December’s Dilemma

Posted in Christianity, Religion on December 25, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

At CNN, there is an interesting article about the various ways non-Christians respond to Christmas. All pretty typical, except the way Christians apparently respond to us non-christians:

How do Christians themselves see the presence and practices of non-Christians during Christmas? While many would like to see non-Christians convert to Christianity, they also recognize that the United States is a “diverse society” and that conversion “is not even on their radar screen,” said Numrich, the theology professor.

Good to know we are at least tolerated.  Seriously, everyone that is not a Christian should just stop celebrating christmas, no more buying presents, christmas trees, decorations, lights, etc.

The power of science

Posted in science & technology on December 23, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

Singularity Hub has a list of the “top robots of 2009.”  Though I am not a fan of top-whatever lists, this is a nice collection of technology:  http://singularityhub.com/2009/12/22/a-review-of-the-best-robots-of-2009/

Who are the Climate Change Skeptics?

Posted in Politics, science & technology on December 23, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

Following on the heels of Alonzo’s position paper, I found this nice summary of the who’s who of climate change skeptics at The Lippard Blog: Who are the climate change skeptics?. The list includes the usual suspects.

Religion and Politics … made for each other!

Posted in Christianity, Politics on December 23, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

Over at the Friendly Atheist, Mehta has a depressingly unsurprising post about republican senators literally praying for the death of their colleague.

Holiday Explanation from Brother Sam!

Posted in Christianity, Humor, Religion on December 23, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

As always, Brother Sam has a great video on Youtube for Christmas:

The Atheist Ethicist’s Climate Change Position

Posted in Ethics, General, science & technology with tags , , on December 23, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

Over at the Atheist Ethicist, Alonzo presents a two-part discussion on his position on climate change.  As usual, its an erudite and interesting read.  I happen to agree with his take on the issue, but regardless of that, its great reading:

Climate Change: Summary Position Part I

Climate Change: Summary Position Part II

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Spinoza’s God in Sikhism?

Posted in Religion, Sikhism on November 17, 2009 by Thinking Heresy

It is my understanding that Spinoza’s God was not a personal God as such, but rather something more universal.  In fact, if understand correctly, the Spinozan “god” is an infinite, and universal entity. It is, everything and forever.   In sense, God becomes nothing more than a philosophical position rather than some entity. In his work, “On God,” Spinoza defines his God as “a being absolutely infinite, i.e., a substance consisting of an infinity of attributes, of which each one expresses an eternal and infinite essence.”

Is this, then, not the God of Sikhism?  In the very opening lines of the Guru Granth Sahib’s Mool Mantra, God is described as such a singular, infinite, and universal entity:  Ik­oaʼnkār saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ nirbẖa­o nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn gur parsāḏ.

Taking each of these separately, we get the following:

Ikoankar translates into “There is only one God.”   He is described as transcendant and immanent and subsuming and being throughout all his creation. The notion of universal singularity.

Satnam translates into “His name is Truth.”  Harkening back to sanskrit, the notion of of an essence that is all-pervasive, formless, colorless, and without any identity. An infinite, universal entity.

Karta Purakh translates into “The Creator.”  This would suggest a personal God that “created the universe;” however, it is noted that this sense of a creator may be a western concept.  Rather, Sikhiwiki provides an eloquent explanation of the Sikh sense of “The Creator”:

By stating God as the Creator, one may think that the Creator and His creation are separate. When man sculpts a sculpture, the sculptor and the sculpture are not one; they are separate. And the sculpture often remains long after the sculptor is dead. If the sculpture fractures, the sculptor is not also broken, because the two are separate. There is no such distance between God and His creation, yet if we are torn apart God is not damaged.

What kind of relationship exists between God and His creation? It is like a dancer with his dance. When man dances can you separate him from his dance? Can he return home leaving the dance behind? If the dancer dies, so the dance dies with him. When the dance stops, he is no longer the dancer. They are united. This is why since ancient times, Hindus have looked upon part of God as the dancer, Shiva as “Nataraj.” In this symbol where Shiva dances as Kaal (time/the destroyer of all) the dancer and the dance are one.

The poet is no longer part of his poem, once it is finished. The sculptor is separated from his sculpture, daily as he puts down his tools and even more so as soon as it is completed. A mother gives birth to a child, and they cease to be one; the father, however, is always distinct from the child. But God is not distinct from His creation; He is contained in it. It would be more accurate to say: the Creator is the creation, or the creator is nothing but creativity.

As noted at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, this appears to parallel the the sense of creation as defined by Spinoza:

According to the traditional Judeo-Christian conception of divinity, God is a transcendent creator, a being who causes a world distinct from himself to come into being by creating it out of nothing. God produces that world by a spontaneous act of free will, and could just as easily have not created anything outside himself. By contrast, Spinoza’s God is the cause of all things because all things follow causally and necessarily from the divine nature. Or, as he puts it, from God’s infinite power or nature “all things have necessarily flowed, or always followed, by the same necessity and in the same way as from the nature of a triangle it follows, from eternity and to eternity, that its three angles are equal to two right angles” (Ip17s1). The existence of the world is, thus, mathematically necessary. It is impossible that God should exist but not the world. This does not mean that God does not cause the world to come into being freely, since nothing outside of God constrains him to bring it into existence. But Spinoza does deny that God creates the world by some arbitrary and undetermined act of free will. God could not have done otherwise. There are no possible alternatives to the actual world, and absolutely no contingency or spontaneity within that world. Everything is absolutely and necessarily determined.

Nirbhao. Nirvair. Akal Murat. Ajuni Sabhan translate into “Without fear. Without hate. Being beyond time. Unborn. Self Existant.”  Again, this would suggest that this is simply stating that there is a personal God who is all-powerful and benevolent; however, the reference is a reinforcement of the notion of an all-pervasive God who simply exists.  God has no need for fear or hate because there is nothing else to fear or hate.  In other words, the universe and nature do not fear or hate.

Guru Prasad translates into “By the Grace of the Enlightener.”  Here we enter into Sikh metaphysics and outside the Sikh definition of God, per se. If my understanding is correct, the phrase may simply be an epithet to God, akin to “the great and bountiful.”

 

Of course, this seems to imply a immanent pantheism, and it unclear to me whether Spinoza was even a immanent pantheist or even a reductive pantheist.  Regardless, this appears to be an area worth exploring particularly with regard to the metaphysical aspects of Sikhism versus the religious ones and how it is practiced.

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