Sunday, May 26, 2019

Giving until it hurts - excerpts from William Barclay and Mother Teresa

William Barclay, Gospel of Mark (1956)
THE GREATEST GIFT (Mark 12:41-44)
12:41-44 When Jesus had sat down opposite the treasury, he was watching how the crowd threw their money into the treasury, and many rich people threw in large sums. A poor widow woman came and threw in two mites which make up half a farthing. He called his disciples and said to them, "This is the truth I tell you--this poor widow woman has thrown in more than an the people who threw money into the treasury, for all of them threw their contributions in out of their abundance, but she out of her lack has thrown in everything that she had, all she had to live on."  
Between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of the Women there was the Gate Beautiful. It may well be that Jesus had gone to sit quietly there after the argument and the tension of the Court of the Gentiles and the discussions in the cloisters. In the Court of the Women there were thirteen collecting boxes called "The Trumpets," because they were so shaped. Each of them was for a special purpose, for instance to buy corn or wine or off for the sacrifices. They were for contributions for the daily sacrifices and expenses of the Temple. Many people threw in quite considerable contributions. Then came a widow. She flung in two mites. The coin so called was a lepton (Greek #3016), which literally means a thin one. It was the smallest of all coins and was worth one fortieth of one pence. And yet Jesus said that her tiny contribution was greater than all the others, for the others had thrown in what they could spare easily enough and still have plenty left, while the widow had flung in everything she had.  
Here is a lesson in giving: 
(i) Real giving must be sacrificial. The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice. Real generosity gives until it hurts. For many of us it is a real question if ever our giving to God's work is any sacrifice at all. Few people will do without their pleasures to give a little more to the work of God. It may well be a sign of the decadence of the church and the failure of our Christianity that gifts have to be coaxed out of church people, and that often they will not give at all unless they get something back in the way of entertainment or of goods. There can, be few of us who read this story without shame. 
(ii) Real giving has a certain recklessness in it. The woman might have kept one coin. It would not have been much but it would have been something, yet she gave everything she had. There is a great symbolic truth here. It is our tragedy that there is so often some part of our lives, some part of our activities, some part of ourselves which we do not give to Christ. Somehow there is nearly always something we hold back. We rarely make the final sacrifice and the final surrender. 
(iii) It is a strange and lovely thing that the person whom the New Testament and Jesus hand down to history as a pattern of generosity was a person who gave a gift of half a farthing. We may feel that we have not much in the way of material gifts or personal gifts to give to Christ, but, if we put all that we have and are at his disposal, he can do things with it and with us that are beyond our imaginings.

Mother Teresa, National Prayer Breakfast (Feb 1994)

 Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us – to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father’s will – to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God’s will – to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.
It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.
It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me.”
When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give
until it hurts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Image of the Beast that Will Come to Life (Revelation 13)

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Rev 13:15)
One advantage of prophecy is that it can be verified in history. While the Genesis account of creation is disputed by many in the scientific community (with some theologians attempting to demythologize it), prophecy resists such attempts. Thus, the strongest of evidences for the Messiahship of Jesus did not come from science [it could not] nor from the miracles He did, but from the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies regarding Him. However, the sheer irony of all this is that while prophecy helps to unfold the meaning of events to the believer, the prophecy itself includes a clause regarding disbelief in the same (which also needs to be fulfilled). Thus, while many disciples were able to see the Messianic prophecies as fulfilled in Jesus, there were many others who could not see this, thus fulfilling the prophecy (though volitionally rejecting it) that they would despise and reject the Messiah.

A similar situation is predicted in the book of Revelation. When the anti-Messiah (the beast) will appear, prophecies will become historically verifiable, which would actually mean that this verification can serve as an apologetic tool for faith. However, the prophecy tells us that instead of believing in God, people would increasingly turn away from God. In other words, the prophecy includes a clause that makes disbelief in it the verification of it. When people would increasingly turn away from God, this would prove that the prophecy was true. But, if it is so, then the prophecy cannot function as an apologetic aid for those who will to turn away from God.

