Guru Shankar Spews Gibberish About Atheism


We’re used to hearing all kinds of inane and absurd proclamations about atheism and atheists from Christian fundamentalists, but Paul Fidalgo gave a link in his daily update to some weapons-grade religio-babble from some Eastern “guru” named Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

It is difficult to see God as formless and it is difficult to see God as form. The formless is so abstract and God in a form appears to be too limited. So some people prefer to be atheists.

Boy, he sure has us pegged, doesn’t he?

Atheism is not a reality, it is just a matter of convenience. When you have a spirit of enquiry, or in search of truth, atheism falls apart. With a spirit of enquiry, you cannot deny something which you have not disproved. An atheist denies God without first disproving it. In order to disprove God, you must have enormous knowledge. And when you have enormous knowledge, you cannot disprove it! (laughter!)For one to say that something does not exist, one should know about the whole universe. So you can never be one hundred percent atheist. An atheist is only a believer who is sleeping!

For a person to say, “I don’t believe in anything”, means he must believe in himself – so he believes in himself about whom he does not even know!

It’s actually getting worse. I wonder what’s next…

An atheist can never be sincere because sincerity needs depth – and an atheist refuses to go to his depth. Because the deeper he goes, he finds a void, a field of all possibilities – he has to accept that there are many secrets he does not know. He would then need to acknowledge his ignorance, which he refuses to do, because the moment he is sincere, he seriously starts doubting his atheism. A doubt-free atheist is next to impossible! So you can never be a sincere and doubt-free atheist.

When the atheist realizes his ignorance, what does he do? Where does he go? Does he go to a Guru? What does a Guru do to him? (Wait for next week’s knowledge!)

I’ll be on pins and needles waiting for the next installment. I guess gurus have their own version of Wingnut Madlibs.

Comments

  1. matty1 says

    What does a Guru do to him? (Wait for next week’s knowledge!)

    Oooh, oooh I know. Is it scam him?

  2. matty1 says

    Just for a second taking this more seriously than it deserves why would anyone wish to be doubt free? Admitting that there is always more to learn and that some of it might contradict things I think at the moment is awesome and has nothing to do with assuming that anything I don’t have mathematical proof against must be true – which seems to be where he wants to take it.

  3. matty1 says

    Will he be in this “World’s Greatest Mantras” tour I keep seeing advertised here?

    If he isn’t I’m cancelling.

  4. anubisprime says

    “Someone wants a little fame…
    You can see it easily in his name!”

    At least Ravi Shanker was a master at his trade!

  5. Artor says

    He’s right that it’s hard to be a doubt-free atheist. Unfortunately, he fails to understand that that’s just fine. As an atheist, I think doubting is a good thing. If I ever find myself doubt-free, I’d suspect I was wrong.

  6. dogmeat says

    By the same token, is it possible to have a doubt-free believer? If you must know everything to avoid doubt, then doubt is unavoidable. Don’t most religions kind of frown on that whole doubt thing?

  7. says

    With a spirit of enquiry, you cannot deny something which you have not disproved.

    And for all practical purposes, we have indeed disproven the existence of gods and all other supernatural entities: there’s no empirical evidence for their existence; there’s no known mechanism by which they could come about; there’s no event or circumstance in the known Universe requiring supernatural agency to explain it; and no explanation of any event that involves same can be shown to work at all.

    So yeah, we’ve disproven God(s) as conclusively as we’ve disproven zombies, vampires, werewolves and fairies; and MORE conclusively than we’ve (so far) disproven extraterrestrials.

  8. says

    @dogmeat #8 – Hinduism is a rather odd duck, when coming from an Abrahamic tradition. Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha’i are all based on the idea that God spoke directly to humankind, that’s it, end of story. There is no room for doubt.

    The Dharmic religions — Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism — are based on the idea of their being a core body of universal law (dharma) from which one can derive the principles of right living. Even here, Hinduism is the odd one out: Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism all have founders and “dharma” is used to describe the observations and conclusions of those founders. Hinduism has no specific founder (although different schools and denominations might), creating a tradition of personal observation and inquiry. Asking questions about the inner nature of the universe is part of Hinduism’s foundation, although that foundation has become much shellacked, painted and built upon.

    There is nothing in the Dharmic religions that require the belief in a personal god, or even an impersonal, pantheistic god; Jainism and Buddhism (most notably Theravada Buddhism) are essentially atheistic. There are even atheist schools of Hinduism, many of which are considered orthodox, which makes this yahoo’s comments even more absurd.

