Sunday, April 9, 2017

Feedback on my adaptation of Crisp Statements of Belief in God that is Compatible with Science

Last updated on 17th April 2017

Yesterday (April 8th 2017), I had sent over email and put up on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/notes/ravi-s-iyer/crisp-statements-of-belief-in-god-that-is-compatible-with-science/1889831711233397/, the following contents:

Crisp Statements of Belief in Universal/Multi-Faith God that is either Compatible with Science OR Not in Conflict with Science

Today, I made a major update to this blog post of mine, https://iami1.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/crisp-statements-of-belief-in-god-that-is-compatible-with-science/, and so felt it appropriate to share its contents below on this Facebook post/note. Any comments are welcome.

The BioLogos Foundation, http://biologos.org/, seems to be a very interesting evangelical Christian community which is ‘committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith, guided by the truth that “all things hold together in Christ.”’

I very much liked the “What We Believe” section of http://biologos.org/about. I presume that the views of the BioLogos founder would have had a significant bearing on this section and so I felt it appropriate to give the below information about its founder. However, there are many other distinguished persons associated with BioLogos whose views too would have had a bearing on its “What We Believe” section, I presume.

BioLogos Founder

BioLogos was founded in 2007 by Dr. Francis Collins, http://biologos.org/blog/author/collins-francis, who I view as one of the outstanding scientists of our times who seems to have led a balanced life of science and God, and who seems to have made quite some efforts to share his belief with the community at large that Christian faith and science can go together, and has also convincingly refuted claims of some scientists that “in the absence of scientific proof of God’s existence the default answer should be that there is no God” [1].  Dr. Collins clearly asserts, “But if you are going to try to take the tools of science and disprove God, you are in the wrong territory. Science has to remain silent on the question of anything that falls outside of the natural world.” [1]

Dr. Francis Collins has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University in 1974, and is also a physician earning his M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) from University of North Carolina in 1977. He followed these degrees with a distinguished research career in genetics. His wiki states “Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950), is an American physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP).” He is currently the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, which “is the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world“. He does not seem to be holding any major position currently in the BioLogos foundation (to avoid any controversies, I guess). This Scitable, Nature Education page gives another interesting view of his research contributions.

He has received many honors including the US National Medal of Science and US Presidential Medal of Freedom. His contributions have also been recognized by the Catholic church. His wiki states, “In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Collins to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences“.

What We Believe Adapted to a Multi-Faith/Universal Faith View

Here, it is appropriate for me to first mention that this blog and I do not have any direct affiliation with The BioLogos Foundation, at the present time or in the past. But I am deeply appreciative of whatever I have examined in the website of The BioLogos Foundation and am thankful to them for their wonderful service to society in promoting faith in Christ that is compatible with science. I am also thankful to them for having their “What We Believe” section freely accessible on the Internet which enables people like me to consider adapting it, as given below, for a multi-faith/universal faith perspective in a way that carefully respects their copyright.

I am a multi-faith person with a belief that there is one Almighty God which is expressed and/or experienced in sometimes similar and sometimes slightly different ways by believers, followers and teachers of different religions. I believe in the divinity of major figures of many religions and find a lot of commonality in the essence of the teachings of different religions with *Love*, perhaps, being the most powerful common theme of the teachings of most, if not all, religions.

I have made a humble attempt to adapt the “What We Believe” section of BioLogos to a multi-faith/universal faith view. Due to copyright restrictions I have provided a paraphrased short explanation of the points of the BioLogos, “What We Believe” section referred by their associated numbers, followed by my comment on whether it can be used as is or whether it needs to be adapted. If it needs to be adapted I have humbly suggested the kind of change needed. It is suggested that the points in the sections below be read side by side with the corresponding point in “What We Believe” section of BioLogos.

I realize that I could, of course, be making some mistakes, but I thought it may be an interesting starting point for some people who are very happy with the BioLogos beliefs but believe not only in the divinity of Jesus Christ but also in the divinity of some other figures of various faiths.

[Update note on 16-Apr-2017: I have incorporated changes in the points below, resulting from feedback and more thought on the matter. Further, I have provided change-text for those points where change is suggested that can replace or add to the original point text. I am considering using this version as a basis to come up with a complete and separate set of points which acknowledges Biologos What We Believe section for providing inspiration, but does not use any of its points. That would free the new version completely from any copyright issues, I think, even if it is used in a printed book (or Amazon Kindle ebook) that is sold for a minimal price (as against this post which is free). end-Update note.]

