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The problem with rationalism

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Request: please delete or edit out anything not considered ok.

A thread was closed before i cud respond. Since yesterday morning, have been thinking about rationalism and the role it plays in faith. Much as one would like to see rationalism for what it is (as reasoning being the guide for belief and action), it is the very definition of rationalism that puts it in conflict with faith. I therefore think rationalism cannot be applied to faith, and finding the reason to do so would result in error prone data in matters of faith. And therefore imho, the supposed rationalists such as AK and ER were actually pseudo-rationalists. Let me explain how and why.

Rationalism (in faith) carries with it the pretence of being scientific in approach. As an agenda and an approach, rationalism is ofcourse not a pretence when applied to science, philosophy, or any other subject, except faith. But the claim that rationalistic thought in matters of faith is "scientific" is a very 'iffy' one.

The experiments of the mind (thoughts) and experiences of the mind feed our cogitations into creating the next set of mental constructs in an iterative cycle of knowledge creation. In science, the activity is based on two approaches of ideas - they are either hypothetically-driven or data-driven.

For a philosopher, hypothetically derived analysis is often the starting point (and can also be the ending point). Deductive reasoning is based on the approach that if the axioms and the observations are true, then the ideas are the facts. In science, this type of a reductionist approach does not necessarily work. Though science enriches itself with hypothesis-rich data, facts are facts only when data-driven or experimentally proven. Otherwise, they remains a hypothesis. Scientific research is about converting hypothetically deduced data into data-driven facts or atleast something that can concur with it.

To prove the application of rationalism as a scientific approach to faith is correct, one would have to first prove that an observation is consistently always accurate. Rationalists (or rather pseudu-rationalists) often pass judgements without fulfilling this basic premise first. Their judgements are passed based on limited observations coupled with their (own) hypothetical differentiation between what is wrong and what is right.

To test whether rationalism in faith can be applied or not, I would like to take the example of a particular individual SS. SS materializes objects out of thin air (lets call it observation A). Another thing that happens to his followers is that copious amounts of vibuti, manjal, kumkum drops out of his pictures (lets call it observation B). Former adherants of SS accuse him of abuse (lets call it observation C). Two current adherants i know of personally have been cured of cancer (lets call is observation D). SS could not prevent a assasination attempt on his life and behaved like a layman in such an attempt (lets call it observation E).

In the case of observation A, it can be proven as something that was faked using cheap tricks of the hand. In the case of observation B, rationalists are unable to prove how and why the phenomenon happens. In the case of observation C, it is a matter of word of mouth. In the case of observation D, it baffles science currently.

What a pseudo-rationalist does is to come to a conclusion based on his observations of A and C, ignoring B and D. The 'hypothesis' he arrives does not take observations B and D into account. In the case of observation E, one (possibly) may have to question the basis of limitations of the conditioned physical presence, called karma. In any case, if A, C and E were to be conclusively proven (negatively) to someone who has experienced B and D, there is no way that section (esp the D section who consider themselves as 'owing their life' to SS) will give up on their faith.


Disclaimer: i have been following a particular monastic tradition of the ekadandis. i am not a follower of SS, i used to like listening to his teachings. i now however follow my own gurus. This is an attempt to show that rationalism in faith does not work, and why the claim of rationalism being "scientific" in its approach in matters of faith is an error prone premise. To me, its a happily balanced approach of analysing both sides, and agreeing to both, while recognizing the fact that neither can be proven or disproven.

To continue this discussion further, i wud prefer if individuals are not named (no intension to please or displease adherants). Wud greatly appreciate your thoughts on rationalism in faith (as perhaps a unit of measurement maybe?)...
 
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Like Sri/Smt HappyHindu, I do not wish to take any names as I don't wish to hurt anyone's faith. I'm going to treat the original post as a hypothetical case. Also faith in itself is a fairly general term. My usage of 'faith' below is strictly limited to faith in miraculous abilities.

