, what would you do faced with such a situation? On my own, I probably would say screw it and spend time with a friend and try to get over the tragedy. But with the added pressure of relatives and everyone around you, would you just do the rites, just to get it over with? Or would you rather risk a coffin side brawl.

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Swati Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

My ethics : If I was a custodian in charge of the funeral of a parent, I would conduct the rites as per what he/she would have wanted, unless it was outlandish and unfeasible to execute. It would not be about the relatives or my beliefs. If the dead person was an atheist and relatives decide to save his/her soul by insisting on religious rituals, I wouldn't give in.
I would also expect that my life as an atheist and my hard fought and won freedom from religion is upheld by not subjecting my body to meaningless rituals just because I won't be able to stop them.
We think of all this while we're alive. The dead will never know!
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astrokid.nj Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(19-08-2010 06:03 PM)Swati Wrote:  My ethics : If I was a custodian in charge of the funeral of a parent, I would conduct the rites as per what he/she would have wanted, unless it was outlandish and unfeasible to execute. It would not be about the relatives or my beliefs.

Why is that Swati? The dead dont care.. the relatives are not able to sway your mind.. i.e effectively nobody's watching, there's no pressure on you.. then why wouldnt you act based on your beliefs/knowledge?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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palaeo Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

The death of a loved one isn't the best occasion to tackle religious issues. If a loved one died and he/she was a theist and wanted a certain funeral, I would oblige. It has nothing to do with religion, but the respect you have for that persons wishes. We know that it's irrational because as you said astrokid.nj, the dead don't care. So what? But I think we as living, breathing, feeling human beings, should care. Even atheists have funerals, where meaningful words are spoken and memories are relived. It is as much a ritual as saying a prayer before burying a loved one.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(19-08-2010 08:39 PM)astrokid.nj Wrote:  
(19-08-2010 06:03 PM)Swati Wrote:  My ethics : If I was a custodian in charge of the funeral of a parent, I would conduct the rites as per what he/she would have wanted, unless it was outlandish and unfeasible to execute. It would not be about the relatives or my beliefs.

Why is that Swati? The dead dont care.. the relatives are not able to sway your mind.. i.e effectively nobody's watching, there's no pressure on you.. then why wouldnt you act based on your beliefs/knowledge?

Remember the category error from the rape thread? Acting on one's beliefs/knowledge is not mutually exclusive with staying true to the wishes of a loved one. We all have emotional investments.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(19-08-2010 08:51 PM)palaeo Wrote:  The death of a loved one isn't the best occasion to tackle religious issues. If a loved one died and he/she was a theist and wanted a certain funeral, I would oblige. It has nothing to do with religion, but the respect you have for that persons wishes. We know that it's irrational because as you said astrokid.nj, the dead don't care. So what? But I think we as living, breathing, feeling human beings, should care. Even atheists have funerals, where meaningful words are spoken and memories are relived. It is as much a ritual as saying a prayer before burying a loved one.

Well said! Clap

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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vijay Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

@mohankarthik

Even my relatives and parents try to force a few of the religious issues on to me. I do go to temples, I enjoy the art in there, but I don't apply myself the holy powders/ashes and I don't pray either, I would simply say I don't believe in it. Even if they mark on my forehead, I would wipe it away. Initially of course they would feel bad but if you are persistent I think they would give up and get used to it. tongue
What's more important for your parents than your happiness and interests. At least, I haven't faced any serious fights so far. But I have seen them giving up and that was fun Happydance

vijay
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astrokid.nj Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(19-08-2010 09:13 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  Remember the category error from the rape thread? Acting on one's beliefs/knowledge is not mutually exclusive with staying true to the wishes of a loved one. We all have emotional investments.

The original poster had actually brought up a wider scope.
(19-08-2010 02:42 PM)mohankarthik Wrote:  Now I know that they being religious would have definitely wanted me to perform all the religious rites and karma and wat not.
The religious rites/karma/wat not[sic]/ can be long lasting (10 days, yearly/etc). I didnt notice swati had restricted her answer to just the funeral.

I think this is a matter of how far along the person's wishes you are willing to go, and there is no one right answer. It should not be seen as disrespect to the person if you dont go along, or seen as respect for the person if you do go along all the way. Not honouring a person's specific ideas is not the same as not honouring the person. After all, as an atheist, you are not respecting that person's religious views while alive. Do remember, you are doing a lot of this just so that you are emotionally comfortable.

Another aspect to consider is how the dying person feels about this prior to the death. i.e will his/her wishes be fulfilled might play a role. Little bit tricky, but all dependent on the person's specifics.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
(This post was last modified: 19-08-2010 10:31 PM by astrokid.nj.)
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unsorted Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

It's a tough one. In my mom's case, she had asked for a reading from the Guru Granth Sahib, so that's what we did. I suppose it's about respecting the wishes of your loved ones, even if you don't agree with them. I do wonder though - how far would I have gone? Take the question of ashes, for example. The crematorium people asked us if we wanted her ashes, we said no (and even then I wanted to ask - how would we know they're her ashes?). If my mom had herself requested it, I'm not sure I would have complied in the end. I don't think I would have done it. My dad probably would have, and if he'd asked me to go with him I would have gone reluctantly. Because ash-scattering to me is a mawkish, meaningless ritual.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(19-08-2010 10:28 PM)astrokid.nj Wrote:  
(19-08-2010 09:13 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  Remember the category error from the rape thread? Acting on one's beliefs/knowledge is not mutually exclusive with staying true to the wishes of a loved one. We all have emotional investments.

