The Philosophy of +quot;Humanism+quot; Take away the conception of God and Supreme Person

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The Philosophy of "Humanism" Take away the conception of God and Supreme Person and you end up with the philosophy of "humanism". The idea comes from the conception that there is no higher rational power than that of the human being and his mind. It is a philosophy based on current atheistic ideas that God is either a primitive conception based on mankind's inability to understand and control the forces of nature, or God is simply mythology: no more than the mere figment of a moral philosopher's imagination. Humanism looks to the individual and sees his potentialities as divine, the methods of scientific research as intense disciplines into the Truth and power over the forces of nature as favorable progressive evolution. The big humanistic picture will be painted not by me--a former humanist who also indulged into the realms and corridors of humanistic thought--but by the sincere words of the humanists themselves. There the reader of this Vedic Advocate can get a glimpse into that world of the humanist who holds the vision of a brighter, better world through scientific methods of research and where religion--that awful reminder of our cowardly primitive past (?)--has no place in the progressive world of empiric human endeavor. Will the reader see a world of warmth and love or a world of technological dehumanization as described by H. G. Wells in "1984"? I welcome you to explore the world of the humanist by reading forward. As a computer enthusiast, I have had the good fortune to meet members of various religious beliefs on a computer service called "Compuserve". Compuserve is a world-wide network of computers where anyone with a computer and computer modem can communicate with others with similar interests. On that Compuserve is a section for religion where I have met the atheistic humanists of whom reside there side-by-side with the theists, arguing favorably for humanism and against God. Presenting various evidences for the existence of God, in a word-- arguing--is what goes on between me and the humanists. One very active author, college lecturer, and radio show guest who was working on at least his second book presented me with various accusations. "Like all religious people, you don't understand the nature of science. What you really mean is that you are not opposed to technological industrialization and all the goodies it provides." Here Lee is accusing theists like me of being against scientific fact because it supposedly poses a threat to the idea of the existence of soul and God, while we theists simultaneously indulge in the facilities science provides. So the answer is that Krishna people are not anti-science but when science is used as a propaganda tool to support the theory that God and soul are nonexistent, then we are opposed. There is no scientific fact that God and soul do NOT exist. Here is the logic of Lee's thinking: "Science is a method of thinking. It doesn't require any special equipment; and it can be applied to any problem. But the basic cornerstone of this method of thinking is atheism. If you think something exists, but you can't prove it, then you are only imagining it--so forget it, and go on to the next problem!" In this way, Lee thinks that God and soul are phenomenon which cannot be proved scientifically and he frankly admits it. Then he says that when something is unprovable then "you are only imagining it--so forget it". Here's where the humanist cheats himself by closing the door on the possibility of God's existence. It is admitted that practically everyone, even the so-called theists, are born into ignorance in this world. Automatically, no one is qualified to understand the spiritual dimension of life. But Lee has prematurely dismissed the possibility of the spiritual realm as something of imagination only. The answer is that God's existence can be factually realized--not by scientific force--but by listening to the transcendental words of a bona fide representative of God without undue opposition. Such words actually work to awaken factual knowledge about God within the heart and dispel the notion that everything under the classification of "reality" is perceptible only the sensual organs of the material body. "Well, we finally get down to the nitty gritty," Lee continues. "So your definition of 'God' is the HINDU concept! (I thought the syntax of your writing had an Indian cadence to it.) At any rate, that is certainly a refreshing change--since I am accustomed to being assaulted by red-necked Christian fundamentalists who never even heard of any religion other than their own. "I have read the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-gita--as well as all of the other major holy books of the world. And I understand the Hindu concept of 'Trimurti' quite well. So at last I have some idea of what you are talking about when you use the word, 'God.' I must admit that I regard Vedanta as the most sophisticated and tolerant of all supernatural religions. But, as Siddhartha Gautama pointed out about 2,500 years ago, it is also filled with contradictions and absurdities--as any concept of the 'supernatural' must be. "And even though Vedanta SOUNDS more reasonable than the absurd fairy tales of western religion, the consequences of that belief are no better, if not worse. With all of Vedanta's alleged tolerance, Hindus have no better record of being able to live peaceably with their Sikh, Muslim, and Buddhist neighbors than the Christians and Jews have had with their neighbors. And for good reason: Look what Krishna says in Book Two of the Gita: 'You should never mourn for anyone. Even if you consider this from the standpoint of your own caste-duty, you ought not to hesitate; for, to a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war. Happy are the warriors to whom a battle such as this comes: it opens a door to heaven.'