Monday, May 25, 2015

Hare! Hare! Ding! Dong!

“Different folks, different strokes”, that’s the same with believers. To justify god-belief, different believers propose different reasons to justify the existence of a god. Take this internet article from a certain Sivakumar Balasubramanian.

I am fortunate to be in association with people who are very deeply involved in Krishna Consciousness. I myself is not a dedicated devotee of the movement so its not my intention to propagandize or advertise it. But I am always open to any conversation which enlightens the belief and the truth about God. Because of that reason, I always receive some wonderful articles like the one below from the yahoo group which I like to treasure and sometimes wish to share with other audiences with some editing. Its not about Krishna Conscious, its more about God and believing him. Please read on..

Given proof of God, would a materialist know how to read it? People often ask us, “Can you prove the existence of God?” Proof indicates a conclusive demonstration that establishes the validity of an assertion, in this case the assertion that God exists.

But as soon as we speak of a demonstration, the next question is “To whom shall we demonstrate?” If we speak of evidence or data, we must know who will see and hear it. In other words, who will judge the results of a particular experiment, test, or trial.

Consider a hypothetical example. Doctor Waterport, the famous scientist, has just discovered a sophisticated formula that solves a technical mathematical problem. He proudly calls his colleagues together and presents them with thirty pages of ultratechnical symbols. His fellow scientists pore over the pages and conclude, “Yes, this is the answer we’re looking for.” If Dr. Waterport were to show the proof to an ordinary person on the street, the person wouldn’t even know how to hold the pages right side up. Because he’s not trained in mathematics, the proof would be meaningless to him. Conclusion: Proof demands a qualified audience.

Certainly, any valid proof must be logical. But how we apply logic depends on our previous experience. For example, suppose an apple tree is growing outside your window. One morning you hear a sound like that of an apple hitting the ground, and when you look outside you see a ripe apple lying beneath the tree. Logically, you conclude, the apple has just fallen from the tree.
Your logical statement rests on your previous observation that the apple tree produces apples, that the apples fall to the ground, and that they make a certain sound when this occurs. And your statement appears logical to those with similar experience.

So we apply logic in terms of our experience. Therefore, how can we expect to make God logical to a person who has had no spiritual experience? How can God appear logical to a person to whom the very terminology of the science of God is unintelligible? Thus it is ludicrous when those who are spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb -demand that God be made “logical” to them and that His existence be “proved.”

In general, it is illogical for a person untrained in some field of knowledge to demand that a particular fact pertaining to that field of knowledge be logically demonstrated to him. For example, if someone who has no idea what a number is demands that I logically demonstrate that two plus two equals four, I can’t do it. Similarly, if a spiritual ignoramus demands that God be logically demonstrated to him, his very request is illogical. So how can the illogical demands of atheists be met?

We can easily provide innumerable proofs of God—provided we are free to stipulate that the judge of the data be a person who is spiritually trained. Devotees of the Lord who are advanced in Krishna consciousness can logically, evidently, and demonstratively deal with the reality of the soul and God. But materialistic fools demand that God, a non-material being, be reduced to a material formula.

It is patently absurd to demand material proof for a non-material entity. Mathematical or physical laws describe predictable ways in which material things interact. God and the soul are not material and thus cannot be reduced to material descriptions.

This does not mean, however, that the soul is outside the jurisdiction of logical discussion. Consciousness itself is spiritual, not material, and thus the study of consciousness, or spirit, is not beyond the scope of human beings.

In fact, all fields of knowledge depend on tangible perception of the soul, since all sciences depend on a conscious scientist who works with consciousness, which is spiritual, not material. In other words, spiritual awareness is intrinsic to all types of awareness, although materialistic people do not recognize that consciousness is spiritual.

