Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy


    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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Archive for the ‘Disinformation’ Category

Perception And Reality, Fiction and Fact in religion

Posted by robertpriddy on February 5, 2011

It is something of a fad among surfers to say that “everything is perception” and that there is “no truth and no reality”. This standpoint obviously falls on the grounds that it is merely a perception, not truth. However, the idea persists that there is nothing that can be called reality other than perception. This is the most elementary logical and factual error one can make – it is pre-philosophical: The earliest philosophical thinkers already distinguished between perception and reality – the stick that is perceived as bent in water is ‘in reality’ straight. You could discover the reality of the situation you experienced only when you investigate so as to test the perceptions.

The same basic assumption underpins all religious beliefs – that is, the acceptance of perceptions (in the broad sense) as fact, when they may just as well be fiction.  There is a very widespread ethos saying ‘People must be allowed to believe what they want’. The fact is that one cannot stop people believing what they want. So the ethos aims instead at those who wish to question beliefs, examine them, put them to the test and debate them openly… as if they should stop their activities out of ‘respect’ for other people’s beliefs.

The biologist Lewis Wolpert seeks to examine the penchant for faith in a book whose title derives from an exchange between Alice and the Red Queen, in which the latter points out that “sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Wolpert describes and interprets various widespread logical fallacies, examining their diverse origins in brain pathology, neuro-chemical impacts, and other cognitive limitations, in seeking to understand why so many people, in the words of H.L. Mencken, “believe passionately in the palpably not true.” His book is a useful compendium of hallucinations, confabulations, and other self-delusions, with the intriguing added thesis that much science is itself counterintuitive (the earth’s going around the sun, the mutability of species, quantum “weirdness,” and so on).

Truthfulness and/or factual truth: There can be a major difference between telling facts truthfully and knowing what is true. A witness who has been unknowingly misled – or who eagerly trusted and believed may tell experience most honestly, but this may well still misrepresent actual states of affairs. Someone can be truthful about their subjective experiences, while these experiences may remain very far from penetrating to the truth of things. Not only may the experience be the result of framed and mind-distorted perceptions but it may conflict with the evidence both of systematic investigation, collective experience, factual knowledge and reason.

To be truthful may lead to revealing a more comprehensive or hidden truth, but what one tells can be distorted by one’s subjective interpretations combined with what one thinks and believes in general, all bending one’s perceptions. When one has developed a mindset which is largely organized by some doctrine or faith, the truth of any matter is always more or less clouded by that mindset. Those who have a very wide mindset will usually be able to interpret their perceptions in a less subjective manner than those who lack training in comparative studies, critical thinking, and psychological self-understanding.

I have given some examples of distinguishing perceptions (and subjective interpretations of them) from reality in interactions with spiritual figures. Such insights are crucial in discovering fraud by so-called spiritual gurus. They help in seeing through the very subtle means of indoctrination, self-programming, and deceptive means of hooking followers. See the: The dangers of global and religious or spiritual cults (http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/5/What_a_Cult_is.html) and for examples based on long experience of the techniques India’s most successful guru-god see here.

The nature of the brain’s self-programming is dealt with in an understandable way here, showing how perception is itself not reality-

Posted in Atheism, Belief, Disinformation, Ideology, Philosophy, Religion, Spiritual cults | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Critical Research into the New Testament and Jesus’ identity

Posted by robertpriddy on January 23, 2011

The two following scans I found on Flikr.com The content is quite authoritative and interesting:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whiteyk/5381124695/


Posted in Catholicism, Disinformation, Historical research, Ideology, Religion, religious faith, Research, Theology | Leave a Comment »

Faith Schools – divisive indoctrination

Posted by robertpriddy on December 16, 2010

Induction into a religious faith at a tender age is indoctrination. While physical abuse of children is now at last forbidden in the most civilized countries, mental abuse is still allowed, and this includes inculcating defenseless children with superstitious folklore and false conceptions.