  9. says

    An atheist can never be sincere because sincerity needs depth – and an atheist refuses to go to his depth. Because the deeper he goes, he finds a void, a field of all possibilities – he has to accept that there are many secrets he does not know. He would then need to acknowledge his ignorance, which he refuses to do, because the moment he is sincere, he seriously starts doubting his atheism. A doubt-free atheist is next to impossible! So you can never be a sincere and doubt-free atheist.

    Take the “A” out of “atheist” wherever you see it in the above paragraph, and it becomes true! That’s all the proof we need of the massive hypocritical projection so many religious apologists are engaging in.

  10. Michael Heath says

    dogmeat writes:

    Don’t most religions kind of frown on that whole doubt thing?

    I repeatedly observe members of the Catholic hierarchy arguing out that credible faith must concede that doubt plays a useful role. (I find their argument to not be credible – they’re faith is not credible. Instead this is merely what I repeatedly observe from many priests, bishops, cardinals, and IIRC, the current pope.)

    When it comes fundies, they celebrate doubt only when they’re able to stack the deck (avoid scrutiny). This is where they create a horribly deficient framework for their premises, unload a host of logically incoherent and frequently – untrue premises, make a conclusion based on this monstrosity of an argument, avoid scrutiny or independent validation, and then declare victory.

    This is especially prevalent by their cottage industry of apologists, e.g., Josh McDowell, Lee Stroebel, William Lane Craig, N.T. Wright; and also at their so-called colleges and universities.

  11. zenlike says

    And when you have enormous knowledge, you cannot disprove it! (laughter!)For one to say that something does not exist, one should know about the whole universe. So you can never be one hundred percent atheist.

    After that (laughter!) part I really started to imagine this guy wearing his underpants on his head and smearing his own poo on the walls while spouting this word salad.

    Actually, I have to concede on one part: he is right that it is impossible to be 100% atheist; even the Big Evil Atheist Dawkins concedes that he is only a 6,9 on a 7 scale leaning towards atheism (or another really large number, I forgot). But this doesn’t prove anything; for one, theists have the same ‘problem’, and there is in fact no functional difference between ‘all proof points toward a universe without a god, so we are 99,99999% sure” or “yeah, really 100% sure there is no god”.

  12. Sastra says

    To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens:

    Is there anything in the above passages which could NOT have been written by a ‘liberal’ Christian? Or a New Ager? “Spiritual but not religious.” Or — when it comes right down to it — anyone from any other version of theism at all?

    My answer: not really.

    Re-read it and pretend that it comes from Answers in Genesis. Or imagine it coming from one of those Sophisticated Theology criticisms of Dawkins. You might have to tweak the language a bit and make it sound better by making it more or less clear than it is here, but I think it’s certainly conceivable.

    After all, this is basically how ALL religions frame atheism and atheists. It’s the substance behind the need for “faith.” The reason we don’t believe in God isn’t connected to reasons, but to personal defects. We’re arrogant. We’re fearful. We’re not trying. We don’t want to. The spiritual start with their conclusion — that there is a supernatural (or supremely Natural) Higher Power which is absolutely crucial to true and meaningful understanding and approach to the universe and we discover this when we open our minds and our hearts. Mere Theism, as it were.

    Which leaves atheists … where? Morally and/or aesthetically and/or emotionally and/or mentally perverse. We’re not mistaken about a fact ; the mistake always runs deeper and reveals our true identity, one which is often masked by our stealing or borrowing from concepts we deny. This guru is not giving us anything we couldn’t find elsewhere. The whole point of being a theist is that you have risen above what you were or would be if you were an atheist. And that matters a whole lot.

    As I see it the only thing surprising about this attack on atheists is that most religions are more circumspect about both letting this criticism get out to the public — or making it explicit at all. It’s a bit like Hell. The nice, liberal, I’m-not-at-all-like-a-fundamentalist Christian still believes in damnation. They just don’t want to talk about that side of their religion.

  13. lofgren says

    It is difficult to see God as formless and it is difficult to see God as form. The formless is so abstract and God in a form appears to be too limited. So some people prefer to be atheists.

    I’ll concede this point. He’s basically conceding something that both noted atheists PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne have said, that the concept of “god” as it is used is so incoherent and inconsistent that many atheists find it simply incomprehensible.

  14. says

    With a spirit of enquiry, you cannot deny something which you have not disproved. An atheist denies God without first disproving it.

    And yet he denies atheism without first disproving it. Hmmm.
     
    Trebuchet “Will he be in this ‘World’s Greatest Mantras’ tour I keep seeing advertised here?”
    No. He did tour with Jeff Foxworthy, though. (“If your fingernails are as long as your beard, you might…be a guru.”)
     
