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Posts Tagged ‘god’

Below is an excerpt from the website of Tony Abaya, a well known author here in the Philippines on “Divine Intervention”

http://acabaya.blogspot.com/search/label/Divine%20intervention

And our neighbors overtook us without pleading for divine intervention. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, as well as Thailand and the large (28%) ethnic Chinese population of Malaysiaare predominantly Buddhist. So are Old Tiger Japan, New Tiger China, and Baby Tiger Vietnam.

Buddhists do not believe in a personal God who intervenes in the affairs of men and women. What they have is a personal philosophy, an ethical way of life, that says that their station in the next life depends on how they live the present life.

Those who live their present life honorably, through hard work, good deeds and meditation, have a good karma and will re-incarnate to a higher level in the next life. Conversely, those who live a dishonorable life in the here and now have a bad karma and will re-incarnate to a lower life form – a donkey, a frog, a snake – in the next life.

It does not mean that there are no deviants, criminals, evil-doers etc among Buddhists. Far from it. But it does mean that the motivation to live an honorable life is internally

generated and internally directed because Buddhists do not depend on an external personal God to reward them when they do good, or to punish them when they do evil.

At a higher metaphysical plane, Buddhism and Christianity do converge, as in the case of the Catholic intellectual Thomas Merton. But on the level of the average believer, Christians – especially Roman Catholics of the Hispanic variety, of which we Filipinos are a subset – do have a marked dependence on an external personal God, whom we constantly implore to intervene in our affairs. Such dependence cannot but dull the ability, even the readiness, to solve human problems using human resources and human ingenuity. *****

Some people believe that religiosity makes people more moral than unreligious people, now that is a different story. What Tony Abaya seems to state here is that in some cases, religiosity makes economic prosperity take a back seat due to “a marked dependence on an external personal God”.

We may never know why a lot of secular nations, some unreligious and others even atheistic are more prosperous than a lot of religious countries. Right now, one of the only countries bucking the trend is the United States which is both first world and religious. But again in the middle of its financial crisis the worst may yet come.

Check out this image from a recent gallup poll on religious fervor between nations:

gallup-religion

Religiosity may not be bad, but I feel overly dependence on God for things which man can do himself is detrimental to one’s economic situation. Tony Abaya states in a concise manner:

But on the level of the average believer, Christians – especially Roman Catholics of the Hispanic variety, of which we Filipinos are a subset – do have a marked dependence on an external personal God, whom we constantly implore to intervene in our affairs. Such dependence cannot but dull the ability, even the readiness, to solve human problems using human resources and human ingenuity. *****

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Remember how we discussed how the God vs. Science debate seems to be simply a question of convenience (albeit psychological) rather than a question of truth? Well, recently blogger Star Larvae had an interesting email exchange that highlighted this:

People I encounter who have an interest in speculative cosmology, or whatever we might call our endeavor, tend toward extremes of scientific rigidity or New Age wooliness. At least, that is my observation. I try to keep my thoughts on these matters somewhere in the middle. The scientific types tend to be preoccupied with establishing scientific credentials for their ideas. While I have bolstered my speculations with scientific references, where I am able, I have grown less concerned with receiving blessings from science. My project is philosophical, theological, political, psychological and has many other dimensions, including the scientific. I don’t feel a compunction to position all other dimensions subordinate to the scientific. I think that humankind can be served by conceptual breakthroughs in philosophy, theology, etc., as much as by breakthroughs in science. (Of course science has a certain privileged veto power, and if any idea I propose is scientifically disproven, I will have to abandon or reformulate that idea.)

The context of this exchange was that Star Larvae was denied membership in an online forum that dealt with evolution and scientific development of man, simply because Star Larvae’s work left an opening to consider theological arguments.

I also notice either an outright rejection of God or a tendency to avoid the God question altogether in many science forums–and I think this is as limiting as the outright rejection of science and reason by religious discourse. This can be called “theophobia” and this kind of compartamentalized thinking is not conducive to critical thought and truth-seeking.

I do agree with Star Larvae that the scientific method is a robust one–and is used as the backbone of critical thought. To cement the point, in statistical inference there are two general kinds of errors: Type 1: rejecting a statement when in fact it is true, Type 2: failing to reject a statement when in fact it false. These two errors result from a failure to appreciate evidence, or even a lack of sufficient evidence. However outright blind rejection of possibilities without adequate evidence is NOT scientific by any definition.

The lesson we keep harping: face all possibilities squarely and in light of not just existing evidence, but potential evidence. And more than this: be brave enough to make an assertion and a judgment, and be willing to change your assertion as more possibilities emerge. Static thinking and passive thinking have no place in critical thought.

Between settling for convenience and pursuing truth, choose truth.

