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  1. ___________________________
    ***********
    Practical Explanation ( For Example ) :- `1st of all can you tell me every single seconds detail from that time when you born ?? ( i need every seconds detail ?? that what- what you have thought and done on every single second )

    can you tell me every single detail of your `1 cheapest Minute Or your whole hour, day, week, month, year or your whole life ??

    if you are not able to tell me about this life then what proof do you have that you didn't forget your past ? and that you will not forget this present life in the future ?

    that is Fact that Supreme Lord Krishna exists but we posses no such intelligence to understand him.
    there is also next life. and i already proved you that no scientist, no politician, no so-called intelligent man in this world is able to understand this Truth. cuz they are imagining. and you cannot imagine what is god, who is god, what is after life etc.
    _______
    for example :Your father existed before your birth. you cannot say that before your birth your father don,t exists.

    So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy.
    Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life; you'll never find your father.

    ( now maybe...maybe you will say that i will search my father from D.N.A, or i will prove it by photo's, or many other thing's which i will get from my mother and prove it that who is my Real father.{ So you have to believe the authority. who is that authority ? she is your mother. you cannot claim of any photo's, D.N.A or many other things without authority ( or ur mother ).

    if you will show D.N.A, photo's, and many other proofs from other women then your mother. then what is use of those proofs ??} )

    same you have to follow real authority. "Whatever You have spoken, I accept it," Then there is no difficulty. And You are accepted by Devala, Narada, Vyasa, and You are speaking Yourself, and later on, all the acaryas have accepted. Then I'll follow.
    I'll have to follow great personalities. The same reason mother says, this gentleman is my father. That's all. Finish business. Where is the necessity of making research? All authorities accept Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You accept it; then your searching after God is finished.

    Why should you waste your time?
    _______
    all that is you need is to hear from authority ( same like mother ). and i heard this truth from authority " Srila Prabhupada " he is my spiritual master.
    im not talking these all things from my own.
    ___________

    in this world no `1 can be Peace full. this is all along Fact.

    cuz we all are suffering in this world 4 Problems which are Disease, Old age, Death, and Birth after Birth.

    tell me are you really happy ?? you can,t be happy if you will ignore these 4 main problem. then still you will be Forced by Nature.
    ___________________

    if you really want to be happy then follow these 6 Things which are No illicit sex, No gambling, No drugs ( No tea & coffee ), No meat-eating ( No onion & garlic's )

    5th thing is whatever you eat `1st offer it to Supreme Lord Krishna. ( if you know it what is Guru parama-para then offer them food not direct Supreme Lord Krishna )

    and 6th " Main Thing " is you have to Chant " hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare ".
    _______________________________
    If your not able to follow these 4 things no illicit sex, no gambling, no drugs, no meat-eating then don,t worry but chanting of this holy name ( Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra ) is very-very and very important.

    Chant " hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare " and be happy.

    if you still don,t believe on me then chant any other name for 5 Min's and chant this holy name for 5 Min's and you will see effect. i promise you it works And chanting at least 16 rounds ( each round of 108 beads ) of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily.
    ____________
    Here is no Question of Holy Books quotes, Personal Experiences, Faith or Belief. i accept that Sometimes Faith is also Blind. Here is already Practical explanation which already proved that every`1 else in this world is nothing more then Busy Foolish and totally idiot.
    _________________________
    Source(s):
    every `1 is already Blind in this world and if you will follow another Blind then you both will fall in hole. so try to follow that person who have Spiritual Eyes who can Guide you on Actual Right Path. ( my Authority & Guide is my Spiritual Master " Srila Prabhupada " )
    _____________
    if you want to see Actual Purpose of human life then see this link : ( www.asitis.com {Bookmark it })
    read it complete. ( i promise only readers of this book that they { he/she } will get every single answer which they want to know about why im in this material world, who im, what will happen after this life, what is best thing which will make Human Life Perfect, and what is perfection of Human Life. ) purpose of human life is not to live like animal cuz every`1 at present time doing 4 thing which are sleeping, eating, sex & fear. purpose of human life is to become freed from Birth after birth, Old Age, Disease, and Death.
  2. Creation, by Gore Vidal
    (originally blogged at Heterodoxia)



    In the beginning…


    A historical novel by Gore Vidal,
    Creation is an Odysseus styled dialectic on religious dogma. The main character, Cyrus Spitama, is the grandson of Zarathustra, and his encounters with other 5th century sages are clearly the highlights of the novel. Cyrus is fixated on the question of creation, or the origin of the universe or human existence. Initially he was indoctrinated by Zarathustra, specifically the dualistic ontology of Zoroastrianism. Convinced with this religious truth, he sets out to test the alternative answers or non-answers of other wise men, such as those from the East: the Buddha, Confucius, Lao-Tze, and the West: Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and etc. However, the book demonstrates how much of a fatal flaw the question of creation was for Western philosophy, because it always was the wrong question.