In my view, as it stands, rationalism is right to ignore (b). The circumstances surrounding it are not yet clear. Assuming that claim (b) is being put up by proponents of faith, isn't it for them to prove beyond reasonable doubt that matter is being produced out of nothing before asking for an alternate, non-miraculous explanation of the phenomenon from the rationalists? After all, how can someone(rationalists) explain something they are not even sure happens? Does (b) happen randomly or is to prone to happen in certain photos more than the other? Have those photos been investigated to rule out any material, earthly causes? If it happens randomly, can an experiment be set up with sufficiently large enough number( to turn the odds heavily in favor of at least one of them producing a miracle) of sealed, tamper-proof photographs under video surveillance(or any such measures a rationalist might think of) distributed to devotees? Of course there is the argument that miracles cannot happen on the demands of rationalism; however, unless at least one of them does, (b) will remain dubious and cannot be considered as strong evidence for faith. In other words, it will remain hearsay and therefore no more admissible than (c).

The connection between (d) and the miracle worker is at best tenuous. Even if there is a strong correlation between devotees and healing, it does not imply causation. Perhaps the healing was caused not by another person but by the person's body itself when it was rendered stress-free(or whatever else) due to circumstances(like meditation) created by practice of faith. Some might call this a miracle in itself but that is a different topic. You can see that neither side is going to convince the other anytime soon and while there are alternate explanations, the choice of one(miraculous healing) as the explanation will seem a bit arbitrary. As you astutely point out, this miraculous healing will have cemented faith at least in the cured. However, from a rational standpoint, that is different from proof or even evidence of a miracle.

(a) seems interesting as it relates to loss of credibility(strictly from the POV of miracle working). For example, one may say a hundred truths under oath in a court but even if one is proved to be a deliberate lie, it brings into question everything else that one has been said. After all, if one instance is proved to be a lie, what faith(pun unintended) can one place on the remaining assertions?

As you say, it matters not what the rationalists or the believers say. Given the very nature of the problem and the lack of common acceptable ground rules, nobody is going to convince the other. Is this a problem with rationalism? The very question seems to indicate a bias of viewpoint as from a rational viewpoint, the same question can be turned out as posed as a 'problem' with faith.

At the end of the day, at least to me, the message matters more than the miracle. If what someone says is worthy of being followed, it does not matter who it comes from. However, I realize that this is intensely personal and others may have their own approaches. If someone follows a person because of faith or a belief in their miracle working abilities, then that is their own belief. Rationalism too, after all, can be said to be extreme faith in the acceptance of only that which is conclusively provable.
 
And therefore imho, the supposed rationalists such as Abraham Kovor and EVR were actually pseudo-rationalists. - Happy Hindu

You don't want to discuss living God men mentioning his name directly since it is not permitted. But you freely calling dead rationalists such as EVR and Abraham Kovoor as pseudo rationalists.

You can straightaway call me as `pseudo rationalist'. I am a living pseudo rationalist, still participating in this forum. I have no problem being called `pseudo rationalist' and definitely will not mistake you.

I have faith in God – not single but several Gods. I have faith in ancient Vedas, Upanishads, Bagavath Geetha etc. I have faith in ancient Tamil Bakthi literature. I don't believe only `God men'. That is the only thing which can associate me with rationalism. Since I am not fitting into full `rationalist' definition, there is nothing wrong in calling me as `pseudo rationalist'.

However I would like to defend both EVR and Dr.Abraham Kovoor.

EVR started his career as a regular freedom fighter in the congress party. Certain incidents like `Samabandhi Bojanam' has hurt him. He decided to shift his focus on human freedom instead of national freedom. He used rationalism as a tool to fight injustice against the oppressed. His fight was against Brahminsm and Brahmin community. Since Brahmins are considered as protectors of Hindu religion, the attack was against Brahmins, bakthi literature, customs and practices. He use to talk in very simple language but convey his message very effectively. I had an open mind to listen to his criticism of Brahmin community & hence I voluntarily attended few of his meetings. I am giving below his actual conversation in one of his meetings.

“ Most of his audience were illiterate and were belonging to the so called lower caste in the society. Once EVR turned to the ladies in the audience and asked them to bring rain immediately. Ladies were clueless, were just looking at each other and were unable express anything also. After a time pause, he said our literature has written that you are all prostitutes. He quoted a sentence from past Tamil Literature பத்தினி பெண்கள் பெய்யென பெய்யும் மழை . EVR's movement is a mass movement against higher castes and rationalism is just a small tool in the movement.”

