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Aug 16 2012

Where in the world is Sanal Edamaruku?

As you probably know, Sanal Edamaruku is in flight from his home in India, because the police want to arrest him for exposing a Catholic miracle as a case of leaking pipes. I would not tell anyone where he actually is, but I can tell you where he was: Kaja Bryx of the Lower Silesia Branch of Polish Rationalist Association sent me a note with an account.

Sanal Edamaruku, President of Indian Rationalist Association, stayed in Poland from 30th June to 20th July, hosted by Polish Rationalist Association (Polskie Stowarzyszenie Racjonalistów, PSR). As we all know, he was at that time escaping the threat of being arrested for blasphemy in his own country.

During his stay in Poland Sanal Edamaruku gave lectures in most of the PSR’s branch cities and took part in PSR’s actions. On 2nd July he participated in a public debate on freedom of expression which PSR organized in Warsaw. On 8th July he presented his first paper Contrast of two Indias – 21st century and 16th century at conflict in the city of Wroclaw. Two days later, together with Jacek Tabisz, President of Polish Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku signed (for Indian Rationalist Association and Rationalist International), the trilateral co-operation agreement, which is available both in Polish and in English version on our website.

On 11th July Sanal Edamaruku gave a lecture in Katowice, presenting Church in India – growing intolerance. On 13th July in Cracow he spoke on Growing fundamentalist tendencies among Indian religions. On 14th July in Szczecin crowds came to listen about Holy men in India – flying fakirs to starving saints. On 17th July another lecture took place in Poznan: Will Indian rationalism counter the new wave of religiosity in India? Finally, on 19th July, back in Warsaw, Sanal Edamaruku presented a feminism oriented topic: Influence of religion on the status and situation of women in India.

During his stay in Poland Sanal Edamaruku had an opportunity to meet many of the members of PSR and exchange information about the problems rationalists face both in Poland and in India. He heard the story of Kazimierz Lyszczynski, the first Polish atheist who was condemned to death for his teachings in the 17th century Warsaw, and decided to publish a book about him. Many Polish rationalists inspired by the lectures of Sanal Edamaruku and by the co-operation agreement are willing to go to India and join the actions of Indian Rationalist Association.

You go, Sanal! Even in exile he’s spreading the news about reason and the affliction of religion.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    julietdefarge

    I’m impressed. If anywhere needs a dose of anti-Catholic medicine, it’s Poland, where they let women die instead of getting medically necessary abortions. I hope he stays safe.

  2. 2
    kurt1

    Next stop: the vatican. exposing the sillyness underneath the papal headgear.

  3. 3
    Sastra

    Sanal Edamaruku is a genuine hero — one with an important message. In addition to the criticisms of the Catholic Church, he is and has been outspoken in his criticism of Hinduism. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the US — religious and nonreligious — tend to give a pass to so-called Eastern religions as benign traditions which downplay the supernatural and foster good character and a peaceful nature. That’s naive. The foundation is corrupt and in some cases they’re worse than the Abrahamic ones.

  4. 4
    David Marjanović

    [Sastra]

    QFT.

  5. 5
    January

    julietdefarge:
    I’m impressed. If anywhere needs a dose of anti-Catholic medicine, it’s Poland, where they let women die instead of getting medically necessary abortions.

    I agree with your diagnosis (I left that country for, among other, this reason). However, at least in theory, medically necessary abortions are allowed in Poland. This is called “a compromise” – a lousy compromise from my point of view (I’m against any penalization of abortion), but that is another matter.

    However, doctors are allowed to refuse to perform an abortion if it goes against their conscience. Also, what is a “medical necessity” is also not always agreed upon. Some people claim that gynecologists who work at a regular medical centre as well as on a private basis use this to deny the abortion at the official instution (where the expenses would be small and covered by the social security) to lure them to their private practice to get real money.

    In a famous case, a women who was legally entitled to get an abortion did not get one in time because of that particular clause. Subsequently, she won at the Strassburg tribunal.

  6. 6
    zoniedude

    Would somebody please consult a dictionary. The word “Rationalism” means a belief in dogma without regard to physical evidence. Creationists are Rationalists, scientists are Empiricists, which means knowledge based on sensory physical evidence. Why do the “new Atheists” insist on believing in dogma without reference to physical evidence? In my opinion, physical evidence and rational logic (pearl) is the only valid basis for atheism.

  7. 7
    wcorvi

    So, if evolution is a religion, can we execute fundies for blasphemy??!?

