On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution guarantees the right for same sex couples to get married. Since that day the gay/lesbian community has faced a lot of backlash from the christian right wing. The right wingers (or whoever these people are) have perfectly displaced their aggression which was induced by the supreme court decision; onto the gay/lesbian community in the form of denying them marriage licenses or public service at bakeries etc. Some right wingers claim that the supreme court’s judgement violates their religious freedom to be prejudiced against gay/lesbian people legally. It is appalling to see how easily bigotry and injustice is masquerading as religious freedom in our society these days. The advocates of religious freedom in this case justify their heterosexist beliefs by referring to the bible, now in order to illustrate the problem with a bible based morality lets go back in time, imagine we were living in the early 1800’s, and slavery was legal. Living in the society at that time, one would not be astounded to see slave owners justifying slavery as their religious right, and endorsed by the bible hence ethical. The same logic is used by the right wing nut jobs, they say things like” the bible says it is immoral hence it is true”, “I have the freedom to uphold my religious beliefs” etc. The question I want to pose to these people is this, why aren’t these people going to court in order to repeal the anti-slavery law established in 1865?. According to the logic behind the proponents of religious freedom in this case, one can also argue (using the same logic) that the anti slavery law of 1865 infringed on the right of slave owners to rightfully enslave people based on religious doctrines. Similarly the Bible also contains many other reprehensible things like misogyny and genocide etc. All these things violate other human rights, and they’re legally prohibited. If this is the case, then why should we consider discrimination based on sexual orientation as something benign. It is also interesting to notice that the proponents of religious freedom reject misogyny, genocide and racism (all of which are in the Bible) based on empathy, their personal ethical intuitions, Science and law, however these people do not use this criteria to judge the morality of homosexual unions. It is high time that people realize that a Bible based morality has always failed the cause of civilization, I think I don’t need to elaborate on this point as history is full of examples that vindicate my point.
Hinduism is often seen as just like any other religion; containing holy scripture and worshipping of Gods and Goddesses by its followers who share a belief in the supernatural. This incomplete description of Hinduism either results from a lack of knowledge about the Indian history or an intentional portrayal of it only as a religion, in order to avoid any opposition to the concept of faith in General. It is very appalling for some people to know that Hinduism does in fact contain many atheistic philosophies and documents.
In this paper i would like to expound on the untold truth about Hinduism; if religion is defined only as a set of beliefs based on faith about a supernatural entity which is omnipresent, omnipotent and altruistic then technically Hinduism is not a religion because there is more to it than just that. One reason why Hinduism is not just a religion to begin with, is that the term Hindu was used by foreigners to refer to people living beyond the river indus in a loosely defined area, subsequently Hinduism was their way of life not a religion specifically. It is said that the Persians used to refer to the Indus river as Sindhu. Indus is a major river which flows partly in India and partly in Pakistan. However, the Persians could not pronounce the letter “S” correctly in their native tongue and mispronounced it as “H.” Thus, for the ancient Persians, the word “Sindhu” became “Hindu.” The ancient Persian Cuneiform inscriptions and the Zend Avesta refer to the word “Hindu” as a geographic name rather than a religious name. When the Persian King Darious 1 extended his empire up to the borders of the Indian subcontinent in 517 BC, some people of the Indian subcontinent became part of his empire and army. Thus for a very long time the ancient Persians referred to these people as “Hindus”. The ancient Greeks and Armenians followed the same pronunciation, and thus, gradually the name stuck. The proper word to use for those people who follow the Scriptures of The Vedas is “Sanatana Dharma“, not “Hinduism” as is commonly used. Even people who follow the Sanatana Dharma cannot be called religious because the Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, deals with a lot of skepticism when dealing with the fundamental question of a creator God and the creation of the universe. It does not, at many instances, categorically accept the existence of a creator God. Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) in the tenth chapter of the Rig Veda states: Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Even the Brihadaranyaka, Isha, Mundaka (in which Brahman is everything and “no-thing”) and especially Chandogya Upanishads have also been interpreted as atheistic because of their stress on the subjective self. This leads us to conclude that many of the Vedas do not endorse or encourage the idea of God in fact they argue against it, According to Markandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India and former judge of the Supreme Court of India, eight out of the nine systems of Hindu Philosophy are atheistic, as they do not have a place for God in them. Only one of the nine systems, Uttara Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta, has a place for God in it.
