Is an Unknowable God Logical?

This is the slideshow portion of a presentation titled: Is an Unknowable God Logical?

Since it doesn’t include the commentary and explanations of the presenter, one has to fill in the spots with some imagination. But it still is an interesting look at the question of the existence of God, miracles and other such issues.

Here is the supplementary material (software and such) that it refers to.

Read this doc on Scribd: Is an Unknowable God Logical?
Dec 2005, Changing Times Understanding the Logic of Atheism Creating a Bridge of Understanding Hooman Katirai Table of Contents ? Part 1: The Analogies – We create analogies where humans play the role of creator ? Part 2: The Harvest – We use the analogies to learn about the creator-created relationship. ? Part 3: Proofs of God, we examine two proofs of God – one from Aristotle, the other from William Hatcher. Purpose ?If thou wishest the divine knowledge … purify thy heart … and apply thyself to rational and authoritative arguments … then the eye will be opened and will recognize the Sun through the Sun itself.? (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 383) The complement of a statement is similar to what Faith we might call an opposite. Types of Faith Belief The complement of ?it’sin an Idea in the absence raining? is everything that’s of total not raining. This would proof include, sunny, cloudy, windy, etc .. Blind Faith (commitment to a belief regardless of evidence) Empiricism Belief in an idea because it’s more likely than its complement Some Definitions An Might say … God (or gods) do not exist The question ?does God exist?? cannot be proven (or disproven) and is therefore meaningless. Atheist Agnostic Undecided I’m not sure if God exists but I’m open to new evidence. Atheism is difficult to defend Belief: God (or gods) do not exist ? To make such a claim one must examine – every part of universe – in case one or more Gods were hiding there. ? But atheists have examined only a small part of the universe. ? Thus they do not have enough evidence to make the claim ?there is no God? TAKEAWAYS: ? Atheism is a belief founded on faith. It is not based on logic. Agnostics & Undecideds ? Both don’t know if God does or does not exist ? Agnostics believe the question can’t be answered ? These two groups will be the focus of our discussions! Common Objections to Religion & God ? ? Ideas in religion are too outrageous to be true We’ll show ideas like An unknowable creator, Manifestations, etc are all reasonable. Show that existence of God is more likely than non-existence I.e. it is not a fiction. Hatcher’s Proof. Acts of followers ? Teachings of religion Religion can be perfect while Followers are not. Precisely why God sends new messengers There can be perfect justice If there is a next world ? Religion is a fiction adopted by the weak or unhappy (to feel comforted and happy) Religion causes war, and suffering ? ? Too much suffering in world for there to be a God. Overcoming Obstacles ? ? I don’t believe in religion, which is based on faith I believe in Science We’ll show Science is based on Faith! But a special Kind of faith that can Also be applied in religion. Answering Objection 1: Objection: I don’t believe in religion, which is based on faith I believe in Science We’ll show science is based on a special kind of faith called empiricism that can be used in religion Science is based on Faith! ? How do Physicists – discover equations? F F =ma ? Simple example: – Newton’s Law (F=ma) Force (F) Mass (M) Frictionless Surface A Takeaway: Even fundamental equations in physics are based on Faith!! Science is based on Faith! (cont’d) ? F=ma – equation of a line ? Yet, according to math F – Infinite number of points between any two points on a line – Can’t measure Force and Acceleration at all points Takeaway: Science is based on Faith! This faith is differentiated – Yet we assume linear from Blind Faith, and is the act of the scientific rational person. transition holds A Answering Objection 2: Objection: Ideas in religion are too outrageous to be true How we’ll answer it: We’ll show that an unknowable creator, manifestations, etc are all reasonable. Part 1: The Analogies We’ll find situations where we play the role of Creator. These situations will be closely examined in the next part, to learn more about our relationship with God. Humans can create universes ? Inside a computer ? Like our universe, these universes have – Creatures – Laws ? lend insight to – Relationship between creator and created ? Case in point – Game of Life (Conway ’70) Game of Life (Conway ’70) ? Universe: – A Simple Grid ? Creatures: – Yellow cells ? Empty Space – Gray cells The Game of Life’s Universal Laws 1. Birth: dead cell with 3 live neighbors becomes alive 2. Survival: live cell with 2-3 live neighbors stays alive 3. Death: all other cases, cell dies or remains dead (loneliness or over-crowding). Game of Life Demo More sophisticated universes ? Creatures can learn ? Example: – Creature behavior governed by probability matrix – Probabilities updated with experience – Free will simulated by picking behavior according to probabilities ? Evolution – Survival of fittest ? Programmer does not explicitly write computer program ? Instead programmer creates evolutionary environment to evolve solutions. ? Process: – Create ?population? of randomly generated solutions – Allow solutions to ?mate? to yield offspring solutions – Better solutions have higher chance of mating (Darwinian Natural selection) ? Outcome of process said to be best solution after many Genetic Programming Link to Additional Slides On GP Genetic Programming Demo Genetic Programming Demo Takeaway: We can create universes in which the creatures can evolve over time! ? More than 20 US patents ? Several new patents – re-discovered using GP An Automatic Invention Machine? ? Genetic Programming has been called ? Who is the inventor? – an ?Automatic Invention Machine? – discovered using GP – outperform all existing humaninvented solutions – The human or the machine? – ?Who is the potter, pray, and who the pot?? –Omar Khayyam Summary of Part 1 ? Humans can create universes – Inside a computer – With creatures that can: ? Mate ? Learn ? Evolve ? In these universes we play the role of God Part 2: The Harvest ` We’ll use the analogies we studied to draw deductions Suppose you wanted to communicate with your creatures Could you: – enter their world? – turn yourself into a square on the grid? Solution ? Since you cannot enter their universe – you must control something in their universe ? i.e. speaking to your creatures requires – an intermediary i.e. this man cannot be God Evidence from Christianity Christ is an intermediary who carries actions of God on earth: ?I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.? -John 8:28 (King James Version) Further evidence of distinction between Christ & God: ?But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.? -Mark 13:32 And Islam ? Mohammed is an intermediary that delivers message of God to man: ?Even as We have sent unto you a messenger [Mohammed] from among you, who reciteth unto you Our revelations and causeth you to grow, and teacheth you the Scripture and wisdom …? -The Qur’an, 2:151 ? ?Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him.? -The Qur’an 3:144 And Judaism ? Moses in an intermediary that delivered God’s message to Humankind: ? ?Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I [God] commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances.? -Prophets And the Bah??’i Faith ? Confirms idea of human intermediary – “since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation … ” God ordains that “in every age … a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven” (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 232) The Holy Spirit ?we can understand that the Holy Spirit is the Intermediary between the Creator and the created.? -Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 59 ? Anything in between the Created and Created ? In our example includes – Computer – Software running universe – Keyboard If you were to speak to your creatures .. ? What Language: – English? – their language? ?All that I have revealed unto thee … hath been in accordance with thy capacity and understanding, not with My state and the melody of My voice.? -Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words ? Level of communication: – According to our capacity? – Or their capacity? On Miracles ? Should not constitute a ?proof?: – Except to observers – Even then there are often alternate explanations Miracles ? Nonetheless, we can see how – miracles could be easy for creator ? Example: Game of Life – can create life simply by flipping a bit from a 0 to a 1 in the grid. – a power creatures do not have So, why not have a miracle side-show to quell all doubts? ? If God performed miracles on demand Free Will vs. Miracles – forced to acknowledge him – lose autonomy to recognize (or reject) creator ? Suppose instantaneous {punishment, correction, guidance} for ?wrong’ acts. Puppet -controlled -little or no autonomy -brute -loss of self -no capacity for altruism vs. vs. vs. vs. vs. vs. Growing being guided free will & choice: noble being self capacity for altruism Takeaway: There seems to be a tradeoff between miracles and freewill Why A Human Intermediary? ? We discovered we needed – an intermediary to communicate with our creatures ? But the intermediary could have been – a talking tree, or a rock that glows in Morse code ? Why a human intermediary? Why a Human Intermediary? (cont’d) ? A talking tree, or glowing rock constitutes – a miracle – But we’ve established that miracles reduce free-will to accept or reject God. ? A human intermediary is ideal because it allows God to – communicate the message, while still providing us with – free will to accept (or deny) God. More on Miracles ?… Know that the Word of God … is sanctified from the known elements … It became manifest without an utterance made, or a voice breathed. It is the command of God …? Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 191, Emphasis added. How might our creatures perceive us? ? ?The world of our creator so vast that it’s composed of an infinite number of squares.? ? ?The creator is the source of all life? ? ?The creator is all-powerful.? ? ?The creator exists above time. Can see the future; knows the past.? ? ?The creator is omniscient (all-knowing).? TAKEAWAY: God is unknowable! Any conception we have of God is not God. On Praise: ?To have accepted any act or praise from Thy creatures is but an evidence of the wonders of Thy [God’s] grace and bountiful favors, and a manifestation of Thy generosity and providence.? -Baha’u’llah Parallels On Unknowability: ?… souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me [God]. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me.? -Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words But isn’t God All-Powerful? ? Can’t God turn himself into a human? ? Equivalent question: – ?Couldn’t God turn himself into a square in Game of Life?? Power of the Creator (cont’d) ? What do we mean by All-Powerful? ? In Game of life we are All-Powerful because ? We can: – change game’s state to any state – alter universal laws ? No creature can stand in our way Meaning of All-Powerful (cont’d) ? Though ?All-Powerful? in Game of Life – Can we turn ourselves into a square? ? 1 bit needed to represent square – Bits required to represent a human? – Information loss Power of God (cont’d) ? If humans can’t be represented in 1 bit – Can God? God as Unknowable ?… God …can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, … Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being.? -Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bah??’u’ll??h, p. 112 TAKEAWAY: It’s logically impossible for something to be limited and all-powerful at the same time! Power of God Takeaway: ? Even God’s power has limits ? All Powerful ? Ability to do anything ? Specifically God cannot be not God Further Questions Further Questions: ? Is humility an attribute of God? Why do we declare our powerlessness in the obligatory prayers everyday? ? Is God engaging in some kind of ego trip by requiring us to humble ourselves before him every day? One possible answer to the question: We tend to forget who’s in charge – – we think we are in control hence we need a daily reminder that we are in fact powerless ? ? ? Only when we are mindful of The Source of all power – can we turn unto It, seeking It’s help and guidance. ? In sum it seems that God requires us to declare our powerlessness – – for our own benefit To make us aware of reality (that we are powerless) so we can act in an educated manner. What if .. ? power withheld from computer for even a few seconds? ?.. if for one moment the tide of His mercy and grace were to be withheld from the world, it would completely perish? -Bah??’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bah??’u’llah, p. 68 Is the universe an abandoned experiment? We are created of love: ?… I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee ….? -Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words ? The loving creator guides us: ?… Were it not for the love of God the holy books would not have been revealed. Were it not for the love of God the divine prophets would not have been sent to the world … ? -Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 90 1. Prayer: the creator can communicate with us via inspiration ?A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he heareth….? -Quran 83:28 Can we develop a relationship with an ?unknowable God?? “For the core of religious faith is that mystical feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer.? Baha’i Writings: Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 506 ? How do we develop a relationship with an ?unknowable God?? (cont’d) Reading – Sacred Scriptures (messages sent by creator) – On spiritual teachings (to understand messages from creator) ? Meditation ? Striving every day – to bring behavior more into accordance with high standards ? Selfless service – to humanity – in carrying on of our trade or profession. Summary of Part 2 ? Saw computer universes that have: – Creatures – laws. ? Creatures could: – Learn – Evolve ? If Computer Generated Universes are comparable to our universe then …. Summary of Part 2 ? God is unknowable ? You cannot: – fully comprehend or – directly interact with God. ? All Powerful ? Ability to do anything ? Holy Spirit – everything between the Creator and Created ? Communication with God – requires an intermediary ? Founders of World Religions – intermediaries (messengers) between humankind & God – are not God but are directed by God – hard to imagine another way God could communicate with humankind ? without loss of our choice to accept (or reject) God. Part 3: Proofs of God ` We’ll examine and critique two proofs of God ? ? Suppose you walked into the Amazon jungle and saw some pyramids You would probably immediately attribute these pyramids to an ancient civilization because – – You know the pyramids don’t just create themselves You know pyramids don’t appear out of thin air Cosmological Proof of God (Aristotle) ? ? In short, you know the pyramids must be preceded by a cause. In other words, in the domain of human created objects, every object is evidence of it’s creator. – – – A chair is evidence of a chair maker A painting is evidence of a painter And so on …. ? ? ? ? ? Applying this same reasoning to the universe, we ask the question. ?Can the existence of the Universe be taken as evidence for a Universe-maker (i.e. God?)? There is a leap of Faith in saying ?yes? because we are moving from the domain of human created objects to non-human created ones. Moreover we are moving from causes within the universes, to the cause of the universe itself. Yet at the same time, the answer ?yes? seems much more intuitive than the answer of ?no? because we have never seen non-causal systems. In fact, the basis of science is that there is a cause for everything and saying no would commit us to the existence of non-causal systems. Returning to our This proof only shows that there exists some kind of creator for the universe; but it doesn’t prove there is only one creator; or if another entity created that creator. Hatcher’s Proof of God ? William Hatcher (1935-2005) – Passed Away in Nov. 2005 – Produced the strongest proof of God – You can read more in Hatcher’s Book, Minimalism (ISBN ? Why hasn’t his proof been invented yet? – Some basic mathematical tools needed to produce it (Von Neumann Set Theory) hadn’t been invented until the 20th century. – Avicenna, a Muslim philosopher produced a very similar proof using mathematical concepts that were far ahead of their time, but his proof had some subtle errors. – Hatcher fixed Avincenna’s proof and reformulated in modern math. Hatcher’s Proof of God ? There are some minor differences between the proof you will find here, and the one presented in Hatcher’s book. ? In particular, I have done my best to avoid references to set theory while remaining faithful to Hatcher’s proof. ? You can get his original version of the proof which includes references to set theory in his book minimalism. ? Another version of the proof appears online here: – http://www.onecountry.org/e102/e10214xs.htm – But this is a book excerpt that may be difficult to understand without the background material provided by previous chapters. Hatcher’s Proof ? ? ? Let V represent all of reality. A phenomenon, is some portion of reality I.e. if the blue ellipse represents V, a phenomenon (illustrated in yellow), is some portion of it. Hatcher’s Proof Continued ? We differentiate between two types of phenomena. ? Composite phenomena have parts. ? Non-composite phenomena have no parts (i.e. they are not divisible). Hatcher’s 3 Principles ? P1. All existing phenomena are either self-caused (i.e. A?A) or other caused (B ?A where A?B) but not both. ? P2. If A?B, then A?E where E is any part of B. ? P3. A?E cannot hold if E is a component of A. P1 ? P1 says there is a reason – for everything ? When we write A?B we mean ?a contains sufficient reason for B? ? ? There are numerous definitions of causality P2 is Hatcher’s definition of causality. One is the efficient cause in which it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back? – Hatcher does NOT use this definition ? Instead he uses what’s called total causality – Under this notion of causality it’s the 1000 previous straws, the camel, plus the last straw, plus gravity, plus the ground the camel is standing on – and all the other things that would be required to produce the breaking of the camel’s back – that causes the camel to break it’s back. – Put another way to cause a phenomenon, you need to supply everything required to create it to satisfy the definition of causality provided in P2. – That is why when we write A?B we say ?A contains sufficient reason for B? P3: The Principle of Limitation ? P3 is a logical principle. ? It says that a composite phenomena cannot be the cause of it’s own components. ? A car for example cannot be the cause of it’s steering wheel. ? We illustrate P3 in the next slide P3 (Continued) ? Every composite phenomena has – parts and – A relationship or structure between these parts Relationship of Parts of Parts to each other Car ? A car’s parts laid out on one’s front lawn is not a car ? To be considered a car, the parts need to be put together in certain way ? This is illustrated in the diagram CAR P3 (Continued) ? What P3 is saying is that there is a logical succession from the parts and structure to the car. ? I.e. once you have the structure AND parts, you have the car. ? This succession is a logical one not a temporal one. I.e. it is not the consequence of the passage of time. – For example the integer 2 following after 1 – but this does not involve the passage of time. Relationship of Parts of Parts to each other Car (Structure) CAR P3 (Continued) ? The car can’t cause the steering wheel (a part), because the car doesn’t exist until all the parts (including the steering wheel exist) and until such parts are put in the right form. ? Put another way, the parts and structure logically precede the car. ? It is possible that the car and it’s parts come into being simultaneously BUT it’s not possible for the car to cause it’s own component. Relationship of Parts of Parts to each other Car (Structure) CAR Proof of a Universal Cause ? Now that we’ve established the 3 principles, the proof follows. ? With respect to V, we know (from P1) that ONLY ONE of the following two statements is true: a) That V is self caused (i.e. V?V) I.e. that reality contains sufficient reason for it’s own existence b) That V is other-caused (i.e. there exists some G?V) That is some portion of reality, which we call G, is the ultimate cause of everything. Proof of a Universal Cause ? Suppose Statement (a) is true i.e. V?V ? By P2, the statement V?V implies that V?A for every A which is a component of V – but this contradicts P3 which says a composite phenomena cannot be a cause of one of it’s components. ? From the above contradiction we know statement (a) must be false ? But according to P1 if (a) is false, then (b) must be true. ? Thus there exists a G, which is the ultimate cause of everything (i.e. G?V) Proof that G has no components ? ? ? – – We know that G?V According to P2, this means G?G (since G is a part of V). Either one of the following two statements must hold: G1. G has components G2. G has no components ? ? G1 cannot hold for the same reasons that V?V does not hold (i.e. it would violate P3). This means G has no components. Proof of G’s Uniqueness ? Here we will prove that there can only be one universal cause. ? We already showed there exists a universal cause, G but lets suppose there exists another universal cause, which we’ll call G’ ? Because G’ is a universal cause, we know G’?V ? By P2, this implies that G’ causes everything including G’ itself; i.e. G’?G’ (i.e. G’ is self-caused) (1) ? But we also know that the other universal cause, G, causes V i.e. G ?V. But according to P2, this means G causes everything in V including G’; i.e. G?G’ (which means G’ is other caused) (2) ? According to statement (1), G’ is self-caused, but according to statement (2), G’ is also other caused. ? But this violates P1, which says that G’ must be either self caused, or other caused but not both. ? The only way to avoid a contradiction is for G’=G ? Thus there is only one universal cause. Hatcher’s Proof ? Put together, we have shown that there exists a unique (i.e. there’s only one), universal (i.e. the cause of everything), self-caused (i.e. it contains sufficient reason for it’s own existence) cause. This cause is distinct from the universe, but is the cause of everything within it. ? The proof doesn’t require this G to be the immediate cause of everything; but it does say that God is the ultimate cause of everything. ? The proof does not tell you if this G, is the same as the God of Christianity, Islam, or the Baha’i Faith – but the findings of the proof are consistent with the God of those religions. Critique of Hatcher’s Proof ? – Hatcher used first order logic most well understood and accepted form of logic ? As a result there are only three possible ways to attack his proof all of which are very difficult to defend. These attacks are: – – To attack logic itself (not the act of a reasonable person) To show that one or more principles do not hold (this approach is also very difficult to defend – see next slide) Critiquing Hatcher’s Proof If you accept logic, you can only use attack 2. Attack 2 requires one to negate one or more of the 3 principles, but in practice this very difficult to defend; lets go over each principle: – P1 says there is a cause for everything, and that the question ?why?? is always meaningful. Negating this principle is difficult because P1 – which says that there is an explanation for everything – is one of the core ideas in Science. ; i.e. that every phenomena is preceded by a cause. Further, those who deny P1, commit themselves to the existence of non-causal systems – something humanity has never observed. – P2 is just a definition of causality – P3 is simply a logical idea. It too is difficult to attack. ? ? ? As introduced at the beginning of this presentation, Science picks as true, statements that are more probable than their complement. It would seem that all 3 of Hatcher’s principles pass this test Thus this proof shifts the burden of proof to people to show there isn’t a God. Dec 2005, Changing Times Understanding the Logic of Atheism QUESTIONS Hooman Katirai (hooman@alumni.mit.edu in 2006) Backup Slides ` More details on Genetic Programming Final Questions ? What could we possibly offer our creator that it doesn’t already have? – Thankfulness Nature Vs. Genetic Programming ? Survival of Fittest ? A Fitness function tells you how well any given solution solves the problem A technique called Tournament selection mimics this phenomenon Parents mate to produce fratenal twins, with genetic code from the parents BUT parent’s immediately die after doing so. Mutation operator Genetic Code = Parse Trees ? Several Males will compete to mate with one female or viceversa Parents mate to produce offspring whose genetic makeup a combination of parents ? ? ? ? ? Offspring contain some genetic code independent of parents Genetic Code = DNA ? ? Parse Trees: The DNA of Solutions A Simple Example + 2 5 + 5 4 2 7 A More Complicated Example + / 8 7 5 Parse Trees: The DNA of Solutions + A More Complicated Example / Freq(?Huge Savings?) Freq(?Credit Card?) 4 ? The parse trees shown in previous slides are somewhat boring – – They always reduced to the same answer More interesting is when we add feature detectors which allow the result to change according to some input. For example the parse tree above will give you a different answer according to how many times the phrases ?credit card? and ?huge savings appears in a document. Indeed, parse trees using feature detectors have been used to filter junk e-mail with greater than 90% accuracy (See Katirai, ?Filtering Junk Email,? 1999). – How two solutions can be mated to produce ?children? solutions * + / 8 4 + Gives 5 Mated with 2 2 * + 7 7 5 And 2 2 + / 8 4 To Mate two solutions We swap two randomly selected
  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    I’m up to slide 56 and want to leave a comment (already!).

