The Perennial Appeal of Religions

(A Response to Radhika Abeysekere’s article on swift sterling payday loans 11.08.2003.)

Homo sapiens is incurably religious. That is to say, man seeks metaphysical answers to physical phenomena – Why am I born, where am I going, who am I, what happens after death, how is the cosmos here, what is right, why is there disease, why is there suffering? These are a few of the questions that seek metaphysical answers. The pure materialist does not answer these questions. The Darwinian theory of evolution cannot give moral or metaphysical answers. It was proposed to explain physical reality. Those who seek metaphysical answers attempt rationality with or without God. Rationality does not assume “God is not” which is an a priori assumption and is not testable science. Rationality seeks to explain (rationalize) physical reality by resorting to philosophy assuming mind to be over matter. The epicurean reaches ultimate reality by pleasing his five senses. The Cynic does so by denying sensual pleasure. The stoic does so by wisdom.

Experienced Truth

I read with interest Radhika Abeysekere’s “The Appeal of Buddhism in the West”. I can agree with many of her observations. “A religion must not merely stimulate the intellect but must morally uplift”. Any Christian would concur with RA on this. RA quotes Bhikku Bodhi – “It is rational, experiential, practical, personally verifiable. It brings concrete benefits that can be realized in one’s own life; it propounds lofty ethics, and an intellectually cogent philosophy”. This is exactly the position of Christianity to which unfortunately RA makes repeatedly negative reference. The Lord Jesus continually strove to explain the Truth to the educated and the peasant. With the former He engaged in theological discussion and with the latter the truth was explained through parables. Jesus Christ offered a personally verifiable experience when one receives His truth, that person undergoes a complete moral transformation. The world over this has been the testimony of those who believed in Jesus’ truth. This includes 70 million Chinese who found firm faith in Christ under the repressive rule of Mao Tse Thung. This was without any help from the west. These saints suffered horribly for their faith. In actual fact it was their blood that was shed. This was true in Eastern Europe and the former USSR. Without any forced evangelism and in fact under extreme pressure, many turned to Christ. One could exposit the virtue and the success of one’s chosen religious philosophy without denigrating another’s. King Asoka made Buddhism the religion of his empire by royal decree. Yet later, Buddhism largely disappeared from India. One does not have to cast Buddhism in a negative light when one assesses the success of Hinduism in India.

The author quotes Ajahn Sumedho – “It offered a practical way of finding out the truth through one’s own experience” As I have explained, this is precisely the point of Christianity – that one must come of age and receive the truth. Jesus Christ said – “The truth shall set you free”. We must also emphasise the fact that from the time of the Founder’s death on a cross, until the fourth century, Christianity spread without shedding any blood other than the blood of the disciples shed by Roman emperors such as Nero and Caligula. It is only after European monarchs exercised Royal Power that Organised Christianity used state power. Use of state power to suppress one religion and promote another is a lively temptation to those who have access to state power. This is a sure way to corrupt religion.

If any form of philosophical truth could transform Hollywood performers thus saving them from their morality and an entire generation of youth who are sold out to hedonism and sensuousness as marketed in the entertainment world, we surely can be glad. We eagerly await to see such moral fruit in their lives. For this purpose a Hollywood Prayer Network has been launched and many stars attend the prayer meetings.

Origins Debate And Blind Faith

There is an assumption in the afore cited article that all who believe have blind faith and have no analytical mind. This does not stand up to reason when one peruses the impressive list of Bible believing scientists who also made enormous contributions to scientific progress. When we choose any metaphysical system of truth, we do so with faith in tat system – be it Buddhism, Christianity or the Marxian utopia. Any kind of expectation of future spiritual benefit from present endeavour is faith.

Charles Darwin addressed only the survival of species rather than the arrival of species. The debate for and against the Darwinian Theory of Evolution is not religious but scientific. Many eminent Scientists refute Darwin’s theory of evolution. Many lay people do not understand that Darwin’s is only a hypothesis and not fact. The theory of evolution assumes that matter created itself and all things. This is a religious belief. The theory of creation theorises that God created all things. Both theories are unverifiable and are religious beliefs. Theists believe creation and atheists believe evolution.

