Thoughts on economics and liberty

The costs and benefits of God

I've been musing on this issue (God, not God, what kind of God, where God, why God, etc.) since childhood, like everyone else, and even now haven't come to any firm conclusion. In DOF I've got a fairly extensive discussion on my current views on God and religion, views that are essentially work in progress.

In a future book, after I've finished doing the governance reform stuff which is most important to me, I'll discuss some of these things in more detail.

But I believe that the issue is not merely an empirical or logical one, it is also a practical one amenable to cost-benefit analysis just like any other economic or social policy issue. That I am proposing such a test doesn't mean this should inform state policy. Just a matter between us as private citizens. [Btw, I'm sure many others must have thought likewise about such cost-benefit analysis in the past – I simply haven't had the time to research this thought further at this moment.]

Benefits of God

A modest level of (tolerant) belief in God seems to provide at least some benefits:

a) Couples become more faithful.

b) Those with depression recover faster.

c) Those with alcohol addition recover quicker.

d) Cancer patients live longer with prayer and possibly die happier.

Costs of God

Excessive (fanatical) belief in God imposes severe costs on society. Such belief makes us want to kill those who differ from our conception of society and God.

We have seen examples in Hitler the Protestant Christian who killed millions of Jews. We have seen how Catholic Christians killed Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Day and at Beziers. We have seen how fanatic Osama Bin Laden killed Western Christians (at least that was his goal). And we have seen how Baba Ramdev would (if he could) kill 80% of the world's population because it eats beef. And so on.

The costs of God (or, rather, organised religion) become high when people become intolerant of other's beliefs and modes of living. Then religion's costs can significantly exceed its benefits. God (or, rather, organised religion) can potentially impose severe negative externalities. We just want an optimal amount of God, neither too little nor too much.

Recommendation

There is an optimal level of belief in God when maximum net benefits are obtained. That point is reached very quickly (starting from the border of agnosticism) and requires some level of fuzziness and modest level of belief (or not too much disbelief), just a tinge beyond agnosticism. 

After that point, we tend to want to impose our views on others, forgetting that God (if He exists) is competent enough to take care of Himself and doesn't need our help to kill people. He can do so Himself!

Thus, Baba Ramdev forgets that he need not worry about trying to kill 80% of the world's population as their punishment for eating beef. God can pretty much kill all those people Himself (if He desires). That He does not seem to be interested in killing people for beef-eating probably means He doesn't really care about this petty issue (of course that doesn't mean we use such a fuzzy test while evaluating the fate of murderers!).

In any event, it would appear empirically that a modest level of belief is perhaps prophylactic and curative (within reason). Atheism does not seem to offer either logical or other benefits. No one can prove that God doesn't exist, so it seems to be an intellectual, emotional and spiritual dead-end. A wasteland. Agnosticism and a modest level of belief both deliver at least some benefits, with optimal benefits achieved with modest belief.

Then, at the other extreme are those with fervent and fanatic belief in particular forms or shapes of God. Such excessive belief (being blind confidence in our imagination) is likely to be unwarranted, and its overall impacts on humanity are likely to be negative. 

So the recommendation is: Don't go overboard in your confidence that you and God have a special relationship that authorises you to kill other people. Let God do His own killings Himself. There is no need to become God's helper in such things. Be His helper in doing good. I'm sure He'll be more pleased.

ADDENDUM (Notes for possible further work on this topic)

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/11/marketplace-of-the-gods.html

Happiness: http://news.discovery.com/human/religion-happiness-social-bonds.html

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87 thoughts on “The costs and benefits of God
  1. Ashish Deodhar

    Sanjeev
    To say that modest and tolerant belief in god is beneficial and only the aggressive form of belief is harmful is a very simplistic position to take. I really wish it was that simple!
    I am sure you would categorize the pope, for example, into the moderates. And yet, his strong opposition to contraception is causing many deaths in Africa. His and his followers adamant belief in creationism is leading many children to learn twisted science and misguiding young minds.
    This is just an example of how moderate faith is still harmful to society. The same applies to other faiths too. The greatest problem with god is that god is the end of all curiosity and inquiry. God is the end of reason.
    And that's a lot more harmful to our world than the mindless killings that are going on in the name of god.

     
  2. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev —  As I said, after the law has been enacted, the governments of various countries will not have to execute 80% of the population. Only a few, handful of people's execution will be enough to dissuade others from committing the act of killing cows. By saying so, I'm not expressing my current stance with this issue. I'm just providing you another vantage point.
     
    Second, Re: "God can pretty much kill all those people Himself (if He desires). That He does not seem to be interested in killing people for beef-eating probably means He doesn't really care about this petty issue (of course that doesn't mean we use such a fuzzy test while evaluating the fate of murderers!).
     
    This is the same as saying that God does not want the current, rampant corruption to end. If God wanted to end it, He would have done so Himself much earlier.

     
    Here, there are two possibilities: First, whether the God is a person outside our selves. If He is, then maybe He authorized his people (representatives) to carry out His work for Him. For instance, in your case, you were probably the God's representative chosen to educate people to work towards ending corruption. If we really want to know whether we are authorized or not, the first thing we need to have is humility. And the second important thing is, of course, critical thinking — to research through all the scriptural evidences and personal experiences and decide what is right and what is outright wrong.
     
    Second: If God is indeed omnipresent (and within us!), and if He is not a person, but is actually formless, then also, in that case, we are being His representatives. In fact, in this case, we are being God ourselves working toward ending corruption since God resides inside all of us (according to many Advaita theories!). However, in order to really know if God is inside us (as opposed to being a separate person outside!), we need to EXPERIENCE this fact (through yoga or other methods), rather than just believe. In most cases, we choose to be God's representatives through the combined power of our critical thinking ability and conscience.
     

     
  3. Harsh Vora

    This view does not apply to the Crusades — because in that case, people were blinded. They dismissed either one or both of the two — critical thinking, or conscience.

     
  4. Nitin Gulhane

    So the recommendation is: Don't go overboard in your confidence that you and God have a special relationship that authorises you to kill other people. Let God do His own killings Himself.
    I agree. I am tired of people who think that their God needs an agent and that they understand what God wants everybody to do.
    Even worse are the people who read Gita and try to educate everybody who crosses their path. I have met a very small number of high ranking Govt officers but all of them were Gita lovers. I prefer to listen them out and ask some 'thought provoking' questions. Seems to make them happy and accept the coins that I had for them with expression of somebody who just attained Nirvana. Side effect, of course, is that I despise anybody who tries to explain me Gita.
    For lesser mortals who don't sell themselves for money:
    1. There is no God.
    2. There are no Ghosts.
    3. Their remains absolutely nothing once a person dies. No aatma and no parmatma and no soul exist.

     
  5. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    Re: “after the law has been enacted, the governments of various countries will not have to execute 80% of the population. Only a few, handful of people’s execution will be enough to dissuade others from committing the act of killing cows”

    Just assume that people WON’T obey this law since it violates their beliefs, such as Christian/Muslim/etc. etc. So there will be no choice but to kill each and every one of them.

    An argument for change is considered at its asymptotic limit, not at its beginning. Assume that people prefer their freedom to eat so much that they will refuse to obey the law. Then what? Then you’ll only end up killing most Indian Muslims and Christians and (some) Hindus and (some) agnostics but all the other beef eaters in the world will escape! India’s population will decline but others will flourish.

    You’d thus have created HELL in India (civil war, effectively), and others will laugh at the Indians who are busy killing themselves for a trifle instead of resolving their major problems of poverty, corruption, infrastructure, etc.

    And re: how and where God exists, that is your personal interpretation. It doesn’t matter (because no one knows). Either way, in a society you can’t advocate killing people merely for the food they eat. That is truly ungodly, and reprehensible. I assure you that is precisely what I mean by those who take up God’s work in their own hands. Let God present himself on TV on a pre-announced date and (apart from proving himself first!) tell us why 80% of his children are criminals who deserve to be killed.

    Either way let God do this dirty job personally, please. You and I, dear Harsh, my good friend, let’s just do ONLY good things in life, such as elimination of poverty, better educational opportunities for everyone, etc.

    I am with you on good things. I’m dead against you on killing people for what they choose to eat. There is no hurry anyway. Let India become rich and powerful first. Focus on useful priorities first. You and I together (and so also others), when advocating and ensuring good policies in India, will create unprecedented wealth in India. Once that wealth is created, our job is done. I’d rather feed a starving child beef than let him starve (if nothing cheaper is readily available). I trust you get the point. The right priorities please. A human life is TRILLIONS INDEED QUADRILLIONS TIMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANIMAL LIFE.

    Let God first show “His” hand by killing the entire non-Indian nations. Then we can worry about cow slaughter. Till virtually every non-Indian child is fed beef, and God has not killed these children, let’s not bother about this non-issue.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Nitin
    You are entitled to your view, ” There is no God.”
    I for one have not found a conclusive proof of this nor, do I believe, such proof can be found.
    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish,

    Re: “The greatest problem with god is that god is the end of all curiosity and inquiry. God is the end of reason.”

    I’m not quite sure that people care so much for reason. History clearly shows us that they don’t! (even consider Baba Ramdev’s increasing popularity despite at least a few very unreasonable things he is advocating).

    When we understand human nature better, we realise that our reasoning brain is only a small portion (icing on the cake) that sits over a primitive brain. Our pre-frontal lobe is not as advanced as we’d like it to be.

    Even education doesn’t help, since most people get such a superficial training in critical thinking.

    Finally, I have shown in this blog post that one can use reason even when one might (and I’m not sure how strongly I do) believe that God could perhaps exist. As I note in DOF, “Born in this great world, full of the mystery of the infinite, we cannot accept our existence as a momentary outburst of chance, drifting on the current of matter towards an eternal nowhere” (Tagore). That everything is pure chance is a deeply unsatisfying REASON. So you see, even reason might lead to multiple conclusions, including that God might exist, or should exist (as Voltaire said).

