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Sep 05

The Problem Of Evil And The Eastern Model of God

Written by whooper on Sunday, September 5th, 2010 at 2:18 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, Opinion, religion |
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I am an Englishman brought up as an atheist by my parents, but I attended a Christian primary school. I remember my father catching me at a very early age praying. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Praying to Jesus to help me at School” I replied. “Study”, he said, “it will do much more good!”

In fact my father had been a devout Christian in his youth, and had at one time even considered the priesthood as a career. Later he abandoned Christianity, as so many intellectuals do, because of the problem of evil.

Indeed, the presence of evil, pain and suffering in our world is the most persistent argument raised against Christianity. The argument runs as follows:

1. If God is perfectly loving, He must wish to abolish evil
2. If He is all powerful, He must be able to abolish evil
3. But evil exists. Therefore, an all powerful, loving God does not exist

The conventional Christian response is:

1. God created a world of free will
2. Although God therefore made evil possible, man makes evil actual
3. Eventually God will defeat evil

Nevertheless, although these points about free will and the future have some value, these arguments fail to explain why a loving parent would create (or allow into existence) a Darwinian world, which, in its very essence, is about selfishness, competition and the survival of fittest rather than the most loving. Arguing that evil is the result of man’s free will alone is just not enough, a Darwinian world of flesh eating animals, disease, disability, earthquakes, inequality and heartless competition demands a better explanation.

As Schopenhauer puts it: “A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.”
This horrifying picture is not a consequence of human free will, rather biology, organisms have to kill and eat each other to survive, pain and competition are the very foundation stones of our world – undermining the ‘man makes evil actual’ argument. In fact even the opening statement of the Christian response – ‘God created a world of free will’ – also clearly fails. Does the African child born to starve really have free will in any meaningful sense? Even the lambs we breed for slaughter have more freedom than these unfortunates. Yet how much free will do any of us have? Choose not to breathe and see how long your freedom lasts.

Christianity also says: (1) God is love. (2) God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. (3) Every individual is special and sacred in his own way. Yet these sentiments are clearly completely incompatible with the cold hard realities of human life. God, if he exists, is not attached to individual human life. If God exists, he has clearly brought about an outrageously cruel world in which human life is deeply expendable and inequitable. Does God care when hundreds of thousands die in a Tsunami, or tens of millions die in a War, or hundreds of millions die of AIDS? Clearly not.

Does that mean that every intellectual must therefore be an atheist? No, it simply means that every intellectual must reject Christianity’s description of God. So what alternative theories of God exist?

During The Age Of Enlightenment the philosopher Spinoza described an impersonal God resembling a logical scientific principle rather than a moral principle. Spinoza also rejected the notion of free will as largely illusionary. Albert Einstein said: “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.” Today we describe Spinoza’s ideas as an example of “Deism” – the philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe and religious truth can determined using reason and observation of the natural world without the need for faith or organized religion. Deism became the religion of choice for Age Of Enlightenment philosophers in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Spinoza was certainly not the first philosopher to conceive of a non-loving God. In fact the idea of both a loving God, and of human free will, do not really exist in Judaism, the religion Christianity grew out of. These two ideas, which have become an integral component of modern Western religion and morality, were largely introduced by the Christians.

Consider the Ancient Greek poet Homer’s cosmology. Homer’s Gods remind us of Nietzschean Übermensch; their divinity revolved around their power, their self confidence, their psychological intensity – in stark contrast to their human subjects, who lived in a state of blandness, blindness and slavery. For Homer free will is something that Gods have, and human do not have.

Today Homer’s cosmology strikes us as both primitive and absurd. Nevertheless, one can see that his system is at least untroubled by the problem of evil. In fact his model fits the horrors of our Darwinian world perfectly, because his divinity revolves around power rather than love.

Pythagoras was a critic of Homer’s cosmology. Although his precise beliefs are shrouded in mystery, we do know that he associated reason with divinity and therefore rejected Homer’s colourful picture of Gods sometimes exhibiting irrational human personality traits. Pythagoras was also an ascetic, he rejected Homer’s frequently violent and lustful Gods, he associated self discipline and intellectual idealism with divinity. Pythagoras also conceived divinity as an ideal unitary consciousness, something infinitely greater than individualised human personality, so he moved from multiple psychological human looking Gods to a single ideal dehumanised God principle. His divine principle was rational, even mathematical, and stood in contrast to the irrationality of mortal men.

This Pythagorean vision of divinity I have described remains untroubled by the problem of evil because his God is not loving and human life is not sacred. Although this vision is far more advanced and that Homer’s, something still feels as if it is missing.

Teleology is the philosophical study of purpose and/or design in nature. Sophisticated descriptions of divinity invariably involve teleological positivism – a reason why, a sense of direction, a purpose. Hegel is the philosopher who famously attempted to integrate teleological positivism into Christianity. Hegel believed that human beings can escape from the painful immediacy of human life by the raising up of their consciousness in religion, and that human history is the story of evolving religious consciousness, consequently releasing mankind from suffering.

Plato and Aristotle not only built on the rational Pythagorean cosmology, they added teleological positivism by spades. Hegel said “Anthropology has for its subject matter the soul in its uncultivated natural condition”. Plato’s equivalent runs: Anthropology has for its subject matter the soul in its unthinking natural condition. Primitive human soul, like that of an animal, acts by instinct without intelligence. The blood soaked earth then becomes the mother of all perfection. In their struggle for survival and mastery, humans develop intelligence. For Hegel the endpoint is the spiritual escape from nature, for Plato, the endpoint is the rational conquest of nature.

For Plato, spiritual growth is the process of opening the mind, of abandoning tradition and dogma, of learning to pragmatically solve life’s challenges. What separates a good carpenter and a bad carpenter? Skill in carpentry. How does this skill relate to dogma? Dogma is in essence the precise opposite of skill, it is an assumption of how carpentry should be done, not the intelligent calculation of optimal execution. Dogma enslaves mankind in ideology, it’s opposites are intelligence and creativity. So Plato said that what distinguishes a spiritually evolved man is his ability to make optimal decisions, coming out of his talent for objective analysis.

Even today Plato’s ideas are radical, indeed very few people have even heard of the idea that spiritual growth is connected with reason. Every religions revolves around love and faith is the common, but utterly misguided, Western refrain. Despite our technological advances, the world is still utterly steeped in ideology, still revels in ideology, still rejects rationality as evil. The idealization of rationality during the Age Of Enlightenment has all but vanished, even amongst the worlds premiere philosphers. Even the smartest 20th Century scientist, Albert Einstein, demonstrated profound irrationality concerning his own area of specialist expertise. Einstein disliked the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, not because the scientific arguments were poor, but because he disliked the idea of God “playing dice with the universe”. What Einstein was doing was projecting an ideological assumption onto nature and refusing to open his mind to contradictory evidence. Yet Einstein was the smartest man in Physics, and Heisenberg uncertainty principle was an area he specialised in – imagine how irrational the masses are! Essentially they are robots, animals, completely devoid of intelligence, complete steeped in ideology, whose only experience of creativity is the production of new life by sexual reproduction.