Statements of Belief in Universal/Multi-Faith God that is either Compatible with Science OR Not in Conflict with Science

1. This point is about the belief that the Holy Bible is the authoritative word of God. [Change: Holy scripture of various faiths are typically viewed by people of those faiths as divine revelations. We believe that such holy scripture should be interpreted in an allegorical (as against literal) way such that it avoids conflict, as far as feasible, with established knowledge bases like that of science, history, jurisprudence etc.]

2. This point deals with God revealing Himself through nature. [No change needed. Wonderful view of nature as an expression of God.]

3. This point deals with belief about all people having sinned and needing to be saved. [Change: Most, if not all, faiths believe in the power of God to redeem and save believers from the limitations of worldly life, and take them to eternal life or merger with God. Most, if not all, faiths believe in the concept of sin/mistakes committed by persons, with faith in God and sincere repentance for the sin/mistake committed, leading to them being saved from the effect/burden of those sins/mistakes OR being given strength and divine grace to easily bear the effect/burden of those sins/mistakes.]

4. This point affirms faith in historical incarnation of Jesus Christ as man and affirms faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ. [Change: Some, but not all, faiths believe in historical (as against mythological) incarnation of God/Divine power as man (or animal), and in the course of that historical incarnation, the incarnation being both man as well as Divine endowed with great supernatural power. Some faith(s) believe in blessed prophet(s) who are used by God as a messenger with that prophet having some supernatural power endowed on him by God. But in these faith(s), they do not believe that God himself takes a human (or animal) incarnation.]

5. This point is about belief in a God who is directly involved with and intervenes in human affairs. I think this belief in God who answers prayers is a vital point. [No change needed.]

6. This point is about God being involved in natural laws (as creator and sustainer) but also having the ability to work outside natural laws by doing supernatural acts (miracles). [No change needed.]

7. This point deals with the belief that science is an important tool for understanding natural laws and that faith in God and science are “mutually hospitable”. [Change: We believe that science is an important tool for understanding natural laws (and that science is not limited to understanding nature). But we reject the view that science provides the most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other sources of knowledge including divine revelations of holy scripture of various faiths. We reject the view that science has debunked or refuted God and religion. We believe that faith in God can be, and is, in the case of some faiths, either compatible with science OR not in conflict with science.]

8. This point states the belief that God created universe and life over billions of years. It also clearly states the belief that God is actively involved in the world *now*. [No change needed.]

9. This point clearly states that evolution and belief in God can go together but also states the disagreement with the view that “evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God”. [No change needed.]

10. This point deals with the belief that human beings have been created by God as spiritual beings and that God has given human beings an elevated position in creation. [Change: While most religions do accept that the human being among all forms of life on earth has a larger spiritual role besides the biological role, some religions may not limit the spiritual role to only humans among all forms of life on earth.]

11. This point deals with belief that conversation among Christians on controversial matters dealing with science and faith can be done in a civil and honest manner. [Change: We believe that controversial matters dealing with science and various faiths should and can be done in a civil and honest manner.]

That finishes the points from the BioLogos “What We Believe” section.

I would like to humbly add a few more points for consideration.

a. We believe that God can be viewed as the embodiment of love and that we should love God with all our heart and all our mind, and that God responds to our love with various expressions of His love. As humans, most, if not all, of us may not be able to really comprehend why a loving God has created pain and suffering in this world but that may be due to our limited understanding and vision.

b. We believe that God, in the normal course of events, ensures that human beings (some faiths include other living beings as well) who do good acts receive good results (benefit) for those acts, and ensures that those who do bad acts receive bad results (suffering) for those acts. The belief about the manner in which the human being (or other living being) gets the benefits or suffering varies across faiths (e.g. in heaven/hell (or equivalent) or in future in this lifetime or, for those faiths which believe in reincarnation, one of the future lifetimes). However, the results (good/bad) of actions are not immutable and can be changed by factors like Grace of God. Further, some faiths like Hinduism have the belief that by dedicating the action to God and doing the action as sacred duty/offering to God, without any desire/attachment for the results, the person concerned does not accumulate future karmic entanglements involving good or bad karma, and is thereby saved from undergoing that karma in future (good or bad).