...'Die, and you win heaven. Conquer, and you enjoy the earth. Stand up now, son of Kunti, and resolve to fight. Realize that pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, are all one and the same: then go into battle. Do this and you cannot commit any sin.' "This is the same thing the Ayatollah Khomeini tells his troops. And the Judeo-Christian Bible is filled with similar bloodthirsty rhetoric. This is the kind of attitude, promulgated by religion, that I was talking about in my first response to you." This is a common argument and complaint of the humanists. They are wondering how it is that God would command His servants like Shri Arjuna to fight and die. The first commandment in the humanist idea is that "Thou shalt try to live forever." So they cling to mortal life quite frantically and take such good advice from Krishna as a most absurd and evil proposal. "Why throw away life so frivolously?" they wonder as if life is to be lived despite all challenges offered by enemies. Mahatma Gandhi was also of this nonviolent disposition. However, it is the glorious duty of a kshatriya like Arjuna to risk his life in order to preserve religious culture. Just like we have soldiers who sometimes die in order to protect the American culture of democracy. Conflict is unavoidable in any culture or between cultures despite the best efforts of man. But it is heroic if a man can rise to that platform and die for the best of all causes--that is, to preserve, protect and propagate factual religious culture. That idea to risk ones life for religious cause may very well be used to support false causes, but in this age of irreligion, such abuses cannot be avoided, and everything should be cautiously evaluated and rejected if fighting is done on a false platform. As ones death is unavoidable in any case, it is best to utilize it to protect God-abiding civilized values. This is a good instruction anyone can follow rather than uselessly live life to the maximum age without any purpose other than eating, sleeping, mating and protecting ones acquired material assets, including his own body and material relationships. Now the question arose: How does one determine what are true religious ideas? Lee said, "When talking about supernatural concepts there are no grounds for reference. Anybody can make up any crazy metaphysical concept he wants and there is no way of evaluating it. Anybody's opinion is as good as anyone else's. That is why the rules of science were developed. A statement must be verifiable by objective perception in order to be meaningful." As a spokesman for atheism and an authority of atheistic ideas, Lee is expressing his very logical argument for the necessity of empiric evidence in order to advance in knowledge. According to the Vedic philosophy of Krishna consciousness, the empiric method of understanding is condemned in one sense: because it cannot lead one into the transcendental plane of understanding. Otherwise, there is a great deal of merit to Lee's idea that there should be some method in determining what is the basis for metaphysical understandings. The subject matter of metaphysics has been always given a great deal of notoriety, being stigmatized with a belief in the occult and connection with fraudulent spiritualists. Lee is misinformed in his belief that there is no way of evaluating a metaphysical event and that anyone's metaphysical ideas are just as valid/invalid as anyone else's metaphysical ideas. That's why it is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita that one should approach the spiritual master, or one who is expert in the science of metaphysical reality of what is the soul and the relationship between the soul with the Supersoul. Bona fide followers of the Bhagavad-gita will not accept anyones metaphysical idea unless it has some support from the metaphysical lawbooks called the Vedic literatures. Just like when Oral Roberts claimed that he had been ordered by Jesus to raise $8 million dollars by April 1st of this year, 1987, it could be immediately detected for fraud. There is no idea in any scripture that God would irresponsibly threaten with death His servant who could not provide God with cash to perform His work (?) Even in our own Hare Krishna movement, there is and has been in the past some controversial idea that a majority group of devotees, can approve and disapprove of the activities of the guru who is known as the most confidential servant of God (?) Our Shrila Prabhupada sometimes discussed upon the opposition that he received from his own godbrothers who thought that they were very expert in the spiritual science and were able to criticize the activities of the bona fide guru. The answer to Lee's statements is that there are accepted authoritative sources of Absolute knowledge known as guru, sadhu and shastra, or the confidential servants of God and the authorized scriptures about the science of God which determine a thing's spiritual validity. According to the vision of mental speculators, these sources of transcendental knowledge may seem to be only another opinion in the vast array of metaphysical mumbo- jumbo; therefore a need arises to define and standardize reality by empiric laboratory research called the scientific method of research. But an unbiased view of those sources of knowledge can see that the viewpoint of transcendence also covers and resolves all aspects of mundane knowledge as well as continue on to give further knowledge about a world that exists far above the speculations of the mundaners called the nondual spiritual realm. Seeing by the mercy of these