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Re: religious intolerance

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  • ss
    Dear Maxim: I think we ought to first be clear about what we mean by religious intolerance first. My understanding is that underlying religious intolerance
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 1, 2004
      Dear Maxim: I think we ought to first be clear about what we mean
      by 'religious intolerance' first.
      My understanding is that underlying religious intolerance is the
      attitude that one's own God is the 'true God' and everyone else's
      is 'false'.

      Does this attitude inform any of the acts you describe?
      If the Mormons you know are anything like the Mormons I know, then
      the conversion of your friend, and the proselytization he
      encountered is entirely a manifestation of this attitude: 'the
      Christian God is the true God' and 'Jesus Christ is the true
      messenger'.

      Is this attitude present in the disputes of the Tibetan sects? If
      so, how? This is the question I think you would have to answer.
      However, given the absence of any assertion of who is, or whether
      there is, 'a true God' in the Tibetan tradition, I would have to
      hightly doubt it.

      The idea that the political milieu in a society could affect its
      traditions seems quite natural to me. I am not sure what that would
      have to do with religious intolerance, though.

      Regards,
      Satya

      It should be noted that, if the Mormons are following a directive of
      Joseph Smith by funding an ISKCON temple in Utah, they appear to
      have taken their time to heed him: try several hundred years.
      Although if some Mormon recognizes the 'universal religion' in Islam
      or the HRHK movement in this country, it would not surprise me in
      the least. Both these religions are quite clear about their own
      religious intolerance.

      I would certainly dispute that either the ISKCON temples or a mosque
      are places of 'the heathen'.




      --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "maxim"
      <abisheka2000@y...> wrote:
      > Having spend several months in India now, one of my best friends
      of
      > my Tibetan lanuage class has become a Mormone. Mormones as we
      > know them are know for their proselytism. They send missionaries
      all
      > around to world to convert people. I have had many conversations
      with
      > my friend, who has also been on a mission to Poland, about their
      > church and he told me that the Mormone church sponsored the
      > building of a Hare Krshna temple in Utah and also a Mosk, because
      > Joseph Smith, their founder said that every human being has the
      right
      > to choose their own religion. Ofcourse they consider themselves
      as
      > having the only truth, one of the faculties of religion, but I
      have never
      > seen any sign of religious intolerance, espcially when you
      consider
      > they are building temples for other 'religions'.
      > Having studied Tibetan buddhism in depth, I came across many
      > historical facts of 'religious intolerance' inbetween the
      different Tibetan
      > buddhist sects. Even these days there are two big conflicts going
      on in
      > Tibetan buddhism: the New Kadampa Tradition and a split in the
      > Kagyu sect. There has been some violence on a small scale, but
      > looking at history there has been a lot of figting within Tibet.
      Like for
      > instance the Gelugpa sect (of the Dalai Lama) didn't recognize the
      > highest teachings of the Nyingmapa , Dzogchen or Ati Yoga, as
      > genuin buddhist. Nyingmapa's and Bonpos have been prosecuted.
      > But it hasnt always been like that. There are other cases where
      some
      > practioners of one sect get interested in the teachings of the
      other one.
      > Like the 5th Dalai Lama who was actually practicing more nyingma
      > than his own gelug tradition. Or think about the 19th century
      Rime
      > movement in Tibet who wanted to get rid of the sectarian
      thinking. The
      > same with the present Dalai Lama, who even recognised the Bonpos
      > as the 5th Tibetan school.
      > But I have found some other interesting historical facts which
      show that
      > politics were mixed up with religious decisions. Like for
      instance in the
      > 9th century there was this anti-buddhist king Langdharma (as he is
      > called by the Tibetan historians). It is said that this king was
      anti-
      > buddhist and pro-bonpo, but I found out that he was actually not
      > against buddhism but against the fact that the buddhist
      monasteries
      > were getting a lot of money from the governement and he preferred
      to
      > invest this money in building up his army. so the monasteries
      lost their
      > income which meant a decline of institutionalised monastic
      buddhism.
      > But outside the monasteries the tantras, practiced by yogis and
      > yoginis who were not depended upon a state income, were
      flourishing.
      > So the king was not anti-buddhist but took a political decision
      which
      > influenced buddhism.
      > So, now it is time for me to pose some questions. It seems that
      if we
      > want to investigate religious intolerance, accoding to Balu's
      definition
      > of religion we cannot apply this to buddhism, since it is not a
      religion.
      > But their is and has been intolerance which didn't have a
      political
      > background. If this is the case than how would we define his kind
      of
      > intolerance which doesn't have a political background. This seems
      to
      > be in contradiction with the fact that buddhist culture is not
      EI. I may be
      > wrong since I am not so familiar with the Tibetan history, and I
      hope I
      > am. If I am wrong than one has to be albe to prove that all cases
      of
      > violence in Tibet were inspired by political reasons and not by
      > doctrinal buddhist reasons and that historions might have overseen
      it.
      > Having started this writing with the mormone church I will also
      end with
      > them. How come that they are funding the building of a mosk and
      Shri
      > Krshna temple? This seems again very contradictionary with the
      > definition of religion. They are sponsoring building places of
      worship
      > of the heathen.
      >
      > Maybe someone can answer this. I will be in Tibet within about
      one
      > week so I won't have e-mail contact for at least one month.
      >
      > yours truly,
      >
      > maxim
    • jakobderoover
      Dear Maxim and Satya, As Satya suggests in her post, we have to get some idea of what makes certain forms of intolerance into religious intolerance in order to
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 2, 2004
        Dear Maxim and Satya,