It should be a human right not to be subjected to an environment where environmental pressures and ‘group effect’ acts to make any child accept a religion. Richard Dawkins has led the way in courageously speaking out to this effect (see here). Bringing up children under a system of education which contain non educative elements (i.e. proselytizing) is contrary to education, which means the learning of real facts about the real world and imbibing the human values (not divine commandments) upon which civilized society and international agreements rest. Faith schools differ from secular schools in that they are really belief-inducing schools. The increasing isolation and unwillingness of “faith” communities to integrate is a threat to future social harmony and world peace, where terrorism is the new kind of war.

All religions are actually ideologies, and their core beliefs are unsupported by any substantive facts or science. They differ as to values and consequently in many parts of the world they are at loggerheads and often in direct violent conflict with one another. To contribute to this disruption, this battle of the sects, however much one talks of peace and goodness, is a blind policy. Socially divisive ‘brainwashing’ – of whatever type and however mild – is unacceptable and to endorse it through an educational system should be made illegal. Divisiveness arises from the pretense that this or that faith has superior access to ‘the truth’, and often that truth will include claims about the unity of mankind… yet which only leads to hypocrisy in action. The consequences are already exploding on the streets of Europe and the USA, not to mention in the developing world where divisions are extreme.

Education deserving the name should develop the autonomy of people, enlightening them as to how to make their own choices in a reasonable way and with knowledge of possible consequences. Obscurantist scriptures should be banned from schools, which would mean the exclusion of large parts of most scriptural sources.

Often, faith schools are popular with parents because they impose more discipline on pupils than secular schools, not least because of the absolutism of the moral codes enshrined in their religions (the Ten Commandments for example). Though often effective, this is absolutely not the best way to achieve integration of pupils into harmonious working groups and communities. Understanding, communication and help in socialization (through special needs assistance and counseling) is the way to go instead. But selection of pupils on religious and other (often bogus) criteria excludes the problem children and avoids the social problems that such schools should bear and face up to, rather than avoiding them. Since their chief aim is religious indoctrination, however, they manipulate so as to avoid those who will be ‘difficult’ and especially potentially critical children and parents.

One commentator (protogodzilla) wrote in the Daily Telegraph

“I attended an RC school in London in the ‘fifties. We were indoctrinated into believing protestants were the spawn of the devil. When I mentioned to the priest that we were all Christians I was caned. We were brain washed into believing that our religion was the most important matter of our lives. I abandoned my religion on the day I left school – there was too much hatred in it for my taste. As a recipe for division, mankind has never devised a better stick than religion to destroy itself. Muslims hold to their brand of bigotry as savagely as the RCs of my youth. If there is a God would He/She be happy with this state of affairs? Faith schools segregate rather than integrate and should be outlawed to encourage social cohesion.”

On such a background one can understand the horrendous events that have terrorized Northern Ireland, and – mutatis mutandis – which are yet worse in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Posted in Atheism, Belief, Catholicism, Disinformation, Environment, Ideology, Religion, religious faith, Understanding | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Spirituality redefined without religion or mysticism

Posted by robertpriddy on December 3, 2010

The words ‘spiritual’ and ‘spirituality’ are nowadays being widely used to advance all manner of religious and pseudo-religious theory, such as unrealistic ‘New Age’ belief systems. They should be redefined entirely within the context of the ‘human spirit’, not any kind of imagined disembodied holy entity (God) or world of spirits (an afterlife or realm of eternal beings). The creations of human ingenuity – whether artistic or scientific, social or moral, practical or even technological – can be expressions of the human spirit. Genuine spirituality is – in real terms – about all those down-to-earth values whereby one does one’s best to advance society in everyday life, create secure and peaceful conditions for oneself and others. Always defending the truth and being truthful, loving others and where possible serving them while respecting their genuinely human qualities and acting in accordance with this to the best of one’s understanding and ability… these are signs of recognisable and real true human spirituality.

