Rely on Reason

It is important for us to rely upon facts as the realm of mystic and faith is vulnerable to abuse and manipulation. To support this, I draw upon Galileo’s experience and the myth of Apophis.

Galileo

In 1615, Galileo discovered that “the sun remains motionless at the center of the revolutions of the celestial globes, and that the earth both turns on its own axis and revolves around the sun.”

As the discovery contradicted commonly held views, detractors began to “spread abroad the idea that these propositions are contrary to Holy Scripture and therefore to be condemned as heretical” and they found “others who were prepared to declare from the pulpit, with uncharacteristic confidence, that they were indeed to be condemned as heretical.” […]

In addition, “They pretend not to know that its author – or rather the one who revived and confirmed it – was Nicolaus Copernicus, a man who was not just a Catholic but a priest and a canon.” […]

Hence Galileo had no choice but to make a case for himself. He remarked, “It seems to me that the starting point in disputes concerning problems in natural science should not be the authority of scriptural texts but the experience of the senses and necessary demonstrations. For while Holy Scripture and nature proceed alike from the divine word…it is agreed that Scripture, in order to be understood by the multitude, says many things which are apparently and in the literal sense of the words at variance with absolute truth. Nature, on the other hand, never transgresses the laws to which it is subject, but is inexorable and unchanging, quite indifferent to whether its hidden reasons and ways of working are accessible to human understanding or not.” […]

“So I do beg these most prudent Fathers to consider very carefully the difference between statements that are a matter of opinion and those which can be demonstrated. If they keep in mind the strength of logical deduction, they will better understand why it is not in the power of those who profess the demonstrative sciences to change their opinion at will.”

The unbending spirit of Galileo in his maintenance of scientific observation and truth, reminds us that we should too be fact finders and defend truth with reason.

Apophis

In Ancient Egypt, Apophis or Apep was the spirit of evil, darkness and destruction who threatened to destroy the sun god, Ra.  It was associated with several frightening natural events, such as the unexplained darkness of the solar eclipse, storms and earthquakes. It was depicted as a huge serpent, all-powerful and impossible to overcome.

To defeat Apep, priests of Ra would conduct an annual ritual: “Banishing Apep”. An effigy of Apep would be taken into the temple and imbued with all of the evil of the land. The effigy would then beaten, crushed smeared with mud and burned.

After learning of this myth, I felt great sympathy for Apep. It was the scapegoat for all that it could not control; its name cursed and its image crucified for natural events that were bound to happen. Hence, it is important to have knowledge. We have come a long way from the times of Gods and myths, but our human nature remains the same. We still retain some irrational fear, some imagination; yet all must be in moderation and reason shall inform most of our modern lives.

What is Love?

The beauty of religion is the placing on pedestal, human ideals. With reference to Christianity, in Corinthians, the bible expounds on love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

Certainly, most of us will fail at least one of the above ethos and that is why God’s love is so coveted; it is absolute and perfect. It is what humans cannot achieve and by this notion, God retains supremacy over our most innate need: love.

Compare the biblical definition of love to the song, “Love”, by late John Lennon:

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
We can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

This description of love is real as it is human. It is simple, yet it describes our common experience fully. For me, this is enough for human love.

For me, love is an active consideration for another. It is putting yourself in his shoes and understanding how he wants to be loved. As the Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, “understanding is love’s other name”; so one cannot give love without understanding the recipient’s wants and needs. Furthermore, one’s wants and needs change with time, over stages in life. Love is not a feeling suspended in clouds; it is supported in the form of a relationship. It is important to continually work on strengthening the structure of the relationship, so that love may be sustained; and in the process, friendship between two may flourish. 

Oh God.

Can omniscient God, who knows the future, find the omnipotence to change his future mind?” – Richard Dawkins

Zen Buddhism in Fiction

I quote at length, wisdom with hints of zen buddhism from Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. For those who doubt the value of reading fantasy novels, the following shall prove them wrong.

“Why?”

“Because,” Ym said, “you and I are One.”

“One what?”

“One being,” Ym said. He set aside that shoe and got out another. “Long ago, there was only One. One knew everything, but had experienced nothing. And so, One became many – us, people. The One, who is both male and female, did so to experience all things.”

“One. You mean God?”

“If one wish to say it that way,” Ym said. “But it is not completely true. I accept no god. You should accept no god. We are Iriali, and part of the Long Trail, of which this is the Fourth Land.”

“You sound like a priest.”

“Accept no priests either,” Ym said. “Those are from other lands, come to preach to us. Iriali need no preaching, only experience. As each experience is different, it brings completeness. Eventually, all will be gathered back in – when the Seventh Land is attained – and we once again become One.”

“So you an’ me…” the urchin said. “Are the same?”

“Yes. Two minds of a single being experiencing different lives.”

“That’s stupid.”

“It is simply a matter of perspective,” Ym said, dusting the boy’s feet with powder and slipping back on a pair of the test shoes.

“The things you’re talking about,” the boy said. “They sound dumb to me. I mean, if we’re all the same person, shouldn’t everyone know this already?”

“As One, we knew truth,” Ym said, “but as many, we need ignorance. We exist in variety to experience all kinds of thought. That means some of us must know and others must not – just like some must be rich, and others must be poor.”