        As Satya suggests in her post, we have to get some idea of what
        makes certain forms of intolerance into religious intolerance in
        order to answer Maxim's queries. But let us first have a look at the
        confusion in Maxim's post to assess this problem of characterising
        religious intolerance.

        1. After reading "The Heathen …", people often enter a confusing
        phase in their thinking. On the one hand, the arguments have
        convinced them that something is very wrong with our current
        understanding of religion and human cultures. They agree that all
        theorizing on religion and all descriptions of non-western cultures
        presuppose that religion is a cultural universal. They also agree
        that the concept of religion is problematic: no one knows what makes
        a social phenomenon into religion, but still everyone speaks about
        religions, religious conflicts, religious intolerance, etc. as
        though this is eminently clear.

        On the other hand, however, the thinking of people who have
        read "The Heathen …" is still governed to some extent by the common
        sense assumptions of the West. They themselves keep on talking about
        religion in the classically confused manner.

        Often, a tension arises between these two poles. People will talk
        about the violence between Hindus and Muslims in terms of religious
        strife. Or they discuss religious scepticism as though this is a
        universally human attitude in which "rational minds become sceptical
        towards irrational religion." Then, at some point, they remember
        what they have learned from Balu's book. This tells them that the
        Hindu traditions cannot be religion and therefore the violence in
        India cannot be religious strife. Or that scepticism towards
        religion is an attitude that became important in the Christian West
        (because of Christian dogmatism) rather than a universal liberation
        of the human mind.

        In this confusing phase, the questioning of common sense assumptions
        often takes an unfortunate form. People say things like "according
        to Balu's definition of religion, Buddhism is not religion, and
        therefore conflicts within Buddism cannot be expressions of
        religious intolerance." Or "according to Balu's definition of
        religion, Christianity is religion, and therefore Christian
        intolerance is religious intolerance." These lines of thinking are
        mistaken.

        2. Why are they? We can turn back to Maxim's post to see the
        problem. First, Maxim says that he "came across many historical
        facts of `religious intolerance' in between the different Tibetan
        Buddhist sects." In spite of the `' around religious intolerance,
        this shows that he appears to know what makes conflict or tension
        into religious intolerance. A bit further, he goes on to say that he
        has "found some other interesting historical facts which show that
        politics were mixed up with religious decisions." This statement
        presupposes that we are able to distinguish politics from religion
        and to see how political and religious decisions are mixed up.

        This is western common sense at work. The current theorizing about
        religion does neither allow us to say what makes a conflict into the
        expression of religious intolerance, nor can it clarify what makes a
        decision into a religious decision rather than a political one.
        Still, Maxim's post presupposes clarity on these issues. The vague
        concept of religion has us think that conflicts between Buddhist
        groups must be religious intolerance, since they have something to
        do with the "teachings" or the "gods" or the "worship" of these
        groups. Political decisions are said to be mixed up with religion,
        because these "teachings" or "gods" are invoked in decision-making.