A fair degree of self interest is not incompatible with such ‘spirituality’ as we also have a duty to ourselves to survive, develop and live fully. However, there is a vast amount of what passes for spirituality which is self-serving in that people aspire only or predominantly to their own supposed salvation or benefit. This involves putting one’s own wished-for ‘liberation’ from worldly problems entirely before other concerns, aiming to win divine benefits through worship, prayer, meditation,  rituals of many kinds. The desired attainments would raise oneself above others, such as in trying to obtain extraordinary psychic powers or other imagined ‘holy’ dispensations. Those who aspire to such believe in otherworldly and discarnate entities as promoted by mainstream religions and a host of sects and cults of almost every conceivable description.

Looked at from the standpoint of non-belief, religions are seen mostly to be about moralistic control of others and creating false hopes of healing, miracles, divine forgiveness and other promised rewards which seldom occur (and when appearing to are without proof of any divine origin). Not least, religion exercises power over others through creating fears of punishments of many kinds, especially after death. Religion is too often largely about believing in beings which cannot be proven to exist and events which cannot be proven to have occurred – or in scriptures and doctrines about them. Countless conflicts are either caused by religious fervor – or are supported by religionists on opposing sides. Human values are – by the very concept – not divinely ordained, they are human… based in human interests for survival, happiness, peace, freedom from oppression and glaring inequality. Religions have tried to subjugate these values to themselves and/or the absent deities or God in whom they believe. (See some of the theological tricks involved examined here)

It is unnecessary for any mention of God or religion in the context of moral issues, they can be discussed adequately and fully – and practised – without any such reference.  Human life teaches values naturally, for the peace, prosperity and happiness for all towards which good people strive arise from observable actions within the scope of such values, and equally man-made sufferings are easily seen to arise from false values. The desires for fulfillment of human needs are quite universal, though the needs will differ with changing circumstances, But ignorance of our nature and lack of empathy causes many to try to reach them through short-cuts like corruption, violence and crime. None of that has anything to do with any god, deity or spirit – and natural disasters are exactly that, natural not divinely caused! We should harm no living beings if avoidable and possible for the reason that it causes fruitless suffering, not because any god or cosmic intelligence created living creatures – they and we are all products of an enormously long, complex and amazing process of evolution which needed no divinity to operate, nor to begin. The real evidence shows only that we are all products of evolution, not of divine creation. (Those who still doubt the validity of this would benefit by seeing David Attenborough’s film for BBC and Discovery Channel  ‘First Life’

Once entrapped in religious thinking, one tends to attribute everything to God even when it is really our own doing, but especially when it is something (negative) beyond ones control. God is a summary word for all manner of believed ideas, derived from groping superstitions handed down, extended and manipulated for countless generations. It is bolstered by millennia of ignorance (and fear) about the real causes of events and has generated a social inertia (i.e. an accumulated energy which is most difficult to counteract without an equally strong opposing force). Science has taught us the real causes of the majority of known events, starting really seriously only a few centuries ago. The scope it now encompasses compared with what it did even when left school in the early 1950s is amazing, and our knowledge is expanding at a colossal pace which is still increasing.  Since then has successfully been explaining more and more things humankind originally came to believe must be done by  some God, spirits or other non testable speculations.

We can now look at the sky and realise there is no one up there, though long believed they must be, and since we could not get off the ground, physically or otherwise, we were in awe of it as ‘heaven’ or the abode of the ancestors or whatever. We understand, for example, that from seeing volcanoes the idea of an underworld and a hell where one burns arose. Yet religions still preach these absurdly primitive falsehoods to billions of people, and it is shameful indeed that Pope Benedict XVI
(falsely claimed to be an intellectual) still preached the primitive and absurd doctrine of damnation in hell for non-believers in his particular delusions! As argued previously on this blog, on the evidence so far and with the highest probability, God is nothing but the creation of the human mind.