    Zoroastrianism in the book was an obvious stand-in for all our modern monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), since it insists on a beginning and an end to existence, and a dualistic aspect of existence in which the forces of good and evil are equally matched until the end of times.



    Anaxagoras


    Anaxagoras
    Contra Zoroastrianism’ thesis of a beginning and an ending, Anaxagoras proposes that there is NO nothing, because even empty space itself is filled with something. Anaxagoras criticizes the traditional Greek dogma of creation and destruction, because there is only mixture and separation of things that exist. Instead of creation, there is generation; instead of destruction, there is separation. Nothing is truly generated or destroyed. This metaphysical explanation does not satisfy Cyrus’ requirement of creation, that these “things” are self-existent, because it fails to explain exactly what makes these “things” merge and fall away. Anaxagoras answers this with the “mind.” All things were at rest, at first. Then the mind put all these things in order. That only begs the question where were all those things before the mind put them in order? Anaxagoras says they were everywhere. While this might not be a satisfactory answer, it is due to the unsatisfactory nature of the question. Cyrus speculates that perhaps this mind that put everything into order was the Wise Lord himself, the God of Zarathustra, Ashura Mazda.



    Zarathustra, by Edward Potter


    Zarathustra
    Since the Wise Lord created his twin brother, Ahriman, the being responsible for evil, this brings up the question of theodicy – why did Good create Evil? Cyrus claims his grandfather Zarathustra said the following: “neither our thoughts, nor our deeds, nor our consciences, nor our souls agree.” This appears to be a statement of binary opposites, but it fails to explain why the Wise Lord created an evil twin. In order to answer the skeptic, Cyrus explains that there is a distinction between infinite time and long dominion, within which the human race exists. At the instant of creation there was only infinite time. Then the Wise Lord established a trap for his evil twin within the long dominion. Once this long dominion ends, the evil twin Ahriman will be defeated. For the skeptic, this seems absurd – why go to all that trouble? Why create evil? Cyrus confessed that he tried asking the same from other wise men – Gosala, the Buddha, Confucius and the rest.




    Gosala
    Cyrus travels to the East on a mission for King Darius, in order to gather first hand knowledge of the Indian states, as well as their religious beliefs. He meets the Jainist Gosala and asks him what is true. The Jain asserted that he could not tell Cyrus what is true. Merely, that one moves closer to holiness by not killing any creature or telling a lie or seeking pleasure. However, by starting in negation one approaches affirmation, which is the truth. And for Gosala, the truth is that every one starts as a monad, and this monad is required to experience 84,000 rebirths, from the original atom and proceed through each of the four elements, until reaching complex objects like rocks, plants, living beings of all kinds, including gods themselves – until the last rebirth. Afterwards, the monad is freed – expired. There is no escape from this chain of rebirth – no secret shortcut, no virtuous life that can make a difference. To Gosala, Zarathustra must have been young because he was obsessed with correct religious procedures and that he conceived of heavens, hells, and final judgment. For Cyrus, this was a bleak, near nihilistic portrait of existence. If good and evil were mere accidental conditions of a given monad’s current position on the rebirth chain, then there would be no reason to do good if one was in the early stages of the 84,000 rebirth chain. Without good action, civilization cannot exist, much less salvation at the end of all existence.