    If the Holy Spirit communicates with people (as Abdul Baha says according to Paris Talks) and if people can be inspired by God, then people can have a connection directly with God.

    I believe the Holy Spirit is the source of revelation. Revelation and inspiration. Further I believe this is a Baha’i teaching, true?

    Baha’is don’t pray to Baha’ullah, do they? They pray to God — correct? And Abdul Baha seems to say inspiration can occur as a result of praying to God.

    So the need for a mediator might be for ‘mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    I’m up to slide 56 and want to leave a comment (already!).

    If the Holy Spirit communicates with people (as Abdul Baha says according to Paris Talks) and if people can be inspired by God, then people can have a connection directly with God.

    I believe the Holy Spirit is the source of revelation. Revelation and inspiration. Further I believe this is a Baha’i teaching, true?

    Baha’is don’t pray to Baha’ullah, do they? They pray to God — correct? And Abdul Baha seems to say inspiration can occur as a result of praying to God.

    So the need for a mediator might be for ‘mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting… I will post a full rebuttal later. In it, I will argue that the only reasonable position in response to the God described by Bah??’u’ll??h is atheism. That is, confidence that such a God does not exist (though not certainty).

    By way of informal criticism, the thinking presented in this slide show is incredibly outdated. Of course, this is to be expected of a computer scientist with little or no study in actual philosophy who would assume for himself the task of establishing the existence of God and rationality of belief. The reasoning would have been impressive for thinkers of the 15th century… but today, not so much.

    Anyway, the above criticism is worthless if it is to stand place of an actual argument. I just wanted to mention how weak I and anyone with formal training in philosophy would find these arguments. That doesn’t mean much without an actual refutation, but my actual arguments will have to wait.

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    Very interesting… I will post a full rebuttal later. In it, I will argue that the only reasonable position in response to the God described by Bah??’u’ll??h is atheism. That is, confidence that such a God does not exist (though not certainty).

    By way of informal criticism, the thinking presented in this slide show is incredibly outdated. Of course, this is to be expected of a computer scientist with little or no study in actual philosophy who would assume for himself the task of establishing the existence of God and rationality of belief. The reasoning would have been impressive for thinkers of the 15th century… but today, not so much.

    Anyway, the above criticism is worthless if it is to stand place of an actual argument. I just wanted to mention how weak I and anyone with formal training in philosophy would find these arguments. That doesn’t mean much without an actual refutation, but my actual arguments will have to wait.

