Saturday, May 29, 2010

Discussion: Theology and Advaita Vedanta

(This post is motivated from a discussion in greatbong's blog on an article about Satyajit Ray and Tagore)

My opinion about any forms of theology is simple which is on the lines of Richard Dawkins. Be it Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam, or Hindusim or whatever. Is theology a subject? Does it answer any query of our minds that some other science or philosophy cannot? It can possibly never, because the corner stones of any form of theology are false, deception and fraudulence. For example, very amusingly, Vivekananda had strongly advocated in his writings for sexual abstinence, including masturbation, since he was under the impression that sexual abstinence promoted health. Therefore, it should be limited. if not completely overthrown except for the purpose of reproduction. When I am no way trying to support unhindered sexual romps in societies, Vivekanada's advice had no scientific basis. Even after research of several decades on this subject, no connection between sexual modesty and health benefits has been established. On the other hand, in a clinical study in Australia, it has been reported the male masturbation reduces the chances of prostate cancer.

In strict Hinduism, menstruating women are banned from any kind social mixing, probably on the misconception that the condition is infectious.

Bible says and stipulates its followers to believe that the God has created the Universe, and all animals and plants in just six days just around 6000 years ago. They also say that the dinosaurs and humans have co-existed. When we all know the Universe was created 4.8 billion years ago and the humans had come into existence much later than the dinosaurs had long gone. Most importantly all species on the earth have a common ancestor, when Bible says they were created by the God separately. However funny it may sound like, millions of people believe in such Biblical facts.

Can anybody explain why should I spend time to learn Advaita Vedanta when I can clearly see they are all pseudo-science.

Therefore I do not understand why there are still theology departments in famous Universities around the globe including those in Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard etc. Most funnily they also award PhD degrees in theology.

16 comments:

mimi sen said...

Why should I try to learn Advaita Vedanta?

Klein Stadt said...

well said.. though some of it looks like a lift off from 'The God delusion" by Richard Dawkins and "God is not Great" by Chris Hitchens.. though well argued in the Indian/Bangla context

mimi sen said...

Hi Klein,

You are right. My idea is very much influenced by Dawkins and Hitchens. So now I made a small change to my post to acknowledge Dwakins.

Thanks for your comments.

Sambaran said...

I agree to the point you are questioning things: "Is theology a subject? Does it answer any query of our minds that no other science or philosophy cannot?"
I stop agreeing the moment your writing becomes definitive: "It can never because they are all false, deception and fraudulence".
Speaking for myself, I am not an atheist nor a theist. I am agnostic, as of now.

Insightful Instincts said...

Religion can never be a science.. I would like to add that history is replete with instances of cruelty and massacres in the name of religion. When almost all religions conclude that God is benevolent and kind, why is He allowing so many people to be killed in his name. Right from Christian extermination to Crusades to Armenian and German massacres to Islamic terrorism, religion has killed millions and has probably killed more than all diseases combined.

Should we really allow hatred to be continued to be perpetrated in the name of God and religion. As Karl Marx remarked, "Religion is an Opium". It intoxicates us into doing things which an otherwise sane person will never do.

Mayank said...

Religion is in the end.. Man's creation. All the rituals / killings r offshoots of religion... Theology however , attempted to distinguish rlgn frm God during early days.. It got modified later thats another story.. But theres no point in it nw though...

Insightful Instincts said...

Religion and the various associated practices were invented with a purpose. By prescribing a set of ideals and best practices in the name of an alleged, omni-potent God, people's behavious were sought to be streamlined towards what is societally beneficial behavior. It all worked fine, when each society is self-contained and out of touch with the external world. However as the contact with the external world increased and kings started to set out for conquering kingdoms, they sought to impose their views of so-called God and best practices upon the conquered lot. Naturally, the victorious king would assume it is his God that helped him to defeat the other king and hence his God was superior. At least within India, where a common set of people was alleged to have spread out to various corners, essential practices remain the same. Further every society in its initial stages were worshipping nature as man tends to worship something he is in awe of.

However as man at various regions begin to develop his own versions of God veering away from Nature worship, religious conflicts started to emerge and scarr the world.

If one could understand this historical background and the root behind all the religious conflicts which is intolerance, he/she would be better able to prescribe and administer the remedy to the populace.