    Lord Mahavira


    Mahavira
    Next, Cyrus meets the Jain monk, Mahavira, who achieved kevala after 12 years of isolation and self-abnegation. Kevala is a state of complete oneness with the cosmos. Cyrus attempted to instruct Mahavira the teachings of Zarathustra, and Mahavira replied that there are as many gods as there are men and mosquitoes. All gods, men and mosquitoes are composed of the same substance – life monads that come together and break apart in various forms. Some ascend and other descend. The difference between the monad and the atoms of Anaxagoras is that the former contains life. Cyrus asks Mahavira how this process of ascension and descent began. Mahavira simply offers a non-answer: there is neither beginning nor end. All men are fated to ascend or descend, as always, and will continue do so. However, he asserts that he is the last “crossing-maker” which means everyone will descend from now on. Each life monad is a crystal that contains colors of six karmic colors, or colors of fate. Each evil act will darken the color, and each holy act will purify it. But the purest monad cannot turn a person in to the crossing-maker. One must be born a crossing-maker. Cyrus insists that there is a similarity between the purity of the life monad, and the struggle between the Wise Lord and Ahriman. Mahavira claims that in every religion, there is a tension between the idea of good and the idea of evil. But all religions fall short of the absolute truth, that they cannot accept the end of human personality. They insist on a place or a home where the individual can continue to exist forever as himself. But this is immature – whatever began must end, and whatever did not begin cannot end. Whatever ascend, must descend. The only escape is to become complete by integrating oneself with the universe – kevala. This is done by self-abnegation, because the body is transient and unclean. Mahavira claims that he ignored his physical needs until his life monad became crystal clear. In fact, he has resisted the last temptation – to become a god. Furthermore, he claims that Ahura Mazda had chosen to be come the Wise Lord. Had he been truly wise, he would have taken the last step and merged himself with the cosmos – with everything that exists – the very creation itself that constantly rearranges itself until the self is released like a bubble to the sky, and it pops – finished. Cyrus asks him the same question: when did the cycles first begin, and why do they continue? Mahavira only answers: what is endless, is without beginning. Creation was not “created” because time does not exist – because it is a serpent that devours its tail. A circle, a circular continuity that neither begins nor ends.



    Thai Buddhists


    Buddhism
    At first it seems Mahavira held similar views with the Buddha, but he was only a maker of river-crossing, and the Buddha crossed the river. While Pythagoras and Gosala and Mahavira all shared a belief in the transmigration of souls, the Buddha was indifferent to transmigration because he did not believe in existence. We are not here or there. “We only imagine the fire that sputters.”




    Sariputra, a Buddhist, told Cyrus that the Wise Lord was just like Brahma pretending to be a Persian. In fact, Brahma visited the Buddha twice. First, Brahma asked the Buddha to set the wheel of the doctrine in motion, so he himself could be reborn as a human and obtain nirvana. The only way Brahma could achieve nirvana is through the Buddha. Apparently, the Buddha allowed this, which was a sacrifice on his part because he already achieved nirvana, and was no longer here or there. The second time Brahma visited the Buddha, he announced himself as the king of the gods, the uncreated who created the world. But the Buddha answered, “If you exist, Brahma, you were created. If you were created, you will evolve. If you evolve, your aim must be release from the fire and flux of creation. Therefore, you must become what I already am. You must take the last step on the eightfold path. You mus cease to evolve and to be.” This indicates that Brahma, like the Wise Lord, was not all-powerful. If he was, then he was capable of not-being. Otherwise he would not have asked the Buddha to set the wheel of the doctrine in motion. Such blasphemy!



    Cyrus insisted that Zarathustra heard the answers of the Wise Lord, but the Buddhist interrupted him and said that Brahma heard the answers of the Buddha. Cyrus challenges the Buddhist, asking whether he rejects that the Wise Lord was the creator. Sariputra claims that he and Cyrus both do. Largely because if the Wise Lord was an all-powerful creator, then why did he create his evil twin, Ahriman in the first place? Then go on to battle him throughout the “long dominion” of human existence? And then demand that his creation must fight his first creation, Ahriman? Even if good eventually triumphs, then what is the point of the battle?




    Cyrus claims that it is the will of the Wise Lord, that he created all human souls at once. They exist within him until their turn to live as human beings, and make a choice – to follow the Truth or the Lie. Truth awards them merit, and the Lie, destruction. The Buddhist is not satisfied with this answer – why make everyone suffer? Cyrus asks how can evil be overcome otherwise? The Buddhist offers a solution: by removing first world then self. Cyrus insists on the brute fact of the world’s existence, of the self’s, of evil and of good. Everything is necessary.




    The Buddhist declares that it is better not to be, and that is done by following the eight-fold path. The Wise Lord is just like Brahma, proud and tricky, but he is in the dark with the rest of creation. He doesn’t know where he is going because he doesn’t know where he comes from.



    Buddha statue at Kamakura, Japan, by Daina Falk


    The Buddha
    At their meeting, Cyrus told him Zarathustra’s doctrines of good and evil. The Buddha only answered:




    “Since no one can ever know for certain whether or not his own view of creation is the correct one, it is absolutely impossible for him to know if someone else’s is the wrong one.”