  • Anonymous

    Frank writes,[quote]So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.[/quote]Frank, your reasoning makes sense and it is much appreciated (although some less critical minds might accuse you of dwelling in “The Kingdom of Names”); but it seems to conflict with ‘Abdu’l-Bah??’s own reasoning (or, excursion in the “The Kingdom of Names”) as presented in the beginning of “Some Answered Questions.” Perhaps you are familiar with the part to which I refer.

    Abdu’l-Bah?? says in essence that the source of all of humanity’s knowledge is none other than the intermediary between us and God. In speaking about the Manifestation as a perfect educator of humanity, he says:[quote]If there were no educator, there would be no such things as comforts, civilization or humanity. If a man be left alone in a wilderness where he sees none of his own kind, he will undoubtedly become a mere brute; it is then clear that an educator is needed.[/quote]So it does seem a bit tricky to absolve us of servility specifically to Bah??’u’ll??h within the Bah??’? framework.

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    Frank writes,[quote]So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.[/quote]Frank, your reasoning makes sense and it is much appreciated (although some less critical minds might accuse you of dwelling in “The Kingdom of Names”); but it seems to conflict with ‘Abdu’l-Bah??’s own reasoning (or, excursion in the “The Kingdom of Names”) as presented in the beginning of “Some Answered Questions.” Perhaps you are familiar with the part to which I refer.

    Abdu’l-Bah?? says in essence that the source of all of humanity’s knowledge is none other than the intermediary between us and God. In speaking about the Manifestation as a perfect educator of humanity, he says:[quote]If there were no educator, there would be no such things as comforts, civilization or humanity. If a man be left alone in a wilderness where he sees none of his own kind, he will undoubtedly become a mere brute; it is then clear that an educator is needed.[/quote]So it does seem a bit tricky to absolve us of servility specifically to Bah??’u’ll??h within the Bah??’? framework.

  • Peter S.

    [quote comment="46857"]

    By way of informal criticism, the thinking presented in this slide show is incredibly outdated. Of course, this is to be expected of a computer scientist with little or no study in actual philosophy who would assume for himself the task of establishing the existence of God and rationality of belief. The reasoning would have been impressive for thinkers of the 15th century… but today, not so much.

    Anyway, the above criticism is worthless if it is to stand place of an actual argument. I just wanted to mention how weak I and anyone with formal training in philosophy would find these arguments. That doesn’t mean much without an actual refutation, but my actual arguments will have to wait.[/quote]

    Mavaddat,

    Hatcher was never a computer scientist. He was a professor of mathematics who published books and articles on mathematics, logic and philosophy. In any case, why do you assume he had “little or no study in actual philosophy”? Even if this were true, it is a logical fallacy which would seek to make redundant the accomplishments of anyone without the “formal training” you seem to believe is essential for making contributions to philosophy (or any other discipline? -e.g. Srinivasa Ramanujan’s work in pure mathematics?).

    For some information on Hatcher please refer to his wiki profile and some of his books

    I suggest that you read his “Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Baha’i Revelation” and “Logic and Logos: Essays on Science, Religion and Philosophy” before attempting a refutation of his arguments as these provide the necessary information you will require. The posted supplementary material is not an adequate substitute.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    [quote comment="46857"]

    By way of informal criticism, the thinking presented in this slide show is incredibly outdated. Of course, this is to be expected of a computer scientist with little or no study in actual philosophy who would assume for himself the task of establishing the existence of God and rationality of belief. The reasoning would have been impressive for thinkers of the 15th century… but today, not so much.

    Anyway, the above criticism is worthless if it is to stand place of an actual argument. I just wanted to mention how weak I and anyone with formal training in philosophy would find these arguments. That doesn’t mean much without an actual refutation, but my actual arguments will have to wait.[/quote]

    Mavaddat,

    Hatcher was never a computer scientist. He was a professor of mathematics who published books and articles on mathematics, logic and philosophy. In any case, why do you assume he had “little or no study in actual philosophy”? Even if this were true, it is a logical fallacy which would seek to make redundant the accomplishments of anyone without the “formal training” you seem to believe is essential for making contributions to philosophy (or any other discipline? -e.g. Srinivasa Ramanujan’s work in pure mathematics?).

    For some information on Hatcher please refer to his wiki profile and some of his books

    I suggest that you read his “Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Baha’i Revelation” and “Logic and Logos: Essays on Science, Religion and Philosophy” before attempting a refutation of his arguments as these provide the necessary information you will require. The posted supplementary material is not an adequate substitute.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    I would like to add that the emphasis on formal training, while clearly important, is characteristic of an outdated exclusivist academic perspective which ignores (and seeks to belittle) modern pioneering contributions from those who are trained in other disciplines.

    The mathematician John Nash was not an economist but his work had a seminal impact on economics which led to his sharing the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994. There are many other examples which could be cited. I don’t hear Islamic scholars complaining that Moojan Momen is a medical doctor with no formal training in history/Islamic studies and that his book on Shia Islam and many articles on Islam should therefore be dismissed.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    I would like to add that the emphasis on formal training, while clearly important, is characteristic of an outdated exclusivist academic perspective which ignores (and seeks to belittle) modern pioneering contributions from those who are trained in other disciplines.

    The mathematician John Nash was not an economist but his work had a seminal impact on economics which led to his sharing the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994. There are many other examples which could be cited. I don’t hear Islamic scholars complaining that Moojan Momen is a medical doctor with no formal training in history/Islamic studies and that his book on Shia Islam and many articles on Islam should therefore be dismissed.

    Peter

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “I would like to add that the emphasis on formal training, while clearly important, is characteristic of an outdated exclusivist academic perspective which ignores (and seeks to belittle) modern pioneering contributions from those who are trained in other disciplines.”

    If this is indeed the case, then upon what basis are contributions from those trained in other disciplines deemed to be pioneering? Who decides what is pioneering and relevant? In the absence of objective criteria (such as, for example, formal training and standards of practice), anything goes. If Hatcher’s arguments are fallacious by the current standards of formal philosophy, then they are fallacious indeed, and no amount of special pleading can change that.

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “I would like to add that the emphasis on formal training, while clearly important, is characteristic of an outdated exclusivist academic perspective which ignores (and seeks to belittle) modern pioneering contributions from those who are trained in other disciplines.”

    If this is indeed the case, then upon what basis are contributions from those trained in other disciplines deemed to be pioneering? Who decides what is pioneering and relevant? In the absence of objective criteria (such as, for example, formal training and standards of practice), anything goes. If Hatcher’s arguments are fallacious by the current standards of formal philosophy, then they are fallacious indeed, and no amount of special pleading can change that.

  • Peter S.

    Andrew wrote: “If this is indeed the case, then upon what basis are contributions from those trained in other disciplines deemed to be pioneering? Who decides what is pioneering and relevant? In the absence of objective criteria (such as, for example, formal training and standards of practice), anything goes.”

    I did say it was “clearly important” to be trained in a discipline (indeed, it is very important!) but emphasized that it is outdated and exclusivist to ignore contributions from anyone who hasn’t been formally trained in the narrow confines of that discipline. If a Nobel Prize and peer reviewed publications are not “objective criteria” then kindly tell me why they are not?

    In the case of the examples I cited (which you chose to ignore), anything does NOT go. Mathematician Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Clearly, eminent professional/academic economists decided “what is pioneering and relevant” about his mathematical work in relation to economics. Physician Momen’s book on Shia Islam has been highly acclaimed by Islamologists (e.g. the late Prof. Alessandro Bausani, Director of Islamic Studies of the University of Rome wrote in his review that it was “a major contribution”) and it is used at universities as an introductory text. Also, I do think Yale University Press tries to use “objective criteria” when deciding what is worthy of publication – An Introduction To Shi’i Islam.

    Momen’s articles on Islam have been published in peer reviewed academic journals. Are you suggesting the editors of these journals abandoned objectivity and adopted an “anything goes” approach to evaluating his work? Srinivasa Ramanujan’s amazing work in mathematics has resulted in his being considered one of the mathematical geniuses of the 20th century yet he lacked an education that would be considered essential by modern standards. Karen Armstrong is one of the foremost British authors (more than 20 books to date) and commentators on religion but her degree from Oxford is in English – not theology or history. There are many other examples. Incidentally, I am not implying that the scholarship and pioneering contributions of the aforementioned people are in the same category as to relevance or pioneering but they are the ones that popped into my mind and they have all produced outstanding work.

    Contrary to what you state, it is very easy to see that it isn’t a case of “special pleading” or “anything goes.” You cannot publish peer reviewed articles in academic journals, be awarded a Nobel Prize, have your books used by professors in university courses, etc. unless certain academic standards are met. Your reply greatly underestimates the ability and capacity of the human intellect to acquire and disseminate knowledge without passing through the confines of a specific program of study laid down for mastery of that discipline within a university academic program. Clearly, if someone’s work is regarded as pioneering and relevant by a sufficient number of scholars in a particular field that is a reasonable litmus test for considering it to be so. On the other hand, many who have followed the regular academic program (as very important as it is to do this) never produce pioneering or relevant work in their field.

    I suggest that you try reading Hatcher’s book before concluding that his “arguments are fallacious by the current standards of formal philosophy”. If you have read it, please let us know what you find fallacious? He passed away fairly recently (2005) and his book was published in 2003 so it is puzzling to me that you are quick to dismiss it as being out of step with “current standards”. One would think he had published the book in the first half of the last century by the way you argue! The following provides a very brief introduction to Hatcher’s book but is clearly not a substitute for reading it: http://news.bahai.org/story/226

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    Andrew wrote: “If this is indeed the case, then upon what basis are contributions from those trained in other disciplines deemed to be pioneering? Who decides what is pioneering and relevant? In the absence of objective criteria (such as, for example, formal training and standards of practice), anything goes.”

    I did say it was “clearly important” to be trained in a discipline (indeed, it is very important!) but emphasized that it is outdated and exclusivist to ignore contributions from anyone who hasn’t been formally trained in the narrow confines of that discipline. If a Nobel Prize and peer reviewed publications are not “objective criteria” then kindly tell me why they are not?

    In the case of the examples I cited (which you chose to ignore), anything does NOT go. Mathematician Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Clearly, eminent professional/academic economists decided “what is pioneering and relevant” about his mathematical work in relation to economics. Physician Momen’s book on Shia Islam has been highly acclaimed by Islamologists (e.g. the late Prof. Alessandro Bausani, Director of Islamic Studies of the University of Rome wrote in his review that it was “a major contribution”) and it is used at universities as an introductory text. Also, I do think Yale University Press tries to use “objective criteria” when deciding what is worthy of publication – An Introduction To Shi’i Islam.

    Momen’s articles on Islam have been published in peer reviewed academic journals. Are you suggesting the editors of these journals abandoned objectivity and adopted an “anything goes” approach to evaluating his work? Srinivasa Ramanujan’s amazing work in mathematics has resulted in his being considered one of the mathematical geniuses of the 20th century yet he lacked an education that would be considered essential by modern standards. Karen Armstrong is one of the foremost British authors (more than 20 books to date) and commentators on religion but her degree from Oxford is in English – not theology or history. There are many other examples. Incidentally, I am not implying that the scholarship and pioneering contributions of the aforementioned people are in the same category as to relevance or pioneering but they are the ones that popped into my mind and they have all produced outstanding work.

    Contrary to what you state, it is very easy to see that it isn’t a case of “special pleading” or “anything goes.” You cannot publish peer reviewed articles in academic journals, be awarded a Nobel Prize, have your books used by professors in university courses, etc. unless certain academic standards are met. Your reply greatly underestimates the ability and capacity of the human intellect to acquire and disseminate knowledge without passing through the confines of a specific program of study laid down for mastery of that discipline within a university academic program. Clearly, if someone’s work is regarded as pioneering and relevant by a sufficient number of scholars in a particular field that is a reasonable litmus test for considering it to be so. On the other hand, many who have followed the regular academic program (as very important as it is to do this) never produce pioneering or relevant work in their field.