How does one achieve rationality? Plato encouraged people to question their assumptions, to expose their sacred beliefs and values systems to the cold light of reason. Socrates was the Guru who opened the minds of the blind by questioning subjects, demonstrating their complete irrationality, revealing their ideological programming, tearing apart their ethical assumptions. Christianity teaches the precise opposite, instead of tearing apart sacred assumptions we should have faith in them. So although Plato and Socrates believed in God, they rejected all dogma and all faith, both in religion, in ethics and other areas. How did democratic Athens take to Socrates’ radical advice? By executing him! For those seeped in ideology Plato is the anti-christ.

Under the Platonic model, we can imagine God bringing this terrible world into existence in order to educate the souls who inhabit it. God created this primitive world of Darwinian competition as a school. Like the child who can not understand why his parents would cast him from the loving home into a competitive school, man can not understand why God has created this world to educate him. Also, like the child who lives entirely in the moment and has little concept of time, man can not understand that what he feels is a lifetime is not even a blink of God’s eye. Like the child who does not understand that the bruises he takes will heal, man does not understand that death is an illusion. A perfect world, like a school without hardship, can not educate. One day man will learn to conquer Earth completely, to cure all disease and fashion the planet in any way he pleases. Man will become all powerful, all wise and all virtuous, man will become God. So although the world God initially created is the precise antithesis of divinity, it evolves into divinity.

Plato’s rational and teleological positive cosmology is also untroubled is the problem of evil. Summarizing the differences between the Platonic and Christian models: Instead of detached pragmatic intelligence, we have love, traditionalism and faith. The concept of good & evil reverses: In one case ideology is evil and pragmatism is good, in the other case the precise opposite is true. Instead of a loving shepherd who cares for his sheep, God is infinitely detached from finite humanitarianism and only concerned with evolutionary idealism. Instead of egalitarian Christian utopia, we have evolutionary struggle, we have worms and supermen. Instead of being born into free will, we are born into slavery. Instead of evolving into servitude, we evolve into freedom. Instead of a single lifetime on Earth, there is reincarnation. Death is meaningless, human life is not sacred. The black death was not a tragedy, it was just a moment in man’s evolution. Just as St Matthew’s Passion is a mixture of harmony and discord, plague is an integral part of the celestial music.

Christians will object to the apparent heartlessness of the Platonic model I have described, yet love is not missing if we examine the concept correctly. Picture a mother and a father caring for a child. The nurturing mother cares about her child in the here and now, the more challenging father is concerned with the child’s evolution. The mothers worries when the child hurts himself, the father encourages the child to climb trees and take risks, his motto is “no pain, no gain”. The mother is happiest with the baby, who needs the greatest care. The father prefers the older child, who is ready to begin falling down and hurting himself. Take that masculine principle to the extreme, to infinity, and we end up with Plato’s Divinity. To the feminine viewpoint this ultra masculine viewpoint is completely lacking compassion, so it is pure tyranny, pure evil. But from the masculine perspective, the feminine viewpoint is completely lacking idealism, so it is pure materialism, pure evil.

Confucius spoke of a yin/yang duality underlying all philosophy and psychology. Plato spoke of the Mortal-Immortal duality. The yin/mortal viewpoint is egalitarian and nurturing, the yang/immortal viewpoint is competitive and detached. In other words there are two essentially different ways of seeing God, one is yin, and Christianity is an example; one is yang, and the Platonic model is an example. The two visions are totally opposites, even their concepts of good and evil reverse. No wonder the Western masses seeped in Christianity find the Platonic model shocking, and would rather believe in nothing at all.

Max Muller picked up on this when he described two religious visions, the Aryan and the Semitic. One believes in utopian equality, one in struggling inequality. We have the infamous idea of the Semitic perversion of civilization which runs as follows: Because the exulted viewpoint of Socrates is far beyond the masses, the Jewish Religion taught a single lifetime of passive sufferance followed by eternal utopian bliss in the hereafter (Christianity added nurturing love). As this perversion spread beyond the lower classes, the truth was completely lost to Western Society. The rot goes way beyond the technical details of the Western conception of God, it includes the moral system, the concept of enlightenment, the purpose of life.

The most famous Neo-Confucian philosopher, Zhu Xi, espoused the same ideas as Plato. He called his enlightening principle “gewu”, which is the “investigation of things”, the “paying attention to books and affairs”, he was also anti-traditionalist, also pragmatic, and he described God as a rational principle. It must be quickly added that one of the reasons people find the concept of ‘rationality’ so offensive is that the word carries excessively linear connotations, what we are really talking about is an objectivity described by Buddhists as “detachment”.

Yet Christianity has its uses, Confucius realized that not every member of society could follow in Socrates’ footsteps, consequently he created two parallel paths, one philosophical and rational, one traditional and moral. Confucius: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” When reading Confucius, it is vital to keep this in mind, he frequently mixes the two approaches, so in one line he might recommend piety, and in the next radicalism.

If you, the reader, have followed me to this point, you will now understand that there is another conception God, the Eastern Model, which is the polar opposite of Christianity, which is not invalidated by the problem of evil, and which is deeply rational.

In my opinion, China’s economic rise is not unconnected with mankind’s philosophical progress. I believe that we are living though a seminal moment in history, a sort of Age Of Enlightenment Part II. Involved in this is the rise of worthy China, and the decline of the unworthy West. This rotation of power is connected with the rise of a new pragmatic rational conception of God which is the antithesis of Christian theology and morality. During the Age of Enlightenment Western Philosophers, unable to detach from feminized Christian morality, failed to appreciate either the evolutionary or collectivist idealism key to the theological positivism of the Eastern model.
Further Reading: www.theoligarch.com


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44 Responses to “The Problem Of Evil And The Eastern Model of God”

  1. Wukailong Says:

    This must be the longest minipost I’ve ever read. :) Anyway, some comments and questions:

    “Nevertheless, although these points about free will and the future have some value, these arguments fail to explain why a loving parent would create (or allow into existence) a Darwinian world, which, in its very essence, is about selfishness, competition and the survival of fittest rather than the most loving.”