        However, as "The Heathen …" shows, such assumptions merely shift
        the problem of identifying the characteristic structure of religion.
        Are the so-called "teachings" of the Tibetan Buddhists the same kind
        of phenomenon as the doctrines of the various Christian
        denominations? Are they both instances of religious belief? Are the
        beings that inhabit the Tibetan stories "gods" similar to the God of
        Christianity? These questions cannot be answered without a
        hypothesis on the structure of religion, which is nowhere to be
        found in the common sense accounts.

        3. As he has read "The Heathen …", Maxim also knows this. Therefore,
        he remarks that "if we want to investigate religious intolerance,
        according to Balu's definition of religion we cannot apply this to
        buddhism, since it is not a religion." Here, we bump into the second
        pole of the tension.

        Balu's hypothesis claims that religion is an explanatorily
        intelligible account of the Cosmos and itself. As we have said many
        times, this is not a definition. It is a hypothesis that theorizes
        the structure which distinguishes religion from other social
        phenomena. This hypothesis connects a series of concepts (God, the
        will of God, the Cosmos, human beings, etc.) to each other to
        describe the object of religion. This is very different from
        defining the word "religion" stipulatively.

        The next step, then, is not to see whether we can "apply this
        concept of religion" to Buddhism or Hinduism or whatever else.
        Rather, we can test empirically whether these phenomena are
        religion. To do so, we have to derive some of the empirical
        consequences of our hypothesis of religion and see whether these
        empirical consequences are the case in the Buddhist or Hindu
        traditions.

        It is only after we have thus determined whether or not these
        phenomena are explanatorily intelligible accounts that it makes
        sense to say that they are not religion. As the impossibility
        argument in Balu's book shows, these traditions simply cannot be
        religion (see sections 10.2.1. and 10.2.2. of T.H. for the
        metaphysical and the sociological impossibility of the existence of
        a homegrown religion in India).

        To see the difference between the two steps, we can turn to the
        natural sciences. Imagine that a new planet is discovered and that
        scientists want to find out whether gravity is also present there.
        They will not take Newton's "definition of gravity" and see whether
        this concept can also be applied to this new planet. Rather,
        Newton's universal law of gravitation has a number of empirical
        consequences, which can be tested with regard to the newly
        discovered planet.

        (Obviously, the previous 3 points are not directed at Maxim alone.
        Almost everyone who reads "The Heathen …" goes through this phase of
        confusion. The example of "religious scepticism" refers to my own
        experience of going through this phase.)

        4. Religious intolerance then. As Satya suggests, this will have to
        do with the universal and unconditional truth claims any EIA makes.
        However, the belief that one's own God is the true God and
        the "gods" of other traditions are false is but one expression of
        these truth claims.

        As Balu shows in section 9.3.2. of "The Heathen …", intolerance is
        related to the faith one has in a particular religion. An EIA
        reveals God's purpose for humanity. Obviously, there can be but one
        such purpose God has for us. The various doctrines of different EIAs
        give a different content to God's purpose. When one has faith in
        God, this means one accepts one of these EIAs as the true revelation
        of His purpose. This implies one cannot accept other EIAs as
        revelations. They must be false religions, as there can be only one
        true and complete revelation of God's purpose for humankind.

        As Satya says, one consequence is that human traditions that contain
        other "gods" than the true God must be conceived of as false
        religions. Their gods are false gods, i.e., minions of the devil.

        But another consequence is that there can be deficient worship of
        the true God. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all accept that each
        of these three concerns the true God. But, they accuse each other of
        corrupting His message of self-disclosure. The mutual accusations
        claim that they have made corrupting human additions to God's
        revelation of His purpose. The same goes for the different
        denominations within Christianity and Islam, when they accuse each
        other of being heresies. Surely these are also instances of
        religious intolerance.

