Now we’re going to talk about those claims presented by the article “History and Analysis of Atheism” on the existence of a god.
According to the said article, the Nyaya (logic) Vedic philosophical system offers three proofs of the existence of God. They are the following:
1. Existence of order in nature and man (teleological argument)
2. Existence of different conditions for different living beings (different karma of individuals must come from higher intelligence)
3. Existence of revealed scriptures, which speak about the same topics and one God
Ok…so now let’s take this one at a time. First the article says that the existence of order in nature and man is a some sort of a teleological argument. It establishes intelligent design but it is not clear how many beings were involved in creating the order and if they were supreme or not.
OK…OK so according to this we really do not have any idea in the numbers of beings or if the beings that created everything were supreme or not. But may I add, if we can’t be sure what kind of beings are involved, then how can we be sure if a god or gods were responsible in the first place?
How can you refute atheism with this?
It seems statement #1 falls short in proving the existence of a god.
In addition, as discovered by modern physics, our universe neither is fine-tuned nor is it designed for human life. Yes, we know that the universe seems to have certain order as the ISKCON article asserts, but we should also keep in mind that there are a lot of disorder and chaos in the universe. The empty vastness of this universe for humans to explore speaks against the ISKCON claim.
Second, ISKCON uses the Law of Karma and reincarnation as proof of God’s existence. It implies that the existence of different conditions for different living beings because of the karmic law is a proof that there is a higher intelligence somewhere out there.
So what is Karma?
Etymologically speaking, the word “karma” is based on the Sanskrit verbal root kr, meaning “act, do, bring about,” the idea being that one makes something by doing something; one creates by acting. According to this doctrine, every human being gets the fruits of his actions either in the present or in some future life. Whatever a human being is in his present life is the result of his own actions in the past life or lives. Buddhism and Jainism also use this doctrine yet as we already know, both religions don’t worship a personal god.
So does the Law of Karma prove the existence of a god? It doesn’t. Before ISKCON can utilize statement number two as a valid proof of the existence of a god, they must first prove the existence of the following: immortal soul, afterlife and past lives.
As Carvaka has already stated, the law of karma merely serves the rationale of legitimizing the unjust varna-vyavastha by making the Shudras and the “untouchables” submissively acknowledge their degrading position as a “result of their own deeds” in imaginary past lives, and by assuring them “better” birth in “next life” if they faithfully perform their varna-dharma in their present lives.
How about reincarnation?
According to most Hindus, Hinduism fulfills the following conditions and so is perfectly in harmony with modern science:
1. It must accept all proven scientific facts as true.
2. It must reject any view which is contradicted by science.
3. Its beliefs must be based on observation, logic and experience.
( Ref. Hinduism for Beginners, Srirama Ramanuja Achari p. 5 )
Unless of course ISKCON is not Hinduism, then they must also be in the same principle. Now…let’s see if reincarnation is true then it must be logical, coherent and it must not contradict science, observation and experience. Yet:
a. If reincarnation is correct, society should be improving. After all, we have had hundreds, even thousands, of chances to improve our past lives, then we should already have improved it and then there should be some evidence of it.
b. If sufferings in this life are the result of evils done in a previous life, then there would have to be an infinite regress of previous lives. However, an infinite regress in time is not possible since absolute infinites do not exist.
c. Reincarnation depends on the premise that an individual had a highly developed sense of self-consciousness before birth, to receive and store information for later recall. It is a scientific fact that this ability does not develop until one is about eighteen months of age.
d. How about human population? If everyone alive today once inhabited a previous human body, how can the population, let’s say of India, be explained? Today India has a population of 1,129,866,000. So where have all those souls come from?
Now, we’re going to talk about revealed scriptures.
I was wondering why ISKCON thinks that all religious scriptures speak about the same topics and one God.
According to the article, the scriptures say that the existence of God can be inferred neither from sense perception (pratyaksa) nor from logic (anumana) but it can be understood from the revealed scriptures (sabda): “Supreme Truth is neither established nor refuted by logical argument.” (Vedanta-sutra 2.1.11 paraphrased).
Let’s see…according to this premise, “Supreme Truth is neither established nor refuted by logical argument.” So the premise is neither true nor false (which makes it a logical statement). SO? Then by reason and logic, we already know that “Supreme Truth is neither established nor refuted by logical argument”. Did you get it?
The above statement from the Vedanta-sutra 2.1.11 is self-defeating. Logic and reason surely lead to an inescapable conclusion. If the so-called “Supreme Truth” is not established by logic or logical arguments then it becomes balderdash. There is no ounce of truth in a child’s singsong.
Now on the claim on scriptures, does the Gita (Bhagavad-Gita) talk about the same God of the Christian Bible? Well the answer is really a big NO. In the first place, the Hindu god in the Gita is very much different from the Christian God. The Christian God is a personal type, not the same pantheistic, monist gods of the Hindu. In a more detailed sense, Krishna is a god who is both personal and impersonal, and can also manifest as an invisible form of energy (spirit, soul, etc.), as well as in the physical through idols, animals, and humans. The God of the Bible, on the other hand, is always distinct from His creation. The God of the Bible is One God, manifested three ways (as in three persons, The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit) while Krishna is the supreme personality behind the Hindu Triad of Brahma, Visnu, and Shiva, a triad of different gods.