    I suggest that you try reading Hatcher’s book before concluding that his “arguments are fallacious by the current standards of formal philosophy”. If you have read it, please let us know what you find fallacious? He passed away fairly recently (2005) and his book was published in 2003 so it is puzzling to me that you are quick to dismiss it as being out of step with “current standards”. One would think he had published the book in the first half of the last century by the way you argue! The following provides a very brief introduction to Hatcher’s book but is clearly not a substitute for reading it: http://news.bahai.org/story/226

    Peter

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “If a Nobel Prize and peer reviewed publications are not ‘objective criteria’ then kindly tell me why they are not?”

    Did I dispute this? No, I did not. However, these criteria are specific to Nash, not Hatcher.

    “Contrary to what you state, it is very easy to see that it isn’t a case of ‘special pleading’ or ‘anything goes.’

    It most certainly is special pleading if you are attempting to establish an equivalency between the Nobel Prize of Nash and the thinking presented in the slide show by Hatcher. As I stated, if his arguments are fallacious, then his arguments are fallacious. I will leave it to Mavaddat to write a rebuttal to his thinking.

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “If a Nobel Prize and peer reviewed publications are not ‘objective criteria’ then kindly tell me why they are not?”

    Did I dispute this? No, I did not. However, these criteria are specific to Nash, not Hatcher.

    “Contrary to what you state, it is very easy to see that it isn’t a case of ‘special pleading’ or ‘anything goes.’

    It most certainly is special pleading if you are attempting to establish an equivalency between the Nobel Prize of Nash and the thinking presented in the slide show by Hatcher. As I stated, if his arguments are fallacious, then his arguments are fallacious. I will leave it to Mavaddat to write a rebuttal to his thinking.

  • Peter S.

    p.s. Correction. Hatcher’s book was published in 2002 – not 2003. Of course, this has no effect on the discussion unless you are claiming that formal standards in philosophy have changed so dramatically in the last five years. If so, I would really like to know what those standards are! Indeed, philosophy students still have to follow a curriculum based on studying philosophers dating back to Aristotle and Plato. Hatcher is one of eight Platonist philosophers listed for the second half of the twentieth century in the Encyclopedie Philosophique Universelle.

  • Peter S.

    p.s. Correction. Hatcher’s book was published in 2002 – not 2003. Of course, this has no effect on the discussion unless you are claiming that formal standards in philosophy have changed so dramatically in the last five years. If so, I would really like to know what those standards are! Indeed, philosophy students still have to follow a curriculum based on studying philosophers dating back to Aristotle and Plato. Hatcher is one of eight Platonist philosophers listed for the second half of the twentieth century in the Encyclopedie Philosophique Universelle.

  • Peter S.

    Andrew,

    You really don’t read my posts – do you? I clearly stated that the slide show was not adequate and that Mavaddat needed to refer to Hatcher’s book to adequately understand and attempt to refute him. I would not rely on a slide show to understand and critique Dawkins The God Delusion. I think it would be necessary to read the book. I don’t agree with Dawkins but that is based on the book – not a slide show. It’s fascinating to see your knee jerk subjective reaction. You assume Mavaddat will be able to refute Hatcher’s arguments without having read the book yourself or without Mavaddat having read it.

    Secondly, in reply to Mavaddat’s exclusivist attempt to dismiss Hatcher it was necessary for me to raise the examples of others who have not been formally trained in a discipline but who have made relevant and pioneering contributions to it. Mavaddat was ignorantly calling Hatcher a computer scientist and seemed to know nothing about his publications in logic, philosophy and mathematics and well deserved reputation as a philosopher in being included in the Encyclopedie Philosophique Universelle.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    Andrew,

    You really don’t read my posts – do you? I clearly stated that the slide show was not adequate and that Mavaddat needed to refer to Hatcher’s book to adequately understand and attempt to refute him. I would not rely on a slide show to understand and critique Dawkins The God Delusion. I think it would be necessary to read the book. I don’t agree with Dawkins but that is based on the book – not a slide show. It’s fascinating to see your knee jerk subjective reaction. You assume Mavaddat will be able to refute Hatcher’s arguments without having read the book yourself or without Mavaddat having read it.

    Secondly, in reply to Mavaddat’s exclusivist attempt to dismiss Hatcher it was necessary for me to raise the examples of others who have not been formally trained in a discipline but who have made relevant and pioneering contributions to it. Mavaddat was ignorantly calling Hatcher a computer scientist and seemed to know nothing about his publications in logic, philosophy and mathematics and well deserved reputation as a philosopher in being included in the Encyclopedie Philosophique Universelle.

    Peter

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    Hello Mavaddat,

    You wrote:

    “Frank writes,

    So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.

    Frank, your reasoning makes sense and it is much appreciated (although some less critical minds might accuse you of dwelling in ?The Kingdom of Names?); but it seems to conflict with ?Abdu’l-Bah??’s own reasoning (or, excursion in the ?The Kingdom of Names?) as presented in the beginning of ?Some Answered Questions.? Perhaps you are familiar with the part to which I refer.

    Abdu’l-Bah?? says in essence that the source of all of humanity’s knowledge is none other than the intermediary between us and God. In speaking about the Manifestation as a perfect educator of humanity, he says:

    If there were no educator, there would be no such things as comforts, civilization or humanity. If a man be left alone in a wilderness where he sees none of his own kind, he will undoubtedly become a mere brute; it is then clear that an educator is needed.

    So it does seem a bit tricky to absolve us of servility specifically to Bah??’u’ll??h within the Bah??’? framework.”

    Thanks for the kind words and question you pose.

    I don’t think I’ve ever understood or believed what Abdul Baha says about the ‘educator.’ If educator means Manifestations of God like Christ and Moses I don’t see it period.

    While these figures are important in the history of civilization, they do not constitute all the leadership we’ve ever had — imo of course — unless Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson and Galileo where Manifestations of God. And of course they were and so am I and are you.

    So I don’t get it. Don’t understand the Bahai emphasis on Manaifestations — I like manifestations better.

    Peace,
    Frank

    P.S. Names are important as are symbols. The Maid of Heaven doesn’t exist as anything more than a name, for instance, but a very powerful one at that.

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    Hello Mavaddat,

    You wrote:

    “Frank writes,

    So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.

    Make sense or not? — Please tell me what you think.

    Frank, your reasoning makes sense and it is much appreciated (although some less critical minds might accuse you of dwelling in ?The Kingdom of Names?); but it seems to conflict with ?Abdu’l-Bah??’s own reasoning (or, excursion in the ?The Kingdom of Names?) as presented in the beginning of ?Some Answered Questions.? Perhaps you are familiar with the part to which I refer.

    Abdu’l-Bah?? says in essence that the source of all of humanity’s knowledge is none other than the intermediary between us and God. In speaking about the Manifestation as a perfect educator of humanity, he says:

    If there were no educator, there would be no such things as comforts, civilization or humanity. If a man be left alone in a wilderness where he sees none of his own kind, he will undoubtedly become a mere brute; it is then clear that an educator is needed.

    So it does seem a bit tricky to absolve us of servility specifically to Bah??’u’ll??h within the Bah??’? framework.”

    Thanks for the kind words and question you pose.

    I don’t think I’ve ever understood or believed what Abdul Baha says about the ‘educator.’ If educator means Manifestations of God like Christ and Moses I don’t see it period.

    While these figures are important in the history of civilization, they do not constitute all the leadership we’ve ever had — imo of course — unless Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson and Galileo where Manifestations of God. And of course they were and so am I and are you.

    So I don’t get it. Don’t understand the Bahai emphasis on Manaifestations — I like manifestations better.

    Peace,
    Frank

    P.S. Names are important as are symbols. The Maid of Heaven doesn’t exist as anything more than a name, for instance, but a very powerful one at that.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Peter, I think Mavaddat was referring to the author of the slides, not Hatcher.

    [quote comment="46884"]Mavaddat,

    Hatcher was never a computer scientist. He was a professor of mathematics who published books and articles on mathematics, logic and philosophy. [/quote]

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Peter, I think Mavaddat was referring to the author of the slides, not Hatcher.

    [quote comment="46884"]Mavaddat,

    Hatcher was never a computer scientist. He was a professor of mathematics who published books and articles on mathematics, logic and philosophy. [/quote]

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    Peter,

    You wrote, “I don’t hear Islamic scholars complaining that Moojan Momen is a medical doctor with no formal training in history/Islamic studies and that his book on Shia Islam and many articles on Islam should therefore be dismissed.”

    But you hear BAHA’I scholars complaining about that, don’t you? In addition to this being completely irrelevent to the point at hand, Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of somehow who has clout OUTSIDE of his field. Apologetics does not equal scholarship, and his recent paper in the journal Religion was not respectable from the social science stance he claimed to be taking.

    If simply being “peer reviewed,” equalled being RIGHT, how do you explain that peer reviewed papers DISAGREE with each other within a given field or a given JOURNAL on a regular basis? The actual content of an authors argument has to be what earns it respect and agreement, not whether or not that argument is published. Peer review is important, but it is not a guarantee of correctness.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    Peter,

    You wrote, “I don’t hear Islamic scholars complaining that Moojan Momen is a medical doctor with no formal training in history/Islamic studies and that his book on Shia Islam and many articles on Islam should therefore be dismissed.”

    But you hear BAHA’I scholars complaining about that, don’t you? In addition to this being completely irrelevent to the point at hand, Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of somehow who has clout OUTSIDE of his field. Apologetics does not equal scholarship, and his recent paper in the journal Religion was not respectable from the social science stance he claimed to be taking.

    If simply being “peer reviewed,” equalled being RIGHT, how do you explain that peer reviewed papers DISAGREE with each other within a given field or a given JOURNAL on a regular basis? The actual content of an authors argument has to be what earns it respect and agreement, not whether or not that argument is published. Peer review is important, but it is not a guarantee of correctness.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    “Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of somehow who has clout OUTSIDE of his field.”

    SHOULD have read:

    “Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of someone who has clout OUTSIDE of his field.”

    An informal, (not peer -reviewed!) inadvertent example of publication NOT equalling correctness on my part. :)

    Time for me to stop multi-tasking,
    Amanda

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    “Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of somehow who has clout OUTSIDE of his field.”

    SHOULD have read:

    “Moojan Momen is NOT a great example of someone who has clout OUTSIDE of his field.”

    An informal, (not peer -reviewed!) inadvertent example of publication NOT equalling correctness on my part. :)

    Time for me to stop multi-tasking,
    Amanda

  • Peter S.

    Baquia,

    Good point. It could be the author of the slides rather than Hatcher in which case mea culpa.

    Amanda,

    I don’t recall reading anything by Baha’i scholars complaining about Momen’s work on Shia Islam. Could your kindly direct me to a relevant link? His book has been highly praised and has become one of the standard texts on the subject and I’ve noticed it’s used in introductory courses on Shia Islam at quite a number of universities. As for his Religion article it would be a rare article by any scholar in any publication in any discipline that did not attract some sort of critique. That’s the world of scholarship as far as I know it.

    Your point re peer reviewed articles is well taken and I was thinking of it as I typed that response. I never introduced it to assert that a peer reviewed article is automatically correct. That would be a ridiculous assertion!

    I did introduce it to counter Mavaddat’s exclusivist position that seemed to me to be dismissive of someone with no formal training in philosophy and Andrew’s apparent support of that position. My sole point was that someone whose formal training is outside a discipline can produce work in that discipline which meets objective criteria such as peer review. As you correctly point out, peer reviewed authors disagree with each other all the time…that’s par for the course in scholarly exchanges.

    I also introduced the others like Nash and Armstrong, not to suggest by any means that Hatcher’s work was to be equated with theirs, but that these were very good examples of people who produced good quality work which had relevance and a pioneering impact on a discipline they were not formally trained in. You are a medical anthropologist (if I recall correctly?) but could probably write good quality academic articles on feminist issues if you put your mind to it.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    Baquia,

    Good point. It could be the author of the slides rather than Hatcher in which case mea culpa.

    Amanda,

    I don’t recall reading anything by Baha’i scholars complaining about Momen’s work on Shia Islam. Could your kindly direct me to a relevant link? His book has been highly praised and has become one of the standard texts on the subject and I’ve noticed it’s used in introductory courses on Shia Islam at quite a number of universities. As for his Religion article it would be a rare article by any scholar in any publication in any discipline that did not attract some sort of critique. That’s the world of scholarship as far as I know it.