        This post is becoming too long. I think Maxim's questions are of
        great import: How are the conflicts within Tibetan Buddhism (or the
        conflicts among various Hindu traditions, for that matter) different
        from the religious intolerance that drives conflicts among different
        EIAs? What makes intolerance into religious intolerance? How to make
        sense of the Mormons' practice of building temples and mosques?
        Perhaps these questions can be taken up by someone else. Let us try
        and save our yahoo-group from a slow and unglorious death.

        Sincerely,


        Jakob
      • macgupta123
        ... 1. If the behavior of the people involved within such a conflict - disagreement over doctrine followed by ostracism or violence is the same, then in one
        Message 3 of 7 , Aug 2, 2004
          "jakobderoover" <jakobderoover@y...> wrote:

          > I think Maxim's questions are of great import:
          > How are the conflicts within Tibetan Buddhism (or the
          > conflicts among various Hindu traditions, for that matter) different
          > from the religious intolerance that drives conflicts among different
          > EIAs? What makes intolerance into religious intolerance? How to make
          > sense of the Mormons' practice of building temples and mosques?
          > Perhaps these questions can be taken up by someone else. Let us try
          > and save our yahoo-group from a slow and unglorious death.

          1. If the behavior of the people involved within such a conflict -
          disagreement over doctrine followed by ostracism or violence
          is the same, then in one sense, it does not matter whether it is a
          religious, political or other cause.

          I guess I'm asking whether a history of the conflict can help us
          resolve whether a conflict is a religious conflict or not. Or, what
          kind of information must the history hold for us to be able to
          make a determination?

          2. Using common-sense language, a claim is sometimes made for
          political purposes, e.g., Hindus do not exhibit intolerance, and this
          is equated, again using common sense, that Hindus do not have conflicts
          caused by differences in doctrine or tradition, which is a very different claim.
          So I think we have to be careful here.

          3. What exposure I have to Mormons makes the idea that they build
          temples and mosques incredible. Clearly I have to learn more about this.
          What to make of it? Could this be another version of Robert De Nobili's
          tactics of conversion?

          4. Is the Roman persecution of Christians a case of intolerance of religion,
          (rather than religious intolerance?) Since our understanding of religion
          begins with the Christian-Roman example, can we analyze this interaction
          in more detail than is in The Heathen..., to get a start on what makes
          intolerance into religious intolerance?

          -Arun
        • vnr
          A couple of posts from sulekha board, by balu, appeared on civic tolerance and religious tolerance are appended. Probably, these may help us clarify some
          Message 4 of 7 , Aug 2, 2004
            A couple of posts from sulekha board, by balu, appeared on civic
            tolerance and religious tolerance are appended. Probably, these may
            help us clarify some confusion.


            [Quote1]

            In the last few mails, several issues have been raised. Let me take up
            the issue of tolerance in this post.

            1. Today, in countries like England, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the
            United States, many religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and many
            brands of some of these religions (Catholicism, Protestantism of
            various shades, Orthodox Churches, etc) coexist. In Belgium or Italy,
            for instance, the Catholic Christians do not impose their faiths on
            those who are not Catholics, i.e., they do not go around
            "proselytizing" the non-Catholics in their countries; in The
            Netherlands and Germany, for instance, the Catholics and the
            Protestants do not go around assaulting each other the way they did
            during the period of Reformation. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses do not
            impose their faith, when they canvass the "Good Word" from door to
            door. The Muslims in Britain, for instance, do not go around
            converting all non-Muslims either. Questions: Does that mean that
            Catholic Christianity in Belgium and Italy (for instance) has become
            more tolerant than it was couple of centuries ago? Does it mean that
            Protestantism has become more tolerant than it was some three
            centuries or so ago? Does it mean that Islam in Britain (or in the
            United States) is more tolerant than Islam, say, in Africa?

            Or does it mean that these countries have become more tolerant of the
            existence of several religions and religious denominations in the
            interstices of their society than they were a few centuries ago?

            That these questions can be raised intelligibly and that they can be
            answered through historical research show that the word 'tolerance'
            might mean different things depending on the context in which it is
            raised. Tolerance of the existence of different religions within one
            society is a civic virtue that all citizens within that society
            accept. (This is the case with the Catholics in Belgium and Italy;
            Protestants in Holland and Germany; Muslims in the United States, etc.)