Dr Abraham Kovoor is a Psychiatrist by profession and has faced lot of patients coming across to him after exploring crude techniques such as `Veppilai Adikkirathu, Thagadu edukkarathu, Pei Virattarathu' etc. His film `Punar Janmam' in Malayalam and `Maru Piravi' in Tamil is a actual story - off course with some modifications for the Cinema Audience. He challenged all the living God men during his time to perform their super natural powers in fraud proof conditions. He exposed lot of God men and their malpractices which is recorded and published. His father was a Christian priest but he wrote an article `Bible is a dangerous moral guide'. Only after release of the above films and his books `Begone God men' `Gods, Demons and Spirits' he became popular among intellectual community. He believed and practiced rationalism to the core and can be rated as pure `rationalist' fulfilling all the conditions in the true sense.

Compared to him, people like me could be termed as `pseudo rationalists'. Professor Nara ji – you have coined yourself as ex-brahmin. Please coin me also with suitable term since I am always running short words. In spite of our differences in outlook, I am sure you will help me on this.

I am deliberately avoiding discussions on later part of Happy Hindu ji's postings (hiding actual name of God men) since I earnestly feel that this is not a right forum. If you are interested, please search the website for the word `spiritual frauds' and log on to a different forum were I am fully available to answer all your doubts under a new nick name. I don't want to give direct web link since it is not fair to give competitive forums web link here.

All the best
 
To All: What is the problem in nameing a Godmen and to expose his spiritual frauds for the benifite of the people. There are huge followers but if some one expose it the huge crowd will become tinner and one day every thing will vanish. s.r.k.
 
i have a veera vaishnavaite friend, who defines the believers into various levels of 'sophistication', according to him.

he says that all are acceptable to God. each one is performing his devotion to his capacity and capability.

no one should find fault with the other, and no one should try to compromise the other strata or think of it as inferior or superior.

it is just, that it is DIFFERENT. different paths to divinity.

- the first and lowermost are the bali and the such sacrifice oriented pure tamil faiths like ammans etc

- the next above, are those that need godmen to cement their relationship with god.

- the next are the mass based movements which also increasingly throw in some vedic prayers ie the ayyappans but no god men.

- the next above come the run of the mill practising brahmins who, mostly today, out of traditions, stick to customs such as tharpanam shraddham etc. with a nominal nod to the sankara or jeeyar mutts.

- above them come the philosophy oriented ones - those who talk about dvaitam, advaitam and what not. my friend feels, he is at this level, and has opted for vaishnavism. he does not particularly indulge in rituals.

- according to him, the next level above are the rationalist.

if there is an ever loving, ever understanding, compassionate god, would he not understand the trials and tribulations of man? why do bad things happen to good people.

a whole generation of jews became rationalists, because they could not believe their god would permit such a decimation of their peoples.

rationalists do not deny their cultural, linguistic or national identity. in fact, rationalists of a certain mindset would not find commonality, i think with other self proclaimed ones eg. koovor or periyar or hawkins or bertrand russell - all have questioned divinity, but on different terms, i think.

i may not necessarily agree with my friend's stratification numbering, for i detect a little bit of bias towards some book learning, not necessarily translated to wisdom.

but i do agree with his basic tenet - to each his own. stick with what works for you.

in this context, godmen satisfy some people's spiritual yearnings. at the same time, there is nothing wrong in exposing what we believe as frauds.

would we not do the same with our groceries? our banking institutions? our politicians?

thank you.
 
faith and rationalism

To all friends on this thread,

Rationalism requires one to present things in a sequential manner or in a systematic manner. faith is a matter of belief. one cannot rationalize faith just as one cannot rationalize love and other emotions.

If we have to speak in terms of attaining moksha or mukti or salvation, it is only by completely surrendering to god. One cannot rationalize this either.

Just like how it is possible to float in the water using yoga, objects can be made to appear and disappear by sittu velai (that's what I have heard) but they are at the bottom of religion and spiritualism. It is done to attain fame primarily.

Human thinking and mind keeps changing every second. This is something which differentiates one (jeevatma) from the supreme (paramatma) which is absolute. In bhagavat gita, krishna speaks to arjuna in one of the chapters -gnyana vignyana yoga. May be reading that chapter can throw some light.