    I’m not a Christian or a Jew, but I’ve discussed these questions with some strong believers of the former faith, and their answer is usually that it was the Fall that created all the horrors that we call evil, including everything from viruses to flesh-eating animals (in the first chapters of the Bible it says that man originally was a vegetarian). But that’s just a detail.

    “Today we describe Spinoza’s ideas as an example of “Deism””

    Spinoza didn’t believe in deism – that was more the theology of the enlightenment, for those who still wished to retain God in a materialistic context. I would rather refer to Spinoza as a monist.

    “Hegel is the philosopher who famously attempted to integrate teleological positivism into Christianity.”

    What is teleological positivism? It sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. Since it’s a recurring concept in this text (both Aristotle and Plato are mentioned as having added this to the Pythagorean cosmology), you might want to explain it in some more detail.

    “Despite our technological advances, the world is still utterly steeped in ideology, still revels in ideology, still rejects rationality as evil.”

    Is this really true? It is of course hard to prove because we would have to analyze opinions of millions, but it seems strange to me. There’s also a difference between the Western concept of rationality and Chinese 理, for example, the latter which emphasized a sort of moral principle in the universe rather than mathematical laws.

    “Even the smartest 20th Century scientist, Albert Einstein, demonstrated profound irrationality concerning his own area of specialist expertise. Einstein disliked the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, not because the scientific arguments were poor, but because he disliked the idea of God “playing dice with the universe”. What Einstein was doing was projecting an ideological assumption onto nature and refusing to open his mind to contradictory evidence. Yet Einstein was the smartest man in Physics, and Heisenberg uncertainty principle was an area he specialised in – imagine how irrational the masses are!”

    I can understand the idea – if the smart is so dumb, then how dumn mustn’t the dumbest be – but from my own experience, it’s rather that mankind as such shows tendencies to irrationality. Being good in one area doesn’t necessitate greatness in another. Not all athletes are necessarily fast, so to speak.

    Your discussion of the yang and yin ways of seeing God is certainly an interesting concept, but I’m not sure you can draw any conclusions about an eastern God from that, if by eastern you mean “Chinese” (as opposed to, for example, Hindu). There is no Chinese concept that corresponds exactly to God. All translations of Christian texts into Chinese have used indigenous terms, more or less cleverly, to convey the concept:

    主 – simply “lord” (mostly refers to humans)
    上帝 – “upper emperor” (this was more or less invented by Christianity)
    神 – god, spirit (but not necessarily the only god)
    天 – heaven (seldom used)

    So, I think it’s hard and quite risky to describe an Eastern vision of God. About the universe or cosmos, sure, but not about a divine, personal power outside nature.

    “Jewish Religion taught a single lifetime of passive sufferance followed by eternal utopian bliss in the hereafter”

    Does the Jewish faith talk much about the afterlife at all? Isn’t it mostly the bleak vision of Sheol, where the spirits slowly fade away? The image of paradise after death is more related to eastern viewpoints (like in Hinduism or Buddhism), but Christianity got this later, perhaps from Zoroastrianism. The Chinese view of heaven and hell is quite colorful, with its own bureacracy. It’s no wonder that you can buy paper money for the “First Bank in Hell” to burn for the dead in some places. :)

  2. TonyP4 Says:

    I can prove there are no gods. Otherwise, the ghosts and afterlife for the west and the Chinese (and most other Asians) should be the same. The Chinese ghosts have tongues sticking out and jumping all the time and Chinese never know about the light from the end of the tunnel. However, in my real life, I cannot explain many incidents without gods.

    Interpreting God’s preachings could be all wrong. All if not most religions teach us to love. Judging from centuries of religious wars including today’s wars, we have not done a good job.

  3. Wukailong Says:

    @TonyP4: Or, you could say, since all cultures have teachings about supernatural forces, there has to be some truth to it.

  4. whooper Says:

    Wukailong,

    1) Problem of Evil – No I don’t think “the fall” explains the problem of evil. In fact I don’t even bother to mention it, the fall is primitive stuff, I stick to reasonably rational stuff.

    2) Spinoza and Einstein are both examples of people who believe God is found by reason not faith. That is Deism to me.

    3) Teleogical Positivism is a reason why. Essentially a viewpoint on evolution, therefore on enlightenment.

    4) Is the world steeped in ideology? Yes. For example: Lee Kuan Yew dismisses the American intellectual viewpoint on race as patently absurd and naive.

    5) Yes Confucius does not build a picture of God. Perhaps I should have stripped that out of the title and text and focused on Enlightenment. It does not matter, really I have use Platoic stuff more.

    BUT THE VITAL POINT IS THAT YES THERE IS A YANG MODEL OF ‘LIFE’

    AND IT IS INCRESINGLY THE MODEL OF CHOICE FOR EASTERN ELITES,

    And it is commonly called the Eastern Model and Aryan Model by mystics

    6) Sufferance followed by bliss is integral to Judaism, Islam, Christianity and the Semitic concept generally. In Judaism the afterlife it is vague and primitive but there is the dead coming back to live in eternity happily.

    Primitive Chinese views are not important, I already explained Confucius created a two headed philosophy. We have to grasp the more sophisticated viewpoint.

    7) Because superstition is traditional it must be true.
    This logic demonstrates the rationality gap between China today and the emerging Eastern Model. The new model is ancient philosphy, but it also the combination of 18th Century Enlightenment Rationalism, 19th Century Social Darwinism, and 20th Century Technological Empiricism.

  5. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “although these points about free will and the future have some value, these arguments fail to explain why a loving parent would create (or allow into existence) a Darwinian world”
    —nor are they meant to, since parents don’t create our Darwinian world. The world in which we live today is the product of the evolutionary process that preceded it (if you choose to subscribe to that theory). If you believe in God and don’t believe in Darwin’s theories, there should be no expectation that you would be able to provide faith-based explanations for them. To suggest that Christianity can’t account for Darwinism seems self-evident, but not that helpful.

    What exactly is the “eastern model of god”? You’ve described the philosophies of Plato, Homer, Socrates, and Pythagoras. You’ve briefly summarized the Semitic faith. But none of those would seem to fit your characterization. You’ve also described the Confucius yin/yang. To me, that is a philosophy. So is the “eastern model of god” a euphemism for “philosophy”? If so, then “god” (small ‘g’) had nothing to do with it, since a belief in any god requires faith, whereas subscription to a philosophy requires rationality.