            2. Does the foregoing indicate that Catholic Christianity (and its
            believers), Protestant Christianity (and its believers), Islam (and
            its believers) have become more tolerant of each other and of other
            religions? That is to say, does Islam, today, think that Christianity
            is as true as it itself is; does Catholic Christianity think that the
            Protestants' claims are as true as their own? Does Judaism believe
            that their belief that the Messiah had not come is as true as the
            claim that he has? And so on.

            Their respective beliefs were one of the reasons for the religious
            struggles of yesteryears. Consequently, if these religions have become
            more tolerant of each other, then it is because either (a) their
            beliefs have changed; or (b) the believers interpret these beliefs
            differently, or (c) both.

            Further, if this situation has come about because of the civic virtue
            I spoke of earlier, then one could indeed claim that these religions
            have become more tolerant than they were before. Is this the situation?

            Again, these questions can be raised intelligibly. One can also give
            different kinds of answers. Some of the answers in this context might
            even have to appeal to answers provided in §1. From all of these
            considerations, it follows that the notion of tolerance used here has
            a different extension than the notion of tolerance as a civic virtue.
            Let us call this "religious tolerance" to distinguish it from "civic
            tolerance".

            3. Tolerance as a civic virtue revolves around building a society free
            of religious strife. That is, it answers the question, 'how can
            different religious communities coexist in one and the same society?'

            Religious tolerance, on the other hand, revolves around the question
            of truth. That is, it is an answer to the question, 'which religion is
            true?'

            This is an additional reason to distinguish between these two.

            4. Notice that one could cultivate the civic virtue of tolerance
            without, in the least, being required to be religiously tolerant as
            well. One cannot be religiously tolerant without, at the same time,
            having the civic virtue of tolerance as well. (This is a further
            indication that these notions have different extensions.)

            At first sight, then, it looks as though religious tolerance implies
            civic tolerance. However, that is not quite the case: one could be
            religiously tolerant, i.e., accept that all religions are either
            equally true (or equally false, as the case may be), and yet be
            intolerant, say, of fascists. This shows that the implication between
            religious and civic tolerance holds only in the context of discussion
            about religions.

            This is a further indication that there is a substantive difference
            between civic tolerance and religious tolerance.

            5. Even though more nuances can be added and more reasons adduced to
            distinguish between civic and religious tolerance, I hope this is
            enough to provide a prima facie plausibility to my suggestion that,
            for the sake of clarity, we would do better to distinguish the two
            from each other.

            6. In my book, and throughout the posts, I have been insisting that
            Christianity is an intolerant religion because it is a religion in the
            first place. In my book I have shown why this is the case. I have
            argued there, as I mentioned in one of my posts, that faith and
            intolerance are two faces of the same coin, i.e., one is intolerant
            precisely because one believes.

            To put it in terms of the distinction I have introduced: Jews,
            Christians and Muslims (of today) might or might not have learnt the
            civic virtue of tolerance; but as Jews, Christians, and Muslims they
            are religiously intolerant. That is, they cannot accept that each of
            them is as true as the other.

            7. Not only that. While each of the above three religions (and their
            believers) think that the other is deficient in their worship of God,
            all of them believe that our traditions are false religions. The
            latter are that because they worship the false gods. In other words,
            there is a difference even with respect to their religious
            intolerance: regarding each other, the above three religions think
            that the other is deficient in worshipping God; regarding us, all
            three believe that we worship false gods.

            8. Let me actualise the points that Jakob, Willem, Tom, Sarah and I
            are making in terms of the distinction I have just introduced and
            establish the difference between our position, and that of Alex, Maria
            and some others.

            (a) Alex is claiming that the Orthodox Christians have learnt civic
            tolerance in India, and that they are different in this regard from
            the Catholics and Protestants in India. That is, he says, the Orthodox
            Churches in India do not proselytize the way other Christians do.

            About the empirical issue: I have not done any study myself to find
            out whether or not the Indian Orthodox Churches proselytize or not; or
            do so as aggressively as the Catholics or the Protestants. I am not
            disputing this.