So there is no lack of data to prove the existence of spirit, since consciousness itself is spiritual. The problem is that foolish intellectuals whimsically designate consciousness a material, not a spiritual, entity. But as soon as we accept the simple truth that consciousness itself is spiritual, we find that in every stage of awareness and in every field of knowledge our perception of all manner of data is resting on a spiritual experience—the experience of being conscious. And when consciousness studies itself, it reaches the stage called spiritual consciousness, or self- realization. Ultimately, when the self-realized person fixes his consciousness on the source of all consciousness, he reaches the realization of Krishna , the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Ultimately, we must come to the stage of absolute logic, which refers to absolute perception, a perception of things with eternally recognizable properties and eternally established relationships. For example, God is the supreme master and enjoyer and we are His eternal servants. Thus it is absolutely logical for us to serve Him, for we are then situated in our natural, constitutional position. To serve a mundane employer may be logical, but it is not absolutely logical, since after the employer’s death, or upon his bankruptcy, serving him is illogical.

In conclusion, logic is a secondary process that follows the primary process of consciousness. We are conscious, for example, that numbers have particular values and properties, and based on this perception, we can state that a particular mathematical equation is either logical or illogical. Similarly, by purifying our existence through the practice of Krishna consciousness, we can perceive the values and properties of God, and thus we can discern that a particular statement about God is either logical or illogical. By confirming our analysis with the Vedic literatures, which are standard reference works of spiritual science compiled by realized devotees, we can perfectly understand the science of God in Krishna consciousness.

So after reading the whole article, it seems Mr. Balasubramanian is trying to imply that the knowledge of god is exclusively for those into some kind of spiritual discipline.

The problem with this excuse is that everyone describe god in lay man’s term. Believers tell us of how they experience god base on terms like “loving”, “like a father”, “justice” and so on. That means language use in describing god is neither limited nor restrictive. We also use observable language to describe god. Even Mr. Balasubramanian use everyday language to describe god and spirit.

According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, everything that can be thought could also be said, whereas nothing can be said about something that can’t be properly thought. Language could only be use to picture facts or to make logical statements. Other use of language is meaningless. To add to this, Karl Popper in his Falsification Thesis comes up on the following:
1. A proposition has meaning only if it can be shown to be true or false.
2. There are logical forms of truth and factual forms.
3. Factual truths can only be demonstrated through experience.

Base on this, Mr. Balasubramanian’s claim will make god talk meaningless. If we will accept his assertion that to know god one should have a so-called “spiritual training” base on his two hypothetical examples, then the god idea will become limited.

Limitation of language means limitation of logic... (Therefore an absolute logic will be impossible in a “selective audience”) We must remember that logic is a part of language in which thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle is born.

Furthermore, in proving god, apologists base it on experience and human logic...not on some so-called esoteric knowledge. Thomas Aquinas uses both experience and human logic in his Summa Theologiae to demonstrate the existence of god. For Aquinas, only the essence of God is inaccessible to human reason. Now if the essence is inaccessible, how can we know that God exist? According to Aquinas, we can know it using “natural theology” – that comes from the activity of reason and from sense experience and by “revealed theology”- which comes from faith, divine grace and scriptures.

Natural theology doesn’t require a person to become expert or to have a so-called “spiritual training”. Theology doesn’t necessary need to be esoteric and hidden.

Mr. Balasubramanian’s explanation is really a mirror of his belief. Remember, in the article, he said, “...I am fortunate to be in association with people who are very deeply involved in Krishna Consciousness.” According to ISKCON to become a member one must choose a guru and become a disciple to him. This guru is so critical that it is said, "Without the Guru the cultivation of Krishna consciousness is impossible. From the devotee's side, initiation means that he accepts the guru as his spiritual master and aggresses to worship him as God." - (Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions 2001, pg. 176).

Naturally a Hare Krishna member will only accept the explanation of the “guru."  That is maybe what the article meant by “qualified audience."

Moving on...

According to Mr. Balasubramanian, “So we apply logic in terms of our experience. Therefore, how can we expect to make God logical to a person who has had no spiritual experience? How can God appear logical to a person to whom the very terminology of the science of God is unintelligible? Thus it is ludicrous when those who are spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb -demand that God be made “logical” to them and that His existence be “proved.”