    Artor “If I ever find myself doubt-free, I’d suspect I was wrong.”
    Are you sure?

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    … you cannot deny something which you have not disproved.

    Since nobody else has brought it up yet, I feel obligated to recite Hitchens’s Law:

    That which is asserted without evidence can be denied without evidence.

  16. Sastra says

    Gregory in Seattle #10 wrote:

    There is nothing in the Dharmic religions that require the belief in a personal god, or even an impersonal, pantheistic god; Jainism and Buddhism (most notably Theravada Buddhism) are essentially atheistic. There are even atheist schools of Hinduism, many of which are considered orthodox, which makes this yahoo’s comments even more absurd.

    I think the impersonal definitions of “God” can (and should) include all supernatural views of reality, meaning that forces or essences which are ‘purely mental’ don’t necessarily have to be minds pr se: they can be values, virtues, goals, emotions, understanding, experience, etc. “Woo.”

    While some versions of eastern religions do focus on natural, rational concerns — like how we ought to live, how we want to live — people who throw out the supernatural aspect entirely are a bit like ‘humanist Jews.” The argument that there are religions which are atheistic turns into an argument that anything that is atheistic isn’t religion. If you look at the concept carefully, “God” can be smeared out to include a lot of things, including Dharma — but it’s not going to encompass secular or scientific humanism without a real contradiction.

    Michael Heath #13 wrote:

    I repeatedly observe members of the Catholic hierarchy arguing out that credible faith must concede that doubt plays a useful role

    Sure. Even fundies will argue that. Just as courage is not the absence or fear, but the mastery of fear — faith can be not the absence of doubt, but the mastery of it.

    “Doubt” is framed as a weakness. It’s useful because the struggle makes you stronger and more aware of the importance of faith. They do the same thing with “sin,” don’t they? A reformed criminal evangelizing for Jesus is in some even more valuable, more loved by God, than the simple lamb who never strayed or thought of it. And sometimes continuing to “struggle” is noble. It shows that you realize which way virtue lies — and you’re modeling that for others.

    Even Catholics don’t like it when doubt starts to look like the better option not just rationally, but ethically too.

  17. says

    Is there anything in the above passages which could NOT have been written by a ‘liberal’ Christian? Or a New Ager? “Spiritual but not religious.” Or — when it comes right down to it — anyone from any other version of theism at all?

    I can’t say a liberal Christian or a new-ager could NOT write such rubbish — but I can say I’ve met many liberal Christians and new-agers who DIDN’T write such rubbish.

    After all, this is basically how ALL religions frame atheism and atheists.

    All organized religions whose “authority” and place in society are threatened by atheists, maybe. All persons who feel personally threatened by the mere existence of atheists, maybe. But that’s not the same as “all religions.”

  18. caseloweraz says

    Sri Sri: For one to say that something does not exist, one should know about the whole universe.

    Aha! I say that ACORN does not exist. I also say that transparent aluminum does not exist, and that “red matter” is right out. Ergo I know about the whole universe — maybe several universes.

  19. caseloweraz says

    Sri Sri: When the atheist realizes his ignorance, what does he do? Where does he go? Does he go to a Guru? What does a Guru do to him?

    Mocks him? Takes a big chunk of his money? Takes his money, then mocks him?

  20. exdrone says

    Based on his logic, I have to rethink Bertrand Russell’s teapot orbiting Jupiter. Hopefully, searching for it is part of NASA’s Juno mission profile. Disproving its existence will allow me to cross another thing off my belief list.

  21. matty1 says

    @15

    The nice, liberal, I’m-not-at-all-like-a-fundamentalist Christian still believes in damnation. They just don’t want to talk about that side of their religion.

    Many of them yes, but universalism (everyone goes to heaven) is a trend in liberal Christianity.

    @16 I think you may be looking for the term ignostic.

  22. hunter says

    Gregory in Seattle @10:

    A footnote: Joseph Campbell noted that Hinduism, like Judaism, is an “ethnic” religion: you are born a Hindu, as you are born a Jew. Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism have a similar relationship to Hinduism as Christianity and Islam have to Judaism in that they were founded on the earlier creed but are open to all, so to speak.