            (b) He further feels, (I think), that ordinances against
            proselytization is necessary because we need to inculcate the virtue
            of civic tolerance among proselytizers in India.

            I disagree about the need for legislation to curb conversion for
            several reasons, some of which are connected to the next issue.

            (c) He claims that the Orthodox Churches, because they represent
            'Eastern Christianity', are tolerant. One could interpret his claims
            in a charitable way and assume that he is saying the following:
            somehow, 'Eastern Christianity' is more prone to being more tolerant
            in civic life than 'Western Christianity'. I disagree with this claim
            on historical grounds. The history of 'Eastern Christianity' is every
            bit as violent as the history of the 'Western Christianity'. [For
            those who know German, I would suggest the following work of Karlheinz
            Deschner. He has so far written 6 volumes of the history of
            Christianity, called, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums. The title
            translates as "The Criminal History of Christianities" and the first
            six volumes are about 'Eastern Christianity'.]

            (d) We can also assume that because Alex speaks of the difference
            between 'Eastern' and 'Western' brands of Christianities, he is making
            the claim that the 'Eastern' Christianity is religiously tolerant,
            whereas the 'Western' brand is not. I contest this claim too, and my
            posts so far are centred on this issue.

            9. The point that Jakob has been raising since the beginning of the
            discussion can be put in these terms: the nature of the Indian culture
            is such that it has the power to impact on Islam and Christianity in
            India to make them religiously tolerant. And that such an impacting
            occurs in our culture when the Indian traditions themselves are
            vibrant. When this vibrancy goes away, or becomes muted, one begins to
            raise the issue of inculcating civic tolerance through legislations to
            curb proselytization. If true, these are immensely interesting claims.
            They have little to do with Indian Christians wearing mangala sutra or
            bindis, or even whether they accept prasadams in temples. Rather, they
            have to do with whether or not our culture can tame the aggressive
            truth claims of these three religions. All our posts have been
            oriented towards this issue.

            Hopefully, this post has brought some clarity regarding our posts.

            [EndQuote1]

            [Quote2]
            Assuming that the distinction I proposed in my #311 between civic
            tolerance and religious tolerance is acceptable, let us proceed
            further to analyse the notion of civic tolerance more closely. (I am
            simply assuming that it is desirable and that, from now on, we are
            talking about religious matters.)

            1. It is (logically) possible that there could be religious
            intolerance and yet the believers in such religions could have the
            virtue of civic tolerance. That is to say, even (a) if there is
            religious intolerance, believers in some religion or another could
            have a society where there is civic tolerance. As suggested earlier,
            (b) religious tolerance implies the presence of civic tolerance.

            2. What do the above two statements suggest? That there could be a
            possible world (or a possible society) where both are true as a matter
            of empirical fact. Let us further assume that western democracies are
            examples of such a society.

            3. We can now rewrite this as follows. Under certain circumstances,
            the existence of civic tolerance is indifferent to whether there is
            religious tolerance or religious intolerance. What are these
            circumstances?

            4. Let us accept the story about Europe at face value. There is a
            neutral umpire with respect to religious maters (namely the state)
            that enforces civic tolerance. When does such a state come into being?
            Here, the stories about the western culture are of no use. Why? These
            stories tell us that (a) generations of religious strife results in
            the creations of such a state (because people get tired of religious
            strife) and/or (b) European psychology became 'enlightened'. (a) is
            empirically false: Lebanon, Palestine, Ireland, etc. are examples that
            show us that generations of religious strife drives violence deeper
            into the body of society instead of generating some kind of
            'tiredness'. (b) is also false: Ireland tells us that much.

            5. Consequently, a neutral state might be a necessary condition but it
            is not sufficient. What more is required? It appears that this umpire
            must be seen to be neutral by the participants. If it is not seen as
            neutral, then this state cannot enforce civic tolerance. In the case
            of Ireland and Lebanon, believers do not see the state as a neutral
            entity (with respect to religious matters) and, consequently, there is
            continuous religious strife. (To put it in the language familiar to
            us, a secular state cannot enforce civic tolerance in a society if the
            participants do not perceive the state as a neutral entity with
            respect to religious matters.)