    I’m very cautious not to lose reason in this area, though. I always take Buddha’s approach in the public policy space: It DOESN’T MATTER to us whether God exists or not. That’s what Buddha said to disciples who asked him if God exists. Don’t waste time discussing this non-issue that is beyond our ability to prove, that’s what he was (I guess) trying to say.

    But we do KNOW FOR SURE the laws of nature DO EXIST. So let us work on them, not fret over something that we must each choose personally (and in private) for ourselves.

    Hence I agree with FTI’s religious freedom policy.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  8. Nitin Gulhane

    Dear Nitin
    You are entitled to your view, ” There is no God.”
    I for one have not found a conclusive proof of this nor, do I believe, such proof can be found.
    Regards
    Sanjeev

        
    Of course. That goes without saying. One of the reason I love current India is that I can get away by making such statements and still walk around.
    Harsh–  As I said, after the law has been enacted, the governments of various countries will not have to execute 80% of the population. Only a few, handful of people's execution will be enough to dissuade others from committing the act of killing cows.
    Whats with this killing beef eaters??? Man. Sounds demonic. If God existed, he would have been very ashamed of having created such demons. Anyways, my son eats beef as he has been attending schools abroad and I didn't have enough patience pack his lunch every day. If anybody in the world even thinks about killing him for that offense, I will have to say that they are not even human. From now on Mr Harsh Vora, you are not human to me. Don't dare call me 'bhai' ever. What kind of demons my mother India has to feed.
    Suddenly Al-Quaeda members are looking more compassionate and reasonable than Ramdevbabas people.
         

     
  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Addendum: Remember, Harsh, that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad specifies the range of insects one can be reborn as. It says that ‘those who conquer the worlds through sacrifices, charity and austerity’ will do well upon rebirth, but those who do not will ‘become insects and moths, and these frequently biting things (gnats and mosquitoes)’ (chapter on the ‘Process of Rebirth’).

    Let all these stupid beef eaters (if you think they are stupid) be born as insects. Let the laws of karma decide. You let go this idea of killing people.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  10. Harsh Vora

    Re: "Let God first show “His” hand by killing the entire non-Indian nations."
     
    As I said in my previous comment, this is the same as saying that God does not want the current, rampant corruption to end. If God wanted to end it, He would have done so Himself much earlier. However, we choose to end corruption OURSELVES. We do not wait for God to personally come and end all evils, although I would very much wish for that. Well, according to Vedas, killing cows is evil — and thus, according to Baba Ramdev, we should end it ourselves, just like we should end corruption, poverty, illiteracy, etc.

     
    Re: "Assume that people prefer their freedom to eat so much that they will refuse to obey the law. Then what? Then you’ll only end up killing most Indian Muslims and Christians and (some) Hindus and (some) agnostics but all the other beef eaters in the world will escape! India’s population will decline but others will flourish."
     
    This would definitely happen in Australia, USA, or any foreign countries if such a law is enacted at the moment. IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN IN INDIA. Currently, many states in India already have a ban on cow-slaughter. And it has been very peaceful.
     
    Re: "I’m dead against you on killing people for what they choose to eat."
     
    Please don't magnify on the EATING part. Baba Ramdev is NOT necessarily against what someone chooses to eat. He is against what someone chooses to kill. Now, after killing cow, even if one choose to use its meat for making clothes, or oil, or anything else, he opposes it. He opposes the act of KILLING, not necessarily the act of EATING. It is a different thing that we choose to eat after killing.
     
    Re: "I always take Buddha’s approach in the public policy space: It DOESN’T MATTER to us whether God exists or not. That’s what Buddha said to disciples who asked him if God exists. Don’t waste time discussing this non-issue that is beyond our ability to prove, that’s what he was (I guess) trying to say."
     
    This is very true. I completely agree. However, note that Buddha not only asked us not to bother ourselves with the questions of God, but he very much encouraged us to concern ourselves with questions of SELF, such as  — Who am I? Why am I here? etc.
     
    Re: " Let India become rich and powerful first. Focus on useful priorities first. You and I together (and so also others), when advocating and ensuring good policies in India, will create unprecedented wealth in India."
    DONE! :-)

     
  11. Harsh Vora

    Re: "I’m dead against you on killing people for what they choose to eat."
     
    Oh, and adding to my previous comment on your aforementioned words, let me say that I have not yet finalized my views on whether the people should be executed for slaughtering cows or not. I am still learning about Classical liberalism. I have a lot of political literature to study — except Vedic Socialism. Hence, I'll formulate my FINAL views on this matter AFTER I've studied them. I'm not a closed guy. I'm open to ALL learning!

     
  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    Re: “Baba Ramdev is NOT necessarily against what someone chooses to eat. He is against what someone chooses to kill. Now, after killing cow, even if one choose to use its meat for making clothes, or oil, or anything else, he opposes it. He opposes the act of KILLING, not necessarily the act of EATING. It is a different thing that we choose to eat after killing.”

    I’m afraid I couldn’t disagree more. If you kill a cow and don’t even eat it, that would amount to animal cruelty for no reason whatsoever. Let the owner of a cow decide whether to kill or not kill (or to do whatever) with a cow. Let Baba Ramdev talk about ending corruption and show the right policies for it, rather than waste his time trying to interfere with the freedoms of the people of India.

    I see that Baba Ramdev is wandering down an aimless and useless alley. I am CONVINCED 100%that Indians in Vedic times ate cows. You keep citing the Vedas to me, but Jha has cited them as well. I don’t know who is right. I can only partially understand Sanskrit. More importantly, Jha cites archaeological evidence.

    So if eminent authorities disagree on the interpretation of history (and archeological evidence of bones of cooked cows), why does Baba Ramde (and you!) waste his time on this utterly irrelevant topic? Let historical experts decide. Let us allow Indians to live in freedom. How do the Vedas matter anyway? What about your own mind? Is it irrelevant?

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  13. Harsh Vora

    I use my mind — and that's why I am a bit inclined toward not killing cows — not that I am inclined towards execution of people who kill them.
    ————————————————————————
     
    Sandhya Jain, in the following article, answers to the archaeological and other evidences that claim that HINDUS ATE COWS IN VEDIC TIMES.



    Author: Sandhya Jain
    Publication: Deccan Herald
    Date: December 20, 2001


    Under the pretext of disseminating true knowledge about the past to young, impressionable school children, a perverse assault has been launched upon the religious sensitivities of the Hindu community. Marxist historians allege that ancient Hindus ate beef, that this is recorded in their sacred scriptures, and that this should be taught to school children. The Hindu prohibition on cow slaughter, they say, is a more recent development and Hindus are shying away from this truth because it is intimately linked with their sense of identity.

    A Marxist specialist on ancient India, ignorant in both Vedic and Panini 's Sanskrit, claims that the Shatapatha Brahmana and Vasistha Dharmasutra clearly state that guests were honoured by serving beef. She also cites archaeological evidence as reported by H.D. Sankalia and B.B. Lal. While the lady thinks her evidence is irrefutable, I have decided to pick up the gauntlet.


    To begin with, the Shatapatha Brahmana is Yajnavalkya's commentary on the Yajur Veda, and not a revealed text. As for the Vasistha Dharmasutra, the legendary Sanskritist, late P.V. Kane, said, "beyond the name Vasistha there is hardly anything special in the dharmasutra to connect it with the Rgveda." Kane also added, "grave doubts have been entertained about the authenticity of the whole of the text of the Vas.Dh.S. as the mss. (manuscripts) contain varying numbers of chapters from 6 to 30, and as the text is hopelessly corrupt in several places. many verses.bear the impress of a comparatively late age." Kane tentatively places this text between 300-100 B.C., that is, long after the end of the Vedic age.


    According to archaeologists, the early Vedic age tentatively falls between the fourteen century BC to the first millennium BC. The later Vedic period lies between 1000 BC to 600-700 BC. But if we go by astronomical dating of some of the hymns, we get a period of 7000 BC for a portion of the Vedas.


    The honest question, however, is whether the Vedas offer evidence about cow slaughter and beef-eating, and if not, how the controversy arose in the first place. A few clarifications are in order before we proceed. The word 'cow' (gau), for instance, is used throughout the Vedas in diverse senses, and, depending on the context of the verse, could mean the animal cow, waters, sun-rays, learned persons, Vedic verses, or Prithvi (earth as Divine Mother).


    Then, Vedic society was heterogeneous, pluralistic, and non-vegetarian. In theory, it is possible that the cow was killed and eaten. The fact, however, is that throughout the Vedas the cow is called a non-killable animal, or "aghnya." According to "An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles" (Vol. I, Deccan College, Poona), "aghnya" means "not to be killed or violated" and is used for cows and for waters in the presence of which oaths were taken.


    The Rig and Sama Veda call the cow "aghnya" and "Aditi", ie. not to be murdered (Rig 1-64-27; 5-83-8; 7-68-9; 1-164-40; 8-69-2; 9-1-9; 9-93-3; 10-6-11; 10-87-16). They extol the cow as un-killable, un-murderable, whose milk purifies the mind and keeps it free from sin. Verse 10-87-16 prescribes severe punishment for the person who kills a cow. The Atharva Veda recommends beheading (8-3-16) for such a crime; the Rig Veda advocates expulsion from the kingdom (8-101-15).


    Hence, it seems unlikely that the cow would be slaughtered to entertain guests, as claimed by Marxist historians. But before coming to any conclusion, the archaeological evidence should also be examined. Archaeologists have excavated bones of cattle in huge quantity, "cattle" is a collective noun which includes the cow, bull, buffalo, nilgai and all other bovine animals. Nowhere in the world can experts differentiate between the bones of cows and other cattle recovered from excavations.


