The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Sunday Sermon – God delusion vs Material illusion

Inspired by Bruce’s excellent exposition concerning ontological arguments that seek to infer the existence of a (creator/supreme) God through pure reason and intuition, I wrote the following comment, which seems as good a reason as any to repost it here:

sriyantra.jpgI am reasonably well-versed in the theology of Vedanta and Hinduism. Bhakti yoga is considered to be the top-most practice if one desires to know God (as opposed to merely arguing for the existence or otherwise of a supreme God).

Bhakti means devotion. While there are many injunctions and regulations contained in the practice, they only serve to enhance the development of devotion through service to God. Bhaktas argue that God cannot be approached by analysis and logic, or by empirical processes. In other words, the existence of God is experienced beyond the perview of the mind and senses, and even intelligence. The simple analogy is that you cannot know the taste of the honey in a jar by licking the outside. You need to open the jar and get stuck into it.

On a more technical level, Vedanta argues that God’s existence is purely spiritual and utterly non-material. It is beyond the material world and all it contains. The material world is regarded as a temporary manifestation from the spiritual world. The spiritual world is considered causeless and eternal, without cause, beginning or end. It just is. The only way of knowing or attaining the spiritual world is through various kinds of practices, and even then, only by the grace of God, which is said to be particularly abundant if the practitioner develops devotion.

It’s a rough thumbnail, but having a scientific mind, I have always found this world view appealing. In quantum mechanics, astrophysics, molecular biochemistry etc scientists develop all kinds of descriptions and explanations for the origin of matter, time, energy, the universe, life and even consciousness. And no matter how compelling the argument, these ideas ultimately remain unknowable as reality. They are models. We cannot experience the Big Bang or a black hole. We will never really know. We accept the models because they are feasible. From my own study of Vedanta I would conclude that its models of the origin of matter, time, the universe, life, consciousness are extremely elaborate, detailed, and given that we can never truly know, they have their own compelling internal plausibility. It is certainly a more optimistic and interesting outlook than the nihilistic material science one. So it comes down to a matter of choice, disposition, experience, conditioning, and inclination, and if it is true, even karma (or reaction to previous actions).

My own conclusion is that the existence or non-existence of God cannot be resolved intellectually but only experientially and individually, and for the seeker it is a long slow dedicated process – indeed a lifetime – and you may still not know when you die. So it’s fairly pointless people going hammer and tongs at each other trying to win the argument. It will never be resolved by words. I would argue that it becomes a matter of faith – either in the existence or non-existence of God – faith in one’s belief system.

Disclaimer: I have previously written on the unfortunate tendency of human beings to become convinced they know the truth when in fact they do not, and try to inflict it on others (I would equally apply this to rabid free market economists). Even if we accept that there are genuine spiritual paths to enlightenment, religious organisations are often populated by religious bureaucrats rather than the spiritually enlightened and these bureaucrats may actually not have any spiritual realisation at all (George Pell, anyone?). This usually leads to behaviour such as persecuting non-believers and declaring war on heathens and infidel. I do not endorse such practices.

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Filed under: Big Picture, Philosophy, Religion, Science

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

This is the person who tried to analyse Hayek. This is actually a person who needs a shrink. – JC

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