Author: globalminded

Dalai's Loss and the Ending of Slavery [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-5-26 02:20:49 |Display all floors

For #36 Confucius, Atheism, Theology, Theocracy

Thank you, interesting, for your comments. We seem to differ on how to understand some of these terms.

But I would think most people and Christians will say that Christianity is a major religion in the world. And that seems a general agreement, with no absurdity or ignorance involved.

Atheism was not invented by Karl Marx, who was neither the first nor the last person to stand by it. Humans had been around thousands of years before there was written language to record religious texts and spread formalized religion, or before organized religion appeared. Many people in the past probably never knew about theism except superstitions or tribal legends and folktales. What was the religion for the Native Americans who had been there for 20,000 years before Christopher Columbus came ashore? It is pretty absurd to equate atheism with Marx, in fact, just as it is absurd to equate Darwin抯 theory of evolution with Hitler抯 invasions.

As to non-believing and atheism, a statement like 揟here is no god?is not a negative statement; it is simply a statement more straightforward than 揑 don抰 believe in god? Is the latter statement saying 搕here is a god, only I don抰 believe in him? or 揑 don抰 believe in god because there is no god?

Theology has everything to do with divinity; it has to be related to theism. If atheism believes there is no god, then it has no use for theology. But if atheists do need a theory for themselves, why call it a theology? You mean something like 揳theiology? But anyway, there seems no logical connection or a causal relationship between atheism and theology and theocracy, or between the belief in heavenly mandate and state church and theocracy as you seemed to suggest.

And thank you for according Confucianism the status of an 搊fficially established church?of China in the past, though most Chinese and Asians and most scholars and even most westerners will probably be very skeptical about this notion, which seems far-fetched. Despite its huge influence in China and in other Asian countries, Confucianism as it was composed and intended never seemed to aspire for the status of religion, even though some people like to think that way.

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) missed the chance to make an all-powerful claim like the Book of Genesis, which came out maybe a few years earlier. Confucius also didn抰 have the foresight of making a preemptive claim like Jesus, who came quite a few hundred years later. So Confucius has been admired as a thinker-philosopher, at best a saint. Confucius was secular and not religious.

For Confucius to ascend to religious eminence, or for Confucianism to become a religion in a true sense, he had to claim to be god himself, or son of god, or a messenger/spokesperson of god, or a divine being related to god or re-incarnated from before?He had to profess possession of a supernatural power over the entire universe to which humans could not but succumb. He had to convince people of his ability to punish those half-hearted followers and non-believers. He had to promise his followers a prospect of well-being so hard to resist.

Confucius made none of these imposing pretences and promises. He only dealt with secular beings and issues. And when he said emperors enjoyed heavenly sanctions for their power as a ruler, he also said that if a ruler does not administer benevolence and justice, heavens will terminate the mandate and confer it to someone better suited. That was in fact a very democratic thinking, given the fact that Confucius lived 500 B.C. Confucius抯 idea of heavenly mandate for emperors itself does not qualify his thinking as a religion or a church. It was probably the best theorizing a thinker like him could do in his time.

In fact, Chinese emperors had nothing comparable to the power of god or god抯 son or the Bible at their disposal to inspire reverence and enforce obedience, nor an organized and ritualized national system (like church districts with bishops and priests) to worship Confucianism as a state religion. Probably Confucius never meant to take the 揾eavenly mandate?beyond the realm of philosophical reasoning and contemplation or political science.

Many emperors or dynasties formulated their own laws for the government and the nation, such as the Ching Dynasty Codes of Laws, and many emperors did not have the kind of absolute power typical of a theocracy. The Ming Dynasty, for example, had is Imperial Council that pretty much acted like a balance of power. In fact, what you see in China is a long history of a lack of integration of church and state.

Obviously, for a theocracy to work, you need some five 揵ranches of government?established in the first place. First, a ruler who claims supreme power on behalf of a divinity or as being directly related to that divinity. Second, a belief system justifying the existence of that divine being, which is generally and willingly accepted by the governed. Third, a highly organized, formalized, ritualized, or institutionalized system of worship of the divinity. Fourth, a theory or theology in support of the divinity that gets reinforced and updated to ensure continued belief. Fifth, a written bible for the governed to study and follow.

Traditionally, the Chinese have been giving much more importance to celebrating their ancestors than the emperors. When dynasties changed or emperors were replaced, few people thought about safeguarding a living god.

Claiming to be divine as a ruler, or to possess a heavenly mandate is far from enough for an effective and working theocracy. Many of these branches of a theocracy government were not what Confucius was concerned about, nor what Chinese emperors were able to obtain, even if some of them were interested. And this does place the Chinese emperor far away from the Pope, I am afraid.