    There are good reasons for this difficulty. Most of the bones found are not whole carcasses, but large pieces of limbs. Experts feel that these could be the remains of animals that died naturally and were skinned for their hide and bones. Ancient man used bones to make knives and other tools; the splintered bones found could be part of the tool-making exercise. In all honesty, therefore, cattle bone finds do not prove cow slaughter or the eating of cow meat, especially when all literary evidence points in the opposite direction.


    There has been talk about cut-marks on the bones. But apart from tool-making, even if a tanner skins dead cattle for the hide, he will inflict cut marks on the carcass. Scientifically, it is not possible to say if the marks on the bones are ante-mortem or post-mortem. This can be determined only where the body is intact (animal or human), by analyzing blood vessels, tissue, rigor mortis and other factors.


    Fortunately, there is now clinching evidence why the Marxist claim on cow-flesh rests on false premises. As already stated, the allegation rests mainly on literary sources and their interpretation, and we are in a position to trace the source of the mischief – the Vachaspatyam of Pandit Taranath and his British mentors.


    Pandit Taranath, a professor of grammar at the Calcutta Sanskrit College, compiled a six-volume Sanskrit-to-Sanskrit dictionary, which is used by scholars to this day. The Vachaspatyam is a valuable guide for scholars because there are certain words in the samhita (mantra) section of the Vedas that are not found later in the Puranas.


    What most Sanskrit scholars have failed to notice is that Taranath artfully corrupted the meanings of a few crucial words of the Vedic samhita to endorse the meaning given by Max Muller in his translation of the Vedas. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati has exposed this beautifully in "The True History and the Religion of India, A Concise Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism" (Motilal Banarsidass).


    The British idea was that Max Muller would translate the Rig Veda "in such a scornful manner that Hindus themselves should begin to reproach their own religion of the Vedas," while a Hindu pandit would "compile an elaborate Sanskrit dictionary that should exhibit disgraceful meanings of certain words of the Vedic mantras." As Hindus would not question a dictionary by a Hindu pandit, the British would be able to claim that whatever Max Muller wrote about the Vedas was according to the dictionary of the Hindus.


    Swami Prakashanand Saraswati focuses on two words – goghn and ashvamedh. "Goghn" means a guest who receives a cow as gift. Panini created a special sutra to establish the rule that goghn will only mean the receiver of a cow (and will not be used in any other sense). But Taranath ignored Panini's injunction and wrote that "goghn" means "the killer of a cow." He similarly converted the ashvamedh yagna from 'ritual worship of the horse' to the "killing of the horse."


    The Swami proves the British hand in this mischief through the patronage given to Taranath by the Government of Bengal in 1866, when Lt. Governor Sir Cecil Beadon sanctioned ten thousand rupees for two hundred copies of his dictionary. This was a king's ransom in those days, as even in the 1930s the headmaster of a vernacular primary school received a salary of twenty rupees a month. Today, ten thousand rupees is the equivalent of two million rupees.


    When the basic premise upon which all modern translations rest is thus knocked off its pedestal, what beef is left in the theory that Vedic Hindus enjoyed the flesh of the cow? I rest my case.

     
  14. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Harsh

    Thanks for sharing this this article.

    I'm not yet inclined to change my view on Vedic history. Was Vivekananda ignorant? Did he not understand Sanskrit? Why did he CLEARLY state what he did? 

    Why don't you conduct a comprehensive analysis, that shows each and every ORIGINAL sanskrit verse, and cites EVERY archaelogical finding, and proves the case. It won't be easy. There are experts on both sides. Not just so-called Marxists. Don't brand a historian. Just talk about facts.

    Second, I'm glad you are willing to use your mind. That is India's great contribution to the world: asking people to use their mind. 

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
  15. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev — I haven't read Vivekananda to the core. However, it is possible that he did not read the Vedas comprehensively. I am not claiming that he didn't. But, it is a possibility that we shouldn't reject outright.  If you are willing to, you can check Sandhya's facts closely to see whether her sources are right. Personally, I have counter-checked and my research says she understood well what she has written.
     
    As she has clarified, and is accepted by all today, the British paid Max Muller to misinterpret our literature in such a degrading form that we would lose our respect and reverence for them. That exactly what I believe must have been added to this vast-spread ignorance. Remember, Vivekananda and Max Muller were contemporaries. Again, I am not claiming that Vivekananda was influenced by Max Muller's misinterpretation. But, just something to consider.
     
    Anyway, as you said, I will certainly make a more in-depth research. If not for others, at least for myself.

     
  16. Harsh Vora

    Sorry for that typo. I meant this – That's exactly what I believe must have added to this vast-spread ignorance.*

     
  17. Sharad Bailur

    I gave up belief in organised religion at the ripe old age of twelve, and belief in God after I started to understand Russell at about 17(rather late as it turned out). The matter involves many issues but I think the most important is one of the essentially agnostic remark of Gautama Buddha ( it does not mater). Also in a very real sense it involves Socrates's " I don't know". God, to me, is a concept that is essentially unknowable. As a result I must go with the Buddha.
    However I place great faith in making my closest people as happy as I can. On a visit to Kochi, a friend once dragged me to Guruvayoor and made me go through the motions in a mundu. On the return journey he made the mistake of telling me that I did believe in God after all. To that my reply was that I had done all that he wanted to make him happy. It was not God but him that mattered to me.
    Sharad Bailur

     
  18. Bhagwad Jal Park

    If only we could wake up one day and decide to believe something or not believe in it! Unfortunately this isn't possible and is one of the (many) reasons why Pascal's wager fails when talking about believing in god.
    What a person truly believes is a sum total of their life experiences and (possibly/maybe/not sure about) the kind of disposition they're born with. In the long term I believe that even free will itself does not exist – we think we have free will and that illusion is useful to us. But in the final analysis, choice is an illusion.
    And for me, that's another (again, one of many) compelling reason not to believe in a god who punishes or rewards people in the after life.

     
  19. Nitin Gulhane

    Sanjeev says: Brazil is getting rich on exports of huge quantities of beef. The article also notes that India has the world’s largest cattle herd. How about exporting the herd to Brazil?
     
    Usually cattle for food and cattle for milk are of different breed. Most beef eaters in 1st world countries are very picky about what they are eating. When it comes to eating meat, beef is less prrone to bacteria (there are people who like their steak rare and Tartar style beef is eaten raw) unlike chicken which gets loaded with bacteria in no time and needs to be cooked very well.
    The point is, I am not sure if Indian beef will be salable in the first world countries due to grossly unhygienic conditions that our cattle is kept and raised and also whether the breed is palatable to refined tastes. Most beef manufacturers provide details of the breed and what they were fed. e.g. famous japanese kobe beef: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_beef
    I am sure this discussion is nauseating to vegetarians but I just wanted to point out that Indian cattle may not be so easily exported.

     
  20. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Harsh

    ALL (close to all) modern technology is made by beef-eaters. If we propose to kill all these people then is it ethical to use their technology? It is OK to use ANY knowledge produced by beef-eaters? After all, we should have nothing to do with criminals.

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
  21. Surya

    Harsh,
    The very fact that you frequent this blog means that you want to understand other people's views. But how can you tolerate other's beliefs and thoughts when you cannot even accept their eating habits. I am 22. I was a vegetarian till 19 and then turned non-vegetarian. My close friend had the opposite experience. He turned vegetarian. Both of us had consciously made opposing choices and it has never bothered us. I do not know about North India, but here in Tamilnadu, your Baba would practically have to wipe out the entire state. The entire state enjoys beef. I know even some Brahmins who do so in private.
    And I don't understand why you love cows so much. Probably you haven't had the experience of being stranded on the road at 9:30 in the morning, just because some stupid cow decided to cross the road. Loving dogs is understandable. They are intelligent creatures. But cows? I think God would be offended if we don't eat cows. I don't see any other reason for them to exist on earth.

     
  22. Surya

    This discussion on cows is diverting us from the main issue at hand. Sanjeev has made a very true observation, that benefits exceed cost when it comes to belief.  I can testify to that having "converted" to Atheism at the age of 14 itself, finished all my adolescent flirtings with it and have now returned to religion as I start my real life. We have to treat this issue from two fronts. Why religion and why God?
    I think religion is just the means of passing wisdom ( not merely knowledge ), from one generation to the next. Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days because that was the best explanation they could come up with 2000 years ago. If they had known of carbon dating and other stuff, they would have had a more plausible explanation. But why should we focus on the irrelevant stuff. Even science gets outdated. Bible also provides a rich understanding of life. The curse of the ground firmly tells humans that scarcity will always be present and that they should not attempt to create an Utopia. If people had heeded to this advice, billions would not have been sacrificed by the 20th century's bloody attempts at utopia. ( I discuss this in my blog post – http://austroturf.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/the-curse-of-the-ground-lesson-0-of-economics/ )
    Bhagvad Gita tells us to focus on the task at hand without worrying about the results. It's question – What did we bring with us, that we are afraid to lose", is not to be interpreted as asking us to be Saintly. It is in fact the essence of entrepreneurship.
    I am sure every religious text will have something to offer. Let us not close our mind to religion. Reason can never displace religion. And please do not equate Creationists with monsters. It is an open debate still. And it is a parent's right to teach the kids what they think is right.  Experts don't have that right.
    As for God, as Rousseau said,  if there is none, it will be necessary to invent one. Let us better believe in an other worldly God, rather than place all our faith in a worldly entity.

     
  23. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev — The article is great. It shows Brazil's growing presence in world agricultural markets, which is fantastic.
     
    Re: "Brazil is getting rich on exports of huge quantities of beef. The article also notes that India has the world’s largest cattle herd. How about exporting the herd to Brazil?"
     
    Personally, I would not support it. Exporting our cattle to Brazil so that it could make beef is the same as endorsing the slaughter of those cattle. India has many more things to export and earn from, besides just cattle (and for that matter, any living creature).
     