    Your point re peer reviewed articles is well taken and I was thinking of it as I typed that response. I never introduced it to assert that a peer reviewed article is automatically correct. That would be a ridiculous assertion!

    I did introduce it to counter Mavaddat’s exclusivist position that seemed to me to be dismissive of someone with no formal training in philosophy and Andrew’s apparent support of that position. My sole point was that someone whose formal training is outside a discipline can produce work in that discipline which meets objective criteria such as peer review. As you correctly point out, peer reviewed authors disagree with each other all the time…that’s par for the course in scholarly exchanges.

    I also introduced the others like Nash and Armstrong, not to suggest by any means that Hatcher’s work was to be equated with theirs, but that these were very good examples of people who produced good quality work which had relevance and a pioneering impact on a discipline they were not formally trained in. You are a medical anthropologist (if I recall correctly?) but could probably write good quality academic articles on feminist issues if you put your mind to it.

    Peter

  • Anonymous

    Peter S. wrote,[quote]I suggest that you read his ?Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Baha’i Revelation? and ?Logic and Logos: Essays on Science, Religion and Philosophy? before attempting a refutation of his arguments as these provide the necessary information you will require. The posted supplementary material is not an adequate substitute.[/quote]Hi Peter. Thanks for your suggestion.

    It is rather curious, don’t you think, that after so much to-do about how it’s not necessary for an author to be familiar with the field he means to make contributions to, that you would then pose for me the same caveat?

    After all, my point was simply that Hooman Katirai (and Hatcher, now that you mention it) are so obviously unfamiliar (as I will show) with the history of philosophical criticism against their arguments from the acutest philosophical minds (David Hume, Immanuel Kant, F.C.S. Schiller, Bertrand Russell, W.V.O. Quine, et al). No? Don’t see the irony? Well, never mind then.

    I actually have read (and own) both the books you mentioned, in addition to Hatcher’s intermediary “Love, Power, and Justice” in which he rehashes Kantian ethics, calls it his own, and repeats the argument for God. Additionally, I have attended two lectures given by Dr. Hatcher, one at U of T (on the logical proof for the existence of God) and the other at the ABS conference in San Francisco (on “Minimalism”). Hatcher even signed both my copies of his books! ;-)

    I would also mention that I got to talk to him personally, but that doesn’t really count for much, since I was a Bah??’? at the time and so I was as unfamiliar with the problems of his argument as he seemed to be.

    Peter S. wrote,[quote]You assume Mavaddat will be able to refute Hatcher’s arguments without having read the book yourself or without Mavaddat having read it.[/quote]Oh, so much irony! I can hardly take it.

    Anyway, I hope you agree from the preceding that I am qualified at least to comment on Dr. Hatcher and Hooman Katirai’s work (although my ambitions lie deeper). But if you don’t agree, then I know a great argument about why it doesn’t matter. :-)

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    Peter S. wrote,[quote]I suggest that you read his ?Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Baha’i Revelation? and ?Logic and Logos: Essays on Science, Religion and Philosophy? before attempting a refutation of his arguments as these provide the necessary information you will require. The posted supplementary material is not an adequate substitute.[/quote]Hi Peter. Thanks for your suggestion.

    It is rather curious, don’t you think, that after so much to-do about how it’s not necessary for an author to be familiar with the field he means to make contributions to, that you would then pose for me the same caveat?

    After all, my point was simply that Hooman Katirai (and Hatcher, now that you mention it) are so obviously unfamiliar (as I will show) with the history of philosophical criticism against their arguments from the acutest philosophical minds (David Hume, Immanuel Kant, F.C.S. Schiller, Bertrand Russell, W.V.O. Quine, et al). No? Don’t see the irony? Well, never mind then.

    I actually have read (and own) both the books you mentioned, in addition to Hatcher’s intermediary “Love, Power, and Justice” in which he rehashes Kantian ethics, calls it his own, and repeats the argument for God. Additionally, I have attended two lectures given by Dr. Hatcher, one at U of T (on the logical proof for the existence of God) and the other at the ABS conference in San Francisco (on “Minimalism”). Hatcher even signed both my copies of his books! ;-)

    I would also mention that I got to talk to him personally, but that doesn’t really count for much, since I was a Bah??’? at the time and so I was as unfamiliar with the problems of his argument as he seemed to be.

    Peter S. wrote,[quote]You assume Mavaddat will be able to refute Hatcher’s arguments without having read the book yourself or without Mavaddat having read it.[/quote]Oh, so much irony! I can hardly take it.

    Anyway, I hope you agree from the preceding that I am qualified at least to comment on Dr. Hatcher and Hooman Katirai’s work (although my ambitions lie deeper). But if you don’t agree, then I know a great argument about why it doesn’t matter. :-)

  • Anonymous

    By the way, Peter, I just to clarify that I was talking about the author of the slide shows. But Hatcher is equally unqualified, really. Hatcher qualification was that he was older, so he had (potentially) thought about the questions more deeply, and he has more academic training. However, his training was not in the field of relevance (i.e., philosophy), and it is usually difficult to be critical of one’s own arguments without being familiar with the history of criticism that has already been had on the subject.

    In any case, I actually agree with your point (that a person’s qualifications are not a relevant ground for dismissing their arguments), but that wasn’t what I was trying to do. I wasn’t suggesting we should dismiss either Hatcher or Katirai based on their qualifications.

    Although to dismiss someone based on their lack of qualifications may be pragmatically necessary (if you have to wade through hundreds of papers to review), but it is considered a genetic fallacy otherwise.

    I raised the point merely as an aside to stir up our skeptical instincts. To alert us to be more critical and careful of what they are saying.

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    By the way, Peter, I just to clarify that I was talking about the author of the slide shows. But Hatcher is equally unqualified, really. Hatcher qualification was that he was older, so he had (potentially) thought about the questions more deeply, and he has more academic training. However, his training was not in the field of relevance (i.e., philosophy), and it is usually difficult to be critical of one’s own arguments without being familiar with the history of criticism that has already been had on the subject.

    In any case, I actually agree with your point (that a person’s qualifications are not a relevant ground for dismissing their arguments), but that wasn’t what I was trying to do. I wasn’t suggesting we should dismiss either Hatcher or Katirai based on their qualifications.

    Although to dismiss someone based on their lack of qualifications may be pragmatically necessary (if you have to wade through hundreds of papers to review), but it is considered a genetic fallacy otherwise.

    I raised the point merely as an aside to stir up our skeptical instincts. To alert us to be more critical and careful of what they are saying.

  • Peter S.

    Mavaddat wrote:

    “It is rather curious, don’t you think, that after so much to-do about how it’s not necessary for an author to be familiar with the field he means to make contributions to, that you would then pose for me the same caveat?”

    I wasn’t arguing so much re the need to be familiar with the discipline he/she’s contributing to as I was for the fact that contributions could be made to a field without formal training in it so we shouldn’t be exclusivist. I hope that distinction is clear.

    For example, although he was formally trained as a mathematician Nash did take one course in international economics which was a factor leading to his Ph.D research. Now one course doesn’t make you an economist anymore than one course makes you a philosopher but you can still acquire a great deal of relevant knowledge on your own to make a contribution to a field. So I would expect someone writing on philosophy without formal training to acquire enough knowledge through extensive reading (you mention Hatcher and Kantian ethics) just as I would expect you to read Hatcher’s books.

    Of course, there are exceptions to my argument as it can be much more difficult in some disciplines than in others (e.g. a historian writing about medical topics compared to a doctor writing on history). As I previously stated, it is very important to acquire formal training in a field as that is par for the course. Clearly, most important work in various fields is done by persons who have been trained in those fields.

    Great to know you have read Hatcher’s books and listened to his talks so you could certainly comment on his views from a knowledgeable perspective.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    Mavaddat wrote:

    “It is rather curious, don’t you think, that after so much to-do about how it’s not necessary for an author to be familiar with the field he means to make contributions to, that you would then pose for me the same caveat?”

    I wasn’t arguing so much re the need to be familiar with the discipline he/she’s contributing to as I was for the fact that contributions could be made to a field without formal training in it so we shouldn’t be exclusivist. I hope that distinction is clear.

    For example, although he was formally trained as a mathematician Nash did take one course in international economics which was a factor leading to his Ph.D research. Now one course doesn’t make you an economist anymore than one course makes you a philosopher but you can still acquire a great deal of relevant knowledge on your own to make a contribution to a field. So I would expect someone writing on philosophy without formal training to acquire enough knowledge through extensive reading (you mention Hatcher and Kantian ethics) just as I would expect you to read Hatcher’s books.

    Of course, there are exceptions to my argument as it can be much more difficult in some disciplines than in others (e.g. a historian writing about medical topics compared to a doctor writing on history). As I previously stated, it is very important to acquire formal training in a field as that is par for the course. Clearly, most important work in various fields is done by persons who have been trained in those fields.

    Great to know you have read Hatcher’s books and listened to his talks so you could certainly comment on his views from a knowledgeable perspective.

    Peter

  • Anonymous

    Peter, you wrote:[quote]I wasn’t arguing so much re the need to be familiar with the discipline he/she’s contributing to as I was for the fact that contributions could be made to a field without formal training in it so we shouldn’t be exclusivist.[/quote] Yes, it’s true that contributions could be made, but they are extremely rare.

    (Your mention of John Nash as an economist is actually a bad example, since economics is dependent on mathematics and game theory, so Nash could very well have been more qualified to make a contribution to economics than those trained in economic theory.)

    But Ramanujan is a good example. He sent his work to three academics at the University of Cambridge, but only one recognized that he had anything interesting to contribute. Do you know why? It’s because academics all literally inundated with papers from amateurs who think they have made some amazing contribution to the field, but are really just guilty of common fallacies that a formal training in the field would have alerted them to. Ramanujan is one in a million, just like the chances of winning the lottery. So I think it is as fair to argue that we should be skeptical of those unfamiliar with the field they mean to make contributions to as it would be to argue that we should be skeptical of winning the lottery.

    The fact that some people do win the lottery is not a reason to put our hopes in it, and the fact that some phenoms are able to make contributions to fields that they have no training in is also no reason to trust everyone who makes a superficially sound philosophical argument.

    Regarding exclusivism: You do realize that the Bah??’? position is as exclusivistic as mine, right? To assert that the God described by Bah??’u’ll??h does exist is as exclusive as to assert that such a God does not exist. In fact, any assertion of truth is always exclusionary of its negation. So why are you picking on me especially for my supposed exclusivism?

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    Peter, you wrote:[quote]I wasn’t arguing so much re the need to be familiar with the discipline he/she’s contributing to as I was for the fact that contributions could be made to a field without formal training in it so we shouldn’t be exclusivist.[/quote] Yes, it’s true that contributions could be made, but they are extremely rare.

    (Your mention of John Nash as an economist is actually a bad example, since economics is dependent on mathematics and game theory, so Nash could very well have been more qualified to make a contribution to economics than those trained in economic theory.)

    But Ramanujan is a good example. He sent his work to three academics at the University of Cambridge, but only one recognized that he had anything interesting to contribute. Do you know why? It’s because academics all literally inundated with papers from amateurs who think they have made some amazing contribution to the field, but are really just guilty of common fallacies that a formal training in the field would have alerted them to. Ramanujan is one in a million, just like the chances of winning the lottery. So I think it is as fair to argue that we should be skeptical of those unfamiliar with the field they mean to make contributions to as it would be to argue that we should be skeptical of winning the lottery.

    The fact that some people do win the lottery is not a reason to put our hopes in it, and the fact that some phenoms are able to make contributions to fields that they have no training in is also no reason to trust everyone who makes a superficially sound philosophical argument.

    Regarding exclusivism: You do realize that the Bah??’? position is as exclusivistic as mine, right? To assert that the God described by Bah??’u’ll??h does exist is as exclusive as to assert that such a God does not exist. In fact, any assertion of truth is always exclusionary of its negation. So why are you picking on me especially for my supposed exclusivism?

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “You really don’t read my posts – do you?”

    Did you write something?

  • Andrew

    Peter S. wrote:

    “You really don’t read my posts – do you?”

    Did you write something?

