Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Conversations With A Hindu

Here is something I came across in my own files and found interesting to read again. It is a discussion I had some time ago on a website devoted to debunking the Christian faith, with a Hindu apologist. His user name was Hindu (go figure) and mine was, even then, John K.

Posted by a Hindu:
I know there are absurdities in Hindu mythologies and I consider them as such. I agree that certain aspects of my own religion are as absurd as the concept of virgin birth in Christianity. As a matter of fact, there are instances of virgin birth in Hindu mythology itself (Mahabharata says that Kunti gave birth to her first son, Karna, as a virgin. She had received some mantra from a sage that could be used to invoke any divinity and conceive his child without sexual intercourse). I can also list many more instances. However, I, and almost all Hindus, consider them absurd and mere dramatization/fictionalization of actual events
John K: I guess I must ask, then, "What is the point?" If you subscribe to a religion, parts of which you don't believe, or consider absurd, why bother believing at all? What you end up with is a custom tailored, "do it yourself" religion which has no real basis in reality. An honest person owes it to himself to seek what is true, aside from what just "feels good". If something is true, one should embrace it. If it is false, one must reject it. This attitude, BTW, was the basis of my question above regarding the Greeks and their myths. Yes, they had a religion, and gods they worshipped, but did they really think of their myths as true fact, or mere stories, as apparently does Hindu?

Hindu: The difference is that while the truth of Christianity depends on the authenticity of its historicity, truth of Hinduism is independent of place and time, depending entirely on the eternal truth as contained in its philosophy. Rituals and myths are only true to the extent they agree with philosophy. Thus while Hinduism is not at all affected even if all its myths are found absurd, there can't be any Christianity without virgin birth and historical authenticity of the Bible.
John K: I agree absolutely. I would add to that the resurrection. But in fact these things are true and did happen and therefore will never be proven false. The truth may be widely questioned, even widely doubted but it will never be discredited.

John K: We are dealing, not with the natural, but with things outside of the natural; i.e. supernatural.
Hindu: Supernatural can't be unnatural. Moreover, the moment supernatural takes form (as in case of any incarnation, avataar of God, as in case of spirit taking the form for the benefit of mankind and as in case of Jesus) and decides to be defined by space, time and matter, it submits to conform to the natural so long as it remains in that form
John K: I don't know how you can say that with such certainty. If the God of the Bible is true, He can do anything He wants to. He is not limited by your rules or anyone else's. In the case of Jesus, yes, He did choose to set aside some of His Divine attributes, but no one or no law of nature forced Him to do so.

John K: It is almost by definition the nature of religion. Religion is a manifestation of mankind's search for God and therefore by necessity, not of this world.
Hindu: I leave this as it is beyond the scope of this discussion.
John K: I'm not quite sure why.

I must admit I do not know much about your faith, but are your own gods not supernatural, outside the physical realm?
Hindu: They are not. If mythologies sometimes describe them to be so, it is merely an indication of their potential, not applicable to their manifestation in space, time and matter. Brahmam is absolute, it is unmanifested and hence not part of space, time and matter. Everything else, including gods, are manifestation of parts of the potential of Brahmam. That is, Brahmam manifests itself to be described by space, time and matter which we call as nature and all that it contains. In other words, Brahmam is beyond space, time and matter but we try to understand it, grasp it through that which our minds can comprehend first, that is form, symbols etc. Gods are part of that form and symbols.
John K: Sounds like something outside the physical realm to me.

John K: We believe, of course, that if God created the universe and everything in it, He can also intervene in it in any way He chooses.
Hindu: I don't believe so. I believe that God is not whimsical. I believe that the very first instance of creation (Hindus call it manifestation) by God was perfect and God doesn't have to intervene in such a way that violates his own previous acts.

John K: I agree that God is not whimsical. But His intervention in worldly affairs in the person of Jesus was not whimsy. God created the world and called it "good", but he also gave man free will, which has allowed people to seek Him or turn away from Him. It is for the redemption of mankind that Jesus came to make possible a way back to a relationship with God for anyone who wants it. I don't consider this a trivial reason.
BTW, Am I anywhere near the truth if I think that the Christian doctrine of salvation is somewhat replaced in Hinduism by the idea of reincarnation?
Which all leads me back to absurdity. Is reincarnation really any less absurd to an outsider than the virgin birth?

P.S. What is the Hindu story of creation (or manifestation)?


Take Care

1 comment:

stauf46 said...

I'm a little behind on my blog reading, not just here, but everywhere. Good stuff, John!

This post is very intresting, particularly considering our Gospel for Asia presentation today.

The centrality of the historicity of Gospel events is right out of 1 Jn, etc. More Christians need to make the connection between faith and history!