    Re: "ALL (close to all) modern technology is made by beef-eaters. If we propose to kill all these people then is it ethical to use their technology?"
     
    Without a doubt, these men were geniuses. But their contributions should not blind our conscience and truth-perceiving ability. Again, most of these men were not even aware of the sin they were committing. It is possible that, had they known the fact, they would have avoided further violence. Albert Einstein, in my mind, was one great man who, knowing the harms of killing, restrained himself from it. There are many similar scientists/inventors along Einstein's line. Your question, nevertheless, is legitimate.
     
    Note that Baba Ramdev is not proposing to execute people who have slaughtered cows IN THE PAST. Execution be done only after the laws are in place, and IN FUTURE. Once the laws are in place, most people will not commit such violence again and hardly any execution will have to be done.
     
    Again, I am not the proper authority you should ask about the topic of execution. As I said, I have not FINALIZED my views on this subject, as of yet — just because I am still comparing Classical liberalism and Vedic Socialism. I'm learning effective policies. You should take that question, along with your policy-proposals, to Baba Ramdev. After you have a personal, one-on-one discussion and conversation with him, you may decide (and help him decide!).
     
    ————————————————————————————
     
    Surya — Re: "And I don't understand why you love cows so much. Probably you haven't had the experience of being stranded on the road at 9:30 in the morning, just because some stupid cow decided to cross the road."
     
    This makes NO sense to me. If you are frustrated by the cows on the road, then blame the government and its policies for leaving them unattended. Don't blame cows.
    I love cows for what they are. Let me repeat it, since you haven't been following our conversations: Would you kill your mother who breast-fed you? NO. Then why would you kill a cow, whose milk you drink almost everyday, and perhaps until death? It's that simple!
     
    There are tons of other scientific reasons, which I bother not to discuss here, since it seems you know not the least about cows. If you wish to, you can read books available on the subject — such as Steven Rosen's 'Holy Cow' and many others.

     
  24. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Surya,
    Do you know What organic farming is , How much productive and nutrient it is , How much it is healthy for environment . How much life saving this is for farmers
    Also Cow urine has proven anti cancerous elements and many are still to be proven.
    Get your facts searched about that , Then discuss the difference between Cow And Dog..
    For us We should not kill any creature for our pleasure..
    First grow food for cow , feed her a lot and cut her for others to eat .. 
    Why cant the grown food should be directly eaten will serve much more people , will be much more environment friendly..
    THose people who started eating beaf , Do not know how beneficial cow is ..
    Dont forget Its India , Where Mangal Pandey can be released on this issue .. 
     
    This is all the result of manipulated education we get .. we are taught the manufactured figures of  disastrous Green revolution , We are told that vedic culture has used beef as a food. 
    Thanks
    Vijay

     
  25. Ashish Deodhar

    @Sanjeev
    There is a big difference between the god debate and between the concepts of secularism. So whether or not god exists should not direct a political outfit's religious policy. Even if by some "miracle" we find out that god exists, that won't change the fact that every person should have his/her way of worshiping that god, will it?
    "I’m not quite sure that people care so much for reason."
    There are many reasons that they don't. But lack of ability or mental capacity as you put it is definitely not one of them. I used to be a firm believer until the whole "ganesha drinking milk" episode happened and I asked an uncomfortable question. If I could ask that question, I am sure everyone in the world could.
    The main reason is that most people are fairly uninitiated in critical thinking and our culture is such that they easily subjugate themselves to authority. The problem with people is that they don't ask questions.
    Education is the key. As you rightly pointed out, we mismanage the delivery of education. If we could get that right, I am sure we could get more people thinking critically and not taking someone else's word for a fact.
    “Born in this great world, full of the mystery of the infinite, we cannot accept our existence as a momentary outburst of chance, drifting on the current of matter towards an eternal nowhere” (Tagore).
    And yet, evidence after evidence suggests that that might be the case. We still haven't discovered everything about our universe and (we hope) we might find some more earth-like planets and perhaps even life in faraway galaxies. But we could only reach there through scientific inquiry, only through the power of our brain, not by cooking up some stories about how we got here. That's just lame and lazy!
    So my request to you is not to undermine the power of reason. Reason is the only virtue that differentiates us from other animals. It is the man's undying curiosity and ability to question that has made us into what we are. Throw that away and we are nothing more than the worst animal species on this planet.

     
  26. Ashish Deodhar

    "Don’t waste time discussing this non-issue that is beyond our ability to prove, that’s what he was (I guess) trying to say."
    Two points here:
    1) It's not a non-issue – not when people are being mindlessly slaughtered, scientific inquiry undermined and religious politics is at its highest!
    2) It is very much within our ability to prove. If creating the god is within our ability, I don't see why it is not within our ability to disprove it?
    People a few centuries ago believed that god resides just beyond the skies. They worshiped the sun! We then discovered our solar system. People then said that perhaps god is beyond this solar system. We then discovered our galaxy. Then many other galaxies. We're now beginning to understand the expanse of this universe and the theologians are telling us that god resides outside this universe. And if the recent theories are anything to go by, there may exist parallel universes. If that's true, then I am sure we would be told that god is beyond all the universes that exist! And so on….
    Do you see what's happening? We are pushing the boundaries of our existence and the boundaries of our universe. And no matter how far we go, we could not find a "guy lying on a snake", or an "old man with a white beard".
    I understand the reasons for people dozens or centuries ago to come up with these stories but we don't live in those times anymore. We have answered many questions that challenged those people and let's face it, we even have far more understanding of this universe and our existence in it than Buddha did during his days!
    So let's not turn Buddha or the rishi-munis or the authors of Bible and Koran into unchallenging authorities on the question of god. They were just human beings, perplexed by the world they lived in but without any answers to their questions. They didn't have the technology that we have today to understand ourselves and hence they sought refuge in spirituality, which in my opinion, is nothing more than a cushion or a safety net against the insecurities of life.
    We are better off today than those people, both in terms of knowledge and understanding. Let's give them their due but let's also accept that we can't take their words for truth. Only then can we start thinking beyond the holy books and holy men!

     
  27. Ashish Deodhar

    @Harsh
    Would you kill your mother who breast-fed you? NO. Then why would you kill a cow, whose milk you drink almost everyday, and perhaps until death?
    Perhaps you haven't heard of goat milk? Stop killing goats too?

     
  28. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish

    I have no objection with your pursuing your own arguments. As far as I’m concerned I couldn’t care less whether you are an atheist, agnostic, theist, pantheist, etc. Totally immaterial.

    All I care is that you don’t harm me (and others!), and that I don’t harm you (and others). So long as we ensure negative liberty, we can keep believing/non-believing and it doesn’t matter to anyone. If there are any benefits you as a believer (which you are not but that is immaterial for my argument) will get them. All I insist is that you don’t impose costs of your beliefs on me. Don’t physically block or touch me because of your belief.

    We ask that everyone keep their costs to themselves, and enjoy all the benefits religious belief accords them. Then everything is privatised and internalised. No residue of accountability remains. The loop is closed. All’s well.

    It is only when Baba Ramdev starts imposing his religious views by threatening to kill others (through the law, admittedly, not randomly on the streets) that the God belief becomes seriously harmful to humanity. By all means Baba Ramdev can and should be free to preach his view of the world. But killing others: No!

    I have no intention of debating the actual question of God/not-God with anyone. In that sense it is a non-issue.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  29. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish

    I am FULLY with you on critical thinking. That’s my main mantra. I agree 100% that we ought to use reason and focus not adopt lazy thinking.

    Having said that I won’t debate the God issue with anyone. Irrelevant. Immaterial. I’ll talk about my views (if any) as appropriate but I don’t intend to debate.

    I have not ONCE spoken about God with my children and allow them to form their own views. I expect them to think for themselves. So why will I debate this issue with you, someone totally outside my personal zone of responsibility?

    This is an area (of TOTAL absence of empirical proof) where debate is simply incapable of providing any coherent answer. You might want to read up any standard philosophical analysis text (e.g. John Hospers, the one I’ve read) to explore tens of pages of idle (logical) debate on this issue.

    If I’m ever interested in listening to other’s views on God (or not-God) I might read your views. In the meanwhile I carry on my personal investigations with my own mind and don’t have the urge to argue any case with anyone. Purely my personal matter.

    The main point of my post is that people should not impose costs of their belief on others. That’s all I wish to emphasise. No violence on others just because of a religious belief.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  30. Nitin Gulhane

    Harsh says: Do you know What organic farming is , How much productive and nutrient it is , How much it is healthy for environment . How much life saving this is for farmers
    I am not sure if you know but do you know how Indian farmers treat bulls and oxes? They take two large stones and crash bulls testicles. This castrates the bull and turns him into an ox. This ox is them used to do organic farming. Farmers do it without a tinge of guilt as thats part of their job. So tell me, is it not cruel? Is it ok to eat grains that are produced with the help of bull whose testicles are crashed by stone?
    I know this is absurd argument and my apologies for that. However, people who scream cruelty when slaughtering cows have no idea how living cattles are treated. Just doing its pooja once a year doesn't mean that we treat them with respect.
    My father has spent countless days picketing in front of Deonar Slaughterhouse in Mumbai. My home is filled up with books about 'Govansh Hatya Bandi'. We get a monthly magazine 'Shantisevak' that has article after article about organic farming and about cow slaughter. I have been to Vinoba Bhave's Paonar Ashram a few times and have heard people talk about this. We have entertained numerous guests who endlessly talk about how bad is cow slaughter and how great is organic farming. However, after decades of watching this drama from close quarters, I have concluded that this is stupidity of biblical proportions. Humans will use animals as their own property. They may use it as a slave or as a food or for entertainment. Cow is just another animal that has numerous uses and while nothing wrong in worshipping it, expecting it from others is tyranny.
    About God: While I am sure that there is no God, I will find out after I am dead. Life of people who do not beleive in God is hard. I wish I were a beleiver…it makes life much easier. Pray and leave the results to him. I cannot.
    God is a creation of fertile human mind and thats why we have so many Gods all over the world. Religion and caste system is created to make herding of sheeple easy. Take out God from the equation and you lose religion and castes right away. Without such an artifical (howmuchever stupid) system, it would have been impossible to keep hierarchical discipline in medieval India.
    I am not sure about the benefits of God. It is not as if atheists are drowining into alcohol or depressed or sick…but yes, I agree that beleif in God makes life easier and beleifs like rebirths and soul and God probably makes living with terminal diseases easier.
    Anyways, weekend is closing in. We have 'Ganesha' at home. And this weekend we are going to have a celebration for 'Ganapati Bappa'. My son has turned into a very religious person (he is 6 years old) and does 'sashtang namaskar' to God every evening after 'aarti' is over. I find it difficult to do myself but love the sight of my family prostrating in front of God.
    One of the great advantage of having God is great religious song! I sing 'karati hun mai vrat tera' and other Santoshi maa songs very often. Some of the greatest Bollywood songs are religious. And some of the greatest literature (in Marathi) is about Gods. So yes, we do need God.

