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ISKCON and Evolution

February 12, 2009

My fellow Atheist blogger Aniket in his post “Evolution Debate and Hindus” rightly pointed out that  Hindus surprisingly have been far removed from the evolution vs creationism debate that has been going on between believers and non-believers across the world (although some hindus did take a stab at it [Link]) for quite some time now.

Most Hindus I have come across, including family and friends, do accept evolution as a scientific theory (I am not sure if that is based on logical consideration or rejection of the creation myth in the Rigveda or the Manusmruti ) and most schools in India teach evolution in their science classes regularly without much protest from the religious right (although I am not sure how long this will last)

In this post I have already listed Aniket’s post and I am happy that Aniket decided to write about it, as refuting the argument of creationism from the moronic perspective of the late Prabhupada – the cult leader of ISKCON – has been on my to-do list for a long time . I will also link here Prabhupada’s  prejudiced, hate-filled,  bereft-of-any-scientific-reasoning talk for everyone’s enjoyment [Life comes from Life].

Below is an example of  how highly Prabhupada and his disciples regarded Nobel Laureates.

“Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna”

“If the Nobel Prize is given to a scientist who is a rascal, the men on the committee who give him that prize are no better than dogs, hogs, camels and asses. We don’t accept them as human beings. One animal is praised by another animal. Where is the credit in that? If the men on the committee are no better than animals, anyone who receives the Nobel Prize in science is fool number one, because animals are praising him, not human beings.”

 

I sometimes wonder how much blind faith does Prabhupada’s followers need to call Nobel laureates ‘animals’ and yet address him as a “Swami” ? That fits right into the definition of a Hindu fanatic !!

 

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the comments- do take a look at my wicked atheist section. Women are treated inferior by EVERY religion- specially under the “special” clause.

  2. February 13, 2009 9:08 am

    Hi fellow 🙂

    I think you didn’t quite understand what Prabhupada means with being an ‘animal’. An animal is any being that is lead by its mental reactions, and not by real/pure conscience. When Prabhupada said what he said his intent was to show that ‘prises’ are useless idea because in practice human-intelligence is just another manifestation of Nature. Don’t be proud of yourself; see yourself as a part of a whole; a big system. When you can contemplate this system your “intelligence” becomes a gift for you to thank, not to be proud of.

    What is the credit with that? 🙂 That’s the real question. The implicit intelligence in universe is far more intelligent than us, so, understand that there is no use in giving credit to _people_. give credit to nature itself.

    I’m not expecting you to agree in any ways, but I do expect you to open a friendly discussion any time 🙂 You could drop me an e-mail if you like.

    Yours, sincerely.

    sav.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 13, 2009 10:46 am

      @Savio

      Thank you for your comments. I am always open to discussion till someone starts calling me names or engages in ad-hominem attacks. Not that I am offended by it because, as you can see, I proudly call myself ‘nitwit’ too !! However I think when people start name-calling and ad-hominem attacks, thats just another way of telling me ” I cannot refute your logic so I will just shoot you down” which is counter-productive to any debate.

      Btw, how do you know your interpretation is the correct interpretation of what prabhupada meant when he called Nobel Laureates – “animals”? How do you know he didn’t mean what he said? He definitely didn’t admit that himself. And even if I do give you the benefit of doubt, how do you justify him calling them “rascals”? He could have easily explained it the way you are trying to explain without calling them rascals and animals but he DID NOT which leads me to believe that he DID mean what he said.

      I have often seen people defending their gurus when they say something awkward by claiming “this is not what he/she meant” but when someone calls them an idiot or moron they go up in arms. If someone calls you a ‘rascal’ and ‘animal’, will you say the same thing about him/her and tell yourself that he/she meant something else? I doubt it.

      Even though I appreciate the beauties in nature I don’t believe in any supernatural intelligence. However for the sake of argument let me assume for a minute that there is one. Now, if human intelligence is part of nature then why does ISKCON folks put prabhupada on a pedestal and celebrate his glory, his birthday and create idols of him in every temple. Where is his credit ? Why celebrate him at all? Isn’t he also part of nature? So if ISKCON is justified in honoring a human, why is the nobel committee not justified in honoring human scientists? How do you know that they are not celebrating intelligence in nature?

  3. February 13, 2009 9:33 pm

    Mr. Nitwit, thanks for the prompt reply. 🙂 I really appreciate.

    If I happen to run out of arguments I will probably change my mind and thank you. 🙂 I see no problem in renewing opinions… That’s how we evolve afterall, isn’t it? There is no use in grabbing thoughts; we don’t have to prove anything to each other. Actually, if I’m here talking to you it’s because I like changing my mind, and I like when people change theirs too, so, I think that’s what it’s all about.

    The interpretation I made of Prabhupada’s statement makes sense taking from the context, and also considering all we know about what he preached; I can safely afirm that — at least — I’m partially right; partially as in a subset; perhaps I’m missing something, but that makes a lot of sense to me, so let’s keep up with the good arguments…

    Considering that an “intelligent-being” is someone capable of understanding himself as part of a whole, it makes sense to call ego-driven people “rascals”; scientists (huge majority) are ego-driven — agree? 🙂 A person who takes all the credit for developing something has few understanding of what exactly is Being. This reminds me of an old genious mathematician called Ramanujan. Ramanujan attributed all the credit of his work to Visnu (or Brahma, I’m not sure what deity). According to him, he didn’t took part of any of his “insights”; they were all God’s work. That’s interesting because one of the characteristics of God according to most of the serious religion in the world is Omniscience.

    So, back to Prabhupada, I agree that most of the cientists has poor understanding of reality. That’s what they look for all the time, but I think they are looking wrong. Critical reason is product of mind; to understand you have to stop thinking, you have to hear the silence. Suppose you use Reason to understand the meaning of, let’s say, a glass a water. How much difficult it would be using reason than effectively drinking the glass of water? Pure Reason is not a smart path when it comes to something that simple. God is simple; He is everywhere. He is not a supernatural intelligence; he is Pure Intelligence. Your intelligence is product of Nature’s intelligence; don’t forget you were created by Nature. 🙂 “Humans are Nature being conscious of itself”.