Like how avvayyar said " What you have learnt is what can be held in the size of your fist, what you don't know is the size of the world". there are things which we don't know. We cannot say such things don't exist. what may not exist today may exist tomorrow and what exists today may not exist tomorrow.

Faith is faith and there is no way one can rationalize it.
 
I am not questioning faith in God.

I am not questioning faith in rituals, customs and practices as may be prescribed in our scriptures and texts.

I am questioning only faith in God men. What benefit is obtained by small tricks which we can see it in a magic show with a totally different frame of mind. Magicians are make a living out of their talent. They don't claim they have supernatural powers.

The same tricks are performed by fraudulent God men in front of innocent public and accumulate billions of dollars. Did any of the Azhwars and Nayanmars who have done immense service accumulated this much wealth? Did Arunagirinathar lived a luxurious life style? Did Seshadri Swamigal and his disciples Ramana Maharishi and Vallimalai Swamigal died living big estate? Did Music trinity left anything for the next generation?

Saint Thiagayya composed a song starting `Nidhi Sala Sugama?'. Late Madurai Mani Iyer refused to sing the song in public forums stating that he is singing for money whereas Thiagayya composed the songs not for any money but out of devotion to Lord Rama. Thiagayya refused to accept the gifts of the King and said nothing will give him pleasure except the lotus feet of Lord Rama. This happened just 150 years back.

My point is apply `rationalist' yard stick only against Godmen doing cheap magic tricks and accumulates billions of dollars of money. Expose their frauds without any fear or favour. If you cannot do it support people who are willing to expose such frauds.

All the best
 
And therefore imho, the supposed rationalists such as AK and ER were actually pseudo-rationalists. - Happy Hindu

You don't want to discuss living God men mentioning his name directly since it is not permitted. But you freely calling dead rationalists such as ER and AK as pseudo rationalists.

You can straightaway call me as `pseudo rationalist'. I am a living pseudo rationalist, still participating in this forum. I have no problem being called `pseudo rationalist' and definitely will not mistake you.

Dear Sir,

I am not calling you a pseudorationalist. If my words have somehow conveyed any such inference, i beg you to forgive me. I can never mistake you. I hope you wil forgive me.

I accept that it is not right for me to name dead people. I am therefore editing out their names.

To others,

Thankyou for your responses. I esp enjoyed the post of Shri Kaivalyam very much. Will respond soon. Am a bit tied for time presently.

Regards.
 
Dear Kaivalyam,

Like Sri/Smt HappyHindu, I do not wish to take any names as I don't wish to hurt anyone's faith. I'm going to treat the original post as a hypothetical case. Also faith in itself is a fairly general term. My usage of 'faith' below is strictly limited to faith in miraculous abilities.

Perhaps i shd have said "the problem with rationalism versus the problem with faith" :)

What one sees as a prob with rationalism is perhaps exactly the same if the word 'rationalism' were to be substituted with 'faith'..

(to me) faith is far beyond miraculous abilities...


In my view, as it stands, rationalism is right to ignore (b). The circumstances surrounding it are not yet clear. Assuming that claim (b) is being put up by proponents of faith, isn't it for them to prove beyond reasonable doubt that matter is being produced out of nothing before asking for an alternate, non-miraculous explanation of the phenomenon from the rationalists? After all, how can someone(rationalists) explain something they are not even sure happens? Does (b) happen randomly or is to prone to happen in certain photos more than the other? Have those photos been investigated to rule out any material, earthly causes? If it happens randomly, can an experiment be set up with sufficiently large enough number( to turn the odds heavily in favor of at least one of them producing a miracle) of sealed, tamper-proof photographs under video surveillance(or any such measures a rationalist might think of) distributed to devotees? Of course there is the argument that miracles cannot happen on the demands of rationalism; however, unless at least one of them does, (b) will remain dubious and cannot be considered as strong evidence for faith. In other words, it will remain hearsay and therefore no more admissible than (c).

In the case of (b), i myself have seen two instances where vibuti fell off a pic of ss. i do not consider it a miracle. i beleive that the supernatural is just the natural that has not been understood yet.

In one acquaintance's house, they bought a photo, got it laminated and gave it to one carpenter to fit a nice frame around it. I have no explanation of how the vibuti came out. Not only that person's house, i think every house where such instances have happened has been open to rationalists who wish to test the frame and the photo.