     
  31. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Nitin

    It distresses me to see the amount of cruelty and mistreatment of animals in India (not that the mistreatment of humans is much less, such as burning of brides for dowry, or female infanticide). If the true story of the torture imposed on our cattle is presented, maybe people like Baba Ramdev will join me in preventing such cruelty.

    Cruelty (pain and starvation) towards animals is a far worse affliction, and quite intolerable, compared to the technologically swift slaughter of cattle for food, as is practiced in the developed world.

    Harsh, is cruelty towards animals sanctioned by the Vedas, like the cruelty to Harijans (in whose ears oil must be poured if they hear or read the scriptures) is sanctioned by Manusmriti?

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  32. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    I was thinking of sending the cattle LIVE to Brazil. That way Indians will be saved from ‘sins’ and won’t be reborn as an insects.

    Note that Baba Ramdev doesn’t care about non-Indians. He only wishes to kill Indians. Therefore once the cattle have left India’s shores it doesn’t matter whether Brazilians worship these cattle or slaughter them for beef. Baba Ramdev’s policy is kept and farmers incomes are protected.

    While this is purely hypothetical, I trust you get my point: UNLESS everyone in the world is prevented from cow slaughter how does it matter what happens in India? Why should the Indian farmer be penalised and forced only to get half the value out of a cow (through milk). Why impoverish the Indian farmer?

    I’m not recommending this round-about method, but I’m saying that it would solve Baba Ramdev’s religious objections to cow slaughter and also not impoverish Indian farmers. Why make Indian farmers even more poor?

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  33. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev —  Baba Ramdev doesn't concern himself much with the laws implemented for non-Indians, just because their political matters are not in our hands, and we do not govern them. Nevertheless, Baba Ramdev continues to strongly encourage all Western people to cease killing animals, if they are to truly advance in yoga. Question: Why don't you promote Classical liberalism in China, instead of ONLY in India? Because, perhaps you want YOUR country to become stable first. Nevertheless, you still promote it to the entire world. The same applies to Baba Ramdev.
     
    NOTE that Baba Ramdev's concern for cows is not limited to Indian boundaries. He cares for cows all over the world. However, Indians, being the descendants of Vedic seers and sages who revered cows, should be the first to stop such killings. Just like parents should first stop eating chocolates if they want their children to.
     
    And since Baba Ramdev is genuinely concerned for cows (and cattle) — it doesn't matter whether they are killed in Indian shore or foreign shores, they are still killed — he (and I) would not support exporting them. They are more safe in India.
     
    Note that Baba Ramdev was born in a village and grew up as a farmer's son himself. He is, therefore, very deeply concerned about the current condition of farmers. To strength and enrich the farmers of India, Baba Ramdev has proposed many policies — the details of which, I do not know. His goal is that employment, roti, kapda, and makaan, be financially affordable even to the last man of India — Antim Aadmi, as he calls him!
     
    P.S. I'm sure cruelty to animals is not sanctioned in the Vedas. About Manusmriti, I'll have to research. I'll get back to you once I'm done that. I consider Baba Ramdev to be a scholar in Vedic matters as per my research so far, and he strongly discourages any type of cruelty (including the cruelty to Harijans!).
     
    ————————————————————
     
    Nitin Gulhane — I did not say that. Vijay Mohan said it. Please put correct references.

     
  34. Ashish Deodhar

    "I won’t debate the God issue with anyone. Irrelevant. Immaterial… why will I debate this issue with you, someone totally outside my personal zone of responsibility?"
    Sanjeev, I don't expect you to discuss the god issue with me. I was merely responding to the question you raised and I put forth an argument to suggest that the costs far outweigh the benefits, if there are any.
    I don't go about encountering people on the net or on the street and start telling them about the non-existence of god! Those who believe in it do! You find them on street corners and busy malls with bibles and gitas and koran trying to convince you that there is a god!
    Just reflect on how much you've debated the "god issue" with me and how much you've debated the "cow issue" with someone else on this forum and you'll see what I mean! I don't think you will ever see me proposing that all believers be killed but I am sure you are at least worried about others demanding that people be killed because they don't agree with a certain worldview?
    If god was simply confined to people's heads and/or their bedrooms, I don't think I would have to spend this amount of time discussing this "non-issue". For instance, you will not find me discussing fetish! (even if it gives a lot of people a lot of comfort and makes them happy!).
    Unfortunately, our world is on the brink today because of this phenomenon and we could only ignore it to our peril. It's not about what I believe in or not; I am not trying to convince you one way or the other!
    It's about the world we would like to leave behind for future generations. Whom do you want in that world? Those who are happy to kill in the name of a holy book or a certain species of animal?

     
  35. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Absolutely, Ashish, I’m with you on this. Let’s keep arguing that people ought to limit their fanaticism – and indeed, show to Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc. that their founders stood for such tolerance.

    I always prefer to show a rabid Hindu his own scriptures, a rabid Muslim his own scriptures, and a rabid Christian his own scriptures – that promote tolerance. I don’t debate (can’t debate) asking them to stop believing in their religion/God. I also prefer to show people that if their religious views were taken to the logical extreme, the world would be in constant war.

    The way to argue against fanatic believers is not to argue against their beliefs (as you sometimes do) but to SUPPORT the good points of that belief system, and dampen the negative points of that belief system. In other words, I’d suggest taking your version of God (or not God) out of the equation. It is irrelevant. Then we can fight fanatics, together, without requiring them to reconsider their entire belief system, or distracting them with needless commentary on one’s personal beliefs (or lack thereof).

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  36. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    Since Baba Ramdev doesn’t want to kill Brazilians but only Indians because he doesn’t (or can’t) govern Brazil, that effectively means he condones, or at least tolerates cow slaughter by Brazilians. So instead of killing Indians, let’s agree to export live cows to Brazil [and the Baba can officially request Brazilians not to kill these cows – as part of his general message to the world].

    That way when God asks Baba Ramdev whether he has committed a crime in doing so, he can make the excuse that he doesn’t govern Brazil, so that if God wishes, he can convert Brazilians into insects (assuming that they slaughter the cows, not worship them). Baba Ramdev can then live peacefully in Swarg ever-after, not having killed either cows (in India – noting that killing cows in other countries doesn’t matter since he doesn’t govern them) or Indians.

    The main result I want out of this is that Indians are not killed. That way I will also sleep in peace, having saved (say) one Indian life. To me that would be the greatest punya of my life, repaying my debt to the world for being born.

    Indian mythology is replete with hundreds of instances where ethical dilemmas have been so resolved, without sullying anyone. Thus (correct me if I’m wrong, since I used to visit this temple – near Vizag – a very long time ago and my memory of its mythology is now a bit rusty) Simahachalam overcame God’s boons to his violent and arrogant father by killing him on the doorstep, at twilight. Similarly Yudhisthira said: Aswathama “iti gaja” (under his breath) to falsely report the killing of an elephant. A little subtle twist achieves the desired outcome for everyone. Think about it.

    Anyway, I look forward to a thoroughly researched paper on this subject from you.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  37. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Harsh,

    Somewhere you mentioned the Baba doesn’t oppose those who eat cows, but only those who slaughter them. So I’m assuming that once someone has slaughtered a cow in Brazil, then the remains of that cow can be imported back to India.
    That way our Muslim and other brothers in India won’t have to start a civil war. That way, we’ll save even more Indian lives. A win-win situation for everyone.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  38. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev — The question of being reborn as insects, or any other being doesn't appear here. Baba Ramdev is opposing cow-slaughter not because that will grant him heaven. Please understand. He does this primarily to uphold dharma. In the path of yoga, the path itself is its reward. For a yogi, heaven comes secondary. In fact, a yogi doesn't desire heaven at all. The goal of yoga is union with the Ultimate, through the practice of eight-fold path, of which nonviolence is an integral part. 
     
    Anyway, let's stop here. I assure you that asking your questions to me will not yield much — as far as the issue of capital punishment for cow-slaughter is concerned. Rather, it would be beneficial to meet Baba Ramdev personally, and discuss the issues with him. I CAN TELL YOU THIS: He is not rigid. He would be more than willing to discuss with you and reach a fair conclusion. FTI and Bharat Swabhiman's combined efforts WILL eliminate corruption and help India rise to glory. Let's work together. Or at least try towards this end!

     
  39. Harsh Vora

    Re: "Baba doesn’t oppose those who eat cows, but only those who slaughter them."
     
    You misunderstand me. Please read my lines again. I meant to say that Baba Ramdev's concern is with KILLING. Now, whether that killing is done in India or elsewhere, it still is KILLING. It doesn't matter what you do after killing cows — killing itself is abominable.