  8. 8
    Sven

    zoniedude:
    Would somebody please consult a dictionary. The word “Rationalism” means a belief in dogma without regard to physical evidence. Creationists are Rationalists, scientists are Empiricists, which means knowledge based on sensory physical evidence.

    There’s nothing in the definition about dogma or shunning evidence at all. It’s about accepting reason and common sense.

    Incidentally, reason dictates that we follow the evidence. “Rationalism” and “Empiricism” are not mutually exclusive, in fact, they overlap significantly. There’s nothing rational about blind faith.

  9. 9
    petriteittinen

    Just in case someone did not know, Edamaruku came to Finland last month and as far as I know, he’s still here.

  10. 10
    petriteittinen

    Oh, and he hasn’t tried to keep it a secret. He was interviewed for a Finnish news program and explained at length how the whole thing went down. He’s working on three new books, one of which is his autobiography.

  11. 11
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    So, if evolution is a religion, can we execute fundies for blasphemy??!?

    First, evolution is not a religion and should not be treated as such.

    Second, why are you suggesting that rationalists start acting like the worst of the goddists?

    Third, is this your attempt at humor? It is not very good.

  12. 12
    captainmandrake

    In my recent to India I noticed that people out there spend an inordinate amount of time and Monet silly superstition like religion, astrology, and alternative medicine. India needs more people like Sanal.

  13. 13
    Jadehawk

    there’s a Lower Silesia Branch of Polish Rationalist Association?

    *random and wholly irrational feeling of regional pride*

  14. 14
    Julien Rousseau

    January:

    she won at the Strassburg tribunal

    Did the Germans invade Alsace… again?

    zoniedude:

    The word “Rationalism” means a belief in dogma without regard to physical evidence.

    WTF? Where did you get such a stupid definition from? Conservapedia?

    *Looks up Rationalism in conservapedia*

    Rationalism is reliance on reason as the best guide for belief and action.

    Whoa, it is surprisingly not so bad (even the obligatory bible quote is not too bad “Test all things; hold fast what is good” — I did that, I did not hold on to christianity).

    Hold on… there is a link to their definition of reason… I smell a rat.

    Reason is the faculty by which one reaches judgment on matters of fact, and is applied through the tools of reasoning. The most common form of reason is Christianity.

    From the following quote I doubt that you like conservapedia much so I wonder, where did you get that definition of rationalism from?

    In my opinion, physical evidence and rational logic (pearl) is the only valid basis for atheism.

    Ah, but pearl is like abstinence, you need to practice it for it to work, see the originator of the word for what happens when a self-styled pearlist disregards physical evidence and thus abandons reason in order to keep a cherished sexist position.

    But it is not a question of using only reason or only physical evidence for, to paraphrase Einstein “Physical evidence without reason is lame, reason without physical evidence is blind”*.

    Reason without some input from physical evidence is of limited use, as you only construct internally consistent systems that can only correspond to the real world through sheer luck (imagine a geometry like system where the 4 basic axioms where not based on physical evidence).

    Physical evidence without reason is useless as all you have is a series of fact without a framework to use to relate those facts to each other and thus make sense of the world.

    Reason is that framework. Reason is the engine whose fuel is physical evidence. Together they move the vehicle of science.

    Do you agree with the above? If you do then you must concede that you were wrong when you said:

    scientists are Empiricists, which means knowledge based on sensory physical evidence

    For scientists are no mere empiricists but strive to be both empiricists and rationalists. How do you think they develop new theories when confronted with new data falsifying old theories? By drawing lots?

    * Any suggestion for replacing lame/blind with less ableist words would be welcome.

  15. 15
    January

    Julien Rousseau:

    “Did the Germans invade Alsace… again?”

    I guess that you refer to the fact that I used the German spelling of the name. Sorry, my bad. I should have written: the tribunal in Strossburi.

    Regarding the rationalism / empiricism debate.

    1) Rationalism in the strict philosophical sense is, as zoniecude writes, the belief that you can find out things with reasoning, with your mind only, without the need for any experiments, as opposed to experimental testimony. Cartesian philosophy (and all the nasty thing it entails) is in its core rationalistic in that sense.

    Dear Julien, before you use the word “stupid” again, please read the excellent article on rationalism and empiricism at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    2) Nonetheless, there is a more common, popular meaning, which opposes the thinking backed up with experimental evidence (“rationalism”) to blind belief. In Polish, we have two terms for that: “racjonalizm światopoglądowy” (referring to the common sense definition) and “racjonalizm filozoficzny” (referring to the philosophical, strict definition). Clearly, the name of the society refers to that first meaning.