See also Human Values as Common Ideals
Human Values in Psychology

Posted in Atheism, Belief, Catholicism, Creationism, Disinformation, Environment, Ethics, Evolution, Ideology, Religion, religious faith, Science, Spiritual propaganda, Theology, Uncategorized, Understanding | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

On the roots of political, religious and other fanaticism

Posted by robertpriddy on November 2, 2010

Religious, political and varied other kinds of fanatic are those who defend beliefs as certainties and tend to hold absolutist opinions. In neurological terms they are said to have developed “hard-wiring” whereby certain neuronal pathways in their brains have been so strongly reinforced that they maintain ideas and opinions against otherwise overwhelming contrary evidence. Such mindsets may be unreflected – unquestioned assumptions about many things which have been ingrained in their make-up in early life. So how can one learn about the most likely and most general causes of such fanaticism?

In the relative lack of well-articulated and systematic empirical studies on the circumstances influencing the adoption of one or another kind of extremism or fanatical attitude, we must rely mostly on recorded case histories and insightful literature. The chief source of understanding is probably individual life experience… and the longer and more varied the life, the higher accuracy and value the experience will have.

On such foundations it seems indisputable that, very often, sustained fanaticism occurs in persons who have had a disturbed upbringing causing them to lack what Medard Boss and other existential psychologists have termed ‘basic trust’. Obviously, the specific causes of each kind and degree of disturbance can vary enormously, but a general process definitely seems to pertain in that the need for security or mental-emotional comfort which has lacked is relieved by a pseudo-remedy. Such remedies may include the acceptance of someone as a father- or mother-figure (such as a charismatic preacher or guru, established religious or even political figures as an idol – which ‘transference’ of need is used therapeutically by psycho-analysts). Aids used to relieve emotional suffering also include imagined entities (angels, deities, aliens etc.) to largely mental abstractions, from religious doctrines to conspiracy theories, set philosophies to totalitarianism.

However, on the positive side of things, such strongly held positions, also when long entrenched, can sometimes be overcome. The (undamaged) human brain is reportedly never so “hard-wired” as to be irretrievably fixated into set patterns of responses. New paths can be opened if sufficient stimulus is there, and what was “hard-wired” in the shape of cast iron beliefs or opinions set in stone, and even over a long period of time can – with lack of reinforcement – eventually fade into insignificance.

However, where the person concerned is unable to overcome or neutralise the root cause of unfulfilled needs or a badly disturbed sense of trust, the evidence points to substitution of other cognitive distortion in place of the defeated ones. Thus, a believer who is severely jolted out of belief in a religious sect, cult or guru will very often seek another such in place of the first. The same applies (with due alteration of details) in political extremism and other kind of ‘fanatical fixation’.

One main cause of religious zeal: Religious enthusiasm is often fuelled by the desire to be part of a greater whole and ‘surrender’ ones worries and anxieties into the keeping of a wise super-being… whose existence is deduced through false logic from observations and especially from unconfirmed and non-confirmable second-hand reports (i.e. such as scriptures and hagiography). This applies equally to followers of many political movement of the more or less totalitarian kind. The all-too-commonplace assumption of religionists that a super-being is controlling everything that everyone thinks or does, and all that happens from the tiniest detail to the unknown reaches of the vastest universe would seem to rank near the top of the greatest conspiracy theories of all time. This assumption leads to cognitive distortions of many kinds, from the somewhat innocuous to the truly dangerous and highly destructive doctrines. This assumption is so widespread and has had such a pervasive influence throughout the history of the world that it must be considered one of the chief causes of religious fanaticism.

One symptom of clinging to cherished beliefs is seen in most conspiracy theorists. Such theories are sometimes surely designed to defend against a perceived threat to the way of seeing the world that the proponent feels it imperative to maintain. They avoid or belittle investigation of substantive facts and are liable to rely on assertions about others’ assertions for fact (whether in support of their fancy or the opposite), without themselves confronting the factual basis itself.  Such theories detach from the basic factual evidence and are generally highly selective as to what they take into account. One can see the avoidance of psychological denial in the ways they concentrate almost exclusively on verbal statements and the character of those who made them, rather than on collected and sifted evidence.