  • Grover

    Its kind of funny how you guys are getting stuck into each other rather than the article.

    Anyway, I didn’t find the logic in the presentation all that satisfactory, either because I’m incredibly stupid or whatever. I agree that everything has a cause, if you have a look at every single event on earth or in what we do, those events came about because of something else that occured beforehand. But to use that to imply that God is the cause of everything doesn’t wash. We used to invoke examples of mice mysteriously appearing in laundry, crocodiles spontanously appearing in the mud of the river Nile, and blowflies appearing on rotting corpses as examples of spontaneous creation, thus proving God’s existence. The only reason people went down that path at the time was because no one could explain what was really going on. Now we know better. Hatcher’s logic, to me, smacks of the same thing, invoking God because we or he doesn’t know any better. While I do believe in God, ultimately the belief is not something that can be justified by logic or evidence, at least not to everyone’s satisfaction. When you peel back all the logic and rationale, in the end it probably just boils down to a personal conviction that God does not or does exist. And that conviction may be purely due to upbringing, some personal experience, or personal preference.

  • Grover

    Its kind of funny how you guys are getting stuck into each other rather than the article.

    Anyway, I didn’t find the logic in the presentation all that satisfactory, either because I’m incredibly stupid or whatever. I agree that everything has a cause, if you have a look at every single event on earth or in what we do, those events came about because of something else that occured beforehand. But to use that to imply that God is the cause of everything doesn’t wash. We used to invoke examples of mice mysteriously appearing in laundry, crocodiles spontanously appearing in the mud of the river Nile, and blowflies appearing on rotting corpses as examples of spontaneous creation, thus proving God’s existence. The only reason people went down that path at the time was because no one could explain what was really going on. Now we know better. Hatcher’s logic, to me, smacks of the same thing, invoking God because we or he doesn’t know any better. While I do believe in God, ultimately the belief is not something that can be justified by logic or evidence, at least not to everyone’s satisfaction. When you peel back all the logic and rationale, in the end it probably just boils down to a personal conviction that God does not or does exist. And that conviction may be purely due to upbringing, some personal experience, or personal preference.

  • Peter S.

    Grover wrote: “Its kind of funny how you guys are getting stuck into each other rather than the article.”

    I have to admit you have a point. It’s good to be able to laugh at oneself so thanks for allowing me to do that :) I got sidetracked a bit too much there.

    Grover wrote: “While I do believe in God, ultimately the belief is not something that can be justified by logic or evidence, at least not to everyone’s satisfaction. When you peel back all the logic and rationale, in the end it probably just boils down to a personal conviction that God does not or does exist. And that conviction may be purely due to upbringing, some personal experience, or personal preference.”

    Some people believe you can prove or disprove God’s existence through logic and evidence but, as you say, this is often not to everyone’s satisfaction.

    I think you have made a very strong point re “some personal experience, or personal preference.” As Keith Ward puts it, in “God Chance and Necessity” (http://www.amazon.com/God-Chance-Necessity-Keith-Ward/dp/1851681167/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206952620&sr=8-1): “but, of course, really to believe in God is to have some experience of a being of transcendent power and value which is life-enhancing and value-transforming, and to trust the testimony of at least some of those who claim such experience to a pre-eminent degree.”

    Belief in a Supreme Being has been an intrinsic aspect of our existence as far back as recorded history and it’s something that is shared in different ways today by billions of people. Even in countries where people have been taught atheism for many decades (China, Russia, et al) so that one would expect them not to conform to your “upbringing” point, religion and belief in God has been resurgent.

    My belief in God is based on my personal experience when I discovered Baha’u’llah.

    Peter

  • Peter S.

    Grover wrote: “Its kind of funny how you guys are getting stuck into each other rather than the article.”

    I have to admit you have a point. It’s good to be able to laugh at oneself so thanks for allowing me to do that :) I got sidetracked a bit too much there.

    Grover wrote: “While I do believe in God, ultimately the belief is not something that can be justified by logic or evidence, at least not to everyone’s satisfaction. When you peel back all the logic and rationale, in the end it probably just boils down to a personal conviction that God does not or does exist. And that conviction may be purely due to upbringing, some personal experience, or personal preference.”

    Some people believe you can prove or disprove God’s existence through logic and evidence but, as you say, this is often not to everyone’s satisfaction.

    I think you have made a very strong point re “some personal experience, or personal preference.” As Keith Ward puts it, in “God Chance and Necessity” (http://www.amazon.com/God-Chance-Necessity-Keith-Ward/dp/1851681167/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206952620&sr=8-1): “but, of course, really to believe in God is to have some experience of a being of transcendent power and value which is life-enhancing and value-transforming, and to trust the testimony of at least some of those who claim such experience to a pre-eminent degree.”

    Belief in a Supreme Being has been an intrinsic aspect of our existence as far back as recorded history and it’s something that is shared in different ways today by billions of people. Even in countries where people have been taught atheism for many decades (China, Russia, et al) so that one would expect them not to conform to your “upbringing” point, religion and belief in God has been resurgent.

    My belief in God is based on my personal experience when I discovered Baha’u’llah.

    Peter

  • farhan

    Frank wrote:
    “So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.”

    Yes, Frank, I agree to a point.

    To me playing an instrument and playing in an orchestra, building a hut and building a sky scraper, fishing on a line and doing industrial fishing, having a kitchen garden and industrial agriculture, all mean having a maestro, an architect or a company so as to coordinate diverse efforts.

    Individual perfection and morality is essential, but not sufficient for collective enterprises.

    Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collectyive enterprises.

    My restriction comes in religious revelation we have the premices of the concept of God, and of our relations to the universe (knowledge), and the energy of love without which we cannnot submit to moral laws.

    Hence divine revelation provides indivudual AND collective means for organising society. The indirect action of the Holy Spirit through the Divine Manifestation being much more powerful that whatever we could gain directly. Simon the fisherman was transformed by the teachings of Christ, whereas he would have not become St Peter by himself.

    If you read French, I once did a study on this available under: La Science en Qu?te d’Ethique, la R?ponse Baha’ie, at http://www.bahai-biblio.org/biblio_doc_ouvrage_societe.htm

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Frank wrote:
    “So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.”

    Yes, Frank, I agree to a point.

    To me playing an instrument and playing in an orchestra, building a hut and building a sky scraper, fishing on a line and doing industrial fishing, having a kitchen garden and industrial agriculture, all mean having a maestro, an architect or a company so as to coordinate diverse efforts.

    Individual perfection and morality is essential, but not sufficient for collective enterprises.

    Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collectyive enterprises.

    My restriction comes in religious revelation we have the premices of the concept of God, and of our relations to the universe (knowledge), and the energy of love without which we cannnot submit to moral laws.

    Hence divine revelation provides indivudual AND collective means for organising society. The indirect action of the Holy Spirit through the Divine Manifestation being much more powerful that whatever we could gain directly. Simon the fisherman was transformed by the teachings of Christ, whereas he would have not become St Peter by himself.

    If you read French, I once did a study on this available under: La Science en Qu?te d’Ethique, la R?ponse Baha’ie, at http://www.bahai-biblio.org/biblio_doc_ouvrage_societe.htm

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank wrote:
    “So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.”

    Yes, Frank, I agree to a point.

    To me playing an instrument and playing in an orchestra, building a hut and building a sky scraper, fishing on a line and doing industrial fishing, having a kitchen garden and industrial agriculture, all mean having a maestro, an architect or a company so as to coordinate diverse efforts.

    Individual perfection and morality is essential, but not sufficient for collective enterprises.

    Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collectyive enterprises.

    My restriction comes in religious revelation we have the premices of the concept of God, and of our relations to the universe (knowledge), and the energy of love without which we cannnot submit to moral laws.

    Hence divine revelation provides indivudual AND collective means for organising society. The indirect action of the Holy Spirit through the Divine Manifestation being much more powerful that whatever we could gain directly. Simon the fisherman was transformed by the teachings of Christ, whereas he would have not become St Peter by himself.

    If you read French, I once did a study on this available under: La Science en Qu?te d’Ethique, la R?ponse Baha’ie, at http://www.bahai-biblio.org/biblio_doc_ouvrage_societe.htm/quote

    Many Thanks, Farhan.

    Your reply is helpful.

    Unfortunately I do not read French.

    You wrote: “Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collective enterprises.”

    I agree but weights and measures are man made or man derived, are they not? And I think so is religion in a similar way and for reasons consistent with your analogy.

    This does not mean we must reject religion, rather it indicates only that we can and should treat religion in a rational manner.

    Was Simon transformed by Christ’s teachings or his charisma? To ask another kind of question, is the bible story accurate or created along with the virgin birth and resurrection to attract converts once the charisma of Jesus was no longer available?

    I have difficulty with the notion of divine revelation, particularly if it must be perfect to qualify as such and if believers must agree that all revelation (all Baha’i revelation for example) is unquestionable and infallible.

    I think poetry and revelation probably have the same or similar source. There is bad poetry and good. Might not we say the same for divine revelation?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank wrote:
    “So the need for a mediator might be for ?mankind’ only but not for people — not for individuals, or not for all individuals.”

    Yes, Frank, I agree to a point.

    To me playing an instrument and playing in an orchestra, building a hut and building a sky scraper, fishing on a line and doing industrial fishing, having a kitchen garden and industrial agriculture, all mean having a maestro, an architect or a company so as to coordinate diverse efforts.

    Individual perfection and morality is essential, but not sufficient for collective enterprises.

    Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collectyive enterprises.

    My restriction comes in religious revelation we have the premices of the concept of God, and of our relations to the universe (knowledge), and the energy of love without which we cannnot submit to moral laws.

    Hence divine revelation provides indivudual AND collective means for organising society. The indirect action of the Holy Spirit through the Divine Manifestation being much more powerful that whatever we could gain directly. Simon the fisherman was transformed by the teachings of Christ, whereas he would have not become St Peter by himself.

    If you read French, I once did a study on this available under: La Science en Qu?te d’Ethique, la R?ponse Baha’ie, at http://www.bahai-biblio.org/biblio_doc_ouvrage_societe.htm/quote

    Many Thanks, Farhan.

    Your reply is helpful.

    Unfortunately I do not read French.

    You wrote: “Religion (religare: link together) provides moral standards, just like weights and measures, that a society can apply to collective enterprises.”

    I agree but weights and measures are man made or man derived, are they not? And I think so is religion in a similar way and for reasons consistent with your analogy.

    This does not mean we must reject religion, rather it indicates only that we can and should treat religion in a rational manner.

    Was Simon transformed by Christ’s teachings or his charisma? To ask another kind of question, is the bible story accurate or created along with the virgin birth and resurrection to attract converts once the charisma of Jesus was no longer available?

    I have difficulty with the notion of divine revelation, particularly if it must be perfect to qualify as such and if believers must agree that all revelation (all Baha’i revelation for example) is unquestionable and infallible.

    I think poetry and revelation probably have the same or similar source. There is bad poetry and good. Might not we say the same for divine revelation?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • farhan

    Frank, you wrote:
    “I agree but weights and measures are man made or man derived, are they not? And I think so is religion in a similar way and for reasons consistent with your analogy.”

    Very true, Frank, the idea is that to be accepted unhesitatingly, the “standard” should be accepted as supra-natural. The analogy with Genesis is that by acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, humans attempt to become peers and equals with God and they lose their paradise. A similar incident with Babel: when men want to attain the heights of Deity, then their languages differ.

    You write:
    “This does not mean we must reject religion, rather it indicates only that we can and should treat religion in a rational manner.”

    Yes, and at the same time, we have to accept the two as complementary and functionning in synergia. In short, we can say that the left brain is rationnal, treating information like a serial computer (logical reasonning), and the right brain is global, treating information in a parallel manner (affective knowledge). I gave an interesting link to a presentation on this earlier on.

    You ask :
    « Was Simon transformed by Christ’s teachings or his charisma? »

    I would say both love and knowledge.

    You ask :
    « To ask another kind of question, is the bible story accurate or created along with the virgin birth and resurrection to attract converts once the charisma of Jesus was no longer available? »

    I would say historical information is mixed with mysthical (spiritual) information ; Even if there was no historical fact (which I doubt strongly), the persons who invented such a story that 2000 years later inspire love and service to more than a billion humans accomplished a miracle.