The biggest problem of evolutionism is the issue of how life can originate from a mere collocation of atoms, even if those atoms were (by chance) placed in the right sequence. The either-DNA-or-protein-first problem continues to haunt evolutionists though there are hypotheses that this is resolved by the RNA world hypothesis. Yet, that hypothesis is also not problem-free. It seems that a phenomenon of some kind of genius giving "life unto the image" can be a staggering event for humanity. To the intellectuals, it could suggest a very advanced level of scientific achievement that an image (a rightly sequenced pattern) could not only come to life but also be able to communicate and make intelligent decisions. Probably, this would not be at a level of the much theorized battery powered AI robots (breath of life is not the same as battery-run).

Yet, this would only lead more to the worship of the beast, rather than worship of the living God. No wonder, elevation of the beast, as having originated from the beast, is characteristic of idolatrous worship.

Rom 1:23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Rom 1:25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 
The idea of "beast" being used for humans is a reduction that signifies a corruption of the divine image. Without God in the picture, man is not much different from the beasts
I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? (Ecc 3:18-21, emphatics mine)
The modern rebel that Chesterton referred to, at least, had some moral sense of not being a beast though scientifically affiliating with beasthood: "The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts."

But, the forthcoming beast-worshiper will be morally dissolute as well.

Rom 1:24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Rom 1:27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Rom 1:28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1:29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Rev 16:9  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
Rev 16:10  And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
Rev 16:11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Rev 16:12  And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Rev 16:13  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Rev 16:14  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Divine Basis of the Great Commandment

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The essential Christian ethic is love. The commands such as "Do not murder", "Do not bear false witness", and the like are by virtue of this essential principle.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
So, while particulars such as "Do not murder", "Do not steal", etc do not apply to God (who is One and there is no other distinct god(s) to kill or steal from), the universal essential principle of love must find its basis in Him; otherwise, it becomes invalid and non-essential. The Scriptures, however, makes it quite obvious that the Triune God is the supreme foundation of the Great Commandment.

While one may not find a big issue in God's exemplification of the second command to love one's neighbor as oneself (Jesus incarnated as flesh and blood and became our Good Samaritan), one can also clearly see in the Scripture that the Triune God exemplifies the first command to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart..."

One may ask, "How can that be possible, since there is no God above God? How can God love God will all His heart...?" The answer is that Jesus did refer to the Father as "My God", as in "My God and My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Similarly, the Father refers to the Son as God when He says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." (Hebrews 1:8).

Similar verses that affirm love within the divine community fill the pages of the Gospels.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Ruth's Choice

But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)

1. Her choice was not utilitarian. (Ruth 1:11-13. Noami makes it clear that following her would only mean their loss).
2. Her choice was not pragmatic. (She was not merely taking a risk to see if it works)
3. Her choice was not merely ethical. (She was not merely trying to fulfill an obligation to her mother-in-law; she had all right to be remarried. Even the New Testament would advise her to get married, 1 Timothy 5:14 - "I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.")
4. Her choice was not out of extremity. (She had all the freedom to go back home; there was no compulsion at all)

1. Her choice was spiritual. (She chose not to return like Orpah "to her gods" (Ruth 1:15), but to follow Naomi so that Naomi's God would be her God (Ruth 1:16)).
2. Her choice was submissive, by faith. (She submitted to YHWH. "YHWH do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me". She based her commitment on her faith in the Lordship of YHWH, which meant also her rejection of false gods)
3. Her choice was sagacious. (She was aware that YHWH was the God of Israel, and it was in Israel that she could be free to worship and serve Him. She wanted to be with the person and the people that worshiped the living God).
4. Her choice was single-minded and unwavering. (She was not deterred by the negative attitude of Naomi towards YHWH. Her faith in YHWH was not dependent on situations and happenings. She could have utilitarianistically reasoned that her misfortune was due to her marriage into this YHWH serving family. However, she did not blame God for anything, but was unshakeably determined to be part of the YHWH serving community)