See also Neuronal Pathway Finding: From Neurons to Initial Neural Networks

How your brain creates God (i.e. subjective ‘realities’)

The Origins and Persistence of Religious Belief and Faith in God

Posted in Belief, Disinformation, Ideology, Psychology, religious faith, Self-awareness, Spiritual propaganda, Understanding | Leave a Comment »

Will Pope Benedict XVI go to hell?

Posted by robertpriddy on September 19, 2010

Since the Pope now visits Britain, why can’t he get a dispensation from the Lord also to visit hell, in which he firmly believes (see below)? There must be many there (in his view) who would long to see even one wave of his holy hand! He might even stay there and administer to the ‘lost souls’. Who are the lost souls? All of us billions who are not Roman Catholics!:-

“The intolerance not just to other religions, but to other types of Christianity, is unfortunately fostered by the upper echelons of the Church. In August 2000 a Church declaration (called Dominus Jesus and endorsed by the Pope) announced that the Catholic Church represented the only ‘valid’ and ‘genuine’ Christian episcopate. Any other type of ordination – either Anglican or Non-Conformist – was simple heresy. Even to many Catholic onlookers it appeared like something from the Middle Ages. The inspiration for such announcements is invariably Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a man who heads what is called the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (an organisation that acts as the guard dog against pluralism and tolerance). It doesn’t take long to realise that Roman Catholicism is excruciatingly conservative and – like Italy itself- acutely hierarchical.” (‘The Dark Heart of Italy’ by Tobias Jones, 2003)

As stated, the Pope believes firmly in eternal hellfire, as he showed before he realised the damage this would do him. He later tried to tone down his ill-advised ‘eternal’ pronouncement, but it was really too late… we know what he really believes, because The Sunday Times (March 27, 2007) reported “The fires of hell are real and eternal, the Pope warns“:  ‘Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope has said.’: “Hell “really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more”, he said.”

The damage-limitation exercise which followed later on was reported by the Catholic News Agency, as follows: ” In reply, the Pope called heaven, hell, and purgatory “fundamental themes that unfortunately appear rarely in our preaching,” journalist and church expert Sandro Magister reports. Pope Benedict speculated that the condemned might not be numerous, describing how thoroughly they would have to have destroyed themselves: “Perhaps there are not so many who have destroyed themselves so completely, who are irreparable forever, who no longer have any element upon which the love of God can rest, who no longer have the slightest capacity to love within themselves. This would be hell.” (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what_the_pope_really_said_about_hell/)

The obscurantism of Pope Benedict XVI almost takes ones breath away, except that we are inured to the Middle Age theology and backward-looking morality that the Papal visit to UK brings into focus yet again. In the Pope has any real investigatory capacity and critical intelligence, he would realise how much damage he is doing to the people of many countries who have no real defense against the cynical indoctrination in which they are brought up. Consider it, children are taught to fear hell at an early age by most priests, and not a few of them learn that to speak up about sexual abuse is to risk eternal damnation and hellfire. Too much in this religion is full of empty words, anti-rational teachings about sexuality and gender, and unsupportable beliefs about the past that one almost despairs of the human race which cannot so far completely eliminate it.

Posted in Atheism, Belief, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Disinformation, Ideology, Religion, religious faith, Spiritual propaganda, Theology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

God is in everyone?

Posted by robertpriddy on June 23, 2010

The title of this blog is but one version of the ‘mystical’ teaching of various sects of Christianity, Sufism, esoteric Judaism, New Age pseudo-religions and, above all, numerous branches of Hinduism, as propagated by swamis and gurus. It is sometimes extended to the proposition ‘Everyone is God, God is everyone’ and even outright pantheism ‘Everything is God and God is (in) everything)

Though I have already blogged about this, I consider this doctrine one of them most dangerous which can spread widely in the future. Due to the increasingly obvious fact of the relative futility of mainstream and sectarian religious doctrines, these pan-theisms are employed in self-help and meditation sects in the vain pretense that they lead to ‘self-realization’ and solving the world’s problems. However, if anything they multiply the problems by overpopulating the land of clouds and cuckoos into which millions are misled, thinking the have found the real teaching of Jesus, the ultimate truth about God and mankind.