To conclude I would like to say that this narrow and close minded understanding of Hinduism as a religion only takes away a lot of key elements from the original Hindu philosophy , which is not fair or true. The magnificence and the splendor of Hinduism lies in its diversity of opinions which oppose each other, therefore one is free to judge for themselves which one of them is more convincing. Thats why it wont be wrong to say that people in India could be Christian Hindus, Sikh Hindus, Buddhist Hindus, Jewish Hindus, Jain Hindus and even Muslim Hindus. This to me is the epitome of cultural diversity and unity at the same time. So technically,you can be anything and be Hindu if you were born in India.
He woke up that day, not oblivious of the fact that there is not much time left. It took him only 10 minutes to dress up, but forever to put the smile on his face that she would want to see. Fearful of knowing the answer in advance, he still dragged his heart full of aspirations to her place. Not to his surprise though, all he found was an empty space.
Hoping for a sign at least, he even searched the trash, and there it was another gash. He found a note which had the following to say,” I am sorry for leaving but how could I stay?”. After that he never bothered to pry, he said to himself “at least I tried”. They had always told him that hope was dangerous, but how would he know if he wasn’t venturous. He held onto the hope he had never left and found himself gasping for his last breathe.
They told him again, that he should give up the quest, true love is never to be found, instead, a void is all you will get . He inhaled for the last time with nothing to fret, gathered all his strength and this what he said “ I am not willing to give up,no, not yet.”
I don’t know anyone who has been able to answer the above question ( what is the purpose of life? ) objectively. Similarly all my attempts have turned out to be absolutely futile. But if we examine this ostensibly enigmatic question carefully, it is possible to stumble upon the idea that the question itself is problematic that is why hitherto the answer has been problematic too. This question very clearly presupposes that there was intentionality or a mind behind creation, which we call god. Till date no one has been able to give an evidence based proof of God’s existence let alone the fact that even if he did exist his intention was to create human beings. Therefore if there is no proof of intentionality behind creation then life simply is a cascade of various events. We cannot assume that there is purpose of life until we can find the creator of life and study his/her intention of creating us. It could also be possible that even if there is a creator he/she did not want to create us and we are simply a by product of his/her initial creation. These ideas might be familiar to many people who read this post, so I would like to unpack my perspective on this issue through an analogy. Imagine there is a mechanic who creates a machine for painting walls, now this machine has a very specific structure that does not change on it’s own. Later it is discovered that although the machine was designed to paint walls it actually does a better job at cleaning them. So people start using it to clean walls and it’s purpose gets redefined. Applying this analogy to human beings it is very obvious to notice that unlike the machine mentioned above we are constantly evolving individually and as a species in general. So can’t it be possible that our purpose of life would also keep changing according to how are life changes and how we change. However people of often have this rather serf like view that since the creator of the universe is perfect his/her assigned purpose to our life would always be better than any purpose we give to our lives. This belief is very evidently self canceling riffraff, because if this creator was actually that perfect then he/she would not be a creator. Creation itself indicates at the creator’s need or want for the creation, and this is by no means perfection, in fact this would imply that the creator needs it’s creation as much as the creation needs the creator. However people find these ideas very depressing and demoralizing. Which just vindicates the existence of innate servile tendency in the human mind, many people cannot appreciate the fact that if life is just an accident and there was no intentionality behind creation, they have all the freedom to give meaning to their life, instead people would rather prefer that a supernatural being dictates to them the purpose of their existence. This probably because people are insecure about getting the answer wrong hence they would like to believe that if a perfect being gives them the answer then it cannot possibly be wrong.
To conclude I would like to say that many questions abound this question about the purpose of life, for example when someone asks this question are they asking about the purpose of life in general or specifically human life, and if human life then which humans the ones who are currently alive or the ones who would be alive a thousand years later. With this question are they trying to imply that there is a universal purpose of human life? if so, how can they make that assumption?. This question about the purpose of life itself opens up a plethora of different questions which we must answer before getting to back to the actual question, I think that this issue is very oversimplified and people need to think about the validity of the question very meticulously. As fas as my personal opinion goes I don’t know if I can give an objective answer to this if the question itself is a wrong question. However I do believe that the purpose of life might be to give life meaning.