  23. caseloweraz says

    The Guru Gontinues:

    It is difficult to see God as formless and it is difficult to see God as form. The formless is so abstract and God in a form appears to be too limited. So some people prefer to be atheists.
    *
    *
    *
    An atheist can never be sincere because sincerity needs depth — and an atheist refuses to go to his depth. Because the deeper he goes, he finds a void, a field of all possibilities — he has to accept that there are many secrets he does not know. He would then need to acknowledge his ignorance, which he refuses to do, because the moment he is sincere, he seriously starts doubting his atheism. A doubt-free atheist is next to impossible! So you can never be a sincere and doubt-free atheist.

    Someone should remind this fellow that “When the candle has gone out, you know that the meal is already cooked.”

  24. dugglebogey says

    I’m used to the “atheists are shallow” argument, in my experience the opposite is true, Christians are the ones who have not thought deeply about religion and reality. It seems to me like atheists are the ones who have struggled with deep thoughts.

    The last part of this statement is what concerns me the most, however. “What does a Guru do ‘to’ him?”

    Gurus do something “to” people? What kind of things do they do? It sounds creepily like what some priests do to altar boys. If he were actually interested in “helping” someone, would he be doing something “for” them? At the very least do something “with” them?

    I don’t want to have something done “to” me, no matter how confused I become with the nature of reality and existence. For that kind of help, I recommend an expert on epistemology, not a religious nutball.

  25. freehand says

    For one to say that something does not exist, one should know about the whole universe.

    So… I can’t know if there is an elephant in my house or not?

  26. freehand says

    A doubt-free atheist is next to impossible!

    He says this like it’s a bad thing.

    Synthetic statements – assertions about the nature of the world – are never known with certainty. Some assertions are, of course, more likely than others. I might be wrong, but I believe that China has slightly* more people than India. I also believe that this will reverse within a few years. These beliefs are more likely to be right than, say, claiming there is a god of some sort for which no verifiable evidence is available. I have no beliefs in gods, for I have seen no persuasive evidence. Atheists are usually more comfortable with uncertainty.

    For a person to say, “I don’t believe in anything”, means he must believe in himself

    1. No, it doesn’t imply that. In fact, they are mutually exclusive.
    2. I have never heard an atheist claim this that he/she “doesn’t believe in anything”, although there may be a few.
    3. And does he mean “believe” as in “I think X is true” or “believe” as in “I embrace these values”? As with most religious, he wallows in ambiguity; clarity is his anathema.

    * For values of “slightly” approximating one hundred million.

  27. says

    @hunter #25 – Campbell got this wrong (along with many other things, but we’ll let that slide.) Hinduism is the late stage of the Indo-Aryan religion; Jainism and Buddhism broke away from that body centuries before Hinduism, as such, appeared. And even then, Hinduism has changed considerably in the 2000 years or so that it has been identifiably Hindu: it now comprises five major religions and countless minor ones, all sharing a common body of scripture and traditions and varying mainly on interpretation.

  28. Sastra says

    Raging Bee #20 wrote:

    “After all, this is basically how ALL religions frame atheism and atheists”.
    All organized religions whose “authority” and place in society are threatened by atheists, maybe. All persons who feel personally threatened by the mere existence of atheists, maybe. But that’s not the same as “all religions.”

    The basic arguments in the passages Ed quoted are these:

    1.) Atheists don’t understand God because their thinking on the subject is shallow.
    2.) When you seek God honestly, you will find God.
    3.) Atheists can’t be absolutely certain there isn’t a God.
    4.) An atheist is “only a believer who is sleeping” — they have the capacity to see but don’t use it.
    5.) Atheism results from being blinded by arrogance, thinking you know more than you really do.
    6.) Recognizing human ignorance of God is the first step towards spirituality.

    Which religions do you think would deny these? Which spiritual paths?

    They may not say any of this to an atheist’s face. They may not complain in public. They may not think it is up to them to try to do anything about it. They may not write it out.

    But they could. Guru Shankar is simply being rude.

  29. Electric Shaman says

    “Because the deeper he goes, he finds a void, a field of all possibilities”

    Um what? Which is it? A void or a field of all possibilities? Me and my shallow atheist brain can’t seem to comprehend this deeply complex god stuff.

    Oh wait I get it now! He’s employing the Chewbacca Defense!

  30. unemployedphilosopher says

    I feel like I should point out that it’s entirely possible to be a nontheistic substance dualist. All you need is Leibniz’s Law, really. There’s stuff we can (to stretch a metaphor) poke with a stick to see what happens, and then there’s other stuff for which we just haven’t found the right stick.

    That sentence kind of got away from me, but hey, unless you can explain how a configuration of neurons firing can be “true” or “false”, there’s a lot more to the universe than we can touch with our current science. Nothing supernatural required; just accepting we’ve got a long way to go. Which is probably a good thing.

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