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Bhagavad-gita10-2Cardiff

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 5 months ago

About moral statements, the inability of science to understand spirit with empirical methods, teleology, blind faith vs. blind doubt and religious fanatism

 

Bg 10.2

na me viduh sura-ganah

prabhavam na maharsayah

aham adir hi devanam

maharsinam ca sarvasah 

 

TRANSLATION:

Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages.

 

 

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summary:

 

Prabhupada says in the purport “that scholarship is not the qualification necessary to understand Krsna.” Here scholarship has to be understood properly. It doesn’t mean that human reason has no place in the search for God.  To make religious claims nowadays is dangerous because it became like a mystic law of the jungle.  Religion and philosophy have to go hand in hand.

 

Religion unrestrained by any type of reason is extremely dangerous.  In Europe and India there have been philosophical traditions which are systematic and comprehensive. These traditions examined epistemology, ontology and ethics.

 

Whenever a sentence is formulated with the word “should” or “must” a moral statement is made. This has been pointed out by David Hume.  If we can objectively use a word like “should” and “must” there must be a metaphysical dimension to the universe. Otherwise one would just give one’s own opinion, even with a statement like “one shouldn’t murder innocent people”. Without making a moral statement we can only describe a situation (e.g. a crime). If anything is right or wrong outside of our own opinion there is some spiritual law in the universe, a metaphysical  reality. Rightness and wrongness are not physical facts.

 

Otherwise, why hold an opinion if it doesn’t correspond to a physical fact, if we don’t think they are objectively true? That would be insincere. If something is only my opinion, why should anyone stop it?  Don’t we believe that in a country where everyone is doing evil such an act is still evil, even if we are the only ones who think so?  So if there are objective metaphysical laws we come to the point of God. Who is the authority for these metaphysical facts in the universe?

 

A moral statement is always in relation to a living being, something that affects other people. Things are only right or wrong if they affect conscious persons.

 

If we do a little linguistic study, everyone is familiar with the term ”blind faith”. No rational creature wants to be guilty of it. It is humiliating in academics if you are exposed of blind faith. What about blind doubt? It is common sense that whether you believe something that isn’t true or whether you don’t believe something that is true – it has the same effect. You can doubt your way into a government scholarship. Why is one more dangerous than the other? And yet we have in our culture the term of blind faith and not blind doubt. People are only afraid of blind doubt.

 

Even if you don’t explain why you don’t believe it is still respectable in a university environment. Doubting itself is a respectable philosophical position. But if you say you belief, it is like “Oh my God, why? What happened to him?”

 

Science cannot address the most important questions which is “why” and not “how”. This was pointed out by Socrates (written by Plato). How and why are very different questions.  Science only can explain how the sky is blue, but not why. In the same way, all the mechanics or electrons of a computer are serving a purpose of a certain perceptive result. Similarly the sky, somebody must have wanted it to be blue.

 

This view is teleology from the Greek word “teleos” which means “purpose “. Teleology states beyond the purpose that you giving something there is a purpose in the universe. Even legally we have certain duties which exist outside of our own opinion. Similarly, in the case of God that means that there are purposes and duties we have, independent of human opinion. We live in a universe of art.

 

Science has brought about many good things, but there is a certain arrogance of thinking they are in charge of everything. The idea that “because we had success in one area we should rule in every area” it is intellectual imperialism. There is this absurd circular reasoning in fanatic science.  E.g. you think the only reliable instrument to study the universe is a thermometer and you go out and come back and “I was right, there was nothing out there expect temperatures. “ This mindless approach is exactly what empirical science has done. The scientists begin with the belief that there is nothing out there except physical material things. Therefore they only rely on empirical processes and material examination methods and therefore all they find out there is matter! It’s absurd from a philosophical point of view.

 

We engage in bhakti yoga. The experience we have, can most rationally explained by saying that there is Krsna and there is a soul. It would be irrational from our side to explain things otherwise. The Bhagavad-gita is true. The nice thing about Bhagavad-gita is that it is not exclusive. If you look at historical religions they have tended to be historically exclusive by excluding non-humans from any consideration of God.

 

Thomas Aquinus has systematically and formally put forward the doctrine that God has created all kinds of creatures but has absolutely no interest in non-humans because they have no soul, only an Aristotelian kind a soul which refers to the form of their bodies.

 

In Jane Austin’s writings one of the worst things a man can do is to arouse attachment in a woman without any interest in reciprocating with her. The idea is that if you create a certain sensitivity or pain in somebody, then being indifferent to the pain they are going to feel is immoral. We know that creatures, highly developed animals like mammals, can feel pleasure and pain. So how can God create the possibility in his creatures to feel pain and then not care if they do feel pain? That would be immoral. This point was made by John Stewart Mill, the same point Plato made in his “Republic”: How can we accept a conception of God in which God is morally inferior to an ordinary decent human being?”

 

If we had a retarded or handicapped child: As a loving parent wouldn’t we do anything possible to correct that child and restore it to full consciousness? If God has created creatures in certain conditions of live which don’t have full consciousness, wouldn’t it be God’s plan to gradually elevate these beings and bring them to a higher state of consciousness so they can know the source of their own existence, the glory of God? Human beings are a tiny minority in the creation. To say that God doesn’t care about the vast majority of His creation or that He would torture his own children for thought-crimes would be immoral.

 

“We are trying to present a reasonable mature understanding of spirituality which finds the centre between two historically dangerous extremes: fanatical religion and fanatical materialism. One is the equal and opposite reaction to the other. The balanced reasonable centre is a spiritual science, Krsna Consciousness.”

 

From questions & answers:

 

- Evolution & intelligent design: The intelligent design theory precedes Krsna Consciousness; it is a very respectable ancient philosophical theory. The idea in America today is that if you tell schoolchildren this theory they will become religious fanatics; therefore we have to nip in the bud any attempt which smells like metaphysics. This is madness.

 

- developing a deep loving attachment to Krsna: “We talk about Krsna having infinite opulences but there is one opulence  that we have to include, otherwise all the other ones don’t bring me to worship Krsna as God, and that is infinite morality: God has to be a perfect moral being. An important aspect of loving God is to understand in what sense God is a perfect moral being.”

 

- Psychology of fanaticism: One thing you always find in fanaticism is certain arrogance, like “we are the chosen people and God despises you, therefore I despise you”. It is like nationalism: My country is the best country. Western people always like to put down India because of its cast system, but what is nationalism other than hereditary cast system? You belong to a cast not because you are a good person, but because you are born in a certain place. We should see what the quality of a person is. And fanaticism is evil because it says that God is evil: If you have children and because some of them don’t relate to you in the same way as others, you poor kerosene over them and burn them. To claim that God will torture His children forever if they commit a thought-crime - the only reasonable conclusion would be that God is a monster. To present God as an evil being is an evil act.

 

God must have infinite compassion and patience in order to qualify as a perfect moral being. He may punish us to correct us sometimes, but punishment without correction is malicious, that is mentioned by Pythagoras. To punish someone without any intention of correction is evil.

 

It is obvious that there are good, sincere people in many different religions. How can God not reciprocate with them? It is important to restore the status and seriousness of religions, but people need spirituality. It is a trendy thing today to be spiritual but not religious. If we take religion to refer to external observable behaviour and spirituality to refer to internal states of consciousness – the problem is that internal states of consciousness should produce certain kinds of behaviour. If you try to separate spirituality from religion there is no way to measure anything or to restrain anyone. Therefore it is not a good idea to totally separate them because one tends to balance the other. There has to be some required behaviour before someone claims to be spiritual, at the same time you cannot just follow rules and not be a good person.