    « I think poetry and revelation probably have the same or similar source. »

    There is a book by Hatcher on « The Divine art of Revelation » which is close to your point.

    Warmest

    Farhan

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Frank, you wrote:
    “I agree but weights and measures are man made or man derived, are they not? And I think so is religion in a similar way and for reasons consistent with your analogy.”

    Very true, Frank, the idea is that to be accepted unhesitatingly, the “standard” should be accepted as supra-natural. The analogy with Genesis is that by acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, humans attempt to become peers and equals with God and they lose their paradise. A similar incident with Babel: when men want to attain the heights of Deity, then their languages differ.

    You write:
    “This does not mean we must reject religion, rather it indicates only that we can and should treat religion in a rational manner.”

    Yes, and at the same time, we have to accept the two as complementary and functionning in synergia. In short, we can say that the left brain is rationnal, treating information like a serial computer (logical reasonning), and the right brain is global, treating information in a parallel manner (affective knowledge). I gave an interesting link to a presentation on this earlier on.

    You ask :
    « Was Simon transformed by Christ’s teachings or his charisma? »

    I would say both love and knowledge.

    You ask :
    « To ask another kind of question, is the bible story accurate or created along with the virgin birth and resurrection to attract converts once the charisma of Jesus was no longer available? »

    I would say historical information is mixed with mysthical (spiritual) information ; Even if there was no historical fact (which I doubt strongly), the persons who invented such a story that 2000 years later inspire love and service to more than a billion humans accomplished a miracle.

    « I think poetry and revelation probably have the same or similar source. »

    There is a book by Hatcher on « The Divine art of Revelation » which is close to your point.

    Warmest

    Farhan

  • farhan

    Frank,

    I am sure you will enjoy this extraordinary talk on our relational lives and the functions of the left brain in logical thoughts and the right brain in our relational lives and global views.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

    As time goes by, IQ has been enriched with AQ (affective quotient, and now with SQ, which is the “spiritual quotient”, ie our ability to introduce relationnal concepts in our mind and actions. This would be our capacity to develop our right brain.

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Frank,

    I am sure you will enjoy this extraordinary talk on our relational lives and the functions of the left brain in logical thoughts and the right brain in our relational lives and global views.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

    As time goes by, IQ has been enriched with AQ (affective quotient, and now with SQ, which is the “spiritual quotient”, ie our ability to introduce relationnal concepts in our mind and actions. This would be our capacity to develop our right brain.

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank,

    I am sure you will enjoy this extraordinary talk on our relational lives and the functions of the left brain in logical thoughts and the right brain in our relational lives and global views.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

    As time goes by, IQ has been enriched with AQ (affective quotient, and now with SQ, which is the “spiritual quotient”, ie our ability to introduce relationnal concepts in our mind and actions. This would be our capacity to develop our right brain.[/quote]

    Thanks Farhan, I did enjoy the talk. Brain research is expanding the horizons of human potential or at least helping us to understand what that is.

    Joseph Chilton Pearce, in his book “The Biology of Transcendence” ties the heart into brain function brilliantly I think.

    Logic not only has its limitations but untempered by the right brain and the heart it leads to totalitarianism, to rule by computer.

    The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.

    Thanks for the link and your correspondence,
    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank,

    I am sure you will enjoy this extraordinary talk on our relational lives and the functions of the left brain in logical thoughts and the right brain in our relational lives and global views.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

    As time goes by, IQ has been enriched with AQ (affective quotient, and now with SQ, which is the “spiritual quotient”, ie our ability to introduce relationnal concepts in our mind and actions. This would be our capacity to develop our right brain.[/quote]

    Thanks Farhan, I did enjoy the talk. Brain research is expanding the horizons of human potential or at least helping us to understand what that is.

    Joseph Chilton Pearce, in his book “The Biology of Transcendence” ties the heart into brain function brilliantly I think.

    Logic not only has its limitations but untempered by the right brain and the heart it leads to totalitarianism, to rule by computer.

    The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.

    Thanks for the link and your correspondence,
    Peace,
    Frank

  • farhan

    Frank wrote:
    “The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.”

    Thanks Frank, for this glass of clear water; the logic of Baha’is is not their salvation, but that of life on this planet.

    For 2000 years the Christians have prayed “thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”

    If God exists as I believe he does, if He is just, as I believe He is, would He leave that prayer unanswered?
    My bet is that He will answer it.

    Christ did not teach us to pray “MY will be done..” but “THY will be done.”

    As Lewis Mumford wrote, the God that will save us will arise again in the human hearts and not descend “ex-machina” from the machinery of our minds.

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Frank wrote:
    “The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.”

    Thanks Frank, for this glass of clear water; the logic of Baha’is is not their salvation, but that of life on this planet.

    For 2000 years the Christians have prayed “thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”

    If God exists as I believe he does, if He is just, as I believe He is, would He leave that prayer unanswered?
    My bet is that He will answer it.

    Christ did not teach us to pray “MY will be done..” but “THY will be done.”

    As Lewis Mumford wrote, the God that will save us will arise again in the human hearts and not descend “ex-machina” from the machinery of our minds.

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank wrote:
    “The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.”

    Thanks Frank, for this glass of clear water; the logic of Baha’is is not their salvation, but that of life on this planet.

    For 2000 years the Christians have prayed “thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”

    If God exists as I believe he does, if He is just, as I believe He is, would He leave that prayer unanswered?
    My bet is that He will answer it.

    Christ did not teach us to pray “MY will be done..” but “THY will be done.”

    As Lewis Mumford wrote, the God that will save us will arise again in the human hearts and not descend “ex-machina” from the machinery of our minds.[/quote]

    Farhan, I’ve come to realize that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t refer to the future. Rather it refers to the present time whenever it is recited. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is happening now. “The kingdom of God is within you.”

    When we think of the eternal, temporal matters fade into the background and disappear. Praying for Thy kingdom come is the same as the search for enlightenment.

    God exists within each of us, that is where we must search.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    [quote comment=""]Frank wrote:
    “The logic of Baha’i is weaker than the compassion of Baha’i and that may well be its salvation.”

    Thanks Frank, for this glass of clear water; the logic of Baha’is is not their salvation, but that of life on this planet.

    For 2000 years the Christians have prayed “thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”

    If God exists as I believe he does, if He is just, as I believe He is, would He leave that prayer unanswered?
    My bet is that He will answer it.

    Christ did not teach us to pray “MY will be done..” but “THY will be done.”

    As Lewis Mumford wrote, the God that will save us will arise again in the human hearts and not descend “ex-machina” from the machinery of our minds.[/quote]

    Farhan, I’ve come to realize that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t refer to the future. Rather it refers to the present time whenever it is recited. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is happening now. “The kingdom of God is within you.”

    When we think of the eternal, temporal matters fade into the background and disappear. Praying for Thy kingdom come is the same as the search for enlightenment.

    God exists within each of us, that is where we must search.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • farhan

    Frank,you write:

    “I’ve come to realize that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t refer to the future. Rather it refers to the present time whenever it is recited. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is happening now. “The kingdom of God is within you.”

    Yes, Frank, we have to be “born again”, with spiritual lives, into the “spiritual kingdom”, as we were first born from the womb, but once we have been re-born as beings endowed with spiritual lives, that kingdom of love which is reflected in our hearts must then become instated into the material world, as it has become instated in our hearts.

    That is the tricky part: establishing a kingdom of God “in earth” once it has been first established in the heaven of our ideals. This is what the Baha’i teachings promise for today, the next step, with the moral laws acquired for our personal development being applied in our collective lives on a planetary level.

    warmest

    Farhan

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Frank,you write:

    “I’ve come to realize that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t refer to the future. Rather it refers to the present time whenever it is recited. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is happening now. “The kingdom of God is within you.”

    Yes, Frank, we have to be “born again”, with spiritual lives, into the “spiritual kingdom”, as we were first born from the womb, but once we have been re-born as beings endowed with spiritual lives, that kingdom of love which is reflected in our hearts must then become instated into the material world, as it has become instated in our hearts.

    That is the tricky part: establishing a kingdom of God “in earth” once it has been first established in the heaven of our ideals. This is what the Baha’i teachings promise for today, the next step, with the moral laws acquired for our personal development being applied in our collective lives on a planetary level.

    warmest

    Farhan

  • ep

    Farhan & all,

    compassion (etc.) existed long before a formal concept of “god”, or “goddess”, or “gods” or “godesses” existed.

    Integral Theory explains the “AQAL” matrix (“the good, the beautoful and the true”) in a way that is far better (clearer) and less mired in obscure, inpenetrable premodern tradition than bahai scripture.

    Jean Gebser’s concept of “paradigm regression” is of far greater importance than all of the absurd, confused, convoluted, backward metaphysics contained in bahai scripture.

    really, all this “god exists” junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.

    as I’ve said a number of times, prophetology is a ridiculous scam, as is infallibility.

    at some point people start to wonder about why the bahai faith “went bad” (became fundamentalist,totalitarian, anti-modernist, etc.), and the trail of discovery will inevitably take them to the discredited metaphysics and shia traditions that bahai thought emerged from.

    evolution carries all human history forward like a wave, including the so called “prophets” and “manifestations”.

    the “prophets” and “manifestations don’t create social change, they following EXISTING, underlying evolutionary trends, and to some extent, crystalize them for people that are looking for convenient a vessel to contain and actualize newly “emergent” political, social, economic and military realities.

    “prophetology”, with its elaborate archetypal structures, was useful for an immature stage of human evolution before neuroscience came into being, it is now a hindrance.

    discussing the “existence of god” in traditional categories is a futile and pointless exercise, especially in a postmodern/integral age.

    there are an ever increasing number of fascinating “new age” movements that are far better at providing “feel good” spirituality, and do not impose the horrible conformist burdens of the bahai faith and its cultural “shia gravity well”.

    again, the real issue is why bahai culture and organization is so mired in petty internal power struggles, and narrow-minded, fascistic thought policing and fundamentalism.

    Eric P.
    (exbahai)
    Sacramento

  • ep

    Farhan & all,

    compassion (etc.) existed long before a formal concept of “god”, or “goddess”, or “gods” or “godesses” existed.

    Integral Theory explains the “AQAL” matrix (“the good, the beautoful and the true”) in a way that is far better (clearer) and less mired in obscure, inpenetrable premodern tradition than bahai scripture.

    Jean Gebser’s concept of “paradigm regression” is of far greater importance than all of the absurd, confused, convoluted, backward metaphysics contained in bahai scripture.

    really, all this “god exists” junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.

    as I’ve said a number of times, prophetology is a ridiculous scam, as is infallibility.

    at some point people start to wonder about why the bahai faith “went bad” (became fundamentalist,totalitarian, anti-modernist, etc.), and the trail of discovery will inevitably take them to the discredited metaphysics and shia traditions that bahai thought emerged from.

    evolution carries all human history forward like a wave, including the so called “prophets” and “manifestations”.

    the “prophets” and “manifestations don’t create social change, they following EXISTING, underlying evolutionary trends, and to some extent, crystalize them for people that are looking for convenient a vessel to contain and actualize newly “emergent” political, social, economic and military realities.

    “prophetology”, with its elaborate archetypal structures, was useful for an immature stage of human evolution before neuroscience came into being, it is now a hindrance.

    discussing the “existence of god” in traditional categories is a futile and pointless exercise, especially in a postmodern/integral age.

    there are an ever increasing number of fascinating “new age” movements that are far better at providing “feel good” spirituality, and do not impose the horrible conformist burdens of the bahai faith and its cultural “shia gravity well”.

    again, the real issue is why bahai culture and organization is so mired in petty internal power struggles, and narrow-minded, fascistic thought policing and fundamentalism.