c. Atheists and agnostics should have the right to not believe in any God, and be able to openly state their lack of belief in God. Believers in God should view them with love and tolerance, and not hate them simply because they do not believe in God.

d. We acknowledge that there is no scientific evidence so far of supernatural power/divine power gathered under controlled conditions of scientific investigators, that is acceptable to leading science journals. This document does not speculate on why God/divine power has, so far, not provided evidence of supernatural power under controlled conditions, that is acceptable to science/leading science journals.

e. Subjective/individual experience of divine power, including supernatural/paranormal experiences, that intervened in a believer's life to help him/her, usually in response to earnest prayer to the Divine, is what makes some people become deeply committed believers in supernatural divine power that responds to prayer. However, mainstream science will not accept such subjective/individual experience as fact due to lack of objective evidence gathered under controlled conditions. We fully understand this view of mainstream science and have no quarrel/conflict with mainstream science on this count.

Reference

[1] Francis Collins – The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief, Caltech. 2009 – Transcript

=== end Mail & Facebook post contents ====

Given below are some comment exchanges from the Facebook post mentioned above:

[In response to my comment which had tagged her, "If you have the time and the inclination to read this post, I would be glad to have your valuable view."]

Yaani Drucker wrote:
Sai Ram Ravi, Thank you for the invitation.

3. This point deals with belief about all people having sinned and needing to be saved. [Change: This may not be in line with the beliefs of some faiths.]

Baba says, "Sin is a misnomer for what are really mistakes. I will efface all your karmas provided you vow to walk in righteousness from this moment forward. This suggests that we save ourselves through the transformation of our hearts. The 'laws of nature', specifically, 'as you sew so shall you reap', ie. karma, may not be immutable afterall.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Sairam sister Yaani Drucker! Thanks for your valuable response.

1) Yes, I need to show in the adaptation that results of actions are not immutable and can be changed by factors like Grace of God as well as by dedicating the action to God and doing the action without any desire for the result. I want to avoid using the word, Karma, as that brings in a specific reference to Hinduism. I am sure that other religions like Christianity too would have the belief that Grace of God can wipe out all the bad action results ('sin' results) that await the person on Judgement Day. Thanks for pointing this out. I missed out on the important exception clauses for such results of actions.

2) Yes, Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba has not really backed the all are sinners kind of belief. However, I think the belief that all are sinners is a very important aspect of Christian doctrine, isn't it? Mind you, in this document one needs to look at the established doctrine of various religions like Christianity, and then try to find common ground across established doctrine of various religions.
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Yaani Drucker wrote:
Ravi S. Iyer - Jesus spoke Aramaic. The word for sin is Katha, which means to miss the mark. Its an archery term. Jesus was saying that when you miss the mark, you must take better aim and go for the bull's eye and be victorious over any and all mistakes. He taught be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. To the prostitute, he said, go thy way and sin no more, meaning, don't do it again. Its exactly the same teaching as Sai Baba. Transform your heart. Save yourself.

Every religion has this as it foundation, and this is what should be encouraged and fostered, imhv. rather than that followers of Christianity are sinners who need someone outside themselves to save them. This was never Jesus message.

So it depends on what your objective is Ravi. Of course you will find support for the idea that all are sinners and only in believing that Jesus died for those sins can one be saved, but I maintain that this is not true Christianity. This is a misinterpretation and misapplication of Jesus message. Jesus message is the same message as you will find in any and all true religions. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. These are teachings from the Jewish tradition. Jesus was a Jew, and he quoted Jewish scripture.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Sairam sister Yaani Drucker! Thanks a ton for your knowledgeable comment. I find it to be immensely valuable as I try to get some understanding of Christian church doctrine.

Personally, based on my limited readings & study of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John in the New Testament part of the Holy Bible (I hope to study them more in future sometime), I tend to agree with your words, "Jesus was saying that when you miss the mark, you must take better aim and go for the bull's eye and be victorious over any and all mistakes. He taught be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. To the prostitute, he said, go thy way and sin no more, meaning, don't do it again. Its exactly the same teaching as Sai Baba. Transform your heart. Save yourself."

Noted your valuable words here: "Of course you will find support for the idea that all are sinners and only in believing that Jesus died for those sins can one be saved, but I maintain that this is not true Christianity. This is a misinterpretation and misapplication of Jesus message."