    If we stipulate to a ‘rise of worthy China’, which philosophy is causally related to said rise, and in what way? Of what is the “west” unworthy? If anyone’s rise is predicated on rationality, perseverance, and hard work, of what importance is any ‘god’, or philosophy (apart from the philosophy of being rational, persevering, and working hard)? If those three traits constitute the crux of the philosophy that leads to success, are they exclusionary to a “western” conception of “God”? It seems to me that one can believe in “god” (ie any god), or not, and still succeed on the basis of their philosophy. However, I do agree that believing in a “god” alone does not promise success in the absence of the requisite effort.

    If China’s rise in the last 30 years is the result of man’s philosophical progress, what accounts for the China of pre-1980? Have Confucian philosophies taken hold in the last 30 years in a manner not previously seen in Chinese history? There’s little question that China has experienced a dramatic economic rise, and to me it resulted from a timely and contemporaneous shift in economic policy. Of course, it is impossible to prove causation retrospectively, but it seems that Chinese economic policy has changed more during the time of China’s rise than has Chinese people’s understanding and practice of Confucian philosophy.

  6. Bob Johnson Says:

    Thanks for a very insightful and thought provoking article! And thanks for mentioning Deism. As a Deist myself I realize that far too few people know what Deism is. You seem to have a good understanding of it; finding or learning about God through reason and Nature, not through “holy” books, etc. If you haven’t already, you may enjoy reading Thomas Paine’s outstanding book, The Age of Reason.

    Progress! Bob Johnson
    http://www.deism.com

  7. HKer Says:

    ” It seems to me that one can believe in “god” (ie any god), or not, and still succeed on the basis of their philosophy. However, I do agree that believing in a “god” alone does not promise success in the absence of the requisite effort.”

    Indeed…That and with a little bit of Dolittle luck:

    [My Fair Lady]

    The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
    So he could do his job and never shirk.
    The Lord gave man an arm of iron-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    Someone else’ll do the blinkin’ work!

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck you’ll never work!

    Alfred The Lord above made liquor for temptation,
    To see if man could turn away from sin.
    The Lord above made liquor for temptation-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    When temptation comes you’ll give right in!

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck you’ll give right in.

    Oh, you can walk the straight and narrow;
    But with a little bit of luck You’ll run amuck!

    The gentle sex was made for man to marry,
    To share his nest and see his food is cooked.
    The gentle sex was made for man to marry-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    You can have it all and not get hooked.

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck you won’t get hooked.
    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of bloomin’ luck!

    The Lord above made man to help is neighbor,
    No matter where, on land, or sea, or foam.
    The Lord above made man to help his neighbor-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    When he comes around you won’t be home!

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck, You won’t be home.

    They’re always throwin’ goodness at you;
    But with a little bit of luck A man can duck!
    Oh, it’s a crime for man to go philandering
    And fill his wife’s poor heart with grief and doubt.
    Oh, it’s a crime for man to go philanderin’-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    You can see the bloodhound don’t find out!

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck she won’t find out!
    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of bloomin’ luck!

    He doesn’t have a tuppence in his pocket.
    The poorest bloke you’ll ever hope to meet.
    He doesn’t have a tuppence in his pocket-but
    With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
    He’ll be movin’ up to easy street.

    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of luck, He’s movin’ up.
    With a little bit…with a little bit…
    With a little bit of bloomin luck!

  8. Rhan Says:

    This topic is extremely deep. I can’t even grasp 10% of it including the comments. I recall reading a biography of John D. Rockefeller, it seems the author place a prominent role of Christianity as the cause of seeking great wealth, and I read lots of material that relate Capitalism to Christianity. However by looking at the Japan miracles in the 80s, I doubt the role of both religion and philosophy has much to do with economy rise.

  9. Wukailong Says:

    “1) Problem of Evil – No I don’t think “the fall” explains the problem of evil. In fact I don’t even bother to mention it, the fall is primitive stuff, I stick to reasonably rational stuff.”

    I didn’t say it explains it, but many fundamentalist and/or traditional Christians have used the concept to explain the evil they see in the world around them. As for being primitive, I remember you mentioned Christianity in itself to be primitive in an earlier thread. To dismiss things out of hand for being primitive doesn’t seem very rational to me.

    “2) Spinoza and Einstein are both examples of people who believe God is found by reason not faith. That is Deism to me.”

    One thing is how God is found, another one is the belief you end up (if you so choose). Deism involves reason, but it’s also a specific viewpoint of God as creating the world and then leaving it on its own. Einstein’s beliefs aren’t that clear and Spinoza didn’t believe in a God outside the universe. Therefore, he’s not a deist. It’s not a big deal, though.

    “3) Teleogical Positivism is a reason why. Essentially a viewpoint on evolution, therefore on enlightenment.”

    Well, being teleological is certainly a view on evolution, but positivism? What does the concept of “teleological positivism”, as a compound, mean? The examples you mention – Plato, Aristotle, Hegel – all have teleological components in their systems, I’m just failing to see where the latter part of the concept comes in. If you mean an empirical way of addressing the world it seems more lucid, but can you please give a more thorough explanation of it?

    “4) Is the world steeped in ideology? Yes. For example: Lee Kuan Yew dismisses the American intellectual viewpoint on race as patently absurd and naive.”

    But that’s just one example, which isn’t even very authoritative. I don’t want to sound nit-picking here, but proving such a grand statement would require quite a bit. I won’t bother with that requirement right now, though, just suffice it to say that Lee Kuan Yew has a lot of ideology of his own, with his “Asian values”, cultural explanations, the modern idea of development (which is also what underlines China’s development) etc.

    I think these comments will suffice for the moment.

  10. Wukailong Says:

    @Rhan: “However by looking at the Japan miracles in the 80s, I doubt the role of both religion and philosophy has much to do with economy rise.”

    Indeed. Confucianism has been brought forward during the last decade as the reason China has been so successful during the reforms, but in his time, Max Weber used it to explain why China was underdeveloped.

  11. HKer Says:

    WKL, to add to your list in post #1

    上天 – The sky above / The unknown above / The divine above / The source of Predestination
    天神 – The gods of the unknown upper realm.

    Tony, ” the ghosts and afterlife for the west and the Chinese (and most other Asians) should be the same”

    We have fairies and they have angels – Our fairies, requiring neither wings nor shields and swords, can soar through the heavens and repel enemies with divine forces ( e.g. 如来神掌) and conjure up metaphysical sabers, which shows that ours are more evolved, say than the Judeo-Christian cherubims(四翼天使)and Seraphims(六翼天使):-)

  12. whooper Says:

    Wukailong,

    Seems like “teleogy” is the question of discussion.