     
  40. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    I have never denied anyone the fundamental freedom to oppose cow slaughter. That is their birthright, to advocate or oppose anything they wish. Their birthrights stops once they seek to kill others. That’s the ONLY point of difference.

    What I’ve been doing is to show you a glimpse of the arguments that Baba Ramdev will have to contend with if you wish to progress the extreme form of opposition to cow slaughter.

    I’m sure that with his right intentions, all we need is policy agreement and Baba Ramdev could then join FTI (and its members could join BS if they wish). We do need to unite against the mess we see in India. But after agreeing basic policies.

    I don’t have access to Baba Ramdev, and his followers obviously have not heard of me nor read my book, so let’s leave this here.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  41. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry, let’s read this again. You are saying:

    a) he opposes killing cows in general
    b) he is opposed to killing in countries outside India but can’t (or won’t) do anything about it
    c) if someone kills a cow outside India then he does nothing about it. He doesn’t kill those people.

    So my point is that if a cow is killed outside India (despite his opposition, as 80% of the world’s cows are currently killed, namely, without his agreement) is imported and sold as meat in India then he has nothing to say. He is indifferent, for no one is killing that dead cow.

    He therefore doesn’t oppose eating imported beef. QED.

    Am I right or wrong in this deduction?

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  42. Harsh Vora

    Sorry, unfortunately you still. don't get it.
     
    Re"if someone kills a cow outside India then he does nothing about it" 
     
    He does as much as he can. Unfortunately, all he can do, at this moment, to try to prevent cow slaughter in foreign countries is to educate them in yoga, and in the importance of vegetarianism. He can do nothing more. Being an Indian citizen, he can, however, bring BS to contest in elections — and try to bring policy change.
     
    He is deadly against cow meat being imported to India. Importing beef would mean encouraging even more killings on the part of Brazil. Because if we import, they will produce. This involves violence.

     
  43. Harsh Vora

    Also, can we stop here please? As I said, this discussion will lead to hardly any significant benefits. The best way to solve all your questions and discuss even more is to come to India and meet Baba Ramdev in Haridwar — or if Baba Ramdev happens to come to Australia, meet him there. This will give you all your answers in the span of two or three days, and in addition, save our time we spend discussing here.

     
  44. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    No, Harsh, I won’t stop. I argue further, thus:

    a) Brazilians don’t care and will NEVER care to listen to such stuff about vegetarianism. I can guarantee that. The trend universally is that as people get richer, they EAT MEAT. That is virtually an iron law of human evolution. Brazilians who are getting richer will politely listen to Baba Ramdev but will NEVER follow him (of course they’ll follow yoga; virtually everyone in the West is a fan of yogic stretching exercises).

    b) Brazilians have one trick up their sleeve. They can PRODUCE AS MANY COWS AS THE WORLD POSSIBLY NEEDS. They have vast expanses of empty land that can produce unbelievable quantities of meat. Science is now sufficiently advanced to be able to produce high quality cows very cheaply. So no matter how many cows the world eats (and world demand for cows is going to shoot up in the coming decades), they will outproduce it. As does Australia, with its massive cattle herds.

    In other words, no matter what Baba Ramdev says or does, the number of cows PRODUCED and hence slaughtered will dramatically increase in the coming decades. Whether Indians eat beef or not is immaterial. India can continue to choose poverty, while Brazil and the rest of the world use their HEAD not heart, and choose wealth.

    If you read basic economics you’ll realise there is a model for harvesting trees. You plant and then harvest trees, based on that formula. That maximises your wealth. What you are suggesting is that Indians do the opposite. They should allow cows to loaf around in garbage dumps, eat plastic bags, and cause traffic accidents (and thus human deaths and harm), and keep feeding cows till they naturally die, thus impoverishing themselves in the process. This is known as SUICIDE.

    If you want Indian farmers to stop committing suicide, let them raise cows as an economic asset, and watch how soon they start prospering. Currently, you have choked the Indian farmer and literally forced him to commit suicide.

    Next, Baba Ramdev will start killing Indians.

    What is this? Freedom or slavery? Sense or stupidity?

    Read Vivekananda: “Why, the powers that be then, will hold the people down, and let them not have it. Slaves want power to make slaves.”

    Baba Ramdev wants to make Indians slaves of Brazilians and of the British, and of everyone else by impovershing Indians. That is wrong! Pure wrong!

    First get rich and THEN start bothering about what you and others eat.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  45. Harsh Vora

    You cannot just assume that by banning the import of cow meat from foreign countries, or cow-slaughter in India, we will remain poor. In fact, Baba Ramdev is one of the ardent supporters of high technology for India. Cow-slaughter is just one of the MANY issues Babaji has raised. And Bharat Swabhiman is not formed only to ban cow-slaughter. It is formed to eliminate corruption and make India a superpower in the coming two decades. And this WILL happen.
     
    And in doing so, in no way is Baba Ramdev using only his heart. He is well-versed in the neeti of Chanakya and emulates him in many respects. His goal is to unite India once again. If you don't believe this will happen under him, then you are entitled to your views.
     
    Re: "They should allow cows to loaf around in garbage dumps, eat plastic bags, and cause traffic accidents (and thus human deaths and harm), and keep feeding cows till they naturally die, thus impoverishing themselves in the process."
     
    This will not happen once BS comes to power. It will make appropriate shelters for all cows in India. They will not loaf around in garbage dumps, or eat plastic bags. And they will not cause traffic accidents.
     
    Let the Brazil produce as many cows as they want. Let them kill cows and earn. India will earn with right means. Through right policies. By trading right things. And yes, it WILL become wealthy.
     

     
  46. Harsh Vora

    I will have to stop here Sanjeev. I am bound by my time. I am a student and I have to resume to my studies. If this discussion continues to occupy my time, energy, and mind, I'll not be able to focus on studies.

     
  47. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    I’ve seen delusional dreams of Nehru in my lifetime, then the mad medieval dreams of BJP. Now I live to see the fictitious dreams of Baba Ramdev.

    There is NO WAY ON EARTH that Baba Ramdev can make India rich or free of corruption, UNLESS he changes his approach and advocates freedom. ONLY one way to create wealth: through freedom. NO OTHER WAY.

    You claim that BS will convert India into a superpower in two decades. I GUARANTEE that BS will impoverish and divide India and ruin it, UNLESS Baba Ramdev advocates ONLY one thing: freedom. Let him read Vivekananda and learn something from him, if he doesn’t care to read Hayek, Friedman, or me.

    I am hoping that you will not wait for two decades to see this come true but will read and understand and, when convinced, join FTI and support it.

    I’m afraid I can’t do much for Indians who want to remain slaves. You want freedom, then I can help you. You want slavery, then sorry, I’m of no use to you.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  48. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev — I am reading books on Classical liberalism, while comparing it with Vedic socialism. I had begun reading BFN but paused to focus on studies, since my semester has started. I will resume to reading it once again in a few days. Unless I have read it entirely, I will not be able to fully fathom where you come from. If indeed what you say is correct, I will evangelically advocate Classical liberalism, and join FTI. Else, Vedic Socialism. At this point in life, I am torn between these two.
     
    In the meantime, besides reading BFN, DOF and Hayek, I will research on Vedic Socialism and weigh its costs and benefits. After all possible attempts at knowing the right political philosophy, I'll conclude on which one to adopt for life.

     
  49. Harsh Vora

    Thanks for your wishes. Without a doubt, I'll keep my mind open to all competing views. Forever. Else, I wouldn't have taken interest in discussing these matters with you. And since I've discussed, I've always returned home with more knowledge, and even more to learn.

     
  50. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    About the exporting of Cows to Brazil and earning …
    What about using Cows for Organic Farming , we need huge number of Cows then what we have to help us in Organic farming .. Stop importing Chemicals and Exporting Organic food to world ?? Which one do you thing will be better for generating wealth ??
    If you try to find , you will get more than 1000 proofs which say Production will be similar or more with organic farming .. so many other advantages..
    It should be quick answer..
    Regards,
    Vijay

     
  51. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    How much chemistry have you studied? (in the interest of disclosure let me note that I studied chemistry only till BSc final year – I topped the university – but did not study any chemistry after that, moving, instead, into maths and physics, initially, followed by psychology, management, and economics).

    I ask because it is important for me to understand how much you understand about organic chemistry, or the chemistry of living organisms. That will tell me whether you are able to distinguish between POISONOUS chemicals and chemicals that we are constituted of. That will tell me whether you understand that EVERYTHING you eat (or drink, or breathe) is a chemical. Every single cell of your body is made up of atoms which are chemicals.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  52. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    Question instead of answer ….
    I am an ECE engineer so , not much into chemistry after first semester..
    I agree we are made up of chemicals .. no doubt about it .. … and everything we eat or drink is a chemical..
    But it doesnt require knowledge of chemistry to treat insecticides and pesticides as poison.
    Regards,
    Vijay

     
  53. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev
    " Protection of Cow is more important than Swaraj " M K Gandhi (A Liberal )
    I am not sure , if this is a true Statement delieverd by Gandhi , But I find this quotation at lots of places.
    Regards,
    Vijay

     
  54. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, that is useful. In that case we agree that there is a clear distinction between fertilisers and pesticides.

    Organic farming comprises two parts: (a) substitution of fertilisers and (b) substitution of pesticides

    On the former, I suggest that there is NO difference to the final product whether we use one form of chemical or the other. So I’m happy whether people use fertilisers OR cow dung/ slurry from a gobar/human waste gas plant.

    Clearly it is desirable to minimise chemical fertiliser since it could acidify the soils. Hence some modern techniques allow the plant stems to rot and decompose, nourishing the soil. Modern agriculture is naturally moving towards a combination of organic (e.g blood and bone/ manure/ naturally rotting plants) and inorganic. There is a very good overlap between so-called ‘organic’ farming and ‘normal’ farming. Farmers are getting smarter and smarter. Highly trained, they understand how to maximise yields at minimum short term and long term costs. This also includes crop rotation to fix nitrogen.