    I’m not being esoteric here; one point that is crucial for this discussion is whether there is a Soul (or non-matter conscience) or not. Another crucial point is the definition of God. To me God is not a very-powerfull-person; God is the law-of-order present in all things. Now he is very-powerfull, but He is still non-motivated. He punishes, but not like our parents did when we did something wrong, beacuse god does not have an “motivated-intent”; god is the laws-of-physics, he is action and rection, so punishment could be just a reacting to something you did. God is implicit, and very real to me.

    Srila Prabhupada went throught all Vedas, he knew the meaning of “ahimsa” (non-violence), he knew that there is no difference between a dog and a king (as he stated in his commented-translation of Isopanisad); dogs and kings are all life-forms, they are all wonderful, they are part of what Prabhupada loved more, that is Krishna. Actually, they are Krishna himself.

    You would never see Prabhupada taking the credit not even for a dish he washed. He despised any selfish value like that. People adore Prabhupada, make statues of him and put him in a pedestal because people see Krishna IN Prabhupada. Actually they are glorifying Krishna. People celebrate him because he is a sign, a symbol, a reference. It’s completely different than adoring an actor or a singer. Serving a guru that serves Krishna is the same as serving Krishna directly; as if the singer were doing good to humanity, I would really have reasons to adore this singer.

    In the other hand there are cientists that are usually blinded by reason and tied by ego. Are you part of any scientific community? I am, and I can tell: most of the most brilliant scientists that I knew was short-sighted. At least in mathematic field, they are able to perform great abstractions and theorems, but they are not able to see the obvious; what is right bellow their noses.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 14, 2009 8:13 am

      @savio

      My intention is not to change your mind but to understand how believers think about these things. While debating theists, I have realized that when people trust someone’s (whom they consider an authority) words more than their own intelligence, it’s a futile endeavour. The cult of personality is too strong a spell to break out of, unless someone makes a conscious effort himself/herself to break out of it.

      You say that you belong to a scientific community (so do I), so I am sure you are aware of what I mean by a ‘testable hypothesis”, correct ? Also, then I guess it’s not unfair for me to expect scientific or testable explanations from you to the following questions (at least the first 3) –

      1. How do you know that there is a ‘Being’ with ‘Supreme’ or ‘Pure Intelligence’ who is “everywhere” as you said? (opinons or someone’s words don’t count as scientific proof)

      2. How do you know that there is a reality beyond what we can detect with our 5 senses ? (again personal experiences or opinions don’t count as scientific proof)

      3. What is the scientific basis for the soul ? ( most people reply this question with a question, but a question is not the answer to a question)

      4. Was there anyone ever called Krishna. What proof do you have that Krishna ever existed ? He could just be a fictional character like Harry Potter.

      5. Assuming that people use Prabhupada as a symbol for Krishna, how do you know that when people glorify nobel laureates they are not glorifying the “pure intelligence” or Krishna you talk about? How do you know that nobel laureates are not symbols for something ? Just because people don’t say Krishna 10 times in every sentence doesn’t mean that they are not ? I think their contribution to humanity is much greater than anyone else – and surely greater than prabhupada.

      6. How do you know that your definition of an “inteligent being” as “someone capable of understanding himself as part of a whole” is correct and not an assumption and why should others live by your definition?

      Even though I still don’t agree with Prabhupada’s “rascal” comment, I will ignore it for the time being because that maybe counter-productive to our discussion.

      If you say that one cannot reason and has to sit in silence to understand these answers, I don’t think we will go further with this discussion as I am one of those “rascals” who refuses to sit in silence and convince himself not to question the guru’s judgement or accept that what he is saying is true.

      Thanks again for your comments.

  4. Savio permalink
    February 14, 2009 1:53 pm

    [Q1]
    How do you know that there is a ‘Being’ with ‘Supreme’ or ‘Pure Intelligence’ who is “everywhere” as you said?

    [A1]
    You mentioned ‘testable hypotesis’; that’s really nice. A common reasoning-process involving testable hypotesis is Retroduction. So let’s assume ‘a priori’ the existence of god, but not taking it for granted — you may dislike this but I’ll try to make myself clearer… But before we begin, we have to define the sign ‘God’. Whats its semantics?

    For the sake of simplicity, we can start by defining God as ‘Reality’, ‘Everything-that-exists’, afterall that’s our primary concern. This definition does not count on any characteristics though; so, according to this definition we cannot yet state that God is intelligent. So, we’re not doing anything wrong til now. We defined God as Reality and we know ‘a priori’ that Reality exists. If we get a Platonian path here to start wondering whether this “Machine” is fooling us, we’ll be stuck in a labirynth of madness. So, let’s use Retroduction and let’s try to understand God just by observation…

    When you stop and look around, what do you see? When I say that the only way to understand is stop thinking, I mean it’s too hard to understand everything that is around you by reasoning-processes — you already got that. All the Physics, Chemistry, all the Memes interaction, action and reactions — come on! 🙂 You cannot map all these phoenomenon to understand it. We can take a quick shortcut though, which is being objective in our observations. What are we looking for? We’re looking for natural-intelligence, right? If Reality shows any manifestation of Intelligence, then we can say God is Intelligent, right?

    Let’s make a brief pause here and think about the definition of Intelligence. Intelligence is the faculty of being able to create new things and learn new things. Creating Solutions/solving problems, creating plans, designing strategies, etc.