    Cyrus wasn’t ready to quit. He asked if this world was an evil, then why does the world exist? The Buddha began to elucidate the first truth, that the world is full of pain and suffering, and that other truths become self-evident, and the eight-fold path must be followed. But Cyrus interrupted him, saying that nirvana may or may not extinguish the self. Who could create a world full of purposeless suffering and pain? The Buddha answered with a story of a soldier being struck with an arrow. Would the soldier want to know who fired the arrow, or have the doctor remove it? Since the wounded soldier would rather survive the wound first before learning the identity of the assailant, then the Buddha can only offer the eight fold path as the freedom from pain and suffering of the world. Once the path is followed, then the question of the world’s existence no longer matters. It is but a mirage, conditioned by the self, and once the self disappears, the world will, too.



    The goal of existence is sunyata, which is nothingness, which is also the Hindi word for the circle that stands for nothing – a zero. For most people, there is only constant death and rebirth, with a few exceptions of “nirvana, which is nothing, and sunyata, which is what it is if it is.” Cyrus thought these concepts were dissimilar, because the Buddha’s conception of sunyata was too slippery of a truth. He concluded that there was a void at the heart of Buddhism, but not the much lauded nirvana. It was atheism.



    Lao Tzu, by Blackobull


    Lao-Tzu
    As Master Li in the book, Lao-Tzu elucidated the concept or non-concept of the Tao. It literally means the road or the way, but the Way is a wordless doctrine. It is a condition where there are no opposites or differences, because concepts are meaningless, except in relation to other things. They are all one to the Way, although they appear many to human beings. It is not possible to rebel against the facts of existence – e.g., life and death are the same because without one the other cannot be. Neither exists except in relationship to one another. There is nothing but the “always-so.”




    Cyrus thought that the primal unity was feasible but there must be a true difference between good and bad actions such as the Truth and the Lie of Zoroastrianism. Master Li agreed that there are apparent good and bad actions in the relative conduct of a given life, and that they agree on what constitutes on such. But the Way transcends these differences. Cyrus asks what are the fundamental laws of the universe and who created them. Master Li answers that the universe is the unity of everything, and to accept the Way is to accept this unity. The laws of the universe is simply the laws of becoming. This acceptance achieves wu-wei, which literally means to do nothing. Master Li means nothing that is not natural or spontaneous. Cyrus thinks that the wise must do everything possible to support the good and defy the evil. But Master Li insists that this is the source of trouble. Don’t DO! Forget good or evil, because neither exists without relation to one another. Forget the relationship. Let things take care of themselves. To do nothing is a tremendous spiritual labor because the wise person lacks ambitions. Thus he will never fail. Finally, Cyrus asks who created the Way. Master Li only looks at his hands and says, “I do not know whose child it is.”



    Confucius Statue at Yushima Seido


    Confucius
    Easily the most interesting character in the book, Confucius however offered the least concrete religious answers. For Confucius, to be good is to act in accordance with the will of heaven. But what was heaven to Confucius? He claimed it was the dispenser of life and death, good fortune as well as bad. It was where the “original ancestor” dwells. This answer led Cyrus to believe that Confucius did not believe in heaven or the original ancestor, because he was an atheist. At least he was an atheist that believed in the primacy of ritual and ceremony of the ancient Chou dynasty. Because the common folk believe in metaphysical entities like gods, and the ruling class believed in their descent from a series of ancestors who watched over them, Confucius employed these beliefs in order to render the harmonious society. The Chou dynasty was championed only because Chou was the last son of heaven. Since Confucius feared a bad ruler, he upheld the virtues of the old dynasty.




    After Cyrus informed Confucius about the Wise Lord, and the visions of Pythagoras, the enlightenment of the Buddha, he was only amused. Confucius then said that he tried mediating without food and without sleep for a day, with utter concentration. His mind was empty, blank. But he saw nothing. Understood nothing. Therefore, he said it was better to study real things in the real world. Confucius did not believe in an afterworld, or day of judgment, or bother about creation or teleology of existence. But to Cyrus, and to Vidal, he was the wisest of the wise men.



    Democritus of Abdera



    Greek Sophists
    Where Confucius was wise, Protagoras was just clever. He spoke Greek, which is the language of debating and sophistry, but not the language of God. They would object to any conception mentioned in the above, just what is meant by them, and continue to chop them to pieces, until nothing left is true or false.




    Democritus, who composed the story, has the last word. If there is no Wise Lord or bridge at the end of days, or the judgment that divides those who followed the Truth from those who followed the Lie, given that Zarathustra said there was a time the Wise Lord did not exist, then it’s possible that everyone goes to wherever it is that the Wise Lord came from. Because there’s no way to answer that question, then perhaps the wise men from the East are right, that the question of creation is not to be answered. He claims that Cyrus never found the answer to his question of creation, and lacked the conviction that befit the grandson of Zarathustra in his doctrines. In the end, Cyrus was resigned to the possibility that there was neither beginning nor an end to creation, since it existed in a state of flux, infinitely. Therefore, the Wise Lord of Zarathustra was just a symbol of a circle that represents the cosmos, for the primal unity, for creation.