    Let me give an example of it in a newpaper:

    ——————————-

    … the retreat of the glaciers (and polar ice caps) tells us the primary datum of the decade has been physical degradation of the planet. Give me a sceptic and I will take him to Shanghai or São Paulo on a day of ripe smog and see how sceptical he remains while coughing his guts into a mask and peering at brown sunlight as if through a dome of begrimed glass. Lake Baikal is a saline puddle and the Sahara is heading for Timbuktu. If the earth is not yet in its terminal death rattle, it sure ain’t looking good. Population pressure on shrinking and degraded resources in the poorest parts of the world is unrelenting and no mega-city – Lagos, Caracas, Rio, Mumbai – is without its mountain range of trash on which humans can be seen like skeletal goats picking over the black plastic for something to eat. Along with drought and famine, pandemics have returned: in which, like some as yet unwritten scripture, the animal kingdom – avian, porcine, bovine – is a bellwether of human perishability.

    All of which seems to put the nail in the coffin of a collective optimism born 200 years ago, when the Enlightenment envisioned a world illuminated by reason, banishing the afflictions of ignorance, poverty, war and disease. That the arch-prophet of this smiley-faced secularism, the Marquis de Condorcet, perished while imprisoned by French revolutionary authorities should have told us something. But his own endearing naivety was replaced by waves of chin-up teleological certainty – capitalist, Marxist, Fordian – all beckoning us to the sunlit uplands of a sweeter future.

    ————————–

    This postmodern viewpoint is pure negativism.

    Do you see what I am trying to say, how this relates to religion? Early Christanity had no evolutionary sense. You live, you struggeld, you went to heaven. In reincarnation you have that sense of evolution. Religions without that evolutionary sense are primitive.

    Maybe I should not have used the words teology and positivism together, sorry. I will change that. I will reserve teological positivism for teological evolution + reason.

  13. whooper Says:

    Wukailong,

    Max Webber on traditional Confucian government – great point.

    My position is that Confucius created basically a dual headed religion, one head is like Christianity and one head like Platonic Philosophy.

    I think that as time went by the moral ideological head developed so that instead if government by “scholar bureaucrats” China ended up with government by “naïve priests”.

    Weber’s dehumanized expert bureaucracy is inseparable from pure rationality, and within it decision making is based on concrete rules and tactics developed solely around concrete goals.

    So in Singapore today we can talk about a traditional Confucian government purged of the ideological focus. This becomes pure Weber.

    This is my vision of 18th Century Enlightenment Rationalism, 19th Century Social Darwinism, and 20th Century Technological Empiricism.

  14. whooper Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    You ask:

    (1) “What exactly is the “eastern model of god”? You’ve described the philosophies of Plato, Homer, Socrates, and Pythagoras, the Semitic faith, Confucius, yin/yang. To me, that is a philosophy. So is the “eastern model of god” a euphemism for “philosophy”?”

    (2) “If so, then reason nothing to do with it, since a belief in God requires faith, whereas philosophy requires rationality.”

    (1) Yes – it is a philosophy which taken to its deepest level conceives of a different model of God compared to Christianity.

    (2) Wrong– you still have not captured the Enlightenment revolution (don’t worry even though it was 300 years ago, not many have). This new model of God does not involve faith.

    Bob Johnson,

    “Thanks for mentioning Deism. As a Deist myself I realize that far too few people know what Deism is. You seem to have a good understanding of it; finding or learning about God through reason and Nature, not through holy books, faith etc”

    Bob, the idea of this article is that the Enlightenment conception of a rational God, eg Spinoza, is far too primitive. This article describes it more properly. In fact many of the ideas come out of Platonic and Confucian philosophy, but the theory of evolution and rise of science allow us to grasp it much more easily.

    When this new model is properly grasped I am sure it will change the world immeasurably.

  15. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “philosophy which taken to its deepest level conceives of a different model of God compared to Christianity.”
    —why would any philosophy taken to any level require a conception of any god? It seems that, if you want to suggest that the current Chinese “rise” is in part rooted in a unique philosophy, such a contention alone should suffice. Yet you’re taking pains to try to say that this philosophy is still “religious” in nature, but only in such a way that makes it diametrically opposed to what the Christian God, and Christianity itself, stands for. Elsewhere, you’ve already intimated that the west was rooted in Christianity. It seems that you’re not only interested in examining China’s rise, but are also keen to contrast this “rise” from the “western” experience, and trying to suggest at a minimum that the rise of one must be coupled by the fall of the other, possibly to the extent that the two societies can’t co-exist. Where is this mode of thinking engendered that not only requires that China wins, but that the west loses?

    “you still have not captured the Enlightenment revolution (don’t worry even though it was 300 years ago, not many have).”
    —right you are about that. I like to think for myself, and not rely solely on what others have thought before me.

  16. whooper Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    I believe that as one increases ones intellectual power the existence of God becomes obvious. Any true study of philosophy descends into God.

    I believe that Christian philosophy, which is diametrically opposed to the Enlightenment, has perverted the West.

    Also, there are long been two conceptions of God – the yin and yang, the Semitic and Aryan, the western and eastern.

    These yin and yang principles reflect in all sorts of ways. Socialism and Capitalism are examples of it. Under every philosophical debate all we really have is a yin and yang debate.

    The yang viewpoint is not entirely correct, but it is the ascendant viewpoint now because the society has been focused on the yin. Even China was brought down by the traditionalism of the yin, but it is fast correcting.

    You say you think for yourself and don’t follw the Enlightenment. If that is where your thinking is taking you try again.

  17. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I have no idea how one rationalizes god, or the existence thereof. If that’s where your “study of philosophy” takes you, then better you than me. If your studies further compel you to coin phrases like “eastern model of god” without ever providing a definition for same, that’s your prerogative as well. And if you further want to take a Chinese philosophy and label it thusly or otherwise, well, whatever floats your boat. Nothing wrong with a little navel-gazing to pass the time.

    But holy man alive, study of ancient philosophers and your personal neologisms have merely resulted in a one-dimensional retrospective justification (in your mind) of where CCP China is today. I wonder how that meshes with the three-dimensional realities of Chinese people in China.

  18. HKer Says:

    # 17

    SKC

    ” I have no idea how one rationalizes god, or the existence thereof ”

    Neither do i, but apparently this guy does, I wonder how and if at all convincing ?

    Christopher Langan has claimed that “you can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Langan

    Board-certified neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Novelly tested Langan’s IQ for 20/20, which reported that Langan broke the ceiling of the test. Novelly was said to be astounded, saying: “Chris is the highest individual that I have ever measured in 25 years of doing this.”

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Hi Hker:
    “I wonder how and if at all convincing ?”
    —at the very least, i suspect you know my answer.