Today, in our last class before thanks giving, we briefly talked about Mother Teresa. Although i talked about Aquinas i was more tempted to talk about Mother Teresa because she is revered by many people who don’t know her whole truth. Therefore i wanted to shed some light on some of her beliefs and actions which might impact the pious image of her, which is commonly held by people who adore her.
1. In 1971 as the war between India and Pakistan culminated a new country (which was earlier east Pakistan) Bangladesh was founded. But in this new country many women who were the victims communal tensions between Hindu and muslims got raped( nearly 450,000) . Some of these victims were as young as 14 years old. Despite these circumstances Mother Teresa at that time maintained that abortion should not be allowed no matter how young the women are, because abortion is always an evil act to do. Any person who has studied high school science knows that its not healthy for a girl to have a child at such a young age, keeping both the psychological and physical well being in mind. Moreover a baby born from such a young mother is also more likely to be unhealthy or weaker. Despite the fact that Mother Teresa supposedly had some training in medicine, her view of anti-abortion never changed no matter what the situation was.
2. I984 -Bhopal (city) , Madhya Pradesh (state) , India. A massive leakage of a poisonous gas (methyl isocyanate) from a nearby pesticide plant belonging to Union Carbide India; caused 500,000 deaths. This caused a lot of social unrest as the bereaved demanded justice. Mother Teresa’s rather insensitive response to the bereaved was “just forgive”. So instead of fighting for justice (which was their right) , the bereaved family members of 500,000 people should have just forgiven the national corporation for its fatal negligence.
3. Mother Teresa is often credited for helping to solve the problem of Poverty in Calcutta, the city in which she mostly operated. However it is blindly obvious that a clerical campaign against family planning and contraception (which was Mother Teresa’s ideal solution) does not solve poverty but actually makes it more flagrant. Moreover ill people in Teresa’s missionaries of charity or the house of dying received very poor medication. Even in “My life with the Saints” one instance is noted by the author, where one of his friends who is a Phd. in public health suggests Mother Teresa that she should administer medicine in a particular way as it would be helpful for the patients. To which Teresa replied “That’s not our way”. Somehow this irrational and rather naive response was not only, not detested but actually encouraged by the people around the author at this instance. Mother Teresa’s response could only mean two things, either her faith based beliefs were more important to her than someone’s life or that she was so intellectually misguided that somehow she actually thought that medical intervention could not save dying people. None of these ideas are worth celebrating by the way.
What i want people to take away from this discussion is what Mark Twain said ”
Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep ’til noon.” This the problem with people in relation to any saint or religious leaders in general. Just because they are Saints does not mean they have more Knowledge of medicine and health care than someone who is a Phd in public health. Still everyone blindly respects these people just because they give a wonderful impression of being charitable. The irrational beliefs of many religious people like Mother Teresa have caused the death of many people. Therefore a blind faith in people like these only encourages them to continue with implementing their fatal ideas. Hence we must not respect someone just for the kind of reputation they have, instead we should judge them by their actions and the consequences of those actions.
Monotheism and Polytheism
Religious pluralism often brings up the idea that although many of them contradict each other somehow all of them are true in their own way. This cant be possible if truth exists, according to socrates’s law of non contradiction something cannot be itself and not itself with respect to the same thing at the same time. Example- With respect to my body as a whole i cant say that it is moving and not moving at the same time. Applying this to the religious context either Jesus was the son of God (according to Christians) or he was just a prophet hence not the son of God (according to islam), its not logical to suggest that he was the son of God and not the son of God at the same time. Therefore in the case of all monotheistic religions, either one of them is true or none of them is true, keeping in mind that they profoundly contradict themselves.