In order to look into these claims, I have written a somewhat lengthy analysis which shows the degree of conceptual and general confusion that reigns throughout these sectarian ideas.

God is everything, in everyone – as a spiritual teaching
Advaita – historical flight into abstraction and speculation

See also The Ultimate Fallacy, which I wrote here some time ago.

Posted in Belief, Disinformation, Ideology, Philosophy, Religion, religious faith, Spiritual propaganda, Uncategorized, Understanding | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Religion and conspiracy theory

Posted by robertpriddy on February 26, 2010

The greatest and most accepted conspiracy theories are not just at the fringe of mainstream discussion. They are found in the religions of the world. That an invisible, insubstantial, incorporeal, unknowable, omnipotent, totally unaccountable person, with a vast hierarchy of disembodied helpers, is behind almost everything  otherwise unexplained that happens on earth, should surely qualify as the prototype of all conspiracy theory.

It is prototypical because of its very ancient roots in early prehistory. The idea of a monotheistic God – I submit – eventually developed from a host of attempts to explain the apparent contingency of events on earth… the weather, illnesses, accidents, illnesses, death, birth, the impenetrable sky and volcanic fires and so on ad. inf.
Dreams gave rise to the idea of spirit beings, from which arose worship of ancestors, animals, images, objects as idols… As these ideas clashed and were inadequate to explain or bring about desired results in the dawning light of wider understanding, they were superceded by more general deities – and out of the long historical clashes of warring sects then national beliefs, pantheistic and/or monotheistic Gods arose and the mainstream religions took them in hand, so to speak, and theologised them further… always more and more abstracted until nothing corporeal could be involved.

In essence, the idea that a clandestine intelligent power is conspiring to control us cannot be taken further to excess than is done by the mainstream religions – with the exception of some forms of Buddhism and other lesser known teaching.  While some conspiracy theories  have actually be proved to be substantially true, what we can tag as ‘the Divinity Conspiracy’ can – by its very nature – never be proved to be true. Nor can it be definitively proven to be untrue, though the likelihood of it being true can be shown to be minimal. This likelihood increases all the time as science advances, providing genuine and testable explanations for more and more of the phenomena originally considered to be mysterious, miraculous, impenetrable, and so wondrous as to be forever beyond human comprehension.

The theory of evolution, having expanded its database vastly in a matter of a mere 200 years, which is developing at an ever-increasing pace, gives answer to enigmas that were previously unsolvable throughout human history. Religions, appealing to ancient scriptures, (and largely distorted and often censored) have been bolstered up by flawed speculation of a theological and mystical kind  appealing to awe for the supposed ‘creation’ by an uncreated Creator – all at the expense of serious investigation.

The understanding of genetics which hardly got anywhere before the 1950s with Crick and Watson, is also racing ahead exponentially, confirming and deepening the understanding of the evolution of life. Neurological research is answering more and more of the enigmas about the human brain/mind and the subjective phenomena it can produce.  The religious belief in mystical revelation or ‘cosmic consciousness’ is itself increasingly being shown to consist in phenomena due to functions or dysfunctions of the brain alone.

See also: Some key distinctions for the science-religion debates: agnosticism vs. atheism and secularism


Posted in Atheism, Belief, Creationism, Disinformation, Environment, Evolution, Ideology, Religion, religious faith, Spiritual propaganda, Theology, Understanding | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

India’s Ayrans, Vedic texts, mystics, philosophers….