    Kind regards,
    January

  16. 16
    skepticuniverse

    Here is an essay on Section 295A of Indian Penal Code, which effectively is the Blasphemy Law of India, under which Sanal Edamaruku is being harassed.

    http://www.carvaka4india.com/2012/05/indias-blasphemy-law-section-295a-of.html

  17. 17
    Andreas Kyriacou

    Sanal better not flee to Britain. Not a safe country for people facing dodgy charges. Nor is, sadly, Sweden, which is hosting the next European Skeptics event.

  18. 18
    Julien Rousseau

    Dear Julien, before you use the word “stupid” again, please read the excellent article on rationalism and empiricism at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    Dear January, before you use the fallacy of appeal to authority again, please explain why a belief “not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners” (a.k.a. dogma) is rational?
    And why would a proposed definition of rationality as “a belief in dogma without regard to physical evidence” be any less stupid if proposed by a prestigious university?

    As for that “excellent” article, I haven’t read all of it but in what I read there is at least one stupid (*gasp* how dare I use that word appropriately) thing:

    We intuit, for example, that the number three is prime.

    No we don’t, we deduce it from the definition of what a prime is and by the observation, rooted in empiricism, that 3 does not have a positive divisor other than 1 and itself.

    If we intuited the prime nature of numbers I could give anybody any arbitrarily large number and they would intuitivey know whether said number is prime or not.

    If someone comes along and says that he intuitively knows that 4 is prime and, when confronted with the number 2, mighty divisor of 4, he retorts that 4 being prime is a dogma born of intuition, then according to zoniedude’s definition of rationalism then that person is indeed a rationalist. I beg to differ, such a person is not a rationalist, and any definition of rationalism that says such a person is a rationalist is a stupid definition.

    If that is what some philosophers mean when they use the word rationalism it doesn’t make it non-stupid, it makes those philosophers stupid wrt rationalism.

  19. 19
    January

    Dear January, before you use the fallacy of appeal to authority again

    Dear Julien, I just redirected you to a basic textbook / review article in an area in which you argue with loud voice and little understanding. As it is obvious from what you later wrote, you chose to ignore it. Tell me, if you had a student who behaves like that, how would you react?

    Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but words may have different meanings in different contexts. In a rigorous philosophical context, rationalism means something that we, empiricists, consider to be rather, um, non-rational (in the common sense). But the common sense definition (what is rational, what not) is subjective; for de Cartes, his ideas were rational (in the common sense). For us, they are bonkers.

    The point is, we use the word “rational” in the common sense to valuate, to say that something is good and the other bad. The philosophical terms is used for another reason: to distinguish things that one came up with through reasoning from things that one came up by observing them. Both these methods are problematic, because both the observations and the reasoning can be flawed. For example, to observe anything, to make a single scientific experiment, we must start with a belief of existence of an observable, objective reality.

    No we don’t, we deduce it from the definition of what a prime is and by the observation, rooted in empiricism, that 3 does not have a positive divisor other than 1 and itself.

    You call that empiric? Now that is funny. Mathematics is a dogmatic, rational system, inherently non-empiric; without starting with axioms and definitions, you will not arrive anywhere. On the other hand, you need not conduct a single experiment or empirical observation to get most of the existing mathematical theory.

    There is no “observation that 3 does not have a positive divisor”… without defining what a divisor is, what positive is, what prime is and, um, yes, what actually “3″ is. Defining or using as an axiom. So, we start with a dogma, and everything that follows is “observed” within our brain, without any need for external sources of observation (empiricism).

  20. 20
    Julien Rousseau

    This has gone totally off topic so I responded in the Thunderdome.

  21. 21
    nermd

    @17:
    ohh come on please. Don’t believe everything you are told. This is a story about how extremely well our patriarchal society still works. Once again are the accusations of woman regarded as some evil conspiracy against this poor guy. Fuck this! He is sitting in GB which even allows for extradition of its own citizen but somehow magically the real danger is Sweden. How comes that? The US didn’t even put charges forward so how should they even justify an extradition from Sweden? Also, Sweden is not even allowed to extradite him without consent from GB … so why is this all about Sweden? I’ll tell you, bc this is all a farce … he plays so well on the anti-us ressentiment and conspiracy theories in Europe. I cant believe why any sane person still thinks Julian Assange is a victim. I only see a guy who runs from sexual harassment charges …

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