In his preface to “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”, DR Michael Denton writes, ”Any suggestion that 19153 cash advance there might be something seriously wrong with the Darwinian view of nature is bound to excite public attention, for if biologists cannot substantiate the fundamental claims of Darwinism upon which rests so much of the fabric of 20 th century thought, then surely the intellectual & philosophical implications are immense”. “By presenting a systematic critique of the current Darwinian model, ranging from paleontology to molecular biology I have tried to show why I believe that the problems are too severe and too intractable to offer any resolution in terms of the orthodox Darwinian frame work and consequently the conservative view is no longer tenable”. This is the candid view of an eminent scientist. The famed French Zoologist, Louis Bourounne, writing in the Encyclopaedia Britannica says, “Evolution is a fairy-tale for grown-ups”.

Hence the Darwinian theory of Evolution, far from having defeated Christian theology, is an embattled pseudoscientific embarrassment. Prof. W.R. Thompson (F.R.S.) writing the foreword to the Centenary Edition of “Origin of Species” acknowledges that the Darwinian theory of Evolution resulted in a deterioration of scientific integrity. He says, “The facts and interpretation on which Darwin relied have now ceased to convince. The long-continued investigations on heredity and variation have undermined the Darwinian position. A long enduring and regrettable effect of the success of the ‘Origin’ was the addiction of biologists to unverifiable speculation… The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity. This situation where scientific men rally to the defence of a doctrine they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigor, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and undesirable in science.”

The age of the universe is a far from established fact. There are over 100 scientific proofs pointing to a young earth. The long ages of the earth is evolutionary fiat. Evolutionists need much time for their equation. Time + chance = evolution.

Men of outstanding analytical ability who contributed much to the progress of Science were Bible believing Christians.

Calculus-   Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Celestial Mechanics-     Johann Kepler (1571-1630)

Chemistry-     Robet Boyle (1927-1691)

Computer Science-     Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

Dimensional Analysis-     Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Dynamics-     Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Electrodynamics-     James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Electromagnetics –    Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Electronics-     Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

Energetics –    Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Field Theory –    Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Fluid Mechanics-     George Stokes (1891-1903)

Galactic Astromomy-     William Herschel (1738-1822)

Gas Dynamics-     Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Genetics-     Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

Glacial Geology-     Louis Agassiz (1807-1873)

Hydraulics-     Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

Hydrography –    Matthew Maury (1806-1873)

Hydrostatics –        Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Isotopic Chemistry-     William Ramsay (1852-1916)

Non-Euclidean Geometry –    Bernard Riemann (1826-1866)

Physical Astronomy-     Johann Kepler (1571-1630)

Reversible Thermodynamics –    James Joule (1818-1889)

Statistical Thermodynamics-     James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Systematic Biology-        Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Thermodynamics-        Lord Kelvin (1824- 1907)

Thermokinetics-        Humphrey Davy (1778-1829)

Absolute Temperature Scale –    Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Barometer  –   Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Calculating Machine  –   Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

Chloroform –    James Simpson (1811-1870)

Classification System –    Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Galvanometer –    Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Global Star Catalogue-     John Herschel (1792-1871)

Inert Gases-     William Ramsay (1852-1967)

Kaleidoscope –    David Brewster (1781-1868)

Law of Gravity –    Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Pasteurization  –   Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Reflecting Telescope –    Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Scientific Method-     Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Self-induction –    Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Telegraph –    Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872)

Thermionic Valve –    Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

Trans-Atlantic Cable  –   Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Vaccination and Immunization  –   Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Not by Chance

         DR Lee Spetner was an expert in Information & Communication in the Applied Physics Department of the John Hopkins University and he refutes Darwinian arguments with great clarity and power in his book “Not by Chance ”. “Why is randomness important? It is important because it has had a profound influence on the shaping of the Weltan­schauung of Western Society. It has led to atheism and to the belief that we human beings are no more than a cosmic acci­dent. This belief serves as a basis for the social values and morals held by Western intellectuals, and for their attitudes toward religion. If the belief is unfounded, then the resulting world view and its implications must be re-examined.

       I have studied the implications of random variations on evolution for many years, and have found contradiction after contradiction, difficulty after difficulty, with neo-Darwinian theory. I gradually realized that massive evidence was point­ing to an essential role for nonrandomness in evolution. It became clear to me that here may lie the answer to the puz­zles and difficulties of evolution.

     A large body of evidence points to the suggestion that or­ganisms come equipped with the ability to make heritable changes in their organs and functions in response to envi­ronmental cues. Much of this evidence has been available for well over a century. Furthermore, the idea I propose in this book has been proposed long ago, but it has been generally ignored. The increasing amount of data, accompanied by their increasing reliability and quantification, compels us now to give serious consideration to this proposal”.