    So we have two subjects now: (1) God, (2) Intelligence. We still don’t have problems with that, right? These are humble definitions. We are not yet giving any further characteristics to them. God is not yet Intelligent. But let’s go back to the Retroduction approach…

    There are several theories in science (and some not-that-exact sciences like Sociology, for example) that argues about life-forms in macro systems. What the hell am I talking about? Darwin’s natural selection, Dawkin’s Memetics, Dostoyevsky’s “social organism”, even Lovelock’s Gaia theory, they all realized that there is somehow “life behaviors” in macro systems like society (social organisms), planet Earth (Gaia), Nature (Darwin) and even Culture (Memetics). Exaplaining Darwin is straightforward and perhaps effective enough; natural selection is the natural choice that is evolution-oriented. The single fact that Nature is choosing for a better structure shows some signs of Intelligence, since intelligence is creating solutions, creating new things things from old things, it’s creativity, etc.; Nature is looking for solutions. And so the other systems. Society is creating solutions all the time too. They are all giving signs that there is an implicit intelligence in Reality. It would probably be a good idea to dig deeper into theses theories if you like; I’d rather avoid doing this because it would take too much of our time. Let’s try something easier…

    When you take a quick glance into how the world behaves — let’s say, Physics — you will probably see common patterns behind everything. A pattern of balance, a pattern of transformation, a pattern of cicles, etc. We can aggregate these characteristics to our understanding of God, right?, since God is exactaly this — the law-of-order. When you study the Vedas, for example, you match these patterns with the definition of God. Actually, Hinduism studies God from different perspectives. Reality has several vertices. The material aspect of God in Hinduism is called Brahma. The pattern of the movement of Reality (the criteria, the algorithm) is called Krishna, etc. We do apply the same approach in science. We study Reality from different points of view. But that’s already out of our initial scope, since we cannot assume truths said in books. 🙂 We have to deal with our logical thought, so let’s go on…

    A great Philosopher (still alive) called Daniel Dannet once wrote ~”Everything that process information has some level of consciousness.”. The ‘~’ operator means “approximately…” 🙂 I can’t quote him precisely; my memory is too weak for that.

    So, What are humans? We are machines ready to process information. That’s all we do. All feelings, all thoughts, everything, can be exaplained by a finite sequence of actions and reactions. Einstein spotted ~”God don’t throw dices”. He said that when his contemporary scientists considered random reactions in quantum physics. There is no random reactions. Everything happens as if it was following a bloody algorithm. But there is some free-variables in this process. Free-will. This

    [Q2]
    How do you know that there is a reality beyond what we can detect with our 5 senses ? (again personal experiences or opinions don’t count as scientific proof)

    [A2]
    This is simple. You do not see, smell, touch or hear the Dark Matter, do you? But Dark Matter do exist — so, something exist beyond our senses; so reality is beyond our senses. Light, for example, you can never “see” light in both forms at the same time — wave and matter. Heisenberg teached us that simply by observing you are altering an experiment so you can never understand it as it really is! Reality is far bigger than we can possibly understand even with hundreds of thousands of years. It’s known that a computer (Turing Machine) cannot understand some types of problems — called non-computable (I’m not sure if this is the correct word in english; my first language is portuguese 🙂 sorry).

    So, it may be clear to us that reality is beyond we can detect with our 5 senses.

    [Q3]
    What is the scientific basis for the soul ? (most people reply this question with a question, but a question is not the answer to a question)

    [A3]
    That’s complicated. Artificial intelligence is failing to reproduce any type of intelligent form. Cloning is not reproducing, it’s cloning. To reproduce is to create from scratch. That’s probably because people are not considering this ‘energy’ that moves the ‘algorithm’. I’m not saying that they can’t reproduce intelligence — I bet they can; it’s just that something is missing. The Soul. The Soul is just another definition, you see? Soul is ourselves as part of God. Reality is to God as Men are to Soul. That’s it. I’m not capable of going any further that I did already though. Again, Retroduction is a good method. We assume that the thing exists. We see evidences (not proofs) that we are right and we test Reality against what we think is right. You see? There is no blind-faith in believing in God, in some cases.

    [Q4]
    Was there anyone ever called Krishna. What proof do you have that Krishna ever existed ? He could just be a fictional character like Harry Potter.

    [A4]
    I don’t know, but this doesn’t matter. One of the funniest things to me when it comes to religous institutions is that they are so attached to small and meaningless truths. What difference it makes to us if Jesus had 30 children and wives? The only thing that really matters is his message: Love.

    Like I said, if a singer does any good to humanity I have reasons to give him credit and if he does A LOT OF good I will probably adore him. If Harry Potter could teach me precious things I’d take him into the heart.

    [epilog]

    I’m sorry but I’ll stop here. I won’t escape from answering the other two questions; I didn’t run out of arguments yet 🙂 It’s just that I’m so tired. It’s 7pm of saturday in Brazil, I was working since morning 🙂 I stopped to answer this e-mail because I think it is important to me; but I’m even more tired now. I promise I’ll answer them later, ok?

    By the way, I’m sorry for the weight of this post; I couldn’t make it any simpler. It’s always hard to me to explain my thoughts because many of them are not based on reason. 🙂 I tried to translate it; but I’m certainly not precise. You should at least try meditation. Stop thinking. Feel and hear the silence. What do you have to lose? The spiritual-science (Yoga) can be _practiced_. Science already showed that meditation produces good things to us. Why not try? I’m sure you can see a World far beyond reasoning.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 15, 2009 10:01 am

      @Savio

      I will be a bit busy today so I will reply to your comments as soon as I get a chance.

    • nitwitnastik permalink
      February 15, 2009 6:11 pm

      @Savio

      Thank you for your comments and your willingness to think critically. However it may seem from your arguments that you “want” to believe in God and trying to justify it. I as an agnostic am only trying to say that I want verifiable proof for the existence of God and his Intelligence. So let me coment on your explanations

      For A1, I am not sure what you were trying to say. It seems to me that you are a naturalist who wants to call the natural world as God. That is fine. I agree with your definition of God and Intelligence but that is matter of semanitics. If you want to call everything in nature reality, then I am fine with it. If you see that there is intelligence in nature then I fully agree that there is intelligence. But, that does not prove the existence of supernatural intelligence or an intelligence which controls everything. I did not gather how you connected God and Intelligence other than by pure imagination. Can you disprove that the intelligence of the natural world does not come from space aliens or that our reality is not part of a computer simulation of a higher species. So unless I get any verifiable proof for it I don’t think the logic holds.