            6. What is required for the state to be seen as a neutral entity with
            respect to religious matters? Let us look again at the western
            history. (i) The state must not take any position regarding the truth
            or falsity of the religions. That is to say, the state does not say
            (a) religion is the revelation of God; (b) religion is not the
            revelation of God. (It does the same with respect to different
            denominations.) That is to say, the state must remain agnostic with
            respect to God and His revelation. (ii) It is not enough that state is
            agnostic but it must be seen to be agnostic as well. What does that
            mean? The participants must recognise agnosticism as a possibility
            they can countenance in their strife. That means, for both believers
            and atheists, agnosticism must appear as a reasonable option within
            their discourse. That is, in more general terms, agnosticism is a
            choice both within a theistic discourse and an atheistic discourse
            and, as such, is a part of such discourses. And, as such, is not an
            independent third choice that is above and beyond theism and atheism.

            7. Let me introduce my research at this stage. I claim that atheism is
            secularised theism. If that is the case, agnosticism is a part of both
            theism and its secularised version (namely, atheism). Better put:
            agnosticism is one of the mechanisms in secularising theism itself.
            (AG, does this answer the question you raise in your #315?) And, in so
            far as the state is an agnostic entity, it suggests that the 'neutral'
            state that the western democracies speak of is one of the mechanisms
            in the secularisation of Christianity itself. That is, it spreads
            dechristianized Christianity. Hence, it is acceptable both to the
            Christians and to the disguised Christians.

            Christianity, as we know empirically, comes in different brands.
            Consequently, the 'neutral' state in western democracies not only
            spreads a dechristianized Christianity but also a particular brand of
            dechristianized Christianity. And this brand must be acceptable to all
            the citizens in that society.

            8. This hypothesis, I think, is also sufficient to account for the
            failure for "western secularism" to take hold (a) in the Middle East,
            (b) in India, (c) in Ireland. This has nothing to do with the
            psychology of peoples in these cultures or the 'genius' of the Western
            people but do with what the so-called 'neutral' state is all about.
            The state cannot spread any brand of dechristianized Christianity in
            cultures that are not Christian; in Ireland, the strife is precisely
            about which brand of dechristainized Christianity the state ought to
            spread.

            9. This is not the only reason why this hypothesis is worthy of
            further investigation. It also explains the perceptions of (some)
            people as well. In India, the "secular state" that Nehru dreamt of is
            not only seen not being neutral but also as something 'alien' to the
            Indian traditions. If the 'secular' state spreads some brand of
            dechristianized Christianity, then it is obvious that it will be seen
            as something 'alien' to the Indian traditions. Further, where a
            majority of people are not Christians (but, say, Muslims or Jews)
            then, it is also obvious that they will be against any brand of
            dechristianized Christianity. This might tell us a bit more both about
            the state of Israel and the fact that Muslims seem to reject the
            necessity of a "secular state".

            10. There is also another intriguing issue that this hypothesis can
            shed some light on. Despite claiming to be a 'neutral' state, the
            Indian state interferes in the Indian traditions. Of course, this is a
            British legacy. But is there also a logic to it? I do think so, and I
            think this hypothesis can also shed light on that issue. But that is
            for another post because this post has become very dense already.


            One final request though. I am putting across a hypothesis that
            appeals to but one thread. There could also be other threads (say,
            social, political, economic) that could be adduced to explain what I
            have tried to explain. Please do not sidetrack the discussion by
            pointing out that 'other' explanations are also possible. Let this be
            your point if and only if these other explanations necessarily exclude
            the thread I have used.


            Friendly Greetings

            Balu
            [endQuote2]
          • ss
            Arun said quite rightly that *in one sense* it does not matter what the cause of conflict is. If we are seeking to eliminate any and all instances of conflict
            Message 5 of 7 , Aug 4, 2004
              Arun said quite rightly that *in one sense* it does not matter what
              the cause of conflict is. If we are seeking to eliminate any and all
              instances of conflict in human society, then it does not matter
              whether the source of conflict is religious intolerance or something
              else.

              But if our primary goal is to make sense of conflict when it does
              occur in society - Tibetan or Western - then, it is very important
              to distinguish whether said conflict arises from religious
              intolerance or some other source. It seems to me that, from the very
              practical standpoint of how to find solutions to such conflicts, it
              would be important to be able to understand them fully and properly.