*God's proper name YHWH has been used here to distinguish the LORD from the pagan deities that were served by nations surrounding Israel.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Danites and their Inheritance

Revelation 7 curiously omits the name of Dan from the list of the tribes of the 144,000 witnesses. One wonders why this is so. Many hold that Dan was probably omitted because he represented full-fledged idolatry in Israel (Judges 18:30). Judges 17 and 18 tell the story of how the priesthood is commercialized and treated in a pagan utilitarian way by a family of Ephraim and a clan of Dan. Revelation 7 does not also mention Ephraim, though it mentions Manasseh and Joseph (the father of Ephraim and Manasseh). Both Ephraim and Dan were guilty of idolatrous worship throughout the Old Testament. 
And the sons of Dan set up the engraved image. And Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. And they set up Micah's engraved image for themselves, the image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh. (Judges 18:30-31)
And the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And he set the one in Bethel, and he put the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. And he made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not the sons of Levi. (1Kings 12:28-31)
Notably, Dan's problems in the book of Judges revolved around their difficulties with inheriting the land.
When the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them, the people of Dan went up and fought against Leshem, and after capturing it and striking it with the sword they took possession of it and settled in it, calling Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor. (Joshua 19:47)
And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. (Judges 18:1)
The Amorites pressed the people of Dan back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain. (Judges 1:34) 
 In contrast, the Amorites were not able to defeat and drive out the people of Joseph:
The Amorites persisted in dwelling in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labor. (Judges 1:35)
Revelation is a book of victory, of overcomers; so, it is not surprising if a perpetual loser (Dan) is omitted from the list of overcomers and an overcomer (Joseph) is included in it.

Surprisingly, however, Dan is the first listed in the division of the new land by Ezekiel 48.
Ezekiel 48:1  “These are the names of the tribes: Beginning at the northern extreme, beside the way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, as far as Hazar-enan (which is on the northern border of Damascus over against Hamath), and extending from the east side to the west, Dan, one portion.

Round-about Ethics for Benjamin

Judges 21 recounts the story of how the children of Israel provided wives for the surviving Benjamite males.

An important episode is the gathering of the entire assembly before the Lord at Mizpeh for worship, prayer, and communion.

Since, by an act of vengeance, the whole tribe of Benjamin was destroyed except a few remaining, the Israelites felt it morally obligatory to ensure that the Benjamite tribe survived through posterity. However, they had made an oath saying, "There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife." Consequently, their obligation towards the oath clashed with their obligation towards Israel (that by doing the former, they risked losing one tribe of Israel). Therefore, they decided to first find a tribe that had not been represented at the assembly before the Lord at Mizpeh. They found that Jabeshgilead was not represented. For the Israelites, this was a capital crime. It was unforgivable to ignore the national assembly before the Lord. So, they sent 12000 warriors to destroy Jabeshgilead, but bring alive all virgins they found there. The warriors did so and found 400 virgins, who were then given to the Benjamite males as wives. However, there still was a shortage. Then, the following episode takes place:
And they said, There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. Yet we cannot give them wives from our daughters.¨ For the people of Israel had sworn, Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.¨ So they said, Behold, there is the yearly feast of the LORD at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.¨ And they commanded the people of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in ambush in the vineyards and watch. If the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and snatch each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, Grant them graciously to us, because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.¨ And the people of Benjamin did so and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and lived in them. And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. (Jdg 21:17-24)
The Israelites adopted a round-about tactic to ensure that their oath remained unbroken while the Benjamites also got their wives. The tactic was to create a situation that would make it legitimate for the Benjamites to steal for themselves wives, without the Israelites incurring the guilt of GIVING them women as wives. There are two things to note about this round-about tactic:
  1. It was clear of mens rea or criminal intention. The fathers had no intention to give their daughters as wives to the Benjamites. So, their intentions were guilt-free. This is evidenced by their complaint against the Benjamites.
  2. It was clear of actus reus or criminal conduct. The fathers did not act to give their daughters as wives to the Benjamites. So, they were clear of the guilt of criminal act.
In summary, the pre-monarchial community was able to solve a conflict of ethics situation successfully without any of them incurring any guilt for the same.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Plato’s Butterfly or Man (quote) - Theaetetus