      Btw Daniel Denett, Einstein are/were all atheists and free will only exists when you consider a controlling God. When I have no proof for that, the question of free will becomes moot.

      A2. Gravity, Dark matter, Light particles can all be inferred from their effect on the observable objects but “Reality” is not. Even though we don’t see any of them we need gravity, dark matter, light, electrons etc to explain certain phenomena but we don’t need “Reality” to explain any phenomenon in the natural world. So again it is not testable and cannot be assumed to exist in the absence of evidence.

      A3. Again Soul’s existence cannot be scientifically verified nor is it necessary to explain anything. Just because science hasn’t improved to the point that it can reproduce our natural intelligence is not proof that there is a soul. What is the evidence for soul again? I failed to understand that part. Absence of evidence is not grounds enough to believe in anything and after all nature had a few billion years head start. Check out my blog for videos on robots which have been shown to gather intelligence iteratively.

      A4. There are lot of people who do take harry potter to heart, and use him to show human virtues, But fortunately they know that he is fictional. Krishna is considered real to a lot of people who use him to impose their ideas on others. So even though your personal opinion may vary, you still give credence to it.

      Anyway, I guess that’s all I have to say. I may have commented in a hurry as I have to run for a chore but we can keep the discussion going. Also, please don’t assume that I did not meditate ever. Please read the ‘about’ section in my blog and you will see that I was once a staunch believer. I also used to meditate regularly for hours when I was one and I still believe that meditation has some benefits. Btw, I don’t think we can ever “stop thinking”. For that to happen we have to be dead. 🙂

  5. Savio permalink
    February 16, 2009 9:18 am

    I shall say a bit about me. I was born catholic; I became an atheist when I started thinking critically (a few years before 15 y.o. I think; that’s when we all start doing it, right?). When I thought a bit more I “saw” that God that all sacred books were talking about. I never ‘tried’ to believe in anything. I’m not attached to any result; I’m just concerned about what I can observe (and to me God is observable). It’s just that I’m not that scientifically-pedantic anymore. For example, how do you know your father is really your parent? Have you ever tried DNA test? 🙂 Perhaps the point is that you’re looking for the wrong God. Let’s talk more about that ahead.

    Daniel Dannet is atheist, Ok, but regarding Einstein, definetly, he was not an atheist [1]. (and by the way: Einstein >> Dannet ). Eistein talks all the time about God. The same God I am talking about since the beginning of this conversation. Not the god you (“you” as in “atheists, in general”) are looking for, as I’ll explain a bit further. (Einstein even studied the Bhagavad Gita!!)

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#Religious_views

    When asked, Einstein said “I believe in Spinoza’s God” [2]. That’s the God I’m talking about. It’s not Spinoza’s though. This is the god from the Vedas — written 4.000 years ago. It’s just that people simply can’t understand it. Both scientists and religious people. The Church (institution) are too concerned about whether or not it’s a sin to use condom to really meditate about Love. The church uses God to control their believers. That’s a sin itself; but it’s out of our scope too, so let’s keep the focus.

    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza#Philosophy

    Like I said, I don’t take God for granted. I’m not Naturalist 🙂 I just see God in Nature all the time because it’s the easiest target of observation. Nature is not only trees, mountains and animals. Nature is physics, chemistry, evolution, science. God is everywhere. This implicit intelligence is everywhere. I notice this intelligence everywhere. You do also, in a different way, since you agree with me that these systems shows signs of intelligence, didn’t you? So the problem is still on the definition of God. Let’s go back to that again and I’ll exaplain what I promised in the first paragraph.

    Let’s work on the definitions again but this time defining what god IS NOT. First, God is not a mind-endowed-being concerned about humans; definitely, No! 🙂 God is not a mind-endowed-being that thought “Ok, now I will create humans, so — where is that magic word again? — Kalazindibum! and humans are created.”, No, this is not God too. God is not an old-man with white beard, with a magical staff and everything. God does not punish you the way Holy Church claims. Perhaps you’ll come to the conclusion that Nature itself punishes Men; but this is not a MOTIVATED/INTENTIONAL-ACTION. I mentioned this in a previous post. God’s “personality” (a new word here) is not motivated.

    God is Intelligent, though. And god has a Personality. What is personality? Can you define personality? I think this will be fun. Perhaps we can try this: we look for a good definition to ‘personality’ and then we try to find traces of personality in God. What do you think?

    I quoted you bellow:

    “That is fine. I agree with your definition of God and Intelligence but that is matter of semantics. If you want to call everything in nature reality, then I am fine with it. If you see that there is intelligence in nature then I fully agree that there is intelligence. But, that does not prove the existence of supernatural intelligence or an intelligence which controls everything.”

    The answer is: I am NOT trying to prove any supernatural intelligence because there isn’t one. God is REAL. It’s not a fictional character we created to explain things. Just look around and inside (yourself). Can’t you see a goddamn intelligence? 🙂 I’m not saying either that God intentionally-controls everything. I DO say though that God DOES control everything (not intentionally). Can you go against the laws of physics? Can you change the fact that everything in the world is made of action-reaction (chaos)? Can you intentionally change the course of the future? No. We’re under complete “control” of God. We cannot get rid of this. 🙂

    Finally, the real vertice of ALL our discussion here is whether or not the natural-world has intelligence, right? We can talk about personality too — it would be great if we could go deeper in this point.

    I will leave a question to you, then, that is: How can our intelligence be possible without a previously existing intelligence (or order)? I mean, Language itself is implicit in the World — you ever thought about that? (or you, as I did in the past, think men created language? HEH). We wouldn’t be able to understand Language if it wasn’t there already! So how can our intelligence be possible?