It wud have been nice if a rationalist like AK first spent some time and effort doing the tests on such available instances first.


The connection between (d) and the miracle worker is at best tenuous. Even if there is a strong correlation between devotees and healing, it does not imply causation. Perhaps the healing was caused not by another person but by the person's body itself when it was rendered stress-free(or whatever else) due to circumstances(like meditation) created by practice of faith. Some might call this a miracle in itself but that is a different topic. You can see that neither side is going to convince the other anytime soon and while there are alternate explanations, the choice of one(miraculous healing) as the explanation will seem a bit arbitrary. As you astutely point out, this miraculous healing will have cemented faith at least in the cured. However, from a rational standpoint, that is different from proof or even evidence of a miracle.

In the case of (d), both those cases were last stages of cancer that progressed very quickly, one with cervical cancer and another with a rare cancer of the adrenal gland. Dunno if meditation or neurobion vitamin b injections could have helped the healing, or helped arrest the spread of malignancy, at that stage. Both did not take chemotherapy and both are alive to date. If i were to put myself in their shoes, then yes i think that no matter what is proved against ss, i do not think those two people are ever going to give up their faith.

You are right about the effects of meditation. Sufficient research has not been done its effects of various hormones. I do think it promotes a healing process.


(a) seems interesting as it relates to loss of credibility(strictly from the POV of miracle working). For example, one may say a hundred truths under oath in a court but even if one is proved to be a deliberate lie, it brings into question everything else that one has been said. After all, if one instance is proved to be a lie, what faith(pun unintended) can one place on the remaining assertions?

As you say, it matters not what the rationalists or the believers say. Given the very nature of the problem and the lack of common acceptable ground rules, nobody is going to convince the other. Is this a problem with rationalism? The very question seems to indicate a bias of viewpoint as from a rational viewpoint, the same question can be turned out as posed as a 'problem' with faith.

i agreee with you. what one sees as a problem with rationalism can also be seen as a problem with faith.

its just my opinion that rationalism is not really applicable to faith. no one really applies the treatment for a foot gangrene to a migraine, do they...they are just 2 diff things approached differently...in this matter, i tend to think like shri venkatpasupathy ji and shri vijay ji...


At the end of the day, at least to me, the message matters more than the miracle. If what someone says is worthy of being followed, it does not matter who it comes from. However, I realize that this is intensely personal and others may have their own approaches. If someone follows a person because of faith or a belief in their miracle working abilities, then that is their own belief. Rationalism too, after all, can be said to be extreme faith in the acceptance of only that which is conclusively provable.
 
Without naming the person or place, a statement of fact loses its credibility.

To achieve credibility, these are needed.

1. What is said?
2. Who is saying it?
3. When it was told?
4. Whether it concerns a few or most of us or all?
5. Whether what has been told can be verified with another source? (cross-
verification)
6. Who are the people in agreement and who are the people in disagreement?
7. Which side I have to take - this or that or to remain neutral (opinion-less)?
8. Whether the issue is trivial, or carries some weight or great importance
(sensitivities involved).
9. If the matter could be expressed in quantitative terms (because if one says,
I saw many elephants, it may not impress others; but, if one says I saw 11
elephants at a place, it will readily impress the other)

Therefore, telling vague statements, without names, places, supporting sources etc.
will find no takers and it will dilute the essence. Perhaps, that is the idea behind the advice to hiding or suppressing names.
 
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pann,

an excellent qualification requirement for any post.

would you do me a favour, and repost this in the 'brahmin bashing' post... or

would you mind, if i post it on your behalf over there.

i think it would be very relevant there under current discussions.

thanks very much in advance.

Without naming the person or place, a statement of fact loses its credibility.

To achieve credibility, these are needed.

1. What is said?
2. Who is saying it?
3. When it was told?
4. Whether does it concern a few or most of us or all?
5. Whether what has been told can be verified with another source? (cross-
verification)
6. Who are the people in agreement and who are the people in disagreement?
7. Which side I have to take - this or that or to remain neutral (opinion-less)?
8. Whether the issue is trivial, or carries some weight or great importance
(sensitivities involved).
9. If the matter could be expressed in quantitative terms (because if one says,
I saw many elephants, it may not impress others; but, if one says I saw 11
elephants at a place, it will readily impress the other)

Therefore, telling vague statements, without names, places, supporting sources etc.
will find no takers and it will dilute the essence. Perhaps, that is the idea behind the advice to hiding or suppressing names.
 