  3. Darren Russell, a fellow theothanatologist, presented this speech at Deaf Way II in 2002.

    Russell wanted to start discussing the relationship between religion and the Deaf world. But he was careful to note that Deaf culture and the Deaf world were not synonymous. Deaf culture describes how Deaf people are different from the rest of humanity. The Deaf world is a safe place for the Deaf, so they can feel fully at home.

    Now, in order to discuss the relationship between religion and the Deaf world, Russell asked whether religion exist within that world. That took him into the jungle of religion, and he grabbed on Nietzsche's definition: religion is a teleological explanation. Teleology is essentially a presupposition that human life or the natural world has purpose - likely hidden. In the ancient world, teleology meant many different things. According to Judaism circa 800 to 150 BCE, teleology was essentially the belief in Divine Will. According to Hellenistic Greeks, circa 350 BCE, or specifically, Plato, teleology was the notion of Ideal Form. However, the Hellenic Greeks subscribed to Fate (Moira), which meant an existence without teleological explanation.

    Teleology evolved since then: Platonism and Judaism merged and gave birth to Christianity. Christianity in turn was secularized as Western Culture. Pre-Enlightenment, circa 1650, the center of authority was in God, and in the Church. Post-Enlightenment, about 1800, the center of authority had transferred to human reason. Not long after, Nietzsche declared the death of God. He introduced a German neologism: Hinterwelt, which referred to the illusion of beyond this world, e.g., heaven. Hinterwelt can be translated into English as backworld or afterworld. Despite the Enlightenment, people still hung on to Hinterwelt. It is difficult for Western to abandon teleological explanations. In short, religion still lingers, even though God has died.

    This brought Russell back to the opening question: does the Deaf world have religion? Not at all. Obviously, the Deaf world is not a backworld, it is a real world. He cited empirical evidence that Deaf people tended to cite Fate as the explanation for whatever turn of events took place. This was a return to the Age of Greek Tragedies where the belief in Fate was predominant. The Hellenic Greek conception of Fate (Moira) was unpredictable, as opposed to our modern conception of fate (Ming) as destiny.

    There are several potential factors that contribute to the emergence of Deaf use of Hellenic Fate:
    Deaf people are "fated" to be deaf; since that was completely random
    Deaf people are almost always frustrated by communication barriers and experience constant oppression.
    That led Deaf people to a fatalist mindset, resigned to accept their situation because they felt powerless to change anything.

    Bottom line: it is true that Deaf people individually can and usually are religious. But the Deaf world itself lacks the resources for Deaf people to locate religious answers. They can only borrow resources from other older cultures when they feel the need for religious answers.
  4. Science is a religion?

    In the article “How To Defend Society Against Science”, Paul Feyerabend says that science is a religion because the science is taught through dogmas, and not as it should be, that is, through critical analysis and skepticism. Is this true? What are the examples of scientific authoritarianism these days?

    Thank you. Excuse me if I have written something wrong. My English is terrible.
  5. A great insight found in Feuerbach's early essay Towards a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy:- why I despise religious stuff in general.

    Feuerbach said philosophy was at risk of becoming religious. He thinks philosophy must consist of critical engineers that attacks the essence of religion and any attempt to make philosophy religious.

    For Feuerbach, religion is basically sermons or sermonizing. It is a demand that tells others how to think or demand them to think a certain way, as opposed to drawing others into the process of thinking as an active participant. Whereas philosophy is the opposite of sermonizing, for it addresses others as thinkers or participants in the process of thought. In school, we are sermonized, instructed to memorize sermons in order to repeat them back to the teacher. This becomes habitual. Sermonizing is just committing words to memory for repetition.

    Philosophers writes for an active audience or reader who desires an encounter with ideas. If you think you have grasped the truth, you cannot address others as passive receptacle of truth, for that is the religious way.

    Religious thought privileges texts in the strongest possible way, as if they embody the truth, and assume truth is transparent. To approach philosophical texts religiously is to position them as embodiments of truth.

    That is what happened to Hegel's work in the early 19th century in academic philosophy. Feuerbach says doing philosophy is practicing religion masquerading as philosophy. No surprise he rejected academia. Scholars took philosophical texts religiously by taking them as absolute and elevated a moment in history of philosophy or a particular text into the status of absolute. That became the essence of religion where the text became THE WORD, as something that ends or complete philosophy. Hegel brought philosophy to a triumphant conclusion. To think of the history of philosophy in a religious way is to take a particular philosophy as a moment of Incarnation or the Absolute in a person or the union of man and the Absolute.