    If there is any point that I left behind (and I did leave some) that you really need to retrieve and discuss please let me know. I’m trying not to expand too much our tree-of-conversation, keeping the central point. 🙂

    I think we have a lot to discuss. If you like you can drop me an e-mail (I don’t mind writing here, but e-mails are easier to write than this tiny form). I also have MSN: anonycx@hotmail.com.

    It’s a pleasure to have this discussion. I hope we can keep going until any conclusions by any parts.

    Your best wisher,


    sav

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 16, 2009 11:59 am

      @Savio,

      Please forgive me if I prefer to converse through this blog as that helps in having a link to my comments if I want to link it later for someone else. Btw, I did not become an agnostic at 15, I became one much much later in life after extensively studying both sides of the matter.

      If I understand you correctly, I don’t think the definition of your God is much different from what I call ‘Nature’ or the “universe’. I think the difference is in semantics and nothing more. I just don’t believe in a supernatural god who created humans, answers prayers, deals with human events, can perform miracles (or basically anything), knows our inner thoughts etc etc. As such, I also don’t believe there is any point in chanting ‘hare krishna hare rama’ or any mantra for that matter. I don’t have any basis to believe that humans can achieve knowledge beyond the knowledge of natural world.

      Also when we talk about God’s personality we are trying to anthropomorphise god and assuming that god or nature has human like qualities. I think human personality is part of nature and not the other way round. If we call natural laws as personality, that fine. That is just difference in semantics. However, I have no basis to assume that God has any personality like the one we humans have.

      Btw, Have you read ‘God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. There he has dedicated almost an entire chapter to discuss Einstein’s God and when I said einstein was an atheist I meant the type of atheist richard dawkins himself claims to be. Btw, I hope you realize that someone’s opinion doesn’t count as proof in science.

      As far as intelligence is concerned, all I can say is – I don’t know. To assume that there was an intelligence from which our intelligence came from, brings up the question “So where did that intelligence come from?” and we find ourselves in an infinite regression till we decide to end it with a name – God. I find such exercise futile and forcing a name on something we don’t know about.

      I am curious to know, what is your relation with ISKCON and what aspects of ISKCON do you attach with

  6. Savio permalink
    February 16, 2009 1:11 pm

    It’s OK to converse through wordpress; I just wished I could quote you.
    I will try an improvisation…

    “If I understand you correctly, I don’t think the definition of your God is much different from what I call ‘Nature’ or the “universe’.”

    The difference is that (in my opinion) Nature is Intelligent and has a Personality. Personality is not a human-characteristic. Dogs have personality. That’s why I asked you to start defining it, and we would come to a conclusion about what Personality is, but we started wrong. Definitely Personality is not a human characteristic.

    Also, God (in my opinion) is beyond Universe. Universe is part of Reality. Do you really think Universe encompasses Reality? 🙂 Do you think Men can understand everything through science? That would be pretentious. Think of Men as a organic-machine. Computers can’t compute every problem. What makes you think Men can? Any evidences to state the opposite? 🙂 I don’t see any.

    The difference is not also in semantics. Actually, unlikely, the semantics is (almost) the SAME. The SIGN we use is different, right? If we are talking about the same thing using different words, the semantics is the same, the sign changes.

    That’s why I think the discussion between creationists and evolutionists is useless. 🙂 Both are wrong. On the one hand Religion insists that an Old-grandpa created Men from Void; On the other hand, scientists think Reality is just matter and action and reaction, etc. They can’t see the intersection because they interests blind them.

    About chanting the Maha Mantra, well, that’s something I cannot explain. I do chant, and I it DOES change ME. That’s empirical. If you clap your hand twice and you become smarter and healthier, why not clapping your hand twice every day? 🙂 It makes even more sense when it does no harm.

    Some studies [there is a Scientific American at home with a huge article about Yoga, I should make proper reference later if you like] shows that meditation does good things to health — to the brain most of the time. Yoga is a spiritual-science because you can test it. If you meditated and didn’t feel better it’s because you didn’t meditate properly. I understand when you say we can never stop thinking. Actually, the thoughts appear, but you don’t grab any of them. It’s the MIND who never stops; our Thinking is not attached to the Mind, though.

    I started reading ‘God Delusion’ but I quit on page 50. Dawkins (not only in this book) attacks the Church most of the time; and that makes sense to me but I’m not concerned about the Church. He attacks people’s religious-(blind?)-behavior. And that also makes sense. But when he starts talking about God I usually give a great laugh. Dawkins with all his knowledge also cannot see the obvious. I mean it. I’m saying Dawkins is blinded by science. I can show the reason if you like, but I’d really rather continue this discussion. Attacking Dawkins would just be a lame attempt to prove myself; even tho I believe I can do it, I don’t think it’d be productive.

    “As far as intelligence is concerned, all I can say is – I don’t know. To assume that there was an intelligence from which our intelligence came from, brings up the question “So where did that intelligence come from?” and we find ourselves in an infinite regression till we decide to end it with a name – God. I find such exercise futile and forcing a name on something we don’t know about.”

    No need to go that far. Let’s think about language. Our brain has a dedicated module to process language; so, humans didn’t create language. Where does it come from, then? The only possibility until now (considering all we know from Science) is, well, from Nature. 🙂 Then Nature is intelligent….

    “I am curious to know, what is your relation with ISKCON and what aspects of ISKCON do you attach with”

    I’m not a Hare Krishna (i.e., Vaishnava). I’m an usual curious man. Well, I could say more about me: I’m a software engineer, I like philosophy of mind, mathematics and music. I go to the Hare Krishna temple from time to time. I enjoy being close to them, even though we disagree in many points. I respect Srila Prabhupada as a GREAT teacher. He showed me important things; important things to life. I recognize that he made mistakes; he was really tough and clod; but when you leave all this and listen to his preaches you see that in essence he is sweet and generous.