Posted by robertpriddy on January 24, 2010

This is a response to a comment (see at foot of page) received about an earlier blog I wrote. The response is somewhat typical of Indians who take excessive pride in their ancient culture and who try to present its history, early civilization and ancient thought forms in the best possible light. I have actually earlier stood for much – even most – of what Kiran tries to express – but no longer. Life went on and I learned to find my way back out of those huge mental labyrinths – but it took many decades. At all events, I am far away from your conceptions now. You will probably feel my replies sharp, but there is no ill will intended. A sharp response is better than a blunt one, I always feel. I can’t explain my reasons fully here – anyhow, all explanations must end somewhere. My comments are in blue text.

Kiran wrote:-

“Aryan invasion of the Nazi variety never did happen in India. India has indeed seen a racial and cultural mix of a lot of people, but there is no reason to suggest that the complex civilization of Mohenzodaro along the banks of the Indus and Saraswati was disconnect from the Vedas.”

Reply: Kiran may have read, but not taken to heart, the work of India’s famous true polymath Nirad Chaudhury. He is loathed by many Indians for revealing the full truth about India and Hindu origins, its caste and related practices, its suppression of the indigenous inhabitants, its inherent militarism and so on … I find his reasoning and evidence most persuasive – though incomplete, of course, on much of the debate about the origins of India and its tremendous problems today. Try ‘The Continent of Circe’ (Chaudhury). The Ayran invasion was maybe mass immigration, undoubtedly not without considerable conflict, – but the evidence of a planned invasion is lacking, of course. One cannot either say for certain invasion never did happen.

“The Vedic texts are rich in astronomy, mathematics, medicine and linguistics.. such artefacts cannot but come from a well-established civilization. The dating that was arbitrarily assigned for the composition of the Vedas (specifically the oldest Rg Veda) are now being revised by all professional historians.”

By some – if not all – professional Indian historians no doubt (apart from that Indianized shastri from the American Frawley whose astrological evidence and astronomical interpretations are far-fetched speculations). Yet not by any world-class historians or archeologists, I fear! Professional Indian history began with the British… and India’s earlier history is misty, to say the least. Claims that India has the first airplane (pushpak) that flew by power of mantra  and many like it are not taken seriously because historical records are were never kept at all – and then seldom properly.  The Vedas are recorded inalienably in Sanskrit (the correct pronunciation while chanting them is held to be of decisive importance) Therefore they could not have been translated into a later form of Sanskrit. The well-researched study of the various phases of development of Sanskrit reportedly show in great detail how they are not anywhere near as old as Indian Hindus would like to believe.

“The Indian civilization at (and even prior to) the composition of the Vedas was the most sophisticated and technologically advanced in the world at the time, such heights were not reached by the western world until the renaissance and middle ages, which themselves owe to a certain extent to Indian influences (via the Arabs).”

I am aware that the Mohenjo-Daro civilization had made some considerable discoveries in maths, astronomy, though the Babylonians are universally recognised as prior in these areas. The Ayurveda – which you apparently endorse – is made to look extremely lightweight in the light of the current science of genetics, nutrition… it had no conception of bacteriology or viruses for a start. Thousands of discoveries of major importance to health and curing diseases had to wait until European medicine began its rapid advance with people like Harvey…. It was a lifestyle philosophy more than anything, bound up with primitive beliefs in the power of prayer (which is objectively entirely powerless, of course). Some of its claims are ridiculous, of course (urine-drinking?)

“The image of the Indian other-worldly sage is a pure imagination is distinctly colonialist, it holds no relevance today. Indian sages, for all purposes, were very worldly and developed quite sophisticated sciences and technology. A few of them were also mystics and indulged in meditation and self-reflection. Indian philosophy owes a large extent to the latter types.