transcendental sources of understanding, one can easily understand that God will never hold ransom His servant for x amount of dollars, likewise, one can understand that the guru or saint is never a member of a religious institution as implied in the above two examples. "At any rate, as I have said before, I regard the Vedas and the Sutras as better literature than the three western holy books. But I still find it amazing and depressing that so many millions of people should regard any book written nearly two thousand years ago as being the absolute, final word on anything. Muhammad WAS a camel driver during his youth. All the prophets of the Hebrew Bible were camel driving desert nomads. Jesus was alleged to have been a carpenter, and his disciples were all uneducated common folk. Krishna was supposed to have been a cowherd. The authors of the New Testament are all anonymous--except for Paul, who was just a common tax collector. So none of these holy folks were considered educated even by the standards of their own time. If you read the works of Greek and Roman philosophers, historians and playwrights of the time and then compare those writings with the Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic holy books, it is obvious these latter authors were what we would call today, "flakes". If one of my college freshmen turned in a script that read like almost any of the stories in the Bible, I would probably give him or her a C-minus. They are filled with unbelievable events, gaping holes in the narrative, contradictions, non sequiturs, tortured sentence construction, bizarre imagery and an extremely immature morality. If someone turned in a paper like the 'Book of Revelations' in the New Testament, I would definitely call the psychiatric department. In those days, however, psychotics were called 'holy'." According to Lee, we have progressed so much so that the ancient scriptures have no relevance in today's advanced culture. Actually, it is a great misunderstanding that as time goes on, mankind is progressing in civilized life. Even today, it is a great ignorance that we hold scientific advancement in very high esteem. The purported boons of the scientific culture are that people are living longer lives with less effort and greater comfort. That may be all true undoubtedly, but as people put more confidence in science's ability to create the immortal utopia here on earth, it is an abuse of public trust and misrepresentation of scientific abilities. Technology has its boundaries despite all current propaganda to the contrary: It can never solve the problems of death, old age, disease and birth. That the above mentioned residents of the Kingdom of God came down to deliver this message of the limitations of man's efforts, they may have taken less prominent social roles within their respective societies. Their primary business is not to become successful materially as Lee faults these personalities, but their business is to educate the bewildered human being about his prime duty of life which is to go back to Godhead. To be conversant with the laws of God, one need not be very educated even from a mundane sense. Once one understands that the goal of life is to become engaged in the loving devotional service of the Supreme Lord and always chant His glories, then that great soul is immediately considered a "mahatma" or one who has perfect intelligence despite his being born of low- class family or a woman. Such humanist atheists cannot understand the value of the various instructions coming from the spiritual realm, so they think that the progressive technological culture and the limitless informative statistical analyses it provides about the mundane world is a great achievement toward conquering the laws of nature. Being thus proud of their ability, they scorn the faithful theists who worship and humble themselves in the face of the all-powerful nature which is under the control of God and call them as primitive. The Humanist Manifesto Here's Lee's humanistic utopia very sincerely spelled out in detail: "Two thousand years ago the average life span was only about thirty years. Today in the scientifically advanced countries, it is more than double that. In those days most people never traveled more than perhaps fifty miles from the place where they were born. Now, many people choose to live in the quiet beauty of the countryside and commute that far every day. Now even middle-class people can travel to any place on the planet within hours. Or, if they are really in a hurry, they can take the Concord and fly faster than sound. We can now cure most of the diseases to which mankind had always been heir. Hardly anyone in the scientifically advanced nations actually freezes or starves. We can control the temperature at the touch of a thermostat. Most of us can afford fresh delicacies from any place on earth at our nearest supermarket, and we don't even have to carry money to purchase them--just a little ATM card. Free schools are available to banish superstitious fears with scientific knowledge. All the accumulated wisdom of history is free for the asking in public libraries. We can have our own private libraries of the world's greatest literature--on paperback books. The world's finest music is available on inexpensive records. We have walked on the moon and sent robots to the outer planets. From a pocket telephone we can hold a conversation with someone thousands of miles away. Through video conference facilities we can talk with them face to face. Via Compuserve we can even sit in the comfort of our own home and hold simultaneous dialogs with hundreds of fascinating people, completely unrestricted by time and space--and if someone doesn't agree with us, they can't censor us, interrupt us, or lay hands on us--thus enforcing a