    Actually, I’m more comfortable with scientific topics than spiritual. Also, spirituality just happened to me. It’s not a choice. It’s a result of observation. I never looked for God. It’s like the Sun, brother 🙂 When the Sun rises, you can’t stop the light by closing your eyes. It will warm your nose anyway…

    Yours sincerely,

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 16, 2009 5:23 pm

      Savio

      >>>Do you think Men can understand everything through science? That would be pretentious. Think of Men as a organic-machine. Computers can’t compute every problem. What makes you think Men can? Any evidences to state the opposite? I don’t see any.

      No, I don’t claim any such thing about science. If we could explain everything there wouldn’t be any need for science.

      Btw, You are the one asserting that there is something beyond our intelligence so the onus is on you to prove it. What is your basis in believing that there is something beyond our observable universe. WHy should we assume, that just because our minds are limited there is something which our minds cannot grasp ?

      Also the more important question is – Is the existence of something beyond our observable universe necessary to explain anything in this universe or to lead our lives?

      I just wrote a bigger reply to your comment but I lost it and I don’t have time to type again so we can talk about the other points later.

  7. February 16, 2009 8:34 pm

    I told you some posts ago about some aspects of our observable universe that simply cannot be observed. So, We could go back to the Dark Matter topic; or perhaps Heisenberg’s. I remember of you disagreeing on the Dark Matter subject; I know we could ressurect that point — and I promise give full attention to it if you like — but I think I came up with an easiest path…

    As we concluded above, science cannot explain everything, so, being science ruled by both observation itself and reasoning, how could possible be the inexistance [absence?] of something beyond our intelligence at the same time that science cannot explain everything?

    Another basis is the one I also mentioned before about men being like a machine, etc. Machines are limited. There things (processable realities — remember about Dannet?) that cannot be grasped (i.e., processed).

    And finally, No! 🙂 I don’t think the understanding of what’s beyond the universe is necessary to lead our lives. Simply because, heck, it’s not understandable.

    You think different though when you understand that some things are not understandable. I think this is one of the steps I took from the atheist point to the theist point. I gave up trying to understand everything. That’s foolish.

    There are marvelous things that cannot be explained, but it doesn’t matter at all whether it’s explainable or not. Some things are undeniable.

    My best regards, fellow.

  8. Savio permalink
    February 17, 2009 10:00 am

    Q1: “What is your basis in believing that there is something beyond our observable universe?”

    A1: You made this question before. I tried to explain about the things that we cannot observe. We talked about Dark Matter and Heisenberg — and the most important topic for me regarding this subject is that humans are like machines, and machines are limited in a sense that one machine cannot solve all problems. We considered the Turing Machine and all stuff — computable problems, and non-computable problems. We talked about Daniel Dannet’s consciousness, and how it’s intimately related to the ability of this machine process things. “Everything that process information has some level of consciousness”. We, as machines, cannot process every possibility of Reality. Reality in a sense is how things are; we’re not able to understand the meaning of “everything” with such limited powers. Our brain has too weak cognition.

    You disagreed with me so I understand why you come up with the same question again. I’ll try a different and simple path this time.

    We concluded that science cannot explain everything. So, being science rooted in observation and reasoning, how could possibly be the inexistence (absence?) of something beyond our observable universe when science (i.e., observation itself) cannot expĺain (observe) everything?

    Can’t you see how limited our mind are? Oh, please 🙂 It’s SO pretentious to assume we can grab everything. AT LEAST homo sapiens would have to evolve to something smarter to understand a bit more — and even then he wouldn’t be able to understand everything. Brain’s module to process language is a a good evidence (not a proof, though).

    The understanding of what is beyond definitely is not *necessary*, even because — heck! — it’s not understandable, so how could we apply?

    It makes a huge difference in life though, to be humble enough to assume that we cannot prove everything. This surely was one of the steps I took from the atheist point to the theist point. Some things are undeniable. There are SO many evidences of a superior intelligence that it’s a lot harder to deny it than to accept it.

    Your always best wisher,

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 25, 2009 4:19 pm

      @Savio
      Finally I had some time to reply to your post. Sorry for the delay.

      Yes, I agree with you that our human minds are limited and so is science but that does not give us the license or freedom to invent anything or believe in anything. Ignorance in the world around us does not default to a belief there is something out there called “reality”. Just because our brains cannot grab something does not mean that we should plug that lack of cognition with something totally invented.

      There may very well be a “reality” but I don’t know neither do you. All I am saying is that I need proof. As for dark matter it is a hypothesis or a possibility and like any “possibility” it can be wrong. It can be used to explain something about the amount of matter in this universe without going into an infinite regress as in the case of god or “Intelligent being”. Moreover dark matter is testable but God or a supreme intelligence is not and neither is it necessary to explain anything. If you can design an objective experiment which can prove God or “Reality” beyond doubt, maybe I will pay attention.

      You keep assuming that there is “something more” to what our brains can imagine and you claim that language module in our brain explains that. Why should the possibility of “something more” be a default postion? Why can’t we say “there is a perfectly natural reason behind it and I don’t know that yet, but I will try to find out?” Also I don’t see how the language module in the brain explains anything other than how natural selection and evolution works.

      YOu claim that humility is about assuming that we cannot prove everything. There is a difference between assuming we do not know everything and trying to find what we do not know (science) and assuming we do not know everything and trying to plug that gap with imagined answers or God (religion). I call the latter intellectual laziness, when we assume God or some inteligence to be the answer to any question we claim “we do not know”. If every scientist assumed that, we wouldn’t have any progress.

      You claim that there are so many evidence of superior intelligence. Please tell me which ones. If there is no scientific reasoning behind it ..yet ..that doesn’t mean God did it or there is something called “reality” . A few thousand years ago, humans believed God was behind lightning and earthquakes..today we know that there are perfectly scientific reasons behind them. So how are you so sure that what science cannot explain today cannot be explained tomorrow?