It is pretty smart that China抯 central governments were free from theocracy in the past. It is a fact that China has been largely a secular nation all along. You think China has a justifiable interest in changing its secular history? Even the historically religious Old World has been turning secular.

And again, without the five branches of government working hand in hand as I mentioned above, without the necessary infrastructure entrenched on the ground, a theocracy will hardly happen, if you will.

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Post time 2008-5-26 02:26:28 |Display all floors

For #32 Divinity and Theocracy

Thank you, Seneca.

Yes, Confucianism has had its ebbs and rises over the long history in China. But it has always retained its influence as it represents some of the fine Chinese philosophical worldviews. No single government in China抯 history, even by minority ethnic Chinese, was able to change this fact.

And the old Tibet was ruled by a person claiming divinity. A living Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism was like a god, a lot more real than the god in the Christian tradition. Besides, the living Buddha was also the highest civil ruler ?divinity and real person in one, god抯 will and personal will in one, church and government in one, religion and politics in one. There were all the religious infrastructures and law enforcement to ensure belief, obedience and conformity. And the ruling class owned all the lands and the serfs.

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Post time 2008-5-26 23:27:55 |Display all floors
No, the D.L. was not a "god" or anything like it - he was, and in the minds of Ti.b.etans he still is, a Buddha. Now what is that? It is a moral role-model, and by gosh, he certainly has the moral fibre to be that.

Let's look at the Chinese: Anyone who is powerful enough can proclaimhimself a "god";in fact, many Chinese deities are or were human beings, see the mandarin that is commemorated in the annual dragonboat festivals. Or the Chinese leaders...there are some that have been elevated to the rank of a "god" (I won't name the most obvious).

Are these humans infallible, perfect, sinfree? No - the greatest among them have the most blood on their hands.

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Gold Medal

Post time 2008-5-27 13:07:33 |Display all floors
Originally posted by coffeemate at 2008-5-27 00:27
No, the D.L. was not a "god" or anything like it - he was, and in the minds of Ti.b.etans he still is, a Buddha. Now what is that? It is a moral role-model, and by gosh, he certainly has  ...




This is nothing unusual in Daoism. Even outside of T a i p e i  is a Dao temple where the one whos name you didn't mention is worshiped as a Dao deity.    Surprised?

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Post time 2008-5-28 04:09:12 |Display all floors
Xinghai,

I'm not sure why you insist on continuously discussing Christianity relative to Confucianism. Let me now begin a point-by-point refutation:

Despite its huge influence in China and in other Asian countries, Confucianism as it was composed and intended never seemed to aspire for the status of religion, even though some people like to think that way.

Confucianism has most facets of religion and the way that a Confucianist approaches the concept of heaven, especially insofar as it having will, implies a religious belief system. It is improper to compare Confucianism to Christianity because they are not part of a similar religious pattern. A correct understanding of Classical Greek or Roman theology bares out the thesis that Confucianism is too similar to other ancient religious beliefs to not be classed with them. Moreover, Buddhism is generally considered to be religious even though it lacks nearly all features of Judeo-Christian religion, especially in Ch'an/Zen, where this difference is very stark. Finally, Shinto, a decidedly religious practice, has no resemblance whatever to Christianity, Judaism or Islam. So the assertion, by comparison to Christianity, that Confucianism is not a religion is false because it misdefines religion in such a way that many things considered to be religions would not qualify under the comparison.

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) missed the chance to make an all-powerful claim like the Book of Genesis, which came out maybe a few years earlier. Confucius also didn抰 have the foresight of making a preemptive claim like Jesus, who came quite a few hundred years later. So Confucius has been admired as a thinker-philosopher, at best a saint. Confucius was secular and not religious.

This and succeeding paragraphs confuse the idea of Confucianism as a religion and Confucius as the center of that religion. There are many incarnations of Taoist religion but few consider Laozi to have been a deity. You are thus provided with a counterexample and I will also warn again about comparing East Asian religions to Christianity. Moreover, the intent of Confucius is quite beside the point, it was not the intent of Siddhartha to be worshiped as a god of any sort and, yet, he is in many Buddhist traditions.

In fact, Chinese emperors had nothing comparable to the power of god or god抯 son or the Bible at their disposal to inspire reverence and enforce obedience, nor an organized and ritualized national system (like church districts with bishops and priests) to worship Confucianism as a state religion.

This is quite irrelevant. I made the comparison between the emperor and the Pope, not to the emperor and the Judeo-Christian god. The emperor could, by decree, change religious practices and interpretations of Confucian doctrine and did. He even went on anti-religious pogroms against non-Confucian groups. So he quite well fits the role as being head of a theocracy.