    For Feuerbach there cannot be any compatibility between incarnation and history, which follows David Strauss' insight that there cannot be any incarnation in history, and no universal can perfectly manifest in one philosophy.
  6. Post on Religious attitudes in Explore

    By The Heretic, posted
    The following notes are based on Raimundo Panikkar's book, The Intrareligious Dialogue.

    Panikkar lists four major attitudes that we have whenever we enter inter-religious dialogues: exclusivism, inclusivism, parallelism, and interpenetration.


    Exclusivism is the simple, naive belief that one religion is true. Since it is true, then anything contrary must be false. If one's religion presumes a universal context for truth, therefore, anything that deviates from that universal truth is automatically false. It seems heroic at one level - one may dedicate her entire life to something worthwhile, and that should not be anything less than the universal, absolute truth.

    However, it is beset with many difficulties: intolerance, hubris, and contempt for others. Moreover, it assumes a myopic view of truth - a classically logical one, on top of epistemological naivete. Since truth is multi-sided, then even if God speaks in a strictly exclusive language, then it comes down to interpretation. A superhuman faith in religious matters does not solve anything, because God also speaks to other people, and two different appeals to God's authority will still require human mediation. Therefore, God's pure, holy words still depend on human interpretation.

    Inclusivism is a conditional claim that the truth of one's religion is complete, while those of other religions are partially true. An inclusivist attitude attempts to reinterpret apparently incompatible religious claims in a way to make them more compatible. A bold contradiction will be papered over with explanations of different levels of truth. Thus, the inclusivist appeals to formal or existential truths, rather than essential one. E.g., the Vedanta is understood as the be-all & end-all of the Vedas, then the Vedas represent the different stages of consciousness and different contexts. This seems magnanimous and grand - anyone can follow her own path and not have to condemn those that don't. Being inclusive may mean being at peace with oneself as well as with all others. Be concrete in relations, while universal in scope.

    Its difficulties are hubris and a paradoxical concept of truth. The inclusivist's tolerance is self-gratification, for she is not "tolerant" in others' eyes since she allots others their place in the greater scheme of things. It is paradoxical once the inclusive attitude becomes theory and practice. If religious truth is all-inclusive, then truth becomes relative, and lacks truly independent intellectual content. Truth is something to the theist and another for the atheist. For the inclusivist, she assumes she's beyond the limitations of relative truth, and slots every worldview in a place within the inclusivist's supersystem. She claims to a superior POV, even if she insists that her view is one among many. At bottom the inclusivist claims to a greater truth while all the others are limited to relative truths.

    Parallelism is the claim that all different creeds run parallel towards the ultimate, despite deviations or tangential detours. Thus religion consists of the parallel paths, and the devout should respect others - neither subjugate them or borrow from them - but enrich ones own' tradition in order to finally meet at the finish line. This attitude is tolerant, both respectful and non-judgmental. No syncretism or eclecticism to blur the distinct parallel lines. All religions are basically different paths that leads to the same summit. All are right, while using different means to gain the same goal-point.

    Its difficulties are the following: parallelism clearly contradicts the historical experience of religion & traditions. It flagrantly assumes that all traditions are part of a growth process, that every tradition itself is self-sufficient, that there's no possible mutual learning, and denies the possibility of walking a new path outside of them. It seems flattering to presume that we are have everything for religious maturity. Yet parallelism fragments the human race into fixed compartments, and allows the possibility for only growth rather than mutation.

    Interpenetration is a mutual interpretation that maintains all religions seek understanding, and this search is a matter of interpenetration. It is the understanding that the existence of every individual also implies another person, and thus everyone is related in many ways. More precisely, the beliefs of others may challenge as well as enrich our own, and we understand ourselves by understanding others. Religions may be seen as complementary and sometimes supplementary. Many followers of a tenet accept the ideas of another ideology (Marxists & Christianity, or Muslims & Buddhism, etc.). Basically, one's own religion may not be understandable without a background understanding of religion in general. Perhaps no religious consciousness could be distinguished without the existence of other religious consciousness. The positive aspects of this attitude is tolerance, cosmopolitan, and inspires mutual assurance. No religion is utterly foreign to one's own.

    The criticism of interprentration is as follows: wishful thinking. Can concepts like Karma and Providence truly "interpenetrate" one another? Or do they exclude? How can we interpret them? How is this not merely a small adjustment of the traditions themselves? Is this interpenetration a new religion that cherry-picks from the main traditions while skirting others? Is a religious cosmos large enough to contain incommensurable ideas?