The original poster had actually brought up a wider scope.
(19-08-2010 02:42 PM)mohankarthik Wrote:  Now I know that they being religious would have definitely wanted me to perform all the religious rites and karma and wat not.
The religious rites/karma/wat not[sic]/ can be long lasting (10 days, yearly/etc). I didnt notice swati had restricted her answer to just the funeral.

Swati was pretty clear that she would stop if it "was outlandish and unfeasible to execute". Of course we are excluding such cases. Swati's position was malleable. You on the other hand were stating a pretty clear case for not giving a crap about the dead person's wishes at all on religious matters.

Quote:I think this is a matter of how far along the person's wishes you are willing to go, and there is no one right answer.

Now you are malleable.

Quote:It should not be seen as disrespect to the person if you dont go along, or seen as respect for the person if you do go along all the way.


I don't think anyone said anything about going "all the way", which could mean a whole lot of things.. a bit of a straw man.

Quote:Not honouring a person's specific ideas is not the same as not honouring the person. After all, as an atheist, you are not respecting that person's religious views while alive.

Its not about the person's views if they are your loved one. Its about respecting them by staying true to their wishes. If I don't feel like respecting their wishes, I would rather someone else do the rituals they way they wanted than simply do it my way not caring about how my friend/family member wanted it to be done..

Quote:Do remember, you are doing a lot of this just so that you are emotionally comfortable.

Of course. That's my point with bringing up the category error. We do a whole lot because of emotional reasons. Including you. Therefore it is not automatically a purely objective decision to think that just because a loved one is dead we should stop giving a crap about how they wanted to be taken care of. It is primarily an emotional decision. The category error is in thinking that we should do everything for some sort of "right" reasons. There are many things that we all do for emotional reasons.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 20-08-2010 01:33 AM by Ajita Kamal.)
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astrokid.nj Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

(20-08-2010 01:24 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  Swati was pretty clear that she would stop if it "was outlandish and unfeasible to execute". Of course we are excluding such cases. Swati's position was malleable. You on the other hand were stating a pretty clear case for not giving a crap about the dead person's wishes at all on religious matters.

I don't think anyone said anything about going "all the way", which could mean a whole lot of things.. a bit of a straw man.

I just asked a question, since the motivations for the stance was not stated.. just a simple answer of "emotional investment" would have sufficed. I was never stating any pretty clear case for "not giving a crap". Go on reading between the lines. And then going on to see a 'bit of a straw man'. Talk about being Hyper.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Religious rites of a loved one!

Quote:I just asked a question, since the motivations for the stance was not stated.. just a simple answer of "emotional investment" would have sufficed. I was never stating any pretty clear case for "not giving a crap". Go on reading between the lines. And then going on to see a 'bit of a straw man'. Talk about being Hyper.

Astrokid,

You persisted in making the category error after it was made clear that you were making the category error. I did initially give you the simple answer of "emotional investment". You did not think that it sufficed, as evidenced by your answer. Now you claim that it would have been. Confusing.

There are a few disturbing things I found in your posts that I didn't bring up before. I'll share them with you.

First, about the "not giving a crap part". You did indeed state your case for just that. I suspect that its my wording that is bothering you, because it suggests callous disregard. I was using a colloquialism that I often apply to myself and people I'm familiar with. And in this case, I stand by the words, if you take them for what they are- a reasoned criticism of an argument. You clearly did make a case for not caring about the wishes of the dead, just because "effectively nobody's watching".

Quote:Not honouring a person's specific ideas is not the same as not honouring the person

This is a red herring via straw man. The argument has nothing to do with respecting or honoring someone else's ideas, but about being true to their wishes. I don't have to give a crap (yes) about my dead friend/relative's ideas to believe that I should perform some meaningless ritual because she/he would have wanted me to. All I need is to care about the memory of my friend/relative. These are the things that make us human.

But it gets worse. I did not come out and say all of what I think is wrong by this line:

Quote:"i.e effectively nobody's watching, there's no pressure on you.. then why wouldnt you act based on your beliefs/knowledge?"

Firstly, I believe in acting based on my beliefs/knowledge irrespective of whether someone is watching or not. Secondly, as stated in previous posts, you make the category error.

It can very well be part of one's belief system to be true to the desires/wishes of people one cares about, even if that person will never know about one's actions. This is called being moral in some circles. In fact, I'm appalled to read of statements like yours, considering that religious folks use such arguments to claim that because atheists don't believe there is a god, there's nothing stopping them from committing murder and rape. The argument is equally silly when it comes from other atheists in relation to a much more benign but analogically equivalent moral premise. To show you an extrapolation of such thinking, one could argue that one could cheat on a spouse as long as she/he never finds out about it (assumption). If such events came about, you would probably see that being faithful (in the face of immense opportunity and no risk) is not incompatible with your beliefs.

The thing is, you have moral premises as well- we all do. Yet your argument buries the moral premises and presents itself as objectively rational. There is no such thing when we are talking about human behavior. For example, your belief that when "effectively nobody's watching, there's no pressure on you", in the context under discussion, is a moral premise. Its one that I vehemently disagree with, but it is one. If the same statement were to be applied to cheating on your spouse, you would disagree with it (at least, I hope you will). The point here is that these are all emotionally driven behaviors that are an essential part of what makes us who we are. One can objectively understand the biochemistry of love or friendship, and yet subjectively indulge in them, as you no doubt agree. We all make subjective emotional decisions as to which emotionally driven answer we would choose given the situation.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 20-08-2010 12:59 PM by Ajita Kamal.)
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