SOCRATES: Let us not leave the argument unfinished, then; for there still remains to be considered an objection which may be raised about dreams and diseases, in particular about madness, and the various illusions of hearing and sight, or of other senses. For you know that in all these cases the esse-percipi theory appears to be unmistakably refuted, since in dreams and illusions we certainly have false perceptions; and far from saying that everything is which appears, we should rather say that nothing is which appears.
THEAETETUS: Very true, Socrates.
SOCRATES: But then, my boy, how can any one contend that knowledge is perception, or that to every man what appears is?
THEAETETUS: I am afraid to say, Socrates, that I have nothing to answer, because you rebuked me just now for making this excuse; but I certainly cannot undertake to argue that madmen or dreamers think truly, when they imagine, some of them that they are gods, and others that they can fly, and are flying in their sleep.
SOCRATES: Do you see another question which can be raised about these phenomena, notably about dreaming and waking?
THEAETETUS: What question?
SOCRATES: A question which I think that you must often have heard persons ask:—How can you determine whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?
THEAETETUS: Indeed, Socrates, I do not know how to prove the one any more than the other, for in both cases the facts precisely correspond;—and there is no difficulty in supposing that during all this discussion we have been talking to one another in a dream; and when in a dream we seem to be narrating dreams, the resemblance of the two states is quite astonishing.
SOCRATES: You see, then, that a doubt about the reality of sense is easily raised, since there may even be a doubt whether we are awake or in a dream. And as our time is equally divided between sleeping and waking, in either sphere of existence the soul contends that the thoughts which are present to our minds at the time are true; and during one half of our lives we affirm the truth of the one, and, during the other half, of the other; and are equally confident of both.
THEAETETUS: Most true.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Freedom from Addiction

Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:18)

What is Addiction?
“Loss of control over drug use or the compulsive seeking and taking of drug despite adverse consequences.”
“An inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful”

Types of Addiction
  1. Substance Addiction (drugs, tobacco, alcohol, medicines, etc)
  2. Behavioral Addiction (gambling, food and eating, shopping, surfing (internet), watching T.V., foul language, sex, pornography, work, exercise, self-love (narcissism))
What Addiction Does
  1. Robs TIME
  2. Robs our TREASURES
  6. Rusts TALENT
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  (1Co 6:9-10)

Power Principles (1 Corinthians 6:11-20)
 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
 12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

  1. Remember that you have been saved by Christ and the Spirit (v.11)
  2. Resolve to not be controlled by anything else (v.12)
  3. Reinforce your primary relationship with Christ (v.13) - body for Christ/ Christ for body. [Appetite or desire is not GOD our savior]
  4. Rivet your eyes on your future resurrection (v.14)
  5. Recognize God’s power within you (v.14)
  6. Run away from godless addictions;  run towards God (v.18)
  7. Revere God both physically and spiritually (v.20)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Udayana’s Arguments for the Existence of God (Nyaya Kusumanjali. 5)

The Nyaya Sutras was composed by Aksapada Gautama, probably in the 6th c. BC. Nyaya Sutra 1.6.32 states the parts (avyava) of a deduction (nigmana) in the aphorism:


which unfolds as:
1. Pratijna - Claim or proposition (conjecture) that needs to be established (1.6.33)
2. Hetu - Reason (1.6.34)
3. Udaharana (Drstanta)- Empirical support (negative or positive case examples) (1.6.35,36)
4. Upanaya - Application (1.6.37)
5. Nigmana - Conclusion or deduction (restatement of claim) (1.6.38)