    Personally, I remain a skeptic that does not find truth or salvation in religion. Perhaps judging between religions is not possible, or irrelevant. Perhaps it is better to try for cooperation between religions on moral and social issues, such as helping the poor and prevent violence. The very question of truth itself might be misleading. Besides the question of the truth of various teachings, or rituals, or social organizations, it seems to assume that religious truth is possible. Perhaps no such animal exist, for "truth" is a human construction and convention that indicates cultural values. Perhaps truth is historically and locally contingent.

    My attitude, however, is closer to interpenetration than the remaining others, because I find it more supportive and encouraging than the others. Where inclusivism and parallelism suffer from arrogance or self-centeredness, and exclusivism consists of naivete and ignorance, interpenetration understands that we all affect one another, whether we agree or disagree, and we should be free to learn from other movements in order to enrich our own. The 21st century has demonstrated the flattening forces of globalization, so what better way than interpenetration to develop an interspirituality for the millenium? All life is an open process, so this perspective should reflect that.
  7. First up bat is the theologian Sallie McFague, who wrote a fantastic essay titled Metaphorical Theology. I have always been intrigued with language and philosophy, and in this context, I found her essay to be rather refreshing, enlightening, even, over the tired and expired apologetics that has been exhumed in recent days.

    Here is my summary. Feel free to discuss!

    Metaphorical Theology by McFague

    The problem of religious language today is that we are not sure at either the experiential or the expressive level. At the experiential level, we are secular in ways that none of our ancestors were. In other words, most of our experience is irreligious -- we accept our fate and explain the world without invoking God.

    Religious language becomes idolatrous and irrelevant independently of religious context. It is Idolatrous because without a sense of awe and mystery, we no longer notice the distance between our words and divine reality. It is irrelevant because without the sense of immanence of the divine in our lives all language about God becomes insipid and hollow. E.g., the mystics, most perceptive on the question of religious language, refrain from identifying words with God. However, they are also imaginative and liberal with language about God, and they have no problem with making language relevant. We need to say something about the divine, we should use the best images available. Thus the mystics don't limit their language to biblical or traditional imagery since the mystical experience is the basis for a new and potent religious language.

    The primary context for religious language is plain old worship. Without the sense of mystery of existence or the profound inadequacy of our thoughts & words, we will identify God with words (God as father, mother, lover, friend). Without religious context, religious language will decline to mere idolatry or irrelevance. Whereas the interpretative context is the recognition that we who engage in God-talk are social, cultural & historical beings with limited perspectives loaded with a bunch of factors. This interpretive context has been called the "tradition" i.e., the church that restricted the interpretive precedents for what is appropriate (orthodox) or inappropriate (heterodox) religious language. With the advent of historical critique of religious texts, we become aware of the relativity of words & images in them, that they were composed by historical/cultural/social bound individuals as well.

    The "idolatry of religious language" is due to several factors:
    Religious literalism: continuing powerful conservative religious movements that demand nothing but the literal meaning of language regarding God. This refusal to accept a plurality of perspectives and fear of relativizing the Scripture reduces the Bible to a mere idol.
    The dominance of positivistic scientism which narrows truth
    The inability to think in symbols, in which we no longer can conceive of anything to stand for something else. The ancients had a symbolical mentality in which the modern notion of history as the naive recording of facts was completely alien.
    The abandonment of the fourfold method of exegesis (3 levels of interpretation beyond the literal) that allowed for imaginative interpretations that tended towards anagogical and tropological.

    The feminist critique of religious language is basically the exclusive language of religious texts that lead to indifference and irrelevance. Their major points are the following:
    Whoever names the world, owns the world. Adam in Genesis names all the animals without any input from his significant other. We are all born into a linguistic world, one that's already named, then the only thing left is our names. If language & the world are coterminous then changes in one will affect the other and be revolutionary.
    The patriarchal character of Western religious language is a problem. The entire structure of divine-human & human to human relationship is wholly within the context of a patriarchal framework. Besides the fact that the images of the deity of Western religion is masculine (king, father, husband, lord, master) it is also the Western way of life that determines governance at the practical (national, priestly, business, family) levels. God as the father has degenerated into an idol, and the metaphorical character has become literal. So, new models of God is necessary, including feminine ones to avoid idolatry & include the experience of everyone else.
    Religious language is human -- it's not just about God, for it's about us. We imagined God in our image, and the image we chose are divinized and gain in importance. The images that are excluded lose legitimacy or honor, and in turn translate into a lower self-image in women.