Dear Shri Pannvalan ji,

I agree with you ditto.

However, the idea of not naming names may be more to do with the idea of not encroaching upon someone's privacy, esp in a public forum.

To give you an idea of how even handle names can be mis-used, i can show you a blog where someone claims to be living in the US and says he wants to work with dogs in his next life, and goes on to dish out advice on idol worship and the like using a namesake of this handlename.

If one wishes, the names and contact details can be given over a private message.

Without naming the person or place, a statement of fact loses its credibility.

To achieve credibility, these are needed.

1. What is said?
2. Who is saying it?
3. When it was told?
4. Whether it concerns a few or most of us or all?
5. Whether what has been told can be verified with another source? (cross-
verification)
6. Who are the people in agreement and who are the people in disagreement?
7. Which side I have to take - this or that or to remain neutral (opinion-less)?
8. Whether the issue is trivial, or carries some weight or great importance
(sensitivities involved).
9. If the matter could be expressed in quantitative terms (because if one says,
I saw many elephants, it may not impress others; but, if one says I saw 11
elephants at a place, it will readily impress the other)

Therefore, telling vague statements, without names, places, supporting sources etc.
will find no takers and it will dilute the essence. Perhaps, that is the idea behind the advice to hiding or suppressing names.
 
HappyHindu ji,

Much as I would like to write in detail, I am really pressed for time right now. My apologies for addressing only the key points of your post.

Dear Kaivalyam,


Originally Posted by kaivalyam
Like Sri/Smt HappyHindu, I do not wish to take any names as I don't wish to hurt anyone's faith. I'm going to treat the original post as a hypothetical case. Also faith in itself is a fairly general term. My usage of 'faith' below is strictly limited to faith in miraculous abilities.

Perhaps i shd have said "the problem with rationalism versus the problem with faith" :)

What one sees as a prob with rationalism is perhaps exactly the same if the word 'rationalism' were to be substituted with 'faith'..

(to me) faith is far beyond miraculous abilities...


I agree; it is for this reason that I tried to limit the scope of faith so that we may have a more focused discussion.

In my view, as it stands, rationalism is right to ignore (b). The circumstances surrounding it are not yet clear. Assuming that claim (b) is being put up by proponents of faith, isn't it for them to prove beyond reasonable doubt that matter is being produced out of nothing before asking for an alternate, non-miraculous explanation of the phenomenon from the rationalists? After all, how can someone(rationalists) explain something they are not even sure happens? Does (b) happen randomly or is to prone to happen in certain photos more than the other? Have those photos been investigated to rule out any material, earthly causes? If it happens randomly, can an experiment be set up with sufficiently large enough number( to turn the odds heavily in favor of at least one of them producing a miracle) of sealed, tamper-proof photographs under video surveillance(or any such measures a rationalist might think of) distributed to devotees? Of course there is the argument that miracles cannot happen on the demands of rationalism; however, unless at least one of them does, (b) will remain dubious and cannot be considered as strong evidence for faith. In other words, it will remain hearsay and therefore no more admissible than (c).

In the case of (b), i myself have seen two instances where vibuti fell off a pic of ss. i do not consider it a miracle. i beleive that the supernatural is just the natural that has not been understood yet.

In one acquaintance's house, they bought a photo, got it laminated and gave it to one carpenter to fit a nice frame around it. I have no explanation of how the vibuti came out. Not only that person's house, i think every house where such instances have happened has been open to rationalists who wish to test the frame and the photo.

It wud have been nice if a rationalist like AK first spent some time and effort doing the tests on such available instances first.


Ah, this problem lies with the rationalist, not with rationalism itself! To use a rather stretched analogy, if someone fails to apply Newton's laws of motion(say) correctly, the fault is not with Newton or his laws. Let us call the this tendency to dismiss events prematurely (1).


