Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When religion becomes absurd

If the reader is still looking for evidence that religion is wholly-man made for painfully obvious and inescapably mundane reasons, just read the newspaper.

It has been reported in Todayonline that Communist Party of China has declared, without any tinge of cheekiness expected of one making such a pronunciation, that the Dalai Lama of Tibet would be (MUST BE) reincarnated as a child upon death; and even more absurdly, that the blessed child could only be one that has been "approved" by the Party.

Because obviously, the despots in Beijing, are the leading authority on Buddhism and indeed the intricate mechanisms and workings of Reincarnation.

The political (spiritual) spat between Beijing and the Dalai has devolved into a comedy of epic proportions and must certainly embarrass Beijing given its avowed secularism.  One must sincerely wonder whether that poor official Zhu Weiqun, who was unfortunately tasked to press the Party's official position, could have done it with a straight face.  Redness in the face? Must be that infamous Asian flush from one too many goblets of gao liang.

No, of course it is NOT about installing a pro-Beijing puppet leader in Tibet, Zhu vehemently trumpets. It is about "respecting Tibetan Buddhism". 

Er.. wut? This is like a Roman emperor exiling the Pope (after "peacefully liberating" the Vatican) and then denouncing a Papal Bull as blasphemy because it doesn't "respect Christianity."  The only thing more absurd than this analogy is that it is not so far off from what is actually happening in Tibet.

No honest person can argue that this is a dispute regarding theology and not politics. Indeed, both the Dalai and Beijing appear to make no effort in masking the political motivations behind this ostensible argument on the central tenet of Tibetian Buddhism,

The only remaining question is whether there remains any Tibetians, Buddhist or not, who could still view this religion seriously and without its richly deserved contempt?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Questions on Morality

Arguments regarding the origin of morality are practically sine qua non in any debate on the merits of religion. Ultimately, the question is be answered is this:

Does morality come from God?

The inconvenient stories

If that is indeed the case, how does God impart morality to His children? Presumably through the inerrant Word of God, the Bible. It is not uncommon for religious people to denounce homosexuals, divorce or abortion by citing scripture. However, it is also no secret that the Bible contains not a insignificant number of morally-questionable stories or parables.  A quick sample:

Homosexuals should be stoned.  

Children who mock prophets deserve a good mauling by she-bears.  

Citizens (including non-combatants, women and children) of a vanquished country/tribe are to be murdered. Apart from the virgins of course, which you should save for yourself. Yum.

Those who inter-marry should expect a spear thrust through their bodies (much to the glee of onlookers)

In this regard, the context defence is usually employed. However, just thinking out loud, exactly under what context is genocide or murder acceptable? I would be pleased if any one could enlighten me on the same.

Do the moral teachings derived from biblical parables and stories acquire an “updated” interpretation as social mores progresses? If so, whose or which interpretation is to be accepted as "correct"? This in turn elicits a more interesting question of whether the (inspired) Word of God is eternal and consistent.

On the other hand, if it is acceptable for biblical interpretation to evolve with prevalent values adopted by society at any given time, then surely Occam's Razor would suggest discarding the Bible altogether.

One can't help but wonder, given that morality is such an instrumental if not an overriding factor in determining the success and continuity of human civilization, why an infinitely-wise God could not have chosen a less tedious, not to mention cripplingly ambiguous, medium to deliver this all so important message.