  9. Savio permalink
    February 17, 2009 10:03 am

    That’s funny. 🙂 I wrote the same post twice. Yesterday I remember of having closed my notebook without really posting — I was so tired. Today I reloaded your page and didn’t see my post so I decide to reproduce it. It’s good to see I didn’t forget anything. Now you have two texts to explain the same thing — perhaps it can make myself a bit clearer. 🙂

    Cheers, fellow.

    My best,

  10. Savio permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:18 am

    Hey, I found this very nice post on the wild web,

    http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/2009/02/marco-biagini-quantum-physics-and.html

    I thought you might be interested….

    My best regards.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      February 19, 2009 10:33 am

      Thanks Savio. I will check it out when I have some time. I will also reply to your earlier comment soon.

  11. Savio permalink
    February 19, 2009 12:29 pm

    No problem. Take your time.

    “Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size.” — Einstein

    🙂

    My best regards,

  12. Savio permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:08 pm

    A friend of came up with this reference today:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ethics_(Spinoza)/Part_1

    It’s fantastic…

  13. Søren permalink
    February 20, 2009 7:26 am

    The source may not seem good, but I suggest a full reading:

    http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j29/consciousness.asp?page=2

  14. February 21, 2009 11:00 am

    Many say that there is “something unobservable and unaccounted for by science” that is supernatural and can explain the possibility of a creator or god. However, such reasoning where something improbable is being supported by something unverfyable makes little sense.

    And more importantly, it leaves with us the question of “who created the creator?”. More of this at http://bigotblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/the-mother-of-all-questions-comic/

    I have a like minded blog at http://bigotblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/religion-was-progressive/ (In this post, I make the case of religion being progressive at earlier stages)

    Please drop in sometimes and help me make the case against some right wing conservative commentators.

  15. February 26, 2009 9:08 pm

    There is no such thing as something “out there” called “reality”. It’s simple: there must BE something; this something we call Reality. There must be a description of how everything-that-exists “works” (We’re not sure whether this everything is The Universe or not).

    What’s the difficulty? Reality it’s just a name we use to define everything-that-exists. Then we talk about this everything and observe what we can of this everything. Some things are tangible, other things are not.

    Again, we were still talking about what is tangible. 🙂 And we stated that Reality is Intelligent. You didn’t complained so I think we agree in this point. Why do we still need to consider about what is NOT tangible? What is beyond we can observe (NOT tangible) should be considered after we understand about what is tangible.

    Mr Nitwitnastik, all we did since the beginning of this thread was to define things precisely. We didn’t invent anything, neither we used any of these definitions to explain anything; so, I can’t really understand why you insist on this approach.

    It’s useless to talk about other’s failed-arguments. I understand that many people invent a god to “fill the gap”, but it’s useless to talk about these people. We’re talking about God here, not about people — so, again, we did not invent anything, neither filled any gap.

    Actually, to be spiritualized requires a lot of sense of what is real and what is unreal. More; This sense comes from a careful observation of reality — i.e., what is tangible.

    Nature can be observed by methods other than pedantically-scientific ones; and you still get the results.

    What if you there were a source of information that could explain many things about what is tangible (and that you could observe and test); what this source described what is not tangible, relating them to each other; Imagine if that, somehow, made a lot of sense to you. If those descriptions were precisely connected.

    [By the way: We didn’t relate the dark matter argument to the “universe-intelligence” subject. Actually, we related it to the fact that there are some things that we cannot observe.]

    When you look from the perspective of the Vedas, for example, so many things make sense that it’s really hard to deny it — i.e, to show significant defects in its philosophy. It just makes sense! Perhaps you can’t prove it all, but you don’t feel like needing to prove anything at all…

    Are you any used to philosophy methods?

    People usually say philosophy is not really science. I disagree. Spinoza proofs himself in my favor, and Descartes too; not to mention Kant, Wittgenstein, Peirce, et cetera. Need more? [Kant can teach a scientist how to think. :)]

    Today philosophy is so fundamentally based on reasoning that you simply can’t say it’s not a science. The same happens in the Vedantic Philosophy.

    [I’m sorry, I see you are not referencing Hinduism all the time, but that includes my point of view; I’m not familiarized with any other religion.]

    Veda in sanskrit means knowledge. It has literature about several fields of knowledge; The ones I most like though are those related to philosophy.

    They are called The Upanisads (the first ‘s’ is pronounced like the “sh” in “shake”). The Sri Isopanisad, for example, has a concise definition of the God we were talking in the beginning of this conversation.

    One interesting fact about the Vedas is that there are several authors, and they do not disagree in any point. They claim they wrote that under the influence of great realization.

    [You know when you listen to a good music and you feel the musician was under the influence of great inspiration? Same happens when you understand what the Vedas are saying.]

    The only way to understand that, though, is going through the books with a sincere reading. Sincere and precise. Don’t take anything for granted, but give the Vedas a chance to explain what’s stated,

    Yoga, for example, is a nice example. Scientists learned that Yoga can make many good things to your health increasing the quality of your life. They can’t prove anything though. They just see the results.

    All neurologists work the same way. They don’t really understand how the brain works. They assume the existence of things like The Unconscious, etc, and keep analyzing; The definition of the unconscious is not scientifically proved but it certainly helps a lot in observation.

    What is “religion” doing wrong assuming some things, then? 🙂 Our main concern is about what is tangible. How to deal the best with what is tangible. Religion comes from the latin word “Religare” which means “to tie back”.

    It’s not possible to tie what is tangible to what is not tangible if you don’t pass through what is tangible.

    Perhaps we should work on that… 🙂

    You said, “You claim that there are so many evidence of superior intelligence. Please tell me which ones.”, and that makes me a bit sad because we talked so many times about that before.

    I (still) feel like I’m going in circles. Please don’t be offended, but asking previously answered questions makes me think you are running from a sincere argumentation.

    You can go up a few pages to see when I told you about the evidences of intelligence in Nature.

    Finally, I’m sure science will be able to explain things in the future that it cannot explain now. I’m so sure about that.

