From: ps@celerity.UUCP (Patricia Shanahan)
Subject: Re: Evidence and the Christian God
Sorry about the delay in commenting on this very interesting reply to my
earlier article. Owing to a disturbance in the net, I did not see it until
a few days ago. I claimed that agreement among religious experts would cause
me to change my currently atheist opinions, that such agreement does not
currently exist, and that atheism has the merit of explaining that lack of
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> sle@hall.UUCP (Stan L. Eads) writes:
> Well, Patricia, I would have to disagree with you there. The
> Hindu faith is one which accounts for all of the differences
> as well. It assumes the truth of all other faiths, as being
> a facet of the whole picture - along the same line as the 'six
> blind men and the elephant' story. The elephant was described
> as being like a tree trunk, a rope, a wall, a hose, etc. Yes,
> a possible conclusion to draw from these mutually exclusive
> descriptions is that elephants do not exist. But a better one
> is that we don't have the whole picture. Hindus believe that
> all religions are essentially correct, but from different per-
> spectives, thus accounting for the disagreements among "experts".
I have a continuation to that story, assuming the blind men are also fairly
George: Well, the bit I can feel is long and somewhat flexible, with
a circular cross section. Seems to have bones inside it.
Fred: But my bit is flat, solid, and vertical. Let's change places
and check each other's observations... H'm yes, it is like a rope.
Perhaps the others are reporting acurately on the bits they can
feel, but different parts of the elephant are different. Hey, Tim,
come and check out this bit.
This only works if elephants are real. If they are
imaginary, and each participant has made up his own idea of what
they are like, they will not be able to exchange places and check
each others observations.
Of course, if elephants were a matter of religion, they would not be
saying "this bit feels like a rope" but "All the Entire Elephant is
rope, and nothing but rope".
As far as Hindus believing all religions to be correct is concerned,
if they believe that they must have a very watered-down view of the
central doctrines of many religions.
"There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet."
"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus, the
only-begotten Som of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not
make, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things
Jesus may have been "the only-begotten Son of God", or he may have been
a human prophet, of some importance but superceded by "the Prophet",
Mohammed. He just cannot be both.
These are not incidental or minor points of Christianity and Islam.
They are core beliefs, even in many ways defining beliefs. How can
anyone believe both of them?
> I really don't believe you mean this. It sounds open minded,
> and - no offense - I have never yet met an atheist who was
> truly open to the idea of God without dramatic personal exper-
No offense, but I have never met an adherent of ANY religion who is
truly open to the idea of a different religion or atheism without
dramatic personal experience. The fact that opinions on the subject
are usually changed through emotion and at times of stress adds to
my view that there is no solid foundation.
> But, taking you at your word, I will give you exactly what you
> have said will convince you, and then we shall see if your story
> The Jewish Rabbi, Zen Buddhist teacher, Islamic scholar, and
> Christian theologian will all agree that God exists and that it
> is worthwhile to seek Him. There will be the occassional dis-
> senter (some dogmatic Buddhists, possibly), but your "almost all"
> criterion is certainly met. Scholars who were atheists in the
> first place, of course, are not included, since it was the dis-
> agreement among the religious scholars that put you off in the
> first place. (You wouldn't insist that the Creationist Society
> agree with evolutionary theory before you considered a consensus
You must have met some unusual Zen Buddhists:
Question: What is the Buddha?
Answer: Three pounds of flax.
Boddhidharma, when asked by the Chinese Emperor about the sacred
doctrine of Zen, is alleged to have shouted "It is empty - there is
nothing sacred.". Siddhartha aparently never said anything on the
subject of the existence of a god or gods. At least, nothing he said
on the subject is recorded, and I would think his followers would
have at least considered anything he said on such a matter to be
worth remembering. None of the four noble truths relate to the issue
Certainly, buddhism does not consider it "worthwhile to seek Him". It
is much more important to follow the eightfold path towards nirvana.
I would not regard someone who merely follows the basic
principals of the founders of their religion as particularly
"dogmatic". A buddhist who expresses no opinion on the existence of
a god or gods is no more especially dogmatic than a christian who
believes the nicene creed. Zen is simply more colourful than most branches in
expressing the irrelevance of the question.
> So, there it is. See you in church? :-)
See you on the bank of the Gangees? :-)
If I were ever convinced of the existence of a god or gods, the next
question would be what, if anything, to do about it. Assuming that
it turned out that the Bible is true, I would probably not start worshipping
the god depicted in it. Is any being that has encouraged genocide
worthy of common respect, let alone worship? This type of issue is
a matter of concience, not fact, and so I am less willing to bow to
authority on it.
If you exclude atheists from the discussion, everyone left by
definition will either believe in one or more deities (and lots of
Hindus believe in multiple deities) or not have an opinion on the
subject. That is not much of an agreement, if you reduce religion to
the idea that there is at least one god, count out everyone who
definitely disbelieves that, and then count everyone else as
agreeing on something.
uucp : ucsd!celerity!ps
arpa : ucsd!celerity!ps@nosc