    Second, on the pesticides front, there is a move towards more targeted pest control. One of the major advances is through breeding pest resistant varieties of seed. GM crops seek to actually modify the DNA itself to ensure pest and drought resistance. In many cases (not all) these have been successful. I have no doubt that it is CHEAPER to not use pesticides, where possible, hence there is a great amount of research underway to reduce pesticides.

    Having said that, the fact that mankind is now FLOODED with food (unbelievable mounds of food is literally thrown away in the developed nations) despite very significant increases in population means that science has BARELY BEGUN to understand farming.

    Raw (unprocessed) food has dropped as a share of people’s purchases from over 33 per cent of income about 50-80 years ago to as little as 3-4 per cent of income. Food is cheap, virtually free.

    Indeed, bottled water is sometimes over 2-3 times the price of bottled milk! Bottled juice and bottled milk are virtually the same price.

    The advances in science have meant that cows that give milk do so in SUPER ABUNDANCE. Similarly, grain is grown in MASSIVE quantities, very cheaply. The fact that very little of this happens in India is because of our DESIRE FOR POVERTY. India desperately seeks to be poor. What can be done about it?

    There are rigid regulatory controls on the use of pesticides in the West (in India of course everything goes; it is THIRD WORLD nation run by THIRD RATE leaders) so that only modest amounts of pesticides are used. Pesticide residue can therefore be easily washed off under running water.

    Organic ways to reduce pests are manual, labourious, and very expensive. Hence organic food is 2-3 times the price of normal food. I don’t buy it. It is not worth it, since the risks of residual pesticide are so insignificant.

    I trust this shows you that organic farming is a DEAD END for India. If India wishes to engage in organic farming, its people will starve to death.

    I therefore leave it optional for people to choose what they want. What we need is a good regulatory framework to minimise the use of pesticides.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  55. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    I totally disagree with you , on Organic farming is the "DEAD END" of India
    You speak what Monsento Speaks.. or very near to it ..
    I think organic farming is the best solution for India's problem… I say so because I am in touch with many farmers who are shifted to Organic and Enjoying.. They find its much easier and cheaper than Chemical way of Farming..
    There isnt any need of other chemicals as fertilizers also..
    Rest I agree that , its farmers will to do the way they want to, But they should know both ..
    Thanks!!!

     
  56. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    Just asserting that you disagree is the same as imagining that the truth is found simply by making a declaration. False.

    Comparing my arguments to arguments I don’t know (Monsanto) nor care for doesn’t harm my arguments since I speak the truth. If someone has spoken falsehoods and you compare me with them, that doesn’t address the detailed logic I provided. Your second approach is therefore also wasted. You didn’t prove anything.

    Finally, therefore, what is your DETAILED TECHNICAL PROOF against my argument? Please don’t waste my time. I thought I was going into some detailed discussion and now you come out as an “organic” farming fanatic, without any reasoning!

    Please rebut my technical arguments with YOUR technical arguments, if any. Else I’ve got to assume that you are not interested in the truth but in some imaginary passion. I don’t debate people with imaginary passions. No point.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  57. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    Gandhi was NOT a full liberal. He had broadly liberal understandings. I’ve made that clear a number of times.

    Second, I seriously doubt he ever made that crazy statement! He was not the leader of cows, seeking to free cows from the British, but the leader of Indians. Prove to me that he said that. Don’t rely on the internet. Check the ORIGINAL sources.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  58. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    I have documented proof for Organic Farming..  shall be sending you ..
    sent you one link for no reply
    other than proofs I have mentioned that I personally know farmers who shifted ..to and are happy..
    You have very limited understanding of organic Farming .. I must say…
    And I dont see any proofs what so ever you have stated.. 
    Thanks
    Vijay

     
  59. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    No one can know everything. I obviously have limited understanding of all the advances in agriculture. However, I have broadly shown why any obsession for ‘organic’ farming is a scientific and economic dead end for mankind. The West (even India) produces ENORMOUS quantities of food MOSTLY based on normal farming, with use of appropriate levels of chemicals. Were organic farming to be used, this quantity would drop by 2/3rd, thus wiping out 400 crore people from the face of this earth. Most of these dead will be from India, since other countries can afford to pay FAR more for food but still choose ‘normal’ chemical based farming.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  60. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    If is proved to you that There is no decrease in yield ?? Then ?? What is your stance …
    You are in Australia , And you can visit farmers using Organic Farming .. and then have better understanding.
    What I know is that , First two years are difficult for farmers when they switch , but from third year the the profit is three times and production is similar in worst case and much better then chemical methods..
    So when farmers are supported for first two years .. its magic afterwards
    Send me you email id .. I shall send you a detailed report .. 
    Regards,

     
  61. Vijay Mohan

    Hi Sanjeev
    There is almost a monopoly in this chemical agriculture and GMO seeds  field .. mainly MONSANTO…..
    the company which used to make weapons and bombs .. the material is same … 
    again I agree u dont listen to economics of Vandana .. but you can get agriculture knowledge from her
    And moreover you need to understand How this chemical farming started ..  
    It was IMPOSED on India .. 
    It was not a choice and because of huge subsidies it was easy for farmers .. but now when farmers want to switch back  (the generation is almost over which used to had Organic farming)..Govt is not supporting..
    If you go through the report .. u will see the problem is Govt Policy and availability of organic manure .. which is the major problem.
    Thanks
    Vijay

     
  62. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    I’ll believe you when I see the statistics. Currently organic products are usually around 3 times more expensive than normal food products IN AUSTRALIA because of (a) far greater labour costs and (b) far lower yields. Hence at least 95% of the food produced in Australia (mostly for the world market since just 3% of Australians produce SUCH ENORMOUS quantity of food) is from regular ‘normal’ farming.

    These farmers are not fools. They are some of the highest qualified (academically) farmers in the world, and make use of high end technology not just machines but satellites, computers, and god knows what else (I visited some farms in 1992-93 as part of a University visit in Perth but have been reading up periodically on farm production, plus I am indirectly involved in farm regulations in my current job). An average farm family of two persons generates up to $500,000 in PROFITS in a good year.

    One poor (!) farmer in Australia (in today’s local newspaper) has so much food he can’t find enough lorries to take it to the ports. NONE of the mass-scale farming is “organic”.

    You don’t need to send me any ‘proofs’ about economic viability. Farmers KNOW everything about organic farming and still REJECT it. That means it is simply not economically viable on the industrial scale at which food is produced in the West.

    It is BEYOND ILLOGICAL to suggest that farm yields for organic won’t be lower than with regular chemicals. It is impossible.

    For thousands of years people struggled to produce anything using organic farming (there was no chemical addition at that time). Now you are asking that people give up on science just because you have an irrational passion for organic farming?

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  63. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    Re:”And moreover you need to understand How this chemical farming started .. It was IMPOSED on India.”

    What kind of brain washing have you undergone? Do you realise that without recourse to modern methods of farming Indians would have starved to death long ago? At independence India could not feed even its 30 crore people. It had to beg and borrow food from USA and USSR.

    Only after Panjab took up major modernisation of agriculture (and I am personally aware of these modernisations, having been trained in Haryana’s Agriculture University at Kurukshetra and worked on agriculture extension with farmers) with MASSIVE subsidies for fertilisers and pesticides could India finally start feeding its people.

    If you are going to talk absurd things in Vandana Shiva’s confused language, let’s stop further discussion.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  64. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    I cant help you , If you dont want to go through Reports and facts.. so no point going further..
    What we both agree is leave it to farmers … they are the better one to decide , thats Why farmers in India are adopting it .. adopting  slowly and steadily..
    Indians farmers have less than 1 acre of land on an average and others its a different story..
    they get more income with Organic farming.. Indian soil is much different .. and much more productive.. and Indian climatic zones are the perfect for yield ..
    There are more than 2000 varieties of rice .. in India
    I leave this debate .. with the end that I Will prove How Cow and Organic is the solution for India.
    Without forcing on farmers .. but leaving it to them after demonstration..
    Thanks anyways….. But on this topic I didnt learn anything from you and you dont want to grow on this topic.. But may be some Agriculture expert in FTI team will help for better policies..and understanding..
    All the best . Will blog on other topics of yours
    Vijay

     
  65. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    You’d better prove it empirically since you are so firm on this. I now expect no more discussion. Instead I expect to see you a multi-billionaire soon.

    If you don’t directly practice what you preach your advocacy will be highly suspect. The proof is in the pudding. Prove that this is economically viable by becoming rich, not by lecturing me or others when I and the WHOLE WORLD knows WITHOUT DOUBT that organic farming is a terribly expensive way to produce a miniscule quantity of food. It is good for fashionable people. Not to feed the world’ huge population.