God and Suffering

        When men are brutal suffering results. Hunger is the direct result of human greed. Those who believe in a compassionate God take suffering as no teletrack payday loans direct lenders a part of human existence. They also believe that alienation from God is the root cause of suffering. America dethroned God from their society long before September 11 th. The American atheists threw out Christian instruction from public schools and now reap violence in their public schools. The book of Job in the Bible expounds the why of suffering and is too complicated a topic for simplistic answers. God works in the midst of human suffering for our moral improvement is the Christian attitude for suffering.

Eschatological Tenets Of Religions

       The argument is that the teaching on hell caused coerced conversions. Every religious philosophy offers benefit now and in the future. Every religious philosophy offers sow and reap proposition – hence retribution now or in the future. All religions have teaching on the nether life (Eschatology). Buddhist stories depict hell as a place of suffering. Even the theory of rebirth and the possibility of being reborn as worms or animals can coerce people out of fear. The fear of the pain of existence can cause people to seek non-existence. Christianity is not alone in teaching the consequences beyond this life. One is promised nirvana if one adopts the Buddhist teachings and follows the Buddhist path. Then why should we complain when God promises eternal life to those who accept God’s way of salvation? The entire tenor of the article under purview is that Christianity is utterly wrong and that the Buddhist way of salvation or reason is the only acceptable rationale to life. Then both ways seem to be dogmatic in their assertions. Why cannot it be possible for one to believe that Christ is God and through Him there is an experiential testable ultimate reality?

Philosophers & Evidence

       Voltaire is quoted– “Faith is to believe in something which your reason tells you cannot be true”. My position is that you do not have to take a leap out of reason in order to believe. One could also quote many eminent philosophers who disagree with Voltaire. Francis Bacon referring to the physical universe said, “Let not conceit prevent you studying the book of God’s work”. Prof Simon Greenleaf founding Professor of the Harvard Law School was a firm believer of God’s word and God’s existence. James Jean and Max Planck argued for the existence of a creator. Prof JND Anderson, Law professor of the London University was another outstanding intellectual who believed in the veracity of Christianity. It is prudent to assess the ill effect on society of the philosophies of Voltaire, Nietche and Jean Paul Satre. It is pointless quoting great names for or against – let me be happy with my path and explain it with lucidity to others rather than denigrate another’s system of belief.

       A scientific examination feasible in the realm of religions is to determine the textual reliability of the religious text. In this aspect, the Bible has come under vigorous and hostile scrutiny. This field is known as textual criticism. The Bible has the largest collection of manuscripts that backs up its present rendering. Sir William Ramsay, the famed British Archaeologist came to faith because of his discoveries in his chosen field of research. He so documents in his monumental treatise, “The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament”.

      These are days when the scientifically erudite are pouring over Nostradamus and the brilliant Mathematician DR Eliyahu Rips does calculations on the letter arrangements of the Hebrew text of Genesis. The highly regarded journal “Statistical Science” (1994, Vol. 9, No. 3, 429 –438), published the original research paper, “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis”. The thesis proved by statistical analysis with significance level at 99.998% was that future world events are recorded in the first five books of the Bible.

Finally, Alexandre Solzhenitzyn stands out as an outstanding example of a modern day philosopher of great analytical ability who firmly believed in the tenets of Christianity.

Multiculturism & Religious Freedom

        We are one with RA when she asserts the necessity for religious freedom in a multicultural society. This naturally covers Sri Lanka. We advocate the splendid example of the Blackheath Primary School of NSW, Australia that acquiesced to the requests of the parents to teach Buddhism in addition to Christianity. Such multicultural tolerance would be an excellent example to follow in Sri Lanka.

Conclusion – A Plea for Tolerance

        The point I make is that one needs to be humble and accommodative of the thinking premises of others when one cites to validate one’s point of view. Christianity cannot be intellectually outlawed with consummate ease before facing up to the intellectual giants who believed with reason. We readily grant the author the integrity of the dialectical bases of her chosen path. We plead that she should likewise consider with respect that others may chose another path such as Christianity by an equally integral process of enquiry and reason. It would be spacious to affirm that those who choose Christianity have taken leave of their reason.

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