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In a controversial story that broke in Time in 2007, Mother Teresa’s secret letters confess an emptiness that troubled her in her last years:

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever

Author Christopher Hitchens, an atheist and a long-time critic of Mother Teresa, described the revelation as eye-opening both to non-believers and believers alike. In this video, Hitchen’s jousts with Christian pastor Bill Donohue about Mother Teresa’s secret confessions:

(Thanks to Daniel’s site for bringing this video to my attention).

This undestandably raises a lot of controversial faith questions like is faith necessary to do good works? Mother Teresa actively sought for faith her entire life and decorated her life with charitable works, and yet despite this self-confesses to have not found God in her life. Against this benchmark, how do people evaluate their own faith (or claim to faith)?

Here’s some soundbites in reaction to the article:

Albert Mohler: The recent revelations of Mother Teresa’s spiritual struggle should remind all believing Christians that our faith is in Christ — not in our feelings.

Rene Bas: Why does God allow the dark night of the soul to visit His most faithful children? Because they are being deified! They are being engoddened! They must lose all feeling of self-love. They must learn to will to love God even if the senses get no joy out of it.

Simply put: if your feelings can’t feel God, don’t trust them?

What do you think?

*** edit add: Mother Teresa’s spiritual emptiness was cause for an exorcism performed on her, which we featured sometime back.

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Neale Donald Walsch, a know author of the “Conversations with God” book series has admitted that he unwittingly use another writer’s anecdote as his very own.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neale_Donald_Walsch

Neale Donald Walsch (also known as Neale Marshall-Walsch) (b. September 101943 inMilwaukee) is an American author of the series Conversations with God. The books so far in the series are Conversations With God (books 1-3), Friendship with GodCommunion with God,The New RevelationsTomorrow’s GodWhat God WantsHome with God: In a Life That Never Ends, and his newest book, Happier than God.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090107/ap_on_en_ot/author_plagiarism;_ylt=Aott1z3qLVcd4OyUU0cnh8wDW7oF

Walsch had written about what he described as his son’s holiday concert two decades ago in which children were to hold up letters spelling “Christmas Love.” One of the children held the “m” upside down, so the audience got the message “Christwas Love,” according to the retelling.Neale Donald Walsch claims that he talks to God and has been a very well known author with his series of books, more notable the “Conversations with God” series, he now faces a plagiarism claim.

Now, that is quite specific, besides, he has admitted that it was indeed someone elses. You may be wondering his defense, he states in the same webpage:

Walsch wrote on his blog Tuesday he was “truly mystified” about what happened and apologized. He said he had been telling the story for years in public talks and “somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience.”

Hmmm. Is that believable? It is such a pity. I have read his first three books and find them very uplifting and reasonable. Reasonable in terms of the ‘morality’ it espouses. A big question arises, if he did plagiarize the book and did an immoral act, are his books really from god? Are they even from a higher spiritual entity or some fictitious character he concocted to make some money?

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It’s an age-old debate, but a recent study may show that psychological preferences for God and science may be diametrically opposed.

This is the topic of a study done by psychology professor Jesse Preston:

Preston and her colleague, Nicholas Epley, of the University of Chicago, wanted to explore how information about science influences a belief in God, and how religious teaching can also cause people to doubt certain scientific theories.

“As far as I know, no one has looked experimentally at an opposition between belief in science and religion,” Preston said.

“It seemed to me that both science and religion as systems were very good at explaining a lot, accounting for a lot of the information that we have in our environment,” she said. “But if they are both ultimate explanations, at some point they have to conflict with each another because they can’t possibly both explain everything.”

The bold emphasis on the last sentence is mine. It reminds me of a talk delivered by Dr. Tim Keller which we featured earlier. In his address at the Veritas forum, Keller explained that while there may be debate about religions and ideologies, it is impossible from a strict truth perspective that all religions and ideologies are correct. Either some got it and are better, or some didn’t and are worse or inferior. (more…)

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Edward Current produced a humorous take on the age-old question of God which also illustrates an important logical fallacy: proving a negative.

Although to be fair, there is stll a fine line between impossibility and improbability. A wiki entry puts it very well:

Though a lack of positive evidence can never disprove a hypothesis, a statistically large number of negative instances may make it highly improbable. For example, the lack of success in finding life on Mars, and the lack of a recognizable chemical signature of life, suggests that there is no life on Mars. However, it remains possible that we have not looked in the right place, or not recognized the evidence.

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Is God Above the Law?

This is a post i found in a ‘Pinoyexchange’ website.

bold is mine

http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?p=30569050&posted=1#post30569050

God the Father through His one and only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit solely and singularly created this Universe for His own good pleasure and will.

As such, God owns and possesses this Universe that we live in. He is its sole owner and possessor.

Being such, God has all the rights of possession and ownership regarding us and this Universe that we live in. These rights of ownership and possession are, among others, the right to destroy and the right to dispose of. These rights are inherent in creation, ownership, and possession.

As such, God in His sovereign and absolute power can even wipe out our existence and this Universe, and we can not complain about that, He being the sole owner and possessor of us and this Universe, He being our sole Creator.

(more…)

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