Sincerely don't know how this can be done but this needs to be done to prevent further sacrifice in the name of religion.

Insightful Instincts said...

Or perhaps one can also argue that all these killings and sacrifices are struggles to ensure ex-termination of weak and only the fittest survive. Perhaps something, man as a species need to follow to ensure his survival in future. Jews were killed in Germany because they were weak. Had they been strong, they could have stood up against Hitler with an army of their own like how Israel is doing now. If Hindus are killed in India and Tamils are killed in Lanka, it is again because they are weak-kneed unable to stand up against their opponents. Perhaps, just like other animals, man is also destined to perpetually fight each other as if it is an eternal knockout game.

Again some God's design, religious philosophists would argue. Nevertheless an interesting thought.

mimi sen said...

Dear Sambaran,

Well. It is easy to be 100% theist if one wants to be, but it's difficult to be 100% atheist, because there will always be questions unanswered by science and the God jumps in from nowhere to fill the gap. So if you say, agnosticism means 99% atheism or less, then I'm agnostic. Nevertheless, I certainly believe all phenomena that happen around us are never predetermined and that there is no supernatural force in action that can control us or decide about our future in advance.

When I say God, I can accept her spiritually, but rule out the possibility of existence of a God, whatsoever, as a supernatural being who has super-human powers, who can do paranormal things like anti-gravity rise, spoon-bending, who can read your mind, who can punish you for your sins etc., I rule out any paranormal claims that are not justified by science.

On the other hand if you ask me what the Universe has come from. What was there before the big bang? Why subatomic particle does not follow general relativity? I, without bringing in God to answer that, shall say that "I don't know. But I'm hopeful some explanation will come soon."

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Tell me, do you believe in electrons or photons? Has anybody ever seen them? Some scientists have been preaching there's some invisible stuff revolving around more invisible stuff and these things combine to form the visible universe. Isn't that ridiculous? We all know that this is a totally false, deceptive and fraudulent view of the universe based on the imagination of a select few...

Sambaran said...

I wanted to comment on your comments made in Greatbong blog. Can you aggregate your comments from that blog and make a post here in your blog? I can then elaborate on the points where I disagreed with you.

Mimi Sen said...

@anonymous: Your comment is interesting. All I can say is that there is always a large amount of belief and faith in everybody's life. When you say that your wife is faithful, isn't it that you are depending on some kind of faith of yours that she is not cheating on you, without being able to prove your wife's faithfulness beyond doubt ever again. Nothing other than mathematics and those you experience with your five senses can be proved. It's all belief in one form or the other. But the important point is: is these sufficient evidence to back up your belief? In case of electron and photon, the answer is a resounding "yes". In case of resurrection of Jesus, the answer is an unambiguous "No".

Mimi Sen said...

Sambaran,

It is done.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Sen, if you tell your 4 year old daughter that you are great as you can see people who are thousands of miles away, she will laugh on your face and say, "Everyone can do that mommy, it is called TV." If you told the same thing to someone someone 500 years ago, you would be burnt at the stake, no questions asked. Why? Because the concept of television was "inexplicable" and hence synonymous with "black magic" at the time. How about talking of cellphones a 100 years ago? Of pocket-sized terabyte hard drives 20 years ago? Nothing is obvious and explicable from the very beginning, right? Just the fact that you cannot explain God does not give you the right to ridicule those who do. In doing that, you are proving yourself to be no better than the people who tried Galileo for saying the Earth goes round the Sun. As long as you are ready to argue in logical terms and an open mind about the existence of God, I am ready. As soon as you start with "I KNOW there is no God, and everyone who has seen God is a liar" you are speaking to yourself.

By the way, about the electrons thingie... When John Dalton said the atom was like a pie of positive charge with electrons embedded like nuts, it was considered a "correct model" too. The structure of atom is one of those things that have been discovered and rediscovered numerous times, each idea smashing the previous. So don't swear by your scientists - they are just children picking up pebbles on the seashore.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Sen, I see you accepted defeat already. At least you should have the courtesy to accept when you are wrong, but then it would be asking too much of you. It was nice defeating you in argument! :)

BilapSambad said...

I have to say Anonymous is the greatest poster ever in this blig and everywhere else Keep up the good work