    Pure math as proof of God is far far beyond my grasp. Then again, people use pure math to prove that 1+1 =2. So it seems that pure math is not for everybody, both in terms of its potential usefulness and of people’s capacity to grasp it. But I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing on this thread.

  20. HKer Says:

    SKC:

    Actually, I was hoping you would give your answer and potentially spare me the agony of possibly having to debate all those smart brains out there – Ha ha. But, I guess you are way too smart to fall for my simple trap, huh? :-)

    ” So it seems that pure math is not for everybody,”

    However, (said in the most sinister reverberated tone in posh English) it seems that religion in every form of political guise and vice versa is …. is is is ….is….is (echo fades into silent black).

    BTW, and this is a genuine question: Isn’t the proof for 1+1=2 a mathematical conundrum to this day ? That, my fellow man, and an infinite other things in life are, well, perhaps only definable with philosophy and at best postulated in rigorous theoretical exercises, which for some lucky folks, get well funded to do. As for the rest of us mere mortals, a simple, “I don’t know,” would suffice, I suppose.

  21. HKer Says:

    Sorry, I should have written: However, (said in the most sinister reverberated tone in badly faked posh English) it seems that religion in every form of political guise and vice versa is …. is is is ….is….is (echo fades into silent black)… or should it be are …are…are… (echo fades into silent black) ? Damn, my grammar sucks!

  22. HKer Says:

    Meanwhile in America …..
    A survey of nearly 2,000 registered voters, a collaborative project of The Pew Research Center and The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, was conducted Aug. 24-Sept. 2010

    http://people-press.org/report/32/religion-and-politics-the-ambivalent-majority

    The Forum is a new organization dedicated to research, discussion and debate on the role of religion in civic engagement, politics and public policy.

  23. HKer Says:

    OPs, sorry OLD News Aug. 24-Sept. 10, 2000

    My bad !

  24. Wukailong Says:

    Then there’s of course Gödel’s proof of God, which uses the ontological proof (I usually found this one the least convincing) and even has a formal structure with symbols:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_ontological_proof

    One thing to consider with all logical proofs is that they are only as strong as the underlying assertions or axioms; the intelligence of its creator doesn’t go all way (Gödel was certainly not playing in the ordinary league).

    As for whether a study of philosophy necessarily leads you to God or not, I can only say that I have studied the area extensively and been both an atheist and a believer. Now I’m more of an agnostic leaning towards belief. Considering that there’ve been both great atheists and believers in the field of philosophy, I wouldn’t bet my life on philosophical studies leading you towards certain beliefs.

  25. HKer Says:

    WKL

    ” I wouldn’t bet my life on philosophical studies leading you towards certain beliefs.”

    This incontestable, ineffable, transcendental topic has been going round and round for perhaps 100,000 years or more.
    My very simple response is – 道不可道, 不 知 道

  26. Wukailong Says:

    “道不可道, 不 知 道”

    LOL, I really like that way of paraphrasing the classic. And you even hinted at the intonation with the spaces. :)

    I met an eccentric man a couple of days ago who claimed that any meaningful knowledge can only come through enlightenment (“真正的知识只能悟到”). Well, in this case, he might be right!

  27. whooper Says:

    S.K. Cheung Says:
    I have no idea how one rationalizes god, or the existence thereof

    That’s the whole point of this article!

    Understanding the rational arguments is not proof of God in fact, it just shows that God is a sensible idea.
    The next step is to find the beauty behind the theory, so it capitavates you.
    Eventually it becomes totally obvious, clear like the light of day.

    HKer

    Christopher Langan has claimed that “you can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics.”

    I looked the guy on wiki. He says he respects all faiths.
    Pretty silly if you know what god is.
    Even more silly if you understand that the Western and Eastern models are anithetical.
    Still he did say that Darwainian Evolution is junk, which is fair enough.

    If you find the article too har to read check up on evolution… that is a much simpler topic.

  28. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “That’s the whole point of this article!”
    —by now, it should come as no great surprise that I disagree with most of the assertions in your article, if not all of them.

    Belief in God (or a god) does not require sensibility. It merely requires belief. On a more confrontational day, I might even suggest that such belief is borne out of a need. I haven’t decided yet if today is such a day.

    Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. So to each their own. But you speak like a true believer, so bravo for that.

  29. UFQ Says:

    ” you speak like a true believer, so bravo for that. ”

    Yep, indeed, history is full of such conceited academic fools.

  30. A-World-Going-SOUTH Says:

    The Collapse of Western Morality

    By Paul Craig Roberts
    September 23, 2010

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26431.htm

    Yes, I know, as many readers will be quick to inform me, the West never had any morality. Nevertheless things have gotten worse. The US now routinely tortures prisoner…

    recent poll shows that the percentage of Americans who approve of torture is rising. Indeed, it is quite high, though still just below a majority.

    And we have what appears to be a new thrill: American soldiers using the cover of war to murder civilians.

    Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged leak of a US Army video of US soldiers ….

    US Rep. Rogers said that America’s wars are being undermined by “a culture of disclosure” and that this “serious and growing problem” could only be stopped by the execution of Manning….

    The US government, a font of imperial hubris, does not believe that any act it commits, no matter how vile, can possibly be a war crime. One million dead Iraqis, a ruined country, and four million displaced Iraqis are all justified, because the “threatened” US Superpower …

    When other countries attempt to enforce the international laws that the Americans established….

    A year ago on October 8, the Spanish Senate, obeying its American master, limited Spain’s laws of universal jurisdiction in order to sink a legitimate war crimes case brought against George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama, Tony Blair,and Gordon Brown.

    . It was the distinguished Zionist Jewish Judge, Goldstone, who produced the UN report indicating that Israel committed war crimes ….. For his efforts, Israel declared the Zionist Goldstone to be “a self-hating Jew,” …., voted to disregard the Goldstone Report to the UN.

    As the Israeli official said, we are only doing to the Palestinians what the Americans did to the American Indians.
    The Israeli army uses female soldiers to sit before video screens and to fire by remote control machine guns from towers to murder Palestinians ….

    If the crimes were limited to war and the theft of lands, perhaps we could say it is a case of jingoism sidetracking traditional morality, otherwise still in effect.

    Alas, the collapse of morality is too widespread. Some sports teams now….

    What the great racing driver Stirling Moss called “dirty driving” became the norm. Nigel Roebuck in AutoWeek reports that in 1996 World Champion Damon Hill said that Senna’s win-at-all-cost tactic “….

    US kids as young as 6 years old have been handcuffed and carted off to jail for school infractions ….

    Anyone who googles videos of US police gratuitous brutality will call up tens of thousands of examples….

    In one of the most recent of the numerous daily acts of gratuitous police abuse of citizens, an 84-year-old man had his neck broken because he …..