As a consequence of this, conflict starts brewing up as each monotheistic religion claims to have the truth or God on their side. I don’t know of any way in which it would be possible to prove that one of the religions is true and the others are false, in fact on the contrary historical evidence and anthropology seem to suggest that none of them is true and are in fact man made. Even as i make this claim it doesn’t eliminate the possibility that God exists, God could very well exist without religions. The point i am trying to make here is that monotheistic religions are not divinely inspired but most probably man made. I am still talking about probability and not making an absolute claim. The reason why its more likely that these religions are purely man made is that if we look at the time and history of the place these religions were founded in, we can easily notice that society was very chaotic, science had not emerged, most people were oblivious about the causes of diseases, natural disasters and the planet in general. So people didn’t know much but they wanted to, this desperation most probably led to the most common logical mistake that humans still do which is known as a causal fallacy. A causal fallacy is characterized by the establishment of a false cause and effect relationship between X and Y simply because X preceded why. For example- ancient tribes in the middle east used to sacrifice goats in order to please the Gods and get rid of the drought. Hence if in a day or two after the sacrifice it started raining, then these people would assume that sacrificing goats will bring rainfall. Now this is just one of the many reasons but another reason could be the presence of believes very popularly held be every society in the ancient times that are reflected in each monotheistic religion. One of these belief was widely held by men of that time which was a great repulsion for menstruating women and classifying them as impure, “But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge” Leviticus 15:28-30, [2:222] They ask you about menstruation: say, “It contains harm, so refrain from the women during menstruation, and do not approach them until they are cleansed of it, and when they are cleansed of it, you can approach them as God has commanded you. God loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean.”(Quran). This explains why so many divine figures in religions had virgin births. People at that time it seems were generally disgusted by the process of child birth. All the following Gods had a virgin birth and pre date Jesus.
Odysseus( his life being almost identical to that of Jesus)
Attis of Phrygia
With this i would like to conclude that its much more likely that none of the monotheistic religions are divinely created or inspired and all of them are man made. As far as polytheism goes, its a self defatting idea. Polytheism takes away the most essential characteristic com the image of God, which is perfection. The idea that more than one God exists means that the other’s were not sufficient enough, because if thats not true then existence would just be a redundancy. Moreover perfection itself is all encompassing, hence only one God can exist not multiple Gods.
With this i would like to conclude that its much more likely that none of the monotheistic religions are divinely created or inspired and all of them are man made. As far as polytheism goes, its a self defeatting idea. Polytheism takes away the most essential characteristic from the image of God, which is perfection. The idea that more than one God exists means that the other’s were not sufficient enough, because if thats not true then existence would just be a redundancy. Moreover perfection itself is all encompassing, hence only one God can exist not multiple Gods.
From the very inception of civilization gender roles have existed in most societies. Every society has had a certain set of expected behaviors which differ for males and females. For example men are not supposed to cry and women are not supposed to pay for the bills on a first date. It’s actually strange that these behaviors are not seen as stereotypes but are actually expected out of both the genders. In this paper i would like to discuss the negative consequences of assigning such rigid roles to both the genders.
From my personal experience i have always felt that such roles have restricted the individuality of people and moreover given certain unfair privileges to both the genders. Hence gender equality can never be achieved till the time we keep talking about how a girl ought to behave and how a boy ought to behave. Even in today’s society when you go on a first date it’s already assumed that the guy must pay for the bill. Now, many people don’t understand what’s wrong with this expectation because our culture says so. But i feel there are two problems with this, first of all it’s not fair and second of all creates an imbalance of power. It’s surprising how so many girls have this perception that this norm works in their favor but to a great extent it doesn’t. Since the guy is paying the bills he is controlling the finance in a relationship then he might as well tell the girl in the future what to buy and what not to buy. Moreover how is it fair that people who earn the same amount of money should choose just one person who pays for them all the time? This norm has come from the times when women were not expected to pay because they were not expected to have a job, or at least not a job that earns them the equal amount of money as their male counterparts. This was just one example and i would love to go into details but considering the required terseness of the paper, i would like to make a fundamental point. How come people have the right to tell me that i am like a girl if i cry in a movie and why is that a girl is considered more of a guy if she is interested in cars, video games or martial arts. Similarly why are women, called sluts if they have dated a lot of men whereas a guy who has done the same thing would be considered a “player” which is cool according to our culture? The only thing that these roles do is, limit and repress the individuality of a person and give an unfair power to men, usually. For example girls are not expected to be smart they are just expected to look good, for example after world war two when the U.S. economy revived women were not only told to not work but also told that to be desirable to men, in order to get married, they should pretend to be dumb so that the man doesn’t feel insecure. Hence all that was expected out of women was that they should look good and conform to the cultural norms. Shockingly some aspects of such an ideology still exist today.
Women in most of the cultures are expected to be shy, soft and gentle which basically translates to men as a sign of weakness automatically making them the powerful one. Now i don’t say that there is anything wrong in being shy and soft but no one has the right to impose these qualities onto someone if they are not that kind of a person. I would just like to say that there is no ideal definition of a good women or a man but there is for a good human being to a certain extent and we should see everyone person male or female as a human being if we want to live in a just society.