1. Pratijna Claim: The hill (full of trees (wood)) is on fire
2. Hetu Reason: Because I see smoke over it.
3. Udaharana Example: On a hearth (burning wood), fire and smoke are always seen together; but, never in a lake (without wood).
4. Upanaya Application: The smoke on the hill is like the smoke on the hearth, not like vapor over a lake.
5. Nigmana Deduction: Therefore, the hill is on fire

The Nyaya syllogism provides a relatively sufficient form for arguing from an effect to its cause. This is not sufficiently possible with either the hypothetical or the categorical syllogism. For instance,

If there is smoke, there must be fire.
There is smoke
Therefore, there must be fire.

If the hypothetical premise is assuming a causal relation, then granting priority (antecedence) to a causally consequent term (here, smoke) is problematic to the content of the form. It poses an informal problem. The logical positioning should give the causal term priority over the agented (effect). Thus,

If there is fire, there is smoke
There is fire
Therefore, there is smoke


If there is fire, there is smoke
There is no smoke
Therefore, there is no fire

The syllogisms are valid and the conditional order in the premise is correct (fire is the condition for smoke, and not vice versa). The hypothetical syllogism cannot facilitate an argument from the effect back to the cause. Even granted the categorical limit of say “smoke can only be produced by fire”, it cannot be incorporated into a hypothetical syllogism.

Smoke can only be produced by fire.

If there is fire, there is smoke.
There is smoke.
Therefore, there is fire


If there is smoke, there is fire.
There is smoke.
Therefore, there is fire.

The first one is invalid and the second one is valid; however, given the causal exclusivity of the hypothetical relation, the rules may be regarded as non-applicable to this exception. It, then, does indicate the insufficiency of the syllogism.

Let’s see if the categorical provides a way out.

All that is smoky is fiery
The hill is smoky
Therefore, the hill is fiery

Every smoke effect has a fire cause
The hill has smoke effect
Therefore, the hill has fire cause

The conclusion necessarily follows from the premises since the syllogism is self-contained. In other words, one is not required to go beyond the syllogism to verify the conclusion once the major and minor premises are assumed to be true. The syllogism, unlike the Nyaya syllogism, does not practically explain why one thinks the effect observed on the hill is smoke and why one needs to connect smoke with fire. It, therefore, does not have the sufficient steps required for a self-contained argument from effect to cause. For instance,

Every effect has a cause
The universe is an effect
Therefore, the universe has a cause.

One will need to go beyond the syllogism to prove both the premises, especially the minor “the universe is an effect”. Why not consider the universe as the cause of the uncaused, given its “universal” status? Other syllogisms, therefore, will need to be used in order to support this syllogism. It is not sufficient by itself.

Also, from the perspective of Nyaya syllogism, the above argument lacks a case support (either homogeneous or heterogeneous example). One does not observe any universe being effected or caused nor does one ever observe a no-creator=no-universe instance. This is unlike the smoke-fire example, in which case there is at least an example to support the reason.

Let's now turn to what a Nyaya syllogism may prove or not prove.

The eight reasons that Udayana (10th c. AD) gives in his Nyaya Kusumanjali are:
1. Karyatvat
2. Ayojnat
3. Dhrti
4. Pad
5. Pratyay
6. Shruti
7. Vakya
8. Sankhya vishesh

We will look at the Karyatvat argument here:

kshityadikam sakartrkam karyatvat ghatvat
sakartrkatvam ch upadanagocharaprokshajnanchikirshakrtimanjanyatvam
Similar to an earthen jar, the earth etc are agented (have the nature of being effected).
To be agented means to be produced by one who has immediate knowledge of the raw material (material cause), has the desire to produce, and has effort that meets the effect or work (or is of the profession that concerns the work being produced).