    Americans will be the first people sent straight to Hell while thinking that they are the salt of the earth. The Americans have even devised a title for themselves to rival that of the Israelis’ self-designation as “God’s Chosen People.” The Americans call themselves “the indispensable people.”

  31. HKer Says:

    Did someone say evil ?

    It’s high time we think for ourselves ! Ladies and germs, yes, we’ve heard but how we need reminding every now and then …

    http://www.maniacworld.com/the-public-sucks.html

    http://www.maniacworld.com/who-owns-you.html

    Perhaps mother earth wants Plastics ! Ya arrogant prats !

    http://www.maniacworld.com/george-carlin-on-saving-the-planet.html

  32. silentchinese Says:

    @whooper.

    I read your blogs over the weekend, and I think your philosophical argument of an eastern socio-economic-political model is onto something here.

    but… back on this topic of eastern conception of god.
    if the conception is that Christian morality and conception of god is Yin, Rationalism and the rational concept of god is Yang…

    remember in taoism, ying and yang are part of one unity.
    one balances another, one does not triamph over another, both are merely in-dispensible part of a whole.
    evil and pain comes from lack of balance.
    thus western moral ills, just as eastern moral ills, comes from lack of balance. Western decay is not from christian morality/or ying itself, but rather the lack of balance from the yang, or Rationalism.
    the key, imho, is to strike a balance that serves the human kind the best, just as in your essay on “scientific development” espouses, that cold-hard-science based decision making must be constrained with tolerance of a population.

    on to the wider picture,
    in the standard set of western liberal democracies, it seems that christain morality has won the political argument, but I am too excited over an age of enlightenment II.
    I am what one can describe as an agnostic. question of the ultimate existence of a god is not for me to comprehend. but human progress, i think and I think I agree with you, is the path to enlightement and god.

  33. whooper Says:

    silentchinese,

    Yes your point is very good and it is one have considered a lot.

    Answering this is very deep and is something I plan on writing about some day. I can’t really reply to you here, but email me if you like and I will send you a link one day. One of my ideas is that by understanding the yin we can answer the ultimate question – why did God create man? But before that I want to give a proper answer to the nature of intelligence. Really the mind has two halves, a yin and yang, and you can not understand anything without both. This follows Kant’s division of the mind as well. My Emerald Tablet article talks about this a little, but it is a bit messy I know. Maybe also the yin is the attachment of an emtional response to a ‘form’, the yang should take the task of correctly aligning form with emotions, but yin is existance, without it yang has no function. Anway, as you say a too yin political system is too dogmatic.

    Down to earth, I know there are some deeper questions to be answered behind my cosmology, but the presentation I give makes some very critical points which are missed by most of the world today and yet are vital to understanding.

    I am really thrilled you understand my work- thanks very much.

    William

  34. silentchinese Says:

    @William Hooper

    thanks for your reply. I am thrilled to.

    On the question is why yin exist? or what is the purpose of yin? I too have contemplated this question.

    going back to early humans, fear, empathy, love, compassion, these are necessary emotions to develop in a tribal group of humans in order to have group cohesion isn’t it? in another word, may be biology and darwinism made us to be irrationally emotional because that’s what kept us together thus survived, as a group.

    I am no buddhist but buddhism curiously has the trait of both embracing and rejection of yin. embracing in form of compassions and charity, and rejection in form of emphasis on detachment and isolation from world. i.e. pain is an illusion and monastic life. although I think some of the buddhist thought clearly rejects rationalism.

    I am also no stoic, (although I hope one day I can find the strength to lead a stoic life) but doesn’t stocism emphasises that some destructive emotions (or yin) to be cause of misjudgement and loss of wisdom? as a moral philosophy I think stoic is what I find closest to confucianism-taoism blend. although stoics is more concerned with self then the world. but stoics do not necessarily reject emotion, just their destructive affects on reason, thus attain peace of mind, isn’t it?

    in confucism, the perceived emphasis is always on “worldly” human affairs. but the motto of “xiu shen, qi jia, zhi guo, ping tian xia” (roughly translate: fix oneself, family, state , world) clearly indicates that the primary and first order task of a aspiring junzi should be “fix oneself” before all other worldly affaris. yet the second on the list, family, is an extension of one’s tribal emotion based morality, isn’t it?

    all these worthy philosophical traditions clearly sees a need to detach and control one’s “animal” spirits, destructive emotions if you will yet not out right reject all emotions or yin as being evil. some even embraces them, such as confucism, as an worthy goal of one’s efforsts. yet by your emphasis of Schopenhauer’s quote, and the merited critique of christian morality, one clearly sees the supremacy of evolutionary logic triamphs over compassion.

    if reason is to triumph over emotion, then shouldn’t our all powerful reason triamph over the raw emotions driving darwinism at least if it is applied in a social (human-to-human) setting? I can not stop a lion eating a lamb for food, but atleast I can stop a human to slaughter another human for fun.

    the crude conclusion I have reached so far, is that the existence of emotions or “yin”‘s true purpose, is to serve as emotional fuel of human progress, and reason, or yan, as the method or the vehicle of that progress. with out either human can not advance very far.

    on slightly less universal scale, Chinese progress in last 100 years, one can argue that the very much tribal and darwinian collective need for survival, pride and belonging , served as the emotional fuel for generation of chinese to work hard. while organization of the state and the country served as the vehicle.

    anyways, sorry if my rantings are long and inconsistent.
    this has been a very intellectually stimulating conversation.
    thank you.
    SC.

  35. HKer Says:

    格物、致知、正心、诚意、修身、齐家、治国 …平天下

    大学之道,在明明德,在亲民,在止于至善。为人君止于仁,为人臣止于敬,为人子止于孝,为人父止于慈,与国人交止于信。古之欲明明德于天下者,先治其国。欲治其国者,先齐其家。欲齐其家者,先修其身。欲修其身者,先正其心。欲正其心者,先诚其意。欲诚其意者,先致其知。致知在格物。

    Savage’s ‘manifesto for saving America’

    ” Without hesitation, he dubs Obama “the most divisive and dangerous man that’s ever occupied the Oval Office.”

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=211585

    He learned in his youth that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, but, today, he said, people seem to fear nobody.

    “They don’t fear authority, they don’t fear the police,” he said. “The children don’t respect the teachers; no one respects preachers; nobody respects anybody. It’s anarchy.”