Many emperors or dynasties formulated their own laws for the government and the nation, such as the Ching Dynasty Codes of Laws, and many emperors did not have the kind of absolute power typical of a theocracy. The Ming Dynasty, for example, had is Imperial Council that pretty much acted like a balance of power. In fact, what you see in China is a long history of a lack of integration of church and state.

You poorly understand theocracies. Iran has a central council which controls many state functions and even the Pope is checked by the Curia. Theocrats do not generally enjoy absolute power, if only because their power rests on a clearly defined idea (a religious system) rather than their personal authority.

Claiming to be divine as a ruler, or to possess a heavenly mandate is far from enough for an effective and working theocracy. Many of these branches of a theocracy government were not what Confucius was concerned about, nor what Chinese emperors were able to obtain, even if some of them were interested. And this does place the Chinese emperor far away from the Pope, I am afraid.

Once more you seem confused about the nature of extant theocracies. The government of Iran claims only to govern by the will of Alla.h and scriptural authority, the Pope is claimed only to be the representative of god as revealed by Providence (which, really, is synonymous with "will of heaven"). And, again, of course, the concerns of Confucius himself are not central to whether Confucianism is a religion, all that matters is whether it has the features of a religion.

With history cleared up, I now turn to theology:

Atheism was not invented by Karl Marx, who was neither the first nor the last person to stand by it.

No one claimed this, so it's not clear why you say it.

As to non-believing and atheism, a statement like 揟here is no god? is not a negative statement; it is simply a statement more straightforward than 揑 don抰 believe in god?. Is the latter statement saying 搕here is a god, only I don抰 believe in him?, or 揑 don抰 believe in god because there is no god??

It appears that I must now take out an example. Consider: a murder mystery. A body has been found, the man has been shot to death and a list of suspects has been drawn up. One of the suspects is a man name Jones, about whom I know nothing.

It would be absurd for me to believe that Jones killed the man, lacking any knowledge of Jones, how could I say such a thing? But I cannot also say that I believe Jones did not kill the man for precisely the same reason: I don't know anything about Jones so I can't really say that he isn't a murderer. My lack of belief does not imply that I believe the negative statement "it is not the case that Jones is the murderer" because I am simply withholding judgment.

Likewise, when I say "I do not believe in god", I qualify as an atheist but it is not the case that I would agree with the statement "there is no god". This is especially so in my case: I've never seen any evidence for a god and so simply don't believe in one, but for that same reason I won't say there isn't one, there might be one, the option is open, but I refuse to believe in one. You will note that all agnostics, then, are atheists and you can check that up at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I'm sure. But when a person or government says, straightforwardly, "it is not the case that there is a god" or, equivalently, "there is no god", that person or government has beliefs about god, namely that such a being does not exist. Since all theology requires is a belief about divinity, this sort of god-does-not-exist atheist has a theology insofar as it draws any implications from the statement "there is no god".
"Justice prevails... evil justice."

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Post time 2008-11-19 02:29:51 |Display all floors

For Post # 1 DL Is Still Losing

The biggest disappointment for DL was his failure to stop the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His feable call to his western sponsors to sabotage the upcoming Beijing Games was met with a couple perfunctory responses and then fell dead. Some eighty heads of state and high level government officials from around the world attened the Beijing Games' opening or closing ceremony. And DL even had to swallow the bitter pill of watching some of his "staunchest" sponsors go to Beijing, watch the games, cheer the ethletes, talk to Chinese leaders, and witness his native country score one gold medal after another.

If DL had his heart with his own native country, he should have cheered for China's accomplishments. On the contrary, he had to endure the pain of watching China which he has been wanting to split grow stronger by the day. And he should still harbor the illusion of carving out a quarter of China's land for his "meaningful" autonomy.

DL is going through the severest crisis in his lost cause, which is being worsened by the fast changing global geopolitical and financial circumstances. It is not clear why His Holiness' unachievable personal and political ambition should keep staying on op of his western sponsors' mind. It is senseless that he shoud still claim to represent the Tibetan people who he lorded over 50 years ago and whose dramatically improved living standard and education and welfare have had nothing to do with His Holiness.

The fact that DL is holding his so-call Tibeten Congress trying to figure what to do in the future indicates that DL has no future. That was already decided for him when he took to armed revolt against the central government 50 years ago. if DL lost to the young and weak People's Republic back then, he cannot hope to win by now or ever.

Does DL need to be told by his dwindling sponsors that also do not see any future in his "cause"?

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Post time 2008-11-19 09:19:43 |Display all floors
Originally posted by xinghai at 2008-11-19 04:29
The biggest disappointment for DL was his failure to stop the 2008 Beijing Olympics....


I recall reading quotes from the DL supporting the Beijing Olympics.
But that was in the western media, rather than the Chinese media which misrepresents whatever he says!
"他不是救星, 他是一个非常淘气男孩" - Monty Python

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