It may be structured as:

1. Pratijna Claim: The earth, etc is caused by an all-wise, willing, and working agent.
2. Hetu Reason: Because the earth, etc are agented.
3. Udaharana Example: Agented works like a clay pot are produced by an agent having knowledge of clay (raw material), having desire to create, and having done works that are appropriate for claypot creation.
4. Upanaya Application: The earth etc are like a clay pot which is agented (possessing material cause and capable of being sense-perceived), unlike non-agented eternals (immaterials and invisibles or materially imperceptibles).
5. Nigmana Deduction: Therefore, the earth, etc are created by one who knows all (about the material cause of earth etc), is willing to create, and has worked to create them.

At first sight, this may seem to indicate that the creator here is one who uses some pre-existing raw material to create the world. However, the raw-material (here implying clay) is in connection to the pot. It is a homogeneous example of the bigger clay jar, the earth. The argument qualifies the agent (creator) with the qualities of wisdom, will, and work. By implication, the creator of a clay pot has knowledge of clay; the creator of the universe is omniscient. The creator of a clay pot chooses to make the pot; the creator of the universe freely chooses to create it. The creator of a clay pot works in a manner and with a force suitable and necessary for the production of a pot. The omnipotent creator of the universe does creative works suitable to the production of the world. Only an omnipotent and omniscient Agent is suited for the profession of universe-creation.

The example of claypot is homogeneous with a moldable and shapeable (potential) material cause. However, we are still not in a position to claim if fundamental matter itself (or that which the universe is at least partially composed of) is not uncaused but caused (ex nihilo). Obviously, there is no example to support something being created out of nothing. In Nyaya metaphysics, therefore, the fundamental non-composite material cause (atoms, space, etc) is eternal. And, since atoms, etc are bereft of desire and intelligence, they can only be used to create earth, etc by an intelligent and volitional agent.

● Randle, H. N. "A Note on the Indian Syllogism." Mind, New Series, 33, no. 132 (1924): 398-414.
● George Chemparathy, An Indian Rational Theology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass in Komm., 1972), p.86
● Acharya Visvesvar Siddhanta Siromani, न्यायकुसुमांजलि (Varanasi: Chowkamba Vidya Bhawan, 1962).
● Peri Laxminarayan Shastri, న్యాయకుసుమాంజలి (Chennapuri: Vavilla Ramswami Shastrulu and Sons,1939)
● Dayanand Bhargav, तर्क संग्रह: (Motilal Banarsidass, 1998)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Appeal of Visuals in Religious Experience: Mosaic Faith Vs Baalism

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. (Judges 2:10-12)
It seems obvious that the newer generation either had more exposure to the visuals of Baalism than to those of the Mosaic religion or found Baalism more aesthetically appealing than the faith of their fathers. Evidently, Baalism was suffused with images, idols, symbols, and shrines. The visual imagery had a grappling effect on the minds and imaginations of the adherents. Additionally, polytheism has a particularly pluralistic and diversifyingly liberating influence. The Canaanite religion was polytheistic with multiple Baals and gods and, unlike the Mosaic religion, it offered a “religiously-oriented” person a broader catalogue of visually satisfying divinities to choose from.
The Mosaic faith also had its visuals in the form of the visual elements of the Tabernacle, of the feasts of the Lord, and other leading imagery from the Torah.
Tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6:8,9)
Nevertheless, it could create a sense of being a legalistic system that was a “given” and not “chosen”. Even if they were given the option to choose between YHWH and the gods, such a choice was categorised as a choice between life and death.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction…. if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed… (Deut 30:15-20)
Polytheistic cults, on the other hand, were not so exclusive. They, at least, seemed to provide some sort of freedom to choose any one of the many and yet stay religiously accepted and uncondemned. In fact, it would not be any problem for a polytheistic religion to accept YHWH as one of the pantheon, provided YHWH did not make claims to a supremacy that would only entail war.
The most important religious visual symbols in the Mosaic religion included the covenant symbols, the liturgical symbols, and the celebrative and commemorative symbols. The Israelites had very clear-cut commands against idolatry of any form whatsoever. Both the attempt to portray the divine in any visual form as well as worship of such a form was strictly forbidden.