Something more about Christianity and my objectives in the document:
The Roman Catholic Church, headed now by Pope Francis, is the pre-eminent Christian religious institution in the world today. The USA, European countries and many other countries of the world, including India, also have many well known Christian Protestant denominations perhaps originating with the sixteenth century mission/work of Martin Luther and John Calvin, which do not follow all of the Roman Catholic church doctrine. And then we also have to note the nineteenth century mission/work of Joseph Smith and his followers - the Mormon church.

[BTW there are two Christian churches close to Puttaparthi, in a village called Karnatakanagapalli (Swami's mother Easwaramma is said to have hailed from that village, with some claiming that Swami was actually born in that village perhaps as mother Easwaramma had come to her mother's home for delivery), with many of its (Christian) congregants living in Puttaparthi. I believe both these churches are of the Protestant faith. Andhra Pradesh state in which Puttaparthi lies, seems to have a significant presence of Christian Protestant churches and followers.] 

I have the impression that the Roman Catholic Church doctrine as well as the doctrine of most, if not all, significant Protestant Christian denominations, subscribe to the belief that the BioLogos, What We Believe section states very clearly and crisply in its point 3, "We believe that all people have sinned against God and are in need of salvation." That is, the majority of the Christian population in the world, which is listed by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations, in 2012 as 2.2 billion people and 31.5% of the world population, would be taught by their priests and pastors about this doctrine. Yes, some of the followers may not fully believe in the doctrine taught to them by their priests and pastors. But neither would they typically go to the extent of publicly debating the doctrine with their priests & pastors, as that would be strongly discouraged, I guess, by the associated church.

In this document (adaptation of BioLogos belief in Christ which is compatible with Science, to universal/multi-faith belief in God that is compatible with Science), I would like to respect the beliefs enshrined in the doctrines of major Christian denominations in the world today, even if I personally respectfully disagree with some of those beliefs. Note that Christianity has the largest following in the world today.
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A small clarification to my earlier comment: Karma belief is not only part of Hinduism but also of Buddhism and Jainism.

Sister Yaani, May I publicly share your comments on my free blog: ravisiyer.blogspot.com?
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Yaani Drucker Of course dear brother, you are welcome to use any comments that you find helpful.

As to the idea put forward that all have sinned, the primordial sin or error that is being referred to, imhv, is the making of ego. We all made ego to replace God, regardless of religious affiliation, and thus find ourselves to be seemingly less than God, even though Swami tells us we are God, no different from God. We must throw off ego to be restored that true identity. But again this is our error from which all errors have sprung, and no one outside of us can relinquish ego for us. We must overcome ego within ourselves. And we do this through leading lives of goodness, purity, holiness, selflessness, and by looking at ego, investigating what does ego serve? Once we discover ego's valulessness, we will let it go instantly, for not only is it valueless, it is the underlying cause of all sickness, suffering, death, destruction, brutality, war.... since the beginning of time.

Baba says of ego: To overcome the ego is a well-nigh impossible task. many have overcome the 6 enemies, but rare indeed is that hero who has overcome his ego. He also guides inner inquiry in relation to ego: Where does ego come from? Is it a weed cultivated for your destruction? Where is ego before birth? after death?

I came to understand much more cogently what ego is, its origins, its agenda, its character or lack thereof.... through my study of A Course In Miracles (ACIM), a book scribed in the mid 60's by a woman who claimed to hear Jesus voice instruct her to take notes. Sai Baba has said of this book, 'This is my book. This is my very best book. This is the Advaita for the West.'

In my study of ACIM I have come to understand that we made ego to replace God, as an attempt to overcome the fact that we were created, and thus not as equal to God as God created us. In essence we attempted to recreate ourselves in our image, and deny that we were created in God's image and likeness.

While it is erroneous thinking that motivated our action, we made ego, and as with every creation we gave ego all our God given power, which it uses against us, to disempower us, in order to continue to exist at our expense. Ego is empowered solely by our belief in it, our conviction that it is a friend. We have been bamboozled by ego to this misappropriated affiliation, and it has been the cause of all our suffering, life time after life time.

Ego's premise is false, as we cannot create our creator. That would be like a child pretending to give birth to her mother. As ego's premise is false, it does not really exist, not in truth, not in eternity. Thus we find ourselves in an experience of time. We plunged ourselves into time when we belong in eternity.

