Non-Hindus please read Part 1 - which explains the Scientific Hinduism movement and how they strive to reject myth and superstition and seek out the truth.
The Scientific Hinduism FB page says that if God exists, He is pure energy and in all men. I understand their commendable sentiments - and what they strive for. But this open letter to them was - I hope - a helpful response.
Their motto is "Truth Always Wins". Awesome
Blaise Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know" So this should caution us all from assuming we are totally objective.
I take your sincerity for granted - as I too appreciate the benefit of the doubt and know I am capable of bias and ignorance.
I don't think we can know that God, if He exists, is pure energy and therefore that all men are a part of God. I do believe something like that. The relevant biblical story is Jacob's confrontation with his impious brother Esau. Yet, in Esau's face, he saw the face of God. Jesus said similar things.
But I don't think we can scientifically say what God IS or ISN'T as an a priori assumption.
Christians struggle with the first 11 chapters of Genesis. This is condensed history with obvious Mesopotamian origins - so very ancient and matching