more civilized type of behavior than was ever possible before. We can be a front row spectator, in real time and living color, to any event on this planet-- or off of it. Through the motion-picture we can see life through someone else's eyes, manipulate time and space, or create imaginary worlds. And with videocassettes we can preserve these experiences and recreate them any time we choose. We can create new substances. We can harness the power of the atom. With X-rays we can see through solid objects. With fiber optics we can, in effect, shrink ourselves to the size of a pinhead and make a tour of inspection throughout a human body. With PET-Scan, we can watch a human brain as it thinks. With super-power telescopes, we can look back in time almost to the beginning of the universe. We can make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. We can resurrect the dead--or at least what used to be defined as dead. We can transplant human hearts and other organs. We can build artificial organs. Through genetic engineering, we can create new species. We can correct deformities on unborn babies. We can create babies in the laboratory. We can enjoy sex without procreation. If we do decide to have a child, we can choose its gender. "No longer are we tyrannized by kings who claim to be appointed by God. No longer is 'spectral evidence' admissible in court. No longer is guilt or innocence determined through 'trial by ordeal'--in which 'God' makes the judgement through 'supernatural intervention'. In America at least, one can no longer be deprived of legal rights because of race, creed or sex. No longer are the churches allowed to dictate what we can see or read. No longer do they decide what kind of sexual activities are legal and illegal. No longer are we required to attend services and pay taxes to a religion we despise. "And all of this has been brought to you by the atheistic, scientific method of thinking--which our theologians say is invalid; and none of these developments are of any value! "As we now prepare to begin colonizing Mars and spreading the human seed throughout the universe, the religionists continue to look backwards to a time, two thousand years ago, when they imagine that gods walked the earth and said everything there was to say. So instead of reading as widely and deeply as possible, they just keep reading the same ancient holy book over and over. Instead of learning to think critically, they say, 'Don't think; just believe what you are told.' Instead of helping to solve our new problems, they just sit and complain about them while counting their rosary beads, chanting on street corners, or meditating on a mountain top. Instead of using their money to feed and house the homeless, or other important causes, they give it to some religious huckster who promises it will buy them immortality. "I very much agree with you that shallow hedonism is not adequate for a satisfactory life. I do think that people need to feel they are part of something larger than themselves; but I think the human species serves that purpose admirably. The idea that the universe became conscious of itself on this planet--that stardust transformed itself into sea slime and then slowly and painfully worked its way back up to the stars again, constantly reinventing itself as it goes, is about as cosmic as you can get. And to be part of this great adventure--to do our bit in creating a better life for countless generations to come--is all the purpose a humanist needs. "I also agree with the Buddhist idea of the bodhisatva. To wit: Someone who is truly enlightened pauses to think about the meaning of it all every once in a while. If it gives you satisfaction to call these mysteries 'God,' that's OK too. But to spend one's valuable time continually wallowing in emotional religiosity is just self-indulgence. So forget about it and get on with the work that needs to be done!" Delighted at the humanist vision of a better tomorrow through hi-tech living? Lee is simply echoing mainstream ideas about the various facilities man has today and he is looking toward that day where mankind has worked hard and finally come to the point of conquering the universe through his scientific savvy. This is the definition behind the "glaring material energy" often mentioned by Shrila Prabhupada. As science discovers many new and novel ways of harnessing the various forces of the all-powerful nature, mankind becomes very satisfied by his progress in this matter. They've "harnessed the power of the atom". However that same atomic power continues to hang as a threat to the very existence of civilization as we know it. But the utter fascination and delight in the matter of progress has confused the living entity into becoming overly proud of his attempts to mold the environment to his suitable liking. That is the power of another energy, called "maya" or illusion. While man is falsely thinking himself as fully satisfied and content with some facility of material life, he neglects to serve the controller of the nature under which--although he has some facility to control it to a minute degree--he is totally under the laws of nature and cannot control it despite the best efforts of many millions of scientists. Therefore, he lives life content that the war against nature is progressively being won for himself and for progeny's sake, however, for each man who takes his birth, he is helplessly marched to the death as will be his sons and their sons. That is the cruel and irresistable reality which does not affect the lofty goals of the humanists until that time when nature comes to claim victory over the plans of the humanist who credits man with all powers of reasoning and who proudly denies the existence of God.


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