Though ego does not exist, it is the full power of God turned against us, and it has a will, and it has managed very successfully to fool us into thinking so many things will lead to salvation, beside relinquishing it. The last think ego wants is to be looked at, scrutinized... for it will be found wanting and simultaneously relinquished by any who dares simply look. Ego wants us to think our salvation depends on something or someone outside of us. In this regard every religion has been thrown off the trail masterfully by ego. The only true solution is to overcome ego within. That is enlightenment. That serves all mankind. That serves all religions and restores them to their original intent of uniting in love for the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. As Baba says, The greatest service you can render to the planet is to wake up to the truth of who you are.
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Yaani Drucker wrote:
Can you use your religion to wake up? Yes, of course. Each religion is pure at is base, but most have been corrupted over time by ego. So to use religion we have to dive deep within for answers.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks sister Yaani Drucker for your valuable views.
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--- end Facebook post comment exchanges ---

Given below are some email exchanges (approval has been given by mail correspondents to share):

A correspondent (C1) wrote (slightly edited):
[In response to "3. This point deals with belief about all people having sinned and needing to be saved. [Change: This may not be in line with the beliefs of some faiths."]

C1: Hinduism believes that you are divine and the end goal is to realise that divinity. Christianity [Ravi: Christian church doctrine] says, you are a sinner and need to be saved. Humanism says, that you are a human being and by your actions you can sway upwards or downards from the animal kingdom. Nothing more nothing less. Juxtapose these thoughts. Christianity says, that there is one life and at the end of it you are judged. Hinduism says, that you are born again and again till you reach Nirvana. Humanism says that you have just one life.

Hinduism is a vast ocean of so many schools of thought, so many practices (some regressive). But, the caveat is most practicing Hindus are least connected with the theology and philosophy and are still stuck with rituals and practices.(unfortunately)

Personally, I believe in being a human being and love which are universal(including religion and no religion) to all life and you don't need a religion for that. Best part is Hinduism is perfectly compatible with Science based no religion/Humanism unlike the Abrahamic(history centric) religions which are not compatible within their own cousins. Thus the Jews [Ravi: Jewish religious institutional doctrine says that they] are still waiting for their messiah. Christians (at the theological level) [Ravi: Christian church doctrine] say that Jesus is the last prophet and he is the only path. Muslims(at the theological level) [Ravi: Islamic religious institutional doctrine] say Mohammed is the last prophet and Allah is the only path. Please note that, these comments are primarily about the theology and not the people. As I said, people are capable of love and hatred irrespective of religion or no religion.

[In response to "5. This point is about belief in a God who is directly involved with and intervenes in human affairs. I think this belief in God who answers prayers is a vital point. [No change needed.]"]

C1: Prayer that seeks help from God when in pain works only to the extent a pain killer/anesthesia helps in relieving pain. It is a very good decoy but a  decoy nevertheless. There is a different form of prayer that seeks universal happiness. It is also good as it fosters love for humanity and nature. But to think that our prayers are heard by some one and help can come from super natural forces is only playing with probability and nothing else. Karmaneyvaadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana. Ma karma phala hetur bhoormate sangostva karmani 

[Ravi: The above words are from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 47. Its translation from http://www.swamivivekanandaquotes.org/2014/05/bhagavad-gita-chapter-2-verse-47.html is, "You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction."

In http://vahini.org/downloads/geethavahini.html#ChapterV, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba provides a different interpretation of the part about never having rights to the fruit of work/action (karma). Here is the relevant extract:

When man has a right for engaging in Karma, he has a right also for the fruit; no one can deny this or refuse his right. But the doer can, out of his own free will and determination, refuse to be affected by the result, whether favourable or unfavourable. The Geetha shows the way: "Do... and deny the consequence." The desire for the result of your action is a sign of Rajoguna: the giving up of action since you cannot benefit by the fruit is a sign of Thamoguna. To engage oneself in Karma, to know that the result will follow; and yet not to be attached to it or getting concerned with it - that is the sign of Sathwaguna.

The Karmayogi who has learnt this secret of "Karma combined with Phalathyaga" should have Samabuddhi, more than Sangabuddhi. For the Sangabuddhi draws him into attachments and entanglements. "This Karma is mine; its results are due to my endeavours. I am the person entitled to it," such are the thoughts which bind the doer. Krishna advises that one should rise above this Sangabuddhi. He declares that Samathwam is the genuine Yoga. (Samathwam yogamuchyathe).