    Consequently, language that excludes, and images that degenerate into idols, and exclude experiences are the problems of religious language.

    The analogia entisis basically a doctrine in which all things participate in Being Itself but analogously. Since being is fragmented absolutely, & while everything is connected as beings immediately & utterly dependent on God, they all are radically particular. Analogy retains difference, yet at the same time, remain a symbol of everything else and God especially.

    It is related to symbolic sacramentalism in which the latter is the classic mentality prior to Reformation. The symbolic mentality was destroyed after Luther & Zwingli's debate in which Luther took the bread & wine ceremony to be mere symbols of Christ's blood & body, merely metaphorical.

    The "protestant principle"is the fear of idolatry in which the finite is imagined as the infinite. Luther uses masks for God, in the sense that God is revealed or veiled in symbols. Calvin claims God accommodates by "stooping to our level" and speaks in signs, images. Barth claims that our language refers to God when God causes our words to conform to the divine on occasion.

    McFague claims that the protestant tradition is metaphorical whereas the Catholic is analogical. Protestants see dissimilarity, distinction, tension, and thus they're skeptical, secular, yet emphasize the transcendence of God & the finitude of creation. OTOH the Catholics see similarity, connection, harmony & since believing & religious, they emphasize the connection btw God & creation.

    It is important for our understanding of religious language cuz the Protestant principle is characteristic of our time and we start there. The disparate characteristics of language use of the Catholics & the Protestants are instructive: one offers a sense of wonder & trust while the other offers a need for healing & transformation. The first one starts with a sense of harmony and accounts for the negativities, while the second starts with a sense of negativity and moves towards a future harmony.

    A metaphor is typically a poetic ornament that illustrates an idea or adds rhetorical color to abstract or boring language. But most of our language is composed of dead metaphors. Metaphors are basically seeing one thing as something else. This is that cuz we dunno how to think/talk about this. So we use that to say something about this. Religious language is metaphorical because it speaks of the great unknowns. More importantly is the fact that metaphorical thinking is the basis of human thought & language. A symbol is more of talking or thinking of "this" as "part of that." A symbol contains the metaphor but harmonizes its tension.

    The difference between primary & secondary religious language is the distinction between metaphorical and conceptual language. Metaphors, parables, etc., fund theology but it's not theology. McFague concedes that most primary religious language is implicitly conceptual & most secondary theological language is latently imagistic. However, the richness of imagistic language will spawn new interpretations. Some interpretation is always necessary, for imagistic language demands it.

    A model is a dominant metaphor with staying power - the creation of an individual that is a flash of insight. Some gain wide appeal and emerge as structuring and ordering modes of experience like Eliot's Wasteland, or Auden's Age of Anxiety that establish perspectives for modern culture.

    It plays a role in metaphorical theology as a step on the way from metaphorical to conceptual language. The model is similar to metaphor in which they're images that retain the tension of "is & isn't." God the father is a metaphor that became a model. It retains the metaphor and reaches towards conceptual thought.

    A "root-metaphor" is the most basic assumption about the nature of the world or experience that we make whenever we describe it. Each RM is a way of seeing everything through a particular key concept, as well as thinking by models. They are still at bottom, metaphors, even at the highest level of abstraction or generalization. Only symbolic logic & higher mathematics are exceptions.

    The task of metaphorical theology is as follows:
    Understand the centrality of models in religion.
    Criticize literalized or exclusive models.
    Highlight the relationships between metaphors, models, concepts.
    Investigate possibilities for transformative & revolutionary models.

    Then these goals will be conceived as questioning the "didactic tradition" of orthodoxy over the open, flexible, "kerygmatic POV" in the parables & Christ as parable. Opening up relationships is for justifying the dominant founding metaphors as true but not literal, and discover appropriate dominant metaphors for the marginalized or oppressed. MT is to reform and transform, rather than baptize the tradition.


    The 3 criticisms of McFague's view of religious language are as follows: Hart claims that McFague's approach is a severing from the moorings of the scriptures & tradition, while relying on weak guides like experience & credibility. Ferguson says McFague sinks into anthropologism in her escape from transcendence, on the way to a "post-Christian trajectory." Also, if God is a mother, lover, and friend, then that only introduces a new set of juggling balls into the air. Are they adequate for our complicated world, when God is no longer a source of being, but a personal being that is the product of historical/social processes? However, I prefer her approach that forces the theologian to look at the world instead of the starry skies above, and get real with a relevant theology. It isn't an ironclad blueprint but a sketch for a change in attitude.