So since you saw no form of any kind on the day the LORD spoke to you out of the fire at Horeb, be careful that you do not act corruptly and make an idol for yourselves of any form or shape, whether in the likeness of a male or female, of any beast on the earth or bird that flies in the air, or of any creature that crawls on the ground or fish in the waters below. When you look to the heavens and see the sun and moon and stars—all the host of heaven—do not be enticed to bow down and worship what the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. (Deut 4:15-19)
Visual representation of God was forbidden because any visual only led away from and not towards the true and living God. This view is contrary to the popular polytheistic view that the image helps to draw the worshipper closer to her deity; perhaps, it might draw her closer to the deity represented by the image in her mind, but it would not be able to draw her closer to the Biblical YHWH for sure. In that sense, the image only helps to reinforce the visual and sensible element of religious experience rather than the spiritual and infinite one.

But, the Mosaic religion did have its visuals, the foremost of which were the covenant ones. Among these, the circumcision was certainly prominent. In fact, the Hebrews regarded circumcision as the symbol that set them apart from the non-Hebrews; the non-Hebrews were the uncircumcised.
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1Sam.17:26)
Other related symbols were tassels with blue cords on garments (Deut 22:12, Num.15:38) and the phylacteries (in present day Judaism, converted into symbolism from Deut 6:8, 11:18, etc).
Then, there were the liturgical symbols of the Tabernacle itself with all its building material, tools, vessels, and articles. This included the formula of the anointing oil that was forbidden from being duplicated and used for any other purpose than for liturgical anointing.
And you are to tell the Israelites, ‘This will be My sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. It must not be used to anoint an ordinary man, and you must not make anything like it with the same formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. Anyone who mixes perfume like it or puts it on a layman shall be cut off from his people.’” (Exo.30:31)
One of the most powerful Tabernacle symbols was the fire of the Tabernacle itself which had fallen down from heaven, from the very presence of God.
And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (Lev.9:24)
Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out. (Lev.6:13)
One may think that it would be impossible for someone to know about this fire from heaven burning on the altar throughout generations and yet abandon this altar for the altars of the Baals. However, given the fact that the Tabernacle was located at a single place in Shiloh which may not have made it possible for most of the Israelites to visit regularly, and the fact that the altars of Baal were everywhere around (since the Canaanites lived together with the Israelites pursuing their own religions), it seems more evident that the visual appeal of Baal would be stronger than the distant appeal of the Tabernacle. Of course, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the Manassehites had also built a memorial altar on the other side of the river Jordan to facilitate coming generations with a visual imagery that linked them to the Tabernacle (Joshua 22), yet it did not retain a towering visual influence on the minds of the Israelites amidst the countless edifices of polytheistic imagery that surrounded them. It may have retained the meaning of the symbol if the Mosaic religion was strongly in place. That altar did not take into account the divine foreknowledge.

"'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.” (Lev.6:13)
The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’” (Judges 2:1-3)
But, it is the desire to change the practical symbols though retaining the theological form that is more threatening to faith.
When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations you are entering to dispossess, and you drive them out and live in their land, be careful not to be ensnared by their ways after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, asking, “How do these nations serve their gods? I will do likewise.” You must not worship the LORD your God in this way, because they practice for their gods every abomination which the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. (Deut 12:29-31)
Eventually, such an attempt to serve YHWH the way the world did only ended up in a breakdown of family and the sacrifice of their children to the gods of the world. The most serious example of this was Manasseh, the most anti-people king ever.
Manasseh also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My Name.” In both courtyards of the house of the LORD, he built altars to all the host of heaven. He sacrificed his own son in the fire,a practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did great evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger. Manasseh even took the carved Asherah pole he had made and set it up in the temple, of which the LORD had said to David and his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will establish My Name forever. (2 Kgs.21:4-7)
The Bible cautions:
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor.6:15-18)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life— is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1John 2:15-17)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Formal Logic and Informal Fallacies (Slides)