  36. silentchinese Says:

    @HK,

    this famous passage is certainly a very satisfying philosophical connection between one’s personal inner strength all the way onto peace of the world.

    on the other hand,

    Their problem (Michael Savage and the right) is that they for them the beginning of wisdom is fear.
    respect is not born out of fear. respect is born out of knowledge, a rational knowing of one’s own limitations. their is a world that rejects rationalism. illustrative is their stand on abortion: how can one be anti-abortion and pro-forced contraceptive at same time? even if they don’t see the rational flaw in their argument, they should see the obvious moral flaw in this.
    rest of the peice is basically hogwash. they base their world views on pretend facts and guilty by association.

    after 2003 iraq invasion, I got an distinctive sense of foreboding, that America has come to this, and this I hope is the low eb. now the same feeling has come back again. how low can you go?

    the problem with Obama, besides the fact that he is “black”, is that he didn’t act strong enough. public opinion be damed, only ultimate success can silence his critics so why bother. He should have learned more from Han Fei Zi or those of Legalist tradition, Fa, Shu, Shi. He didn’t have enough Shu and Shi.

  37. Rhan Says:

    Perhaps the American had enough of “act strong enough, public opinion be damed and learned more from Han Fei Zi”, for instance, Bush Jr.

  38. No99 Says:

    I sort of grew up with a semi-religious environment, and I’ve heard that statement about the “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”. From what I learned, when people use that phrase, it subliminally means being aware of losing out at in life (in terms of missed chances or lost time) and making the best out of it. If I have the time, I’ll try to explain it, but let me say this that not everyone takes that phrase in the literal sense. Nor does “fearing God” means being debilitated. It has double meanings. It’s kind of like how some Chinese men say they fear their wives. There’s double meanings behind it, could stand for they’re afraid of their wives and/or they love them enough to fear upsetting them. I don’t know what tradition does Michael Savage come from though.

    I don’t even know why some Christians in the West, especially the US, bother using their religion in social policy. A lot don’t even follow the virtues, nor do they take it seriously. It’s also painfully obvious they’re just using it as a political tool. I’m not attacking all Christians or the Christian faith, just some people.

  39. silentchinese Says:

    @ Rhan
    Bush, was both hated and loved, but no one hated him being decisive. it was the substance of his decision that was in contention. If one governs and acts, especially on economic policies that requires very little popular public input, via political opinion polls, then why bother with the whole exercise of elections of congress and precedent? just do as california does and determine fiscal policies via direct referendums.. oh let’s say fed interest rates… via referendum. oh wait, that referendum thing didn;t do california’s budget situation too well does it?

    @ No99.
    point taken.
    I am no catholic but I was brought up in an catholic institution, I also have heard the phrase “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”, and my take I think is distinctly different from yours. to me this sounds deeply irrational.
    what does confucism say about wisdom? know the knowns and unknown thus unknown? in another word acknowledgement of limitation one’s knowledge consititute wisdom? but if we surrender the unkowns to the relm of god and fear then what’s the incentive to known the unknowns? and I admit that mine view on this may be an unique and unqualified view.

  40. No99 Says:

    silentchinese,

    I’m not an expert on Confucianism but from what I know, it seems that in the beginning, those teachings sounded very practical and encouraged learning or constant investigation/reflection. The relationships between different statuses wasn’t invented by Confucius but I think he may have amplified it but stating that it’s a natural order, sort of speak. The supernatural wasn’t extremely important or the goal, but life in the real world. I know that a lot of Ancient Chinese literature sometimes uses Heaven as a omnipotent force, sort of like God in the Biblical traditions, but I think it’s a little bit different. However, I think Confucianism and other Chinese philosophies was more about a person’s actions/choices and more about harmony with Heaven rather than strictly being a servant. I guess overtime, local superstitions, political exploitation and literal interpretations of these philosophies overwhelmed them.

    Well, again I’m not an expert here and could be wrong.

  41. UFQ Says:

    last night over dinner I asked my 32 y.o.American born Chinese friend, an IT engineer from Chicago, if he’d return home someday. His reply was, for many reasons, no:

    1. The US nightlife is incomparable to Thailand and China
    2. The US lifestyle is wasteful and in general boring
    3. Income tax is robbery, and tax payers get nothing in return
    4. Racism is very real there & for now, south east asians’ misled beliefs in western values is providing him, as an american, a good income and better living in SE asia. But, he believes this myth will not last as many many rudely awaken Chinese graduates return from western colleges overseas.

  42. silentchinese Says:

    @No99.

    Yeah it is suprising how Non-Human and non-personal the Chinese concept of “Heaven” is.

    There was no humanization of a supreme god figure at all. sure you have dieties but they are more like saints with magical figures all with human faults and all tethered (wether it is buddahist or confucist or taoist tradition dieites) into a pantheon of gods.

    and there is the concept of “Heaven”. no as a paradise not as a supreme being but a all mighty force of universe.

    combine the chinese concept of the supreme force of universe and how traditional chinese philosophies are extremely humanistic in its orientations, and we have an very humanistic value system that is almost entirely void of moralistic punishment/reward complex and almost rest entirely on “rationalization”.

  43. No99 Says:

    I think one interesting feature about the Chinese philosophies is many of them had their foundations during the Warring States period. It was a very chaotic time, and I’m guessing that the intellectuals and everyone else during that era could not afford to dream about the supernatural so they focused heavily on real life situations. There was talk about ghosts, spirits and the afterlife but it wasn’t extremely practical or important given the conditions.

    I read something recent on Chinahush regarding China’s past. While there wasn’t any significant spiritual movement, like other civilizations, there wasn’t any spiritual restraint either to create that urge for such. There was religious persecution, but it wasn’t entirely in the same way as the Western or Islamic experiences. While different religious ideas and groups were being expelled, there was also several times where they were welcome back. Kind of like a cycle, sometimes it was accepted and sometimes it was not. In several ways, mainstream Chinese culture sort of assimilated those religious ideas and groups. I’m sort of seeing this with certain attitudes among evangelical Christians in Asia today. Sort of.

  44. silentchinese Says:

    @No99 Says:

    “I think one interesting feature about the Chinese philosophies is many of them had their foundations during the Warring States period. It was a very chaotic time, and I’m guessing that the intellectuals and everyone else during that era could not afford to dream about the supernatural so they focused heavily on real life situations. There was talk about ghosts, spirits and the afterlife but it wasn’t extremely practical or important given the conditions. ”

    =====
    Warring sates.
    From a religious persepective, all one has to look is at the famous debate between legalist and classic confucists -Meng zi or Menicius about the fundamental nature of man. evil vs good, to realize how rational these people were.

    what in the judeo-christian world is entirely a religious question, to these people it was an extremely non-divine question, realize that this question points to the root of divine creation of man.

    Judeo-Christianity is also not born out of peace either.

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