    If you and Vandana Shiva disagree, become STINKING rich (with the strong smell of money coming from you, not gobar!). The world will automatically follow you. If you don’t you’ll become a laughing stock, like Vandana Shiva. Delusional dreamers.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  66. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    Its already a plan for me 
    I am ready for it , I hope I make it , But my dream is not making myself rich ….. I want to see wealth in the hand of farmers ..
    She is traniing farmers already 500000 trained , all following organic practice.
    She is distributing seeds free of cost unlike MNC's  selling at huge margins and every year you need to buy needs form monoply. They increase the rates at there own will. They make seeds sterile …
    Done wait for me or her to be rich , wait for our farmers to be healthy and wealthy.
    Thanks!
    Vijay

     
  67. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev, in one of your comments you said that you haven't found evidence for the non existence of god and so you don't want to comment one way or the other.
    In my opinion, this is the danger of being too extreme in a certain way of thinking. There are lots of things we can't specifically disprove – like Russel once said, we can't prove or disprove whether or not there is a tea pot orbiting the sun. But yet we're pretty sure there isn't one. In fact, if I asked you to take a bet of a significant sum of money over the matter, I'm pretty sure you'll say there is no such tea pot.
    The mere absence of evidence for the non existence of something is no reason to place it on the same level as many other issues.
    I've noticed this before in some of your writings – you place too much of an emphasis on a straitjacket way of thinking and call it "critical thinking" which has a series of steps. Remember that this is only a guide. The human brain is capable of using logic in many different ways – like for instance my way of finding out the truth about climate change.
    As Samuel Butler once said, "Extremes are alone logical, and they are always absurd"

     
  68. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Dear Sanjeev,
    I couldn't help but take note of the last few comments on organic farming. I know nothing about the organic farming and I tend to ignore claims promise unusual success.
    But what I observe is that one person is trying to give you a lot of facts, reports etc and you're dismissing them because common sense tells you something else. Doesn't this sound exactly like what we were discussing the other day on climate change? In that discussion you urged me to go through all your links one by one and give a detailed rebuttal – just like Vijay is asking you to do right now. I refused to do that because there were other logical considerations that went against your entire grain of thought – just like you feel Vijay can't possibly be right since then everyone would be rich.
    I'm not trying to rub things in here. I'm just trying to show you that there's nothing illogical or unscientific about using other considerations to judge the credibility of masses of facts and reports. And I hope you also see how easy it is to come up with long detailed scientific sounding papers to prove anything.
    I hope you realize now that tediously wading through masses of facts and figures doesn't always help and often there's an easier way out of the morass even though you don't get the badge of "critical thinking."

     
  69. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    I’m actually writing an article on agriculture policy right now, and will conduct sufficient research in this area to brush up facts.

    You make a serious error in suggesting that “one person is trying to give you a lot of facts, reports etc and you’re dismissing them because common sense tells you something else.”

    My problem with Vijay;s approach to the truth is that I didn’t just give him common sense but a LOT of scientific facts and he just went over them saying that I had said nothing!

    1) Pesticide residue in small quantities is HARMLESS. Is that not a scientific fact? It just went over his head.

    2) Food production has increased 4-6 times (if we include increased meat production) in the past 60 years in the world. Not from organic but from highly sophisticated combination of biological, chemical, and radiation technologies. To say that super-qualified Western farmers are fools who don’t know the benefits of organic farming is implausible in the extreme.

    3) Prior to these 60 years the world had organic farming and failed to produce anything like what it does today. So how can it produce huge quantities? It is pure medieval ‘science’. Such claims have not the slightest semblance of science in it. They contradict all known FACTS.

    4) The ONLY test whether a technology is cheaper and produces more is the market. I said: first get rich and show. Others will follow. All innovation works this way. Not through idle lectures.

    I beg your pardon when you consider this clearly argued and factual thinking to be ‘common sense’ and dismiss it.

    I have studied the facts, I have summarised them succinctly. I have proved WITHOUT DOUBT my case. Now argue these facts, not assert the same statement again and again. Vijay believes that by asserting something 100 times it becomes the truth.

    You did that with climate change (non-stop assertion of a statement, and citing some unknown people). Vijay is doing that with organic farming, and citing Vandana Shiva.

    I seriously question the kind of education Indians receive.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  70. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Vijay

    Re: “I cant help you , If you dont want to go through Reports and facts.. so no point going further.”

    I didn’t say I didn’t want to go through reports etc. I said there is nothing of policy value that you can provide in this area. However, please send me your reports if any. Let me see the quality of science you read.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  71. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad,

    Re: ” like Russel once said, we can’t prove or disprove whether or not there is a tea pot orbiting the sun. But yet we’re pretty sure there isn’t one. In fact, if I asked you to take a bet of a significant sum of money over the matter, I’m pretty sure you’ll say there is no such tea pot.
    The mere absence of evidence for the non existence of something is no reason to place it on the same level as many other issues
    .”

    On EVERYTHING in the world except one, we have measurable evidence. Your claim is fine but breaks down with God. I have a considered view (or can form a view) on everything but God (on which I may have a private view and may even talk about it, but I don’t debate).

    God’s properties are such that no one can prove them nor disprove them. They are beyond our measurable space and time, according to God’s votaries. By definition, God’s height, weight, and age can’t be measured.

    If I say I’ve put God into one of my two hands and shut my hands and ask you which hand has God, you could never prove whether God exists in one of my hands or not. That’s the point.

    Hence I don’t engage in debates on God. Everything else is fine. Science, politics, economics.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  72. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    By the way if you read Steven Landsburg’s The Big Questions, he takes this argument to the extreme and teases out the fact that most believers of God don’t truly believe in God. I’ll review his book shortly.

     
  73. Bhagwad Jal Park

    "You did that with climate change (non-stop assertion of a statement, and citing some unknown people)"
    Sorry Sanjeev, but this is a dishonest way to debate. I had mentioned earlier how you made claims about things I didn't say and I requested you not to do so. I make the same request again.
    I don't wish to get into the debate on climate change in this post and hijack it. Suffice to say that I didn't mindless repeat anything and in fact didn't cite anyone at all!
    Perhaps before speculating on the quality of education people receive it might be more beneficial for you to avoid getting personal which cheapens the debate and lowers people's opinion of you when you engage in these tactics.
    You seem like a nice guy and I have faith that as time passes by you will slowly learn the correct way of holding a debate by not making veiled statements against people, but only discussing ideas.

     
  74. Bhagwad Jal Park

    With regard to god, you haven't shown me what you think about Russel's teapot!
    You say we have measurable evidence for everything in the world. I disagree. We don't have measurable evidence about the existence or non existence of a teapot orbiting the sun. The size of the tea pot is so small and it is so undistinguished that we couldn't find it even if it did exist.
    There's no need to put god on a pedestal here. If you have an opinion on the tea pot, you should very well have an opinion on god too. Thinking must be applied consistently and you musn't be overawed by the seemingly serious nature of the god issue.

     
  75. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad,

    Apologies. I did not intend to question you but your method.

    I have summarised my recollection of your approach. I recall that you did not argue the facts of climate change but insisted that it was a done deal because your belief that 98% of the scientists believe in it. What I have said is to summarise your approach to persuasion, namely, that you asserted, did not prove, while I am interested in detailed proofs, not in assertions. I don’t operate at that ‘high level’ of proof. I look into each matter in detail on its merits.

    I have not made any veiled statement! I have made a clear statement that in the case of climate change your methods did not meet my standards of critical thinking.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  76. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    Re: “You say we have measurable evidence for everything in the world. I disagree.”

    I’m afraid you are wrong. In this physical world there is NO POSSIBILITY of a teapot circulating the sun. There are asteroids but no teapots. The teapot theory of Russell is nonsensical. 99.99% of imaginary stuff can be ruled out through simple deduction, as being imagination.

    Then comes empirical testing for genuinely feasible theories. There is no theory that can’t be empirically tested. If it can’t be tested (like string theory) it is not science but imagination.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  77. Bhagwad Jal Park

    So you assert that the teapot cannot exist since there's no way a teapot could ever reach that position am I right? (Let's ignore the infinitesimally small chance that it could have accidentally come together.)
    Mind you, if think enough I can find lots of creative ways for it to happen. Let me know if you want to test my imagination on this :D
    Why not apply the same logic to god? Namely that we don't know of anything that could have enabled the existence of a god (because we don't) and so treat the god theory in the same way we treat the teapot theory.
    Basically, why does god get the special treatment and not the teapot?

     
  78. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    There is no logical way to disprove God the way God is defined. Teapots can be ruled out because teapots have particular properties. Only teapots that are spacecraft debris can hang around in space. But they were first created. God, by definition, was NOT created. God has no measurable dimensions either.

    Since God is not a physical object, there can’t be any testable theory of God.

     
  79. Bhagwad Jal Park

    You're right when you say that god need not be a physical being. But this doesn't mean that god can't have properties. After all, many non physical things without dimensions (to use your words) like gravity can be measured.
    As to actual properties, we can't do any better than to take the common properties of god from the major religions because of whom we're talking about god in the first place. So all major religions give god the following properties:
    1. Independent intelligence (this is to rule out stuff like "God is the laws of physics")
    2.  Omnipotent – meaning that the intelligence in (1) has the power to take action to meet its goals
    3. Omnipresence – meaning that the intelligence in (1) has all data available to it
    There may be other properties of god that I've missed out on, but there are definitely there. Given this definition I think we can reasonably debate on whether or not god exists – just like the teapot. I feel the property of having been or not been created is by itself an insufficient reason to treat the concept of god in a different manner than a teapot. But since no religion talks about the creation of god, we can't automatically assume that god wasn't created…

     
  80. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry I just lost 4 minutes of typing!
    = My point was:

    a) This stuff is fully explored in philosophical analysis. Read up some texts. You’ll find 20,000 books on this subject should you be interested further. All end up in confusion. No philosopher knows more than anyone else. They have wasted their life in idle chatter.

    b) You are better off by applying your limited time and effort in real life things that matter: climate change, economy etc. But that’s my view. You can waste your time on God if you wish. Very easy to get lost in irrelevant discussion that leads to no consequence for anyone on earth. Your life. You do what you want! I let God manage or take care of Himself. I take care of myself and wait to find an answer in due course (when I’m dead).

    Regards
    Sanjeev

     
  81. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Well naturally I'm not going to push a point – I only brought it up because of your earlier comment to someone else that you don't discuss god because you can't disprove god's existence. I wanted to point out that that reasoning per se was flawed…

     
  82. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    That point remains. If you have a proof either way (existence/non-existence) that everyone can fully understand and agree with you’ll be the first such person in the world and you’d have broken a frontier that mankind has not crossed since its birth. Best of luck!

     
  83. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Before leaving this topic, let me make clear that I am referring here ONLY to God. All else, such as Godmen, ghosts, telepathy and claims of rebirth are false. That much is clear.