The connection between (d) and the miracle worker is at best tenuous. Even if there is a strong correlation between devotees and healing, it does not imply causation. Perhaps the healing was caused not by another person but by the person's body itself when it was rendered stress-free(or whatever else) due to circumstances(like meditation) created by practice of faith. Some might call this a miracle in itself but that is a different topic. You can see that neither side is going to convince the other anytime soon and while there are alternate explanations, the choice of one(miraculous healing) as the explanation will seem a bit arbitrary. As you astutely point out, this miraculous healing will have cemented faith at least in the cured. However, from a rational standpoint, that is different from proof or even evidence of a miracle.

In the case of (d), both those cases were last stages of cancer that progressed very quickly, one with cervical cancer and another with a rare cancer of the adrenal gland. Dunno if meditation or neurobion vitamin b injections could have helped the healing, or helped arrest the spread of malignancy, at that stage. Both did not take chemotherapy and both are alive to date. If i were to put myself in their shoes, then yes i think that no matter what is proved against ss, i do not think those two people are ever going to give up their faith.

Very true. Our experiences make us who we are and define our perspective. The perspectives of these people have been molded by life-changing experiences like the ones you describe and to them, no amount of 'rational' negations can explain away the fact that they were cured against incredible odds where 'rational' science had given them little hope.

The same applies I think to many rationalists(skeptics?) as well. They probably started out with a lot of faith in their religion. Over a period of time, they might have started noticing some things that were probably wrong, fanciful or just plain self-contradictory. For each such instance, science might have offered a better, more 'rational' explanation. Over a period of time, after seeing one too many such 'mistakes'(in works that they had been taught to believe are divinely inspired) that are refuted through daily observations and explained better through science, they learn to doubt everything that attributes supernatural explanations to any event. I'm saying this not to claim that this is how it happens to every rationalist(or even to many rationalists) but to make a point that rationalists too are creatures whose outlook is colored by their experiences. This would make them prone to (1)(this also goes back to the credibility point in my previous post: To rational eyes, these 'miracles' have lost their credibility one too may times).

You are right about the effects of meditation. Sufficient research has not been done its effects of various hormones. I do think it promotes a healing process.


There is a definite link between stress and immunity. Much as I hate to post Wikipedia links, this is the best I could find:
Psychoneuroimmunology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(a) seems interesting as it relates to loss of credibility(strictly from the POV of miracle working). For example, one may say a hundred truths under oath in a court but even if one is proved to be a deliberate lie, it brings into question everything else that one has been said. After all, if one instance is proved to be a lie, what faith(pun unintended) can one place on the remaining assertions?

As you say, it matters not what the rationalists or the believers say. Given the very nature of the problem and the lack of common acceptable ground rules, nobody is going to convince the other. Is this a problem with rationalism? The very question seems to indicate a bias of viewpoint as from a rational viewpoint, the same question can be turned out as posed as a 'problem' with faith.

i agreee with you. what one sees as a problem with rationalism can also be seen as a problem with faith.

its just my opinion that rationalism is not really applicable to faith. no one really applies the treatment for a foot gangrene to a migraine, do they...they are just 2 diff things approached differently...in this matter, i tend to think like shri venkatpasupathy ji and shri vijay ji...

I agree with you as well. When I first read your starting post, I was reading it with reference to the subject line. After reading this post, I went back and read your original post in the light of this post and I now understand your position more clearly. In my defense, as I mentioned, I really was treating this as a discussion on rationalism using a hypothetical spiritual figure(there were two reasons for this: (1) While I could guess who it referred to, I wasn't really sure till this post and (2) Even if were correct in my guess, it would be wrong of me to comment on someone of whom I really have no first-hand knowledge) and therefore limiting myself to only the data that was available to me from your original post.


At the end of the day, at least to me, the message matters more than the miracle. If what someone says is worthy of being followed, it does not matter who it comes from. However, I realize that this is intensely personal and others may have their own approaches. If someone follows a person because of faith or a belief in their miracle working abilities, then that is their own belief. Rationalism too, after all, can be said to be extreme faith in the acceptance of only that which is conclusively provable.
 
Miracles and the truths behind them

Enclosed please find a poem on miracles that was written, a few years ago, after I happened to witness one Christian gospel's meeting. But, the poem is very relevant to all religions that are filled with many miracle performers, because of which they are able to draw huge crowds.
 

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