In general, it is illogical for a person untrained in some field of knowledge to demand that a particular fact pertaining to that field of knowledge be logically demonstrated to him. For example, if someone who has no idea what a number is demands that I logically demonstrate that two plus two equals four, I can’t do it. Similarly, if a spiritual ignoramus demands that God be logically demonstrated to him, his very request is illogical. So how can the illogical demands of atheists be met?”

I’m really not to sure about this “Science of God” and who is he pertaining as “spiritual ignoramus”.
To make it logical, you have to demonstrate your argument in a meaningful way. That’s very easy @ Mr. Balasubramanian. Too many ambiguities make your argument a shaggy dog story. Too many secret scams make you look like a con artist. If you can speak and express your claim in an evocative, clear and coherent way, it can be considered logical. Just take a good example of the term “science of God” and “spiritual science”. If god is presumed to be spiritual and spiritual is not empirical, then how on earth it becomes scientific? Can we dissect god in a laboratory and observe his parts in a microscope? Can we place a “spirit” inside a beaker and heat it to see any chemical reaction? Is that how a non-spiritual ignoramus thinks? Is that what you have learned with your Hare Krishna associates?

Coming on to other issues...
Is Mr. Balasubramanian describing “spirit” and “consciousness” base on how ISKCON explain it? If so, then Mr. Balasubramanian’s so called “Science of God” is too discriminatory to be considered a “science”.
The term “spirit” and “consciousness” have other models other than what ISKCON endorses. Since ISKCON believe in dualism, they believe that spirit as a separate entity. Yet the concept of spirit and consciousness can also be use non-dualistic.

Consciousness is regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. John Locke defines consciousness as personal identity - I. The “I” in “my self” as some philosophers say. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has considered that each point in the universe is endowed with conscious content. This is a form of Panpsychism. Panpsychism is the belief that all matter, including rocks for example, is sentient or conscious. Immanuel Kant argued that an adequate account of experience and phenomenal consciousness required a far richer structure of mental and intentional organization. Phenomenal consciousness could not be a mere succession of associated ideas, but at a minimum had to be the experience of a conscious self situated in an objective world structured with respect to space, time and causality.

On his book Toward a Genealogy of Morals (1887), Friedrich Nietzsche was the first one to make the claim that the modern notion of consciousness was indebted to the modern system of penalty, which judged a man according to his "responsibility”. Nietzsche considered consciousness to be a hypostatization of the body, composed of multiple forces. According to him, the subject was only a "grammatical fiction”. Therefore, the conscious subject is dependent on the existence of language, a claim which would be generalized by critical discourse analysis.

Personally speaking, esoteric, mysterious mumbu-jumbo explanations are just the defense some cults have to create in order to win adherents and to justify their twaddle. People are really too gullible. I think no one can really claim experiencing something outside the range of an objective world. The so-called mystical experiences and dualistic explanation on spirits and consciousness are the same experience made by our material brain. On waking and dreaming, our brain is engaged in substantially the same activities. It’s really your worldview that describes what a spirit and your consciousness is. It’s really a matter of preference and belief.

Not all “spiritual” explanation is shrouded with hidden truths cloaked in the enigma of mysticism and philosophical speculations, just like the case of spirit and consciousness as explained earlier. Buddhism for example has this concept on spirit and consciousness that is neurologically astute.
In Buddhism for example, the concept of a spirit is an empirical claim. According to them a spirit is a practical necessity. They are merely conventional terms that do not refer to any real, independent entity. Spiritual experience is no more than dreams, emotion, perceptual illusions or thoughts themselves.

Consciousness is conditioned mental and physical phenomena and they are affected through mental and physical phenomena of the different six faculties (i.e., five physical sense-organs and mind). The cessation of these faculties, consciousness also ceases. This Buddhist belief on consciousness is supported by modern neurophysiology.

Now let us go on some of Mr. Balasubramanian’s issue.