    I’m also sure that it will not find out anything that contradicts the Vedas.

    I’ll leave you a challenge. If you can prove that what is said in the Vedas is _wrong_, I’ll understand you have a reason to ignore all its information (it wouldn’t still be a GOOD reason, but it’s OK — I don’t think you can do it anyway :-)).

    Your always best wisher.

  16. February 27, 2009 4:11 am

    I’m sorry for the poor english in last post. No clue why but it got a lot worse. I wished I could fix soem mistakes and typos, but there’s no such option in wordpress for unregistered users, at least. 🙂

    I beg your pardon.

    My best,

  17. February 27, 2009 4:19 am

    [addendum]

    It’s funny how some types of reasoning just don’t need proof to make sense.

    Imagine a circle, and a point inside this circle. You know a priori that this point can’t go out of the circle without crossing the circle; and even when it’s possible to prove it you disregard it, simply because it’s not necessary.

    Your best wisher,

  18. March 31, 2009 8:55 am

    Hey stranger,

    Long time no see.

    In case you want to retrieve the discussion about any subject I’m leaving you my website’s address; there you’ll find all my contacts and everything.

    It was nice to have this conversation, by the way.

    My best regards.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      March 31, 2009 3:49 pm

      Dear Savio,
      I enjoyed the discussion too and I understand you want to continue it. However, long discussions take a lot of time away from my my blogging which is hobby to me in the first place and for which I have to find time after work. I am not running away from a sincere discussion. Just that time constraints do not permit me to spend too much time on one topic. If you want to pick any particular topic from the discussion which you thought wasn’t addressed sufficiently and write up a small comment you want to be answered. I will do it. However, I would prefer not to go back and forth on that same topic and let you have the last word.

      Also, about your comment about the Vedas being perfect, I have heard the *exact* same claim from Christians and Muslims who claim that the Bible and Quran are perfect and when errors and inconsistencies are pointed out in the Bible or Quran they tell us that either it’s poetry and not to be taken literally or some other excuse. I wrote a post on the typical excuses by Xtians [post]and I think the excuses are true for Hindus and Muslims as well, who try to defend their religious texts.

      As for the vedas, any religious text which offers prayers to a thunder God, a god of dawn or a fire God and assumes that the fire is a conduit between humans and Gods and their sacrifices will reach the Gods through fire,is nothing but a book written by superstitous bronze age people. I am willing to accept it as book of poetry but when you claim that it is scientifically valid, I have to disagree. The reason why a lot of sanskrit texts sounds scientific in english is because many of them were translated by europeans and indians in the 19th-20th century who used contemporary english to translate 3000 year old vocabulary, parallels of which cannot be drawn. Anyway, I don’t have the time to explain all the inconsistencies and errors in the vedas. If you think it is perfect and free from mistakes, then I don’t think I can convince you. I only hope that you can challenge yourself a little more and not accept everything at face value.

  19. Bhavasindhu Dasa permalink
    June 13, 2009 2:01 pm

    There is actually a very lively debate going on in semi-private quarters concerning what an official position from ISKCON on evolution might look like. Both sides, traditional and radical, are well represented by learned scholars. The anti-intellectualism of early ISKCON hardly holds true today.

  20. December 16, 2009 4:14 am

    savio, have you read the book “prophets facing backwards”? try reading it when you’ve time
    http://books.google.co.in/books?id=h3mUi5Uan_UC&lpg=PP1&dq=prophets%20facing%20backwards&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    it explains in detail how people mistook vedas as scriptures containing knowledge about every thing in this universe.

    nitwitnastik, you seem to be a really patient guy. All I can see in the posts of savio was nothing but woo. Arguing against woo is almost impossible. 😉

  21. wanve sunil permalink
    February 26, 2010 4:42 am

    i would like to reply to nitwiknastik that if there was nothing more to the world than that what we can sense then why do we put a tag that we can hear only from 20hz to 20000 hz does that mean that a world of more than 20000hz noise strength dosent exist and if its so then what is infinity it seems from this observation that weare along with our senses stuck up in a very tiny part of this creation and trying to explore the universe with our limited senses and refute everything thats beyond our understanding capacity

  22. wanve sunil permalink
    February 26, 2010 4:50 am

    only by reading u cannot know how to treat a patient to do so a learning doctor has to be constantly be with one who really is a good doctor knowledge comes form associations not merely by discussions and certainly not by not following the person whom we r doubting if u r in somuch doubts about waht vedas can provide u why dont u follow them and get the result i cant give u my tongue to make u taste a sweet u have to put it urself on ur paLATE ONLY THEN U GET THE KNOWLEDGE OF ITS EXPERIENCE hare krsna

  23. Kenji permalink
    March 6, 2010 5:22 pm

    ISKCON members speaking about evolution.

  24. Tom permalink
    August 6, 2011 7:05 am

    You defy God; and nature gives diseases, famines, earthquakes, etc… So you are encaged being defeated by Death, Birth, Old Age and Disease. If you win over these, then there is credit, or else you ought to get a kick on your face for trying to take credit. Unles you find Gods laws and follow them, you will be kicked on your ass by diseases and deaths, repeatedly for millions of years, until you get a chance to find God laws again. If you are celebrating somethings else, then …

  25. Jake Stein permalink
    November 27, 2011 9:53 am

    You are a fucking moron. You remind me of the dumbfuck guy in my calculus class who thought calculus was bogus just because his chickenshit brain couldn’t grasp it. If you don’t understand the very simple message in Life from Life, I suggest you start critiquing your own intellectual abilities (or lack thereof). Stupid dumbshit.

  26. sagar permalink
    September 1, 2013 6:31 am

    @nitwit nastik
    http://www.thespiritualscientist.com/2011/07/does-the-theory-of-evolution-have-a-scientific-basis/
    this is the link from http://www.thespiritualscientist.com its the website run by the devotee who is said to be spiritual scienctist you should read tis and argue it point to point for good discussion

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