    Eric P.
    (exbahai)
    Sacramento

  • ep

    more on why prophetology (in traditional categories) is a vicious and cruel hoax on humanity:

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2059

    excerpt:

    Shambhala Sun | September 1996

    The Kosmos According to Ken Wilber

    A Dialogue with Robin Kornman

    How does one classify Ken Wilbur? Philosopher, psychologist, contemplative, author, avid consumer of popular culture, Wilber is one of our era’s grand synthecists, integrating many levels of knowledge from the most concrete to the most etheral into a great unified view of the living universe. The reclusive thinker granted the Shambhala Sun a rare opportunity to discuss his ideas, and entered into the following dialogue via fax machine with Robin Kornman, Buddhist scholar and the Bradley assistant professor of world literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

    [start at the following section]


    [a] In other words, a judicious blend of Eastern contemplative approaches with Western psychodynamic approaches is an interesting and I think healthy way to proceed. And if you want a more comprehensive world view, including both absolute and relative truths, then certainly there are numerous items that the West will bring to the feast. Any of those approaches taken by themselves is demonstrably partial by comparison.

    Incidentally, if you’re put off by all this you don’t have to come. But everybody has an invitation to this dance, I think. It’s a real Shambhala Ball. Seriously. Chogyam Trungpa’s Shambhala vision, as I understand it, was a secular and integral weaving of the dharma into the vast cultural currents in which it finds itself. A Brief History of Everything outlines many of those currents and suggests one way that the dharma can enrich-and be enriched by-those currents. This is very simple, I think.

    [q] Fair enough. What I would like to do now is to ask a few very technical questions. One of the most confusing things about being a practitioner of Asian mystical traditions is the fact that before the Enlightenment the West had a thousand year tradition of civilization based on a highly mystical religion, Christianity. And yet in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality you characterize this thousand year period as one that promised but did not deliver genuine transcendence. Why do you say that? How could a whole civilization miss the point for so long when it had expressions of the idea in Plato, the Corpus Hermeticum, Neoplatonism, mystical Christianity, and so on?

    Imagine if, the very day Buddha attained his enlightenment, he was taken out and hanged precisely because of his realization. and if any of his followers claimed to have the same realization, they were also hanged. Speaking for myself, I would find this something of a disincentive to practice.

    But that’s exactly what happened with Jesus of Nazareth. “Why do you stone me?” he asks at one point. “Is it for good deeds?” And the crowd responds, “No, it is because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” The individual Atman is not allowed to realize that it is one with Brahman. “I and my Father are One”-among other complicated factors that realization got this gentleman crucified.
    The reasons for this are involved, but the fact remains: as soon as any spiritual practitioner began to get too close to the realization that Atman and Brahman are one-that one’s own mind is intrinsically one with primordial Spirit-then frighteningly severe repercussions usually followed.

    Of course there were wonderful currents of Neoplatonic and other very high teachings operating in the background (and underground) in the West, but wherever the Church had political influence-and it dominated the Western scene for a thousand years-if you stepped over that line between Atman and Brahman, you were in very dangerous waters. St. John of the Cross and his friend St. Teresa of Avila stepped over the line, but couched their journeys in such careful and pious language they pulled it off, barely. Meister Eckhart stepped over the line, a little too boldly, and had his teachings officially condemned, which meant he wouldn’t fry in hell but his words apparently would. Giordano Bruno stepped way over the line, and was burned at the stake. This is a typical pattern.

    [q] You say the reasons are complicated, and I’m sure they are, but could you briefly mention a few?

    Because, you know, the unsettling thing about direct mystical experience is that it has a nasty habit of going straight from Spirit to you, thus bypassing the middleman, namely, the bishop, not to mention the middleman’s collection plate. This is the same reason the oil companies do not like solar power, if you get my drift.

    And so, anybody who had a direct pipeline to God was thus pronounced guilty not only of religious heresy, or the violation of the legal codes of the Church, for which you could have your heavenly soul eternally damned, but also of political treason, for which you could have your earthly body separated into several sections.

    For all these reasons, the summum bonum of spiritual awareness-the supreme identity of Atman and Brahman, or ordinary mind and intrinsic spirit-was officially taboo in the West for a thousand years, more or less. All the wonderful currents that you mention, from Neoplatonism to Hermeticism, were definitely present but severely marginalized, to put it mildly. And thus the West produced an extraordinary number of subtle-level (or sambhogakaya) mystics, who only claimed that the soul and God can share a union; but very few causal (dharmakaya) and very few nondual (svabhavikakaya) mystics, who went further and claimed not just a union but a supreme identity of soul and God in pure Godhead, just that claim got you toasted.

    —previous—

    compassion (etc.) existed long before a formal concept of “god”, or “goddess”, or “gods” or “godesses” existed.

    Integral Theory explains the “AQAL” matrix (“the good, the beautiful and the true”) in a way that is far better (clearer) and less mired in obscure, inpenetrable premodern tradition than bahai scripture.

    Jean Gebser’s concept of “paradigm regression” is of far greater importance than all of the absurd, confused, convoluted, backward metaphysics contained in bahai scripture.

    really, all this “god exists” junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.

  • ep

    more on why prophetology (in traditional categories) is a vicious and cruel hoax on humanity:

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2059

    excerpt:

    Shambhala Sun | September 1996

    The Kosmos According to Ken Wilber

    A Dialogue with Robin Kornman

    How does one classify Ken Wilbur? Philosopher, psychologist, contemplative, author, avid consumer of popular culture, Wilber is one of our era’s grand synthecists, integrating many levels of knowledge from the most concrete to the most etheral into a great unified view of the living universe. The reclusive thinker granted the Shambhala Sun a rare opportunity to discuss his ideas, and entered into the following dialogue via fax machine with Robin Kornman, Buddhist scholar and the Bradley assistant professor of world literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

    [start at the following section]


    [a] In other words, a judicious blend of Eastern contemplative approaches with Western psychodynamic approaches is an interesting and I think healthy way to proceed. And if you want a more comprehensive world view, including both absolute and relative truths, then certainly there are numerous items that the West will bring to the feast. Any of those approaches taken by themselves is demonstrably partial by comparison.

    Incidentally, if you’re put off by all this you don’t have to come. But everybody has an invitation to this dance, I think. It’s a real Shambhala Ball. Seriously. Chogyam Trungpa’s Shambhala vision, as I understand it, was a secular and integral weaving of the dharma into the vast cultural currents in which it finds itself. A Brief History of Everything outlines many of those currents and suggests one way that the dharma can enrich-and be enriched by-those currents. This is very simple, I think.

    [q] Fair enough. What I would like to do now is to ask a few very technical questions. One of the most confusing things about being a practitioner of Asian mystical traditions is the fact that before the Enlightenment the West had a thousand year tradition of civilization based on a highly mystical religion, Christianity. And yet in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality you characterize this thousand year period as one that promised but did not deliver genuine transcendence. Why do you say that? How could a whole civilization miss the point for so long when it had expressions of the idea in Plato, the Corpus Hermeticum, Neoplatonism, mystical Christianity, and so on?

    Imagine if, the very day Buddha attained his enlightenment, he was taken out and hanged precisely because of his realization. and if any of his followers claimed to have the same realization, they were also hanged. Speaking for myself, I would find this something of a disincentive to practice.

    But that’s exactly what happened with Jesus of Nazareth. “Why do you stone me?” he asks at one point. “Is it for good deeds?” And the crowd responds, “No, it is because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” The individual Atman is not allowed to realize that it is one with Brahman. “I and my Father are One”-among other complicated factors that realization got this gentleman crucified.
    The reasons for this are involved, but the fact remains: as soon as any spiritual practitioner began to get too close to the realization that Atman and Brahman are one-that one’s own mind is intrinsically one with primordial Spirit-then frighteningly severe repercussions usually followed.

    Of course there were wonderful currents of Neoplatonic and other very high teachings operating in the background (and underground) in the West, but wherever the Church had political influence-and it dominated the Western scene for a thousand years-if you stepped over that line between Atman and Brahman, you were in very dangerous waters. St. John of the Cross and his friend St. Teresa of Avila stepped over the line, but couched their journeys in such careful and pious language they pulled it off, barely. Meister Eckhart stepped over the line, a little too boldly, and had his teachings officially condemned, which meant he wouldn’t fry in hell but his words apparently would. Giordano Bruno stepped way over the line, and was burned at the stake. This is a typical pattern.

    [q] You say the reasons are complicated, and I’m sure they are, but could you briefly mention a few?

    Because, you know, the unsettling thing about direct mystical experience is that it has a nasty habit of going straight from Spirit to you, thus bypassing the middleman, namely, the bishop, not to mention the middleman’s collection plate. This is the same reason the oil companies do not like solar power, if you get my drift.

    And so, anybody who had a direct pipeline to God was thus pronounced guilty not only of religious heresy, or the violation of the legal codes of the Church, for which you could have your heavenly soul eternally damned, but also of political treason, for which you could have your earthly body separated into several sections.

    For all these reasons, the summum bonum of spiritual awareness-the supreme identity of Atman and Brahman, or ordinary mind and intrinsic spirit-was officially taboo in the West for a thousand years, more or less. All the wonderful currents that you mention, from Neoplatonism to Hermeticism, were definitely present but severely marginalized, to put it mildly. And thus the West produced an extraordinary number of subtle-level (or sambhogakaya) mystics, who only claimed that the soul and God can share a union; but very few causal (dharmakaya) and very few nondual (svabhavikakaya) mystics, who went further and claimed not just a union but a supreme identity of soul and God in pure Godhead, just that claim got you toasted.

    —previous—

    compassion (etc.) existed long before a formal concept of “god”, or “goddess”, or “gods” or “godesses” existed.

    Integral Theory explains the “AQAL” matrix (“the good, the beautiful and the true”) in a way that is far better (clearer) and less mired in obscure, inpenetrable premodern tradition than bahai scripture.

    Jean Gebser’s concept of “paradigm regression” is of far greater importance than all of the absurd, confused, convoluted, backward metaphysics contained in bahai scripture.

    really, all this “god exists” junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.

  • Andrew

    “Really, all this ?god exists? junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.”

    You might be interested in this:

    http://thetyee.ca/Books/2008/05/02/JesusSayings/

    On what Jesus would say about religion today:

    “He would not recognize Christianity because he wasn’t a Christian and he never claimed he was a messiah. The ‘Christ’ story was introduced by Paul, not by Jesus. The idea that ‘faith’ in a messiah could land one in heaven came from Paul and later church doctrine writers, not from Jesus. The letter-writer Paul, never knew Jesus, tells almost nothing about him, and created his own new religion. This Paulist religion was later linked to Jesus by church writers.

    “The Messiah, or ‘anointed one,’ in Judaism was a title given to Jewish kings such as David, who might end the oppression of foreign kings and establish a kingdom for ‘God’s people.’ The Persians believed in a similar idea. Jesus does not claim to be such a person, and he encourages his listeners to seek spiritual resources within themselves, not to wait around for a deity to solve their problems.”

    “Man’s greatest tragedy is that he can conceive of a perfection which he cannot attain.” (Lord Byron [The term "United Nations" first appears in stanza 35 of Canto III of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; the concept of a peaceful community of nations had previously been described in Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795).])

  • Andrew

    “Really, all this ?god exists? junk simply boils down to various archaic taxonomies of univeral archetypes that rest on discredited, irrelevant metaphysics that have no power to inspire humanity anymore.”

    You might be interested in this:

    http://thetyee.ca/Books/2008/05/02/JesusSayings/

    On what Jesus would say about religion today:

    “He would not recognize Christianity because he wasn’t a Christian and he never claimed he was a messiah. The ‘Christ’ story was introduced by Paul, not by Jesus. The idea that ‘faith’ in a messiah could land one in heaven came from Paul and later church doctrine writers, not from Jesus. The letter-writer Paul, never knew Jesus, tells almost nothing about him, and created his own new religion. This Paulist religion was later linked to Jesus by church writers.

    “The Messiah, or ‘anointed one,’ in Judaism was a title given to Jewish kings such as David, who might end the oppression of foreign kings and establish a kingdom for ‘God’s people.’ The Persians believed in a similar idea. Jesus does not claim to be such a person, and he encourages his listeners to seek spiritual resources within themselves, not to wait around for a deity to solve their problems.”

    “Man’s greatest tragedy is that he can conceive of a perfection which he cannot attain.” (Lord Byron [The term "United Nations" first appears in stanza 35 of Canto III of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; the concept of a peaceful community of nations had previously been described in Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795).])