--- end extract from Geeta Vahini ---
end-Ravi]

[In response to "6. This point is about God being involved in natural laws (as creator and sustainer) but also having the ability to work outside natural laws by doing supernatural acts (miracles). [No change needed.]"]

C1: I live in India and we are an ancient civilization but a young democracy still reeling from colonial hangover after experiencing nearly 3-5 centuries of external exploitation and still having many old feudal structures. We are a semi-feudal society with so much of poverty and a democracy that needs to mature a lot. Given this backdrop, there is lot more work to be done by humans instead of waiting for a God and his miracles. It is humans through sustained efforts that solve problems not miracles or super natural acts. Even if the later things exist, they are no panacea for the problems we face. It is our lives and we ought to better them. Though these comments are specific to India, some of the aspects are relevant to humanity in general. In short, problems are solved through Science, technology, love and honest pursuit of politics(not power hunger but honest politics like that of MKG etc..)

I am anticipating a rebuttal centered around the point, 'God has created the natural laws and He doesn't violate them untill and unless there are some very very special circumstances.'

Just check out the --snip--. If the number of people they claim to have cured happened in a hospital/scientific conditions, humanity would get healthcare at zero cost. Sincerest apologies if I sound harsh.

[In response to "10. This point deals with the belief that human beings have been created by God as spiritual beings and that God has given human beings an elevated position in creation. [Change: While most religions do ..."]

C1: Just wait till the evolution of Artificial Intelligence. Too bad or good, we may not be around to see it. For it can boomerang too

[In response to "11. This point deals with belief that conversation among Christians on controversial matters dealing with science and faith can be done in a civil and honest manner. [Change: This would need to ...]

C1: I too have deep regard for institutions that serve humanity but science, technology, love and democracy are greatly ignored by many of the religious people just as many of the atheists don't give credit to the institutions and mechanisms you mentioned. Science and technology are very powerful, they can build vaccines as well as nuclear bombs. Religion and spirituality are also very powerful. They can heal wounds or trigger those nuclear bombs created by science&technology.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote back (slightly edited):
Sairam --name-snipped--,

As I went through your comments, one thing struck me very clearly. I don't think you believe in divinity of Christ or of Krishna and Rama, do you? I mean, I don't think you view that Rama and Krishna were able to do superhuman/supernatural acts because of their divinity.

If that is the case, then you are not a man of belief. Naturally then you will find much of the Biologos, 'What We Believe', as well as my suggested adaptation to have a lot of problems. I think I need to limit my interactions on this to only with those who believe in divine figures like Jesus Christ or Rama and Krishna.

Otherwise the gap is too much to start with itself. Please don't take any offence at what I wrote. I appreciate your taking your valuable time to read and respond to me. But if I try to respond to the points you have raised, I don't think my responses will help us to progress in a fruitful discussion as I have belief and you don't have belief! That is too fundamental a difference to bridge for such discussions.

All the best! Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond.
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C1 responded:
I love Jesus.
I love Rama.
I love Krishna.
I love Satya Sai.

It doesn't matter whether they did super human things are not. What matters is what can humans do? Many many people conveniently ignore our duties as humans, because of this super human expectations from God. It doesn't matter whether Rama was God incarnation or not. He strived for Dharma. So, in whatever little capacity I can, I will strive to be a good human being. (In my life), I am interested in the message that SSSB [Ravi: Sri Sathya Sai Baba] gave. I want to follow Love all Serve All. How does it matter whether I am a believer or not. If God exists, he will love me more than many other people who pray to him. Because, I try to be more truthful to what Jesus said, "How can you love God whom you do not see, if you can not love your neighbour whom you see." If Krishna came back and speaks to me, he will be happy with me vis-a-vis many other people who worship him, because day in and day out, I tell myself Karmaneyva adhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana. Ma karma phala hetur bhoormate sangostva karmani.

As the famous quote goes, "Love is the answer. What was the question?"

In the story of Abu ben adam, he was not there in the list of people who love God but topped the chart of people loved by God.