              If we can validate Balu's theory as expressed in the Heathen, it
              might help us arrive at practical solutions to real world
              conflicts. For instance, the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict in the
              Middle East could be seen to be based on religious intolerance.
              While reading the Heathen, it occured to me that the idea of the
              secular/Christian (keeping in mind that the Heathen shows us these
              are two sides of the same coin) West mediating a settlement to this
              conflict does not seem sensible. After all, one could not expect the
              mediator to be free himself of religious intolerance. It may make
              far more sense to get someone who has no religious stake in this
              conflict (maybe the Dalai Lama?) to mediate a dispute. At least,
              that would be where reading the Heathen might lead us.

              But as Jakob pointed out, we cannot determine what religious
              intolerance is without having a theory of religion. If we accept the
              hypothesis in the Heathen as one worthy of consideration, then we
              have a lot to learn (and, indeed, unlearn) about Indian or Tibetan
              traditions. We have all that work to do before we can understand or
              characterize conflicts in India or Tibet. It won't do to
              characterize the conflicts we encounter in these cultures before we
              understand what these cultures are really all about.

              I did a brief search on yahoo about the HRHK temple in Utah. It
              seems a lot of Mormons were equally surprised by their church's
              funding of a HRHK temple. In fact, many left the Mormon church in
              disgust. It's interesting that in some of the news articles where a
              Mormon church member defends the funding by pointing out that the
              HRHKs have some of the same 'values' as the Mormons - no drinking,
              no premarital sex, etcetera, etcetera. The church member suggests it
              is difficult to recruit young people to their church with those
              kinds of rules, so they look positively at the HRHK's spreading
              those kinds of 'values'.

              In marketing they talk about 'loss leaders'. You sell a product at a
              loss in order to increase sales of another product in your brand.
              The funding of the HRHK smells more like a marketing ploy (if I may
              use the term in the mold of RM) than like any startling instance
              of "religious tolerance", don't you think? This would also explain
              why the Mormons decided to take this direction after 200 years of
              straightforward religious intolerance?

              --Satya



              --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "macgupta123"
              <macgupta123@y...> wrote:
              > "jakobderoover" <jakobderoover@y...> wrote:
              >
              > > I think Maxim's questions are of great import:
              > > How are the conflicts within Tibetan Buddhism (or the
              > > conflicts among various Hindu traditions, for that matter)
              different
              > > from the religious intolerance that drives conflicts among
              different
              > > EIAs? What makes intolerance into religious intolerance? How to
              make
              > > sense of the Mormons' practice of building temples and mosques?
              > > Perhaps these questions can be taken up by someone else. Let us
              try
              > > and save our yahoo-group from a slow and unglorious death.
              >
              > 1. If the behavior of the people involved within such a conflict -
              > disagreement over doctrine followed by ostracism or violence
              > is the same, then in one sense, it does not matter whether it
              is a
              > religious, political or other cause.
              >
              > I guess I'm asking whether a history of the conflict can help
              us
              > resolve whether a conflict is a religious conflict or not.
              Or, what
              > kind of information must the history hold for us to be able to
              > make a determination?
              >
              > 2. Using common-sense language, a claim is sometimes made for
              > political purposes, e.g., Hindus do not exhibit intolerance,
              and this
              > is equated, again using common sense, that Hindus do not have
              conflicts
              > caused by differences in doctrine or tradition, which is a
              very different claim.
              > So I think we have to be careful here.
              >
              > 3. What exposure I have to Mormons makes the idea that they build
              > temples and mosques incredible. Clearly I have to learn more
              about this.
              > What to make of it? Could this be another version of Robert
              De Nobili's
              > tactics of conversion?
              >
              > 4. Is the Roman persecution of Christians a case of intolerance of
              religion,
              > (rather than religious intolerance?) Since our understanding
              of religion
              > begins with the Christian-Roman example, can we analyze this
              interaction
              > in more detail than is in The Heathen..., to get a start on
              what makes
              > intolerance into religious intolerance?
              >
              > -Arun
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