Is the concept of a god exclusive to ISKCON’s definition? Will a Christian agree on Mr. Balasubramanian? Remember that both are god-believers. Both are not “spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb”. A Christian and an ISKCON devotee believe in a so-called spiritual experience, nevertheless they have dissimilar thoughts on the god-concept. If Mr. Balasubramanian was right when he said something about “absolute logic” in a believer’s god-perception, then both believers must agree in all points but matching up both religious beliefs may show some conflicts with Mr. Balasubramanian’s fantasy.

First, the ISKCON view of God is basically pantheistic, meaning that they believe God is all. For Hare Krishna, God is everything and everything is God (Sounds like impersonalism. This is quite strange since they also believe on a so-called “God-Head”). Christians on the other hand believe that God is transcendent – He is above all that He created. There was this ISKCON devotee who told me that in every life form God is present, even in the most foul and dirtiest of life form such as worms and maggots. This statement contradicts Christian belief that God is pure, perfect and good.

ISKCON teaches that man is ultimately identical to God. Yet Christians say that it is impossible. If God is an absolute unchanging reality as ISKCON believes, and realized that he is also God, then that contradict the first statement because an unchanging god will always knew he is god!

Hare Krishna teaches that we somehow make up part of a universal consciousness and that we are part of god. Christians never promote this concept.

Salvation for ISKCON will be attained through a series of works. Yes, devotion and relationship are packed into their belief system. Chant more, dance more, and always work harder to solicit money will give you a chance to pay your karmic debt and enter into Krishna Consciousness. Self-denial and sacrifice are also crucial for salvation in ISKON. Yet Christians believe salvation is by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Believe in Jesus and you are saved.

ISKCON members believe in the Indian concept of reincarnation while Christian believes in the resurrection of the dead in the Day of Judgement.

With these differences it is quite unattainable to declare that a so-called “spiritual experience” is enough for believers to unify their god-concept as Mr. Balasubramanian alleges. There is no such “awareness” to prop up his claims.

Other than that, it seems between Hinduism and ISKCON there are also problems.

• The worship of Krishna is really a Hindu cult. In the fifteenth century (1486), Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first taught that Krishna was the supreme Lord above every other god. Mahaprabhu advocated a devotional method of faith where adherents to Krishna entered into a relationship with Krishna expressing adoration to Krishna through dancing and chanting. His public displays of adoration earned a large following, in part, due to its sharp contrast with dispassionate and ascetic expressions which common to Hinduism. The problem in this religious belief according to the Hindus is that there is no such deity exists. The "god Krishna", to whom they commit their lives, never existed... he is only a hero-warrior of the "Gita", the 18th chapter of the "novel Mahabharata". And their other "god Rama" also never existed; he is only a hero of the "novel Ramayana”

• Also Krishna, in the novel Ramayana , is a "erotic-god", with a favorite mistress named Radha, and 16,108 gopis ("women cowherds"), and the good "god-Krishna" fathered 10 children with each one of them over a period of 125 years!. This is the reason why the Krishnas ware a necklace-rosary with "108 beats", to chant the mantra "Hare Krishna" 108 times, and repeat it "16 times a day", with a total of 1,728 times per day.

• Srila Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON, in his April, 1967, New York lectures remarked, "Although posing as great scholars, ascetics, householders and swamis, the so-called followers of the Hindu religion are all useless, dried-up branches of the Vedic religion."

• At a 1974 Mumbai lecture, he declared, "We are not preaching Hindu religion. While registering the association, I purposely kept this name, 'Krishna Consciousness,' neither Hindu religion nor Christian nor Buddhist religion."

• In an interview given for Bhavan's Journal on June 28, 1976, he said, "India, they have given up the real religious system, Sanatana Dharma. Fictitiously, they have accepted a hodgepodge thing which is called Hinduism. Therefore there is trouble."

So not only does in Christianity will an ISKCON “baldie” have problem explicating his god but with a Hindu as well.

It was nice for Mr. Balasubramanian to share to us his justification for the existence of god by wearying so-called “spiritual ignoramuses” of some of ISKCON belief system and Theo-philosophical insight. But I think he have to do better next time.

John the Atheist

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