Best wishes Sir.
...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma_yoga

In my personal case, I have no desire for even liberation. I have no claim towards the fruits of my action. I will do my duty. End of story.
...
I think I have shared this video with you earlier too. But am not sure if you had time to look at it. Request you to spare some time and I think you may not regret.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAsFAds-H_o [Ravi: The video title is "Spiritual humanism | Jay Lakhani | TEDxLoughborough". It is 21 min. 34 secs long.]
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Sairam --name-snipped--,

Noted the 24 minute video (that will need some scheduling to view). Hope to see it sometime in the future. I do recall the video link but don't recall whether I saw the whole of it, the last time you may have passed it to me.

Noted your other responses. Great to know that you love Jesus, Rama, Krishna and Sathya Sai, and that you are interested in following the message Sathya Sai gave (Love All Serve All), and that you want to strive to be a good human being.

But, for the purposes of discussion in this mail thread which deals with Belief in God that is compatible with Science, I think it does matter whether you believe whether Jesus and/or Rama and/or Krishna and/or Sathya Sai did superhuman things or not. And there I think, as of now at least, you seem to be either in the don't have such belief or have serious doubt about it categories. Therefore it is quite natural that you will find many issues/problems with the adapted document that I have proposed for Belief in (multi-faith/universal) God that is compatible with Science.
===============

A Sai university alumnus and an Indian scientist-academic wrote (slightly edited):

Dear Iyer sir,

Sairam.

Read your mail with interest, as usual. I think it is excellent to see accomplished and knowledgeable researchers willing to accept that there is more to the world and life than we can perceive or possibly ever know.

Surely, I have no other comments on your last two points except that they are spot on.
...
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An Indian computer scientist (C2) wrote (slightly edited):

Dear Ravi

I was wondering how to respond to your message asking me to comment on beliefs of God and science. Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs. Beliefs that fall in the territory of science ("I believe that in ten years we will know the particular conditions that result in the creation of life in cells") may be discussed and countered. A statement such as "I believe that a perfect sunset is the most beautiful natural sight" tells you something about the person and cannot be disputed, though one may disagree with it. Religious beliefs are beyond all this. 

By the way, the statement that science is about the natural world is not complete: natural sciences are about the natural world but there are other sciences. One may quibble about whether mathematics is or is not a scientific discipline but theoretical computer science certainly is. The basic theory of computer science was created by Alan Turing and does not require any physical computer to be built. His theory of computability was built on an entirely conceptual machine which we now call the Turing machine. Of course, many of the problems studied in theoretical computer science have arisen from observations made on real computations executing on physical computers. It is unlikely that they would have been found so soon without our learning from physical computers but there is no reason why they could not have been devised by some very clever mind.

We cannot question the right of each individual to believe in any religious faith (that does not entail harm to other humans), whether this faith is recognised in Indian law or not. By the way, I do not think specific religions should be made part of Indian law because it suggests that new religions which do not have that recognition are in some way less important. Similarly, atheists and agnostics should have the right to not believe in any God.  See e.g. 
http://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/lokayata-hinduism-atheist-india-religion-narendra-dabholkar/story/1/5954.html [Ravi: This article is titled, "Why a Tinder date is better than 72 virgins in paradise" with a subtitle, "A short history of atheists in India.", written by Palash Krishna Mehrotra, dated 29th Aug 2015.]
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote back (slightly edited):
Thanks --name-snipped-- for your valuable response.

One clear message that I have got from your mail is that I must include one more point in my adaptation on the lines of: "Atheists and agnostics should have the right to not believe in any God." and believers in God must view them with love and not hate them simply because they do not believe in any God.

The first two paragraphs of the article you linked gives even more reason from an Indian and Indian sub-continent context why this additional point is important to include.

[Ravi: For copyright reasons, I have given below a short extract from the first paragraph followed by paraphrased description of the rest of the first paragraph, and the second paragraph.]
"I am an atheist. Let me say it again. I am an atheist. There's a reason why I say this, why I repeat this declaration with pleasure and pride. For there are societies where you cannot say this. Pakistan is one among seven countries in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Maldives, where a confession to atheism can attract capital punishment. In neighbouring Bangladesh, atheist bloggers are hacked to death in full public view, and with alarming regularity."

The author then states that the message to such declared atheists in Bangladesh is to leave Bangladesh, say by seeking asylum in some foreign country.