“Pure imagination” it is most certainly not. Among the intensely other-worldly supposed ‘sages’ of India rank Swami Nityananda, Sri Yukteswar, Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Nisargadatta (advaitist!), Yogananda, Shirdi Sai Baba, Babaji, Tapaswaji Maharaj (claimed as 183 years old!?), Shiva Bala Yogi, Toilanga or Mahatma Tailang Swami (claimed 280 yrs.) just as a start. There were some sophisticated thinkers even among them – but no empiricists and their weird beliefs are known to – and often held in awe by – most Indians today. India is famed for its host of equally or even more other-worldly figures. Consider the 250,000 stark naked and heavily cannabis-imbibing naga mendicants, the 2 million wandering sadhus, including countless practitioners of mystical and weird tapas (standing on one leg for decades, sitting amid 4 fires in hot summer, rolling thousands of kilometers (as recently done by Lotan Baba). – I can agree that many Indian gurus are very worldly. The business interests of Rajneesh, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Maharaji, Ravi Shankar – to name a few of these bogus ‘masters’  – shows that. Besides which, many who had very large followings have been imprisoned for rape, murder, embezzlement and so on. (see The Dark Underside of some prominent Hindu gurus)

Indian philosophy, though it has its empiricists – very largely ignored to this day – is nearly all speculative thought, invariably based on assumptions of a religious and otherworldly kind… the Sankhya philosophy is based in primitive earth/air/fire/water/akasa symbolism. Neither dvaita, vishtadvaita or advaitic theiological-philosophies are sufficiently empirical to be other than religious tracts – and are all entirely non-systematic as to scientific method. This is what the so-called ‘sages’ produced (Shankara, Ramanuja as examples). Let’s face it, the comparatively vast development of knowledge through the hard and soft sciences during the last few centuries totally outstrips all traditional Indian thought.

Comment received

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The ultimate brand name: God

Posted by robertpriddy on December 12, 2009

Fortunately, the name ‘God’ or its equivalents in different cultures is ‘public property’ in that it can be used by anyone. However, this does not stop it being used to earn fabulous wealth and treasures by every kind of church for the donations that have been raised in that name, the levy’s on followers, the subsidies by states and diverse organizations exceed all practical imagination.  Many preachers accumulate huge personal fortunes by hook and by crook – by the addictive hook of ‘opium for the people’ and by the figurative shepherd’s crook to bring the weak and vulnerable into the fold of some rigid defensive structure of doctrine.

Patenting the name or names of God?: Though there is no exclusive ownership of name ‘God’ or synonyms, it is no doubt the most powerful brand name on the planet and has been so back into the darkest ages. If one were to be able to register a God-Cola, a God-beefburger or God-trainer without an uproar from those who disapprove (including those who did not think of it first), would it not attain market awareness of it on a global scale because it is so well-known already without even having to introduce the divine prefix to the market? This indicates some aspects of the power in a name…

The near-universality of the names of God arises from the historical importance of beliefs in the supernatural and its continued prevalence in the world population.  Besides, the word God signifies both everything and nothing, according to how one interprets it.  Ideas of God – and they are many, diverse and often in mutual contradiction, can cover all aspects of mind and being. There is no quality, no characteristic  which cannot somehow be attributed to God, depending on the attitude of the religion in question. God is thought to be can be the cause all things. God takes the place of the father who has proved less than all-knowing, the saviour of all in need and anxiety when human kind had no antidote to them. God is the ultimate addiction and ‘opium’ of the hopeful, one which even makes many other addicts defeat powerful addictions.

India only gradually emerging from major religious delusions: Noting the numinous power and mind-hypnotising effect of the God concept, it has been argued that people need some God, even if it is a miasma. However, there are some promising signs that India’s rising generation is slowly throwing off the tremendously superstitious and false belief systems that have plagued its history and for many centuries have hindered the development of social and gender equality, human rights, justice for all, economic improvement and other signs of human progress towards peace. As one Indian who has explored his own religion and become independent of it writes:

If the purpose of religion is to make its believers to forget the present and make them happy by allowing them to ponder over supernatural powers, then it should be no better than a bottle of whiskey.” “But the thing is, what is the purpose of knowing all? Validating religion and taking pride in our association with it? if a person is well civilized and if he carries out his duties well, there is no need of assistance from religion and concepts thereof.” Ganesh Poomal Girirajan

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