ISKCON believes “We are not our bodies, but eternal spirit souls, parts and parcels of God.”
I think this was also in their scripture. However, Christian scripture is quite different. Christians know that they are created in the “image of God”. They are not part of God’s essence, rather, God is the Creator, and they are his creatures.
According to Hindu myth, Krishna is the 8th incarnation of Vishnu, but Jesus Christ is the only incarnation of God according to the Christian scripture.
The Christian God is not an incarnation of Krishna or Krishna’s son. The Christian Bible doesn’t teach an illusionary world or an illusionary evil. It doesn’t teach salvation through yoga. The Krishna devotee is taught that he can escape the age of Kali (present age) by transcending with his chanting, and thinking only of Krishna while Christians are taught that in order to be saved one must have faith and believe.
So you see in claim number 3 that it seems the God of the Bible and the God of ISKON are two different gods. It only gives us more problems than proofs of the existence of one God.
Theodicy (or “process theology”): theo – God, dike – (Greek) righteous God is either not all-good or not all-powerful because He is unable to stop the evil – Himself subjected to natural laws. Universe is uncreated…ekkkkkk! Wrong answer.
Before going further let me correct some terms in that ISKCON article. Theodicy is not the same as “process theology”. (Gosh, what kind of a dictionary did the author of this ISKCON article use?)
Process Theology is an idea that says God evolves. It is any theology strongly influenced by the theistic metaphysics of Whitehead or Hartshorne that takes process or change as basic characteristics of all actual beings, including God. Theodicy (from Greek theos, ‘God’, and dike, ‘justice’) on the other hand is the a defense of the justice or goodness of God in the face of doubts or objections arising from the phenomena of evil in the world.
There is no variety of atheism that is called anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism means the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits. This is more conveniently used by believers than non-believers.
According to Finis Dake (you know the Dake’s Bible?)…Anthropomorphism is the ascription of human body parts, attributes, and passion to God. Furthermore it said, “God is a being (Hebrews 1:1-3). It is wrong to think that God has no body parts or passion like human beings. And it is a fallacy to think that God is a universal mind, conscience, love, goodness and power filling all space and matter.” (p. 280 Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible)
That’s not atheism.
I think ISKCON has a problem with other theists and not with atheists.
Xenophanes of Colophon, the pre-Socratic philosopher, wrote: “But if oxen and horses and lions had hands or could draw with hands and create works of art like those made by men, horses would draw pictures of gods like horses, and oxen of gods like oxen, and they would make the bodies of their gods in accordance with the form that each species itself possesses.” – The statement was addressed to believers and it is not about atheism. Xenophanes criticized the Homerian concept of anthropomorphic gods. Homer’s gods, He complained, had all the immoral and disgraceful traits of flawed human beings and should hardly be the object of veneration. Xenophanes held some vague concept of a single deity that was ‘in no way like men in shape or in thought’ but rather ‘causing all things by the thought of his mind’. Therefore, he is not an atheist.
Xenophanes’ argument does not disprove the existence of gods. It only disproves anthropomorphism. Now if believers tend to reason out that individual perception is the cause of why people tend to worship different gods…then god belief is relative. Mountains painted by different artists still contain their basic nature (being a mountain). The problem of using this apology is that when people perceive a god…well one god may be very different from what others are worshiping (example: the Islamic god is quite different from the Christian triune god.).
So if you can’t beat an atheist, then what will you have to do?
Well…they can always say that you (the atheist) have no business sticking your nose in my theistic belief!
According to the ISKCON article, “If, say, in the field of biology, one affirms or denies the claim of a biologist, then one thereby claims to have a knowledge of biology. Similarly, to affirm or deny the claim of a historian is to claim knowledge of history, and one’s own right, thereby, to evaluate historical assertions. Exactly in the same way, TO AFFIRM OR DENY RELIGIOUS CLAIMS IS TO CLAIM FOR ONESELF A KNOWLEDGE OF RELIGIOUS MATTERS.”
Remember that an atheist is a non-believer. Therefore, that means the atheist does not claim any knowledge. It’s the believer’s job to claim knowledge. An atheist just doesn’t believe what this knowledgeable theist is talking about!
The problem arises when this so-called knowledgeable believer is talking about claptraps and is trying very hard to convince other people to join his band. That’s where religious skepticism comes in.
Hey! I’m not an economics major. But it’s my right to know what’s happening with my nation’s money. I didn’t take medicine, but I still look for second opinion from other doctors and I might even know if you’re a quack or not! I never studied pharmacy yet I can still know if these food supplements work or not. That is also the same with religious claims. I have the right to affirm or deny ISKCON claims by doing research…And you don’t need to have a degree in theology for that. You see…you do not study 4 years of theology class before entering a church. The doors of these churches are always open for new recruits. That is also the same with cults.
By the way, if the statement of ISKCON is true, well…they have to become a Buddhist to AFFIRM or DENY Buddha’s teaching about being without a soul. They have to become a follower of Carvaka to AFFIRM OR DENY its teachings AND they have to become atheists first to AFFIRM OR DENY the proposition that god does not exist.
Remember…according to them, your salvation depends on this.
In part 3, I will be dealing on more ISKCON’s misunderstandings and smears about atheism.