The second paragraph of the article mentions that in secular India one has a right to follow a religion or to openly not follow any religion. It states that the 2011 (Indian) census had a "non-faith category" with 2.87 million Indians shown as non-faith category.

Ravi: Pakistan and Bangladesh are two neighbouring countries of India! So it is essential that my adaptation of belief in God that is compatible with science, explicitly states loving respect and tolerance for atheists and agnostics.

Also noted your point about science and natural world. Will carefully examine your statements in this regard and consider suitable modification in my adaptation document.
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C2 wrote:
By the way, I have always refused to state my religion in census data and other similar activities. I believe my religion, or lack of it, should not be the concern of the state. The enumerators accept this position and put my religion down as 'Indian'. I don't know if the 'non-faith category' you referred to includes people like me.
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Ravi S. Iyer responded (slightly edited):
[To C2 writing his religion down as 'Indian' in the census:] Interesting!
..
In my limited social media writing work on these matters, I think you are the first person that I have come across who is deliberately choosing to be in the not-known category for faith/no-faith. From your responses to me on such matters I had presumed you belonged to atheist/agnostic/non-theist group. Now it seems to me that you would prefer to be in the not-known category even in social media interactions on the matter (besides Indian census data), and I respect your preference.
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--- end email feedback exchanges ---

Some additional thoughts of mine:
I respectfully disagree with some of Francis Collins' beliefs. However I do appreciate many of his views on God & Science. How he personally got convinced about existence of divine power is not relevant to this particular document of belief in God that is compatible with science.
...
"Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes. Therefore, we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God."  - These statements of point 9 seem to me to be a good step forward in synchronizing belief in God with the scientific theory of evolution which has overwhelming support of scientists. This is in healthy contrast to some other approaches where literal interpretation of holy scripture creates an irreconcilable conflict between such belief in God and the scientific theory of evolution.
...
Point 5 of the Biologos beliefs clearly states the belief in a God who intervenes in the world: "We believe that God is directly involved in the lives of people today through acts of redemption, personal transformation, and answers to prayer."
...
Subjective experience of divine power is what makes some people, including me, become committed believers in divine power. So at an individual level, I have got subjective proof of divine power that intervened in my life. However, science will not accept my subjective experience as fact, and I fully understand why and I am comfortable with that.

It is not necessary for me to have a detailed explanation of the mechanism with which divine power intervened in my life. The overall explanation that I intensely prayed to divine power for help and that led to divine power to intervene in my life and help me, is enough for me. Science will not be satisfied with such an 'overall explanation' approach. That's fine by me.

These beliefs and subjective experiences of mine will not be accepted by science but I don't think they are in conflict with science. Science, I think, is NOT in a position to make any conclusive or authoritative statements (as against speculative statements) about these subjective experiences of mine, as it does not have verifiable data on it.

I think I should seriously consider modifying the document title to "Crisp Statements of Belief in God that is either Compatible with Science OR Not in Conflict with Science".
...
I think I should consider adding a new point to my adaptation (document) on the lines of: There is no scientific evidence so far of supernatural power/divine power gathered under controlled conditions of scientific investigators, that is acceptable to leading science journals. This document does not speculate on why God/divine power has, so far, not provided evidence of supernatural power under controlled conditions, that is acceptable to science/leading science journals.
...
I have attempted to address the issue of pain and suffering in this sentence of new point a) in my adaptation: "As humans, most, if not all, of us may not be able to really comprehend why a loving God has created pain and suffering in this world but that may be due to our limited understanding and vision."

I personally cannot really comprehend, as of now, why there is so much pain and suffering in this world, and why God allows for this pain and suffering. I am aware of arguments/explanations from the Hindu, and also perhaps the Buddhist and Jain Karmic viewpoint, that the pain and suffering are bad results of our bad actions in the past. They are a way perhaps to make us come back on the good path and to seek the grace of God to rise above both pleasure and pain and dwell in an unshakeable peace within viewing the world as a passing show, a dream. .... But I personally do not have any mystical experience of being able to see/know such karmic cause and effect. I go by belief in revelations of Hindu scripture as well as revelations from my beloved and revered spiritual master, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, which are on the lines of what I have written above. 
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[I thank wikipedia, biologos.org, swamivivekanandaquotes.org, vahini.org and dailyo.in, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts (short extracts from biologos.org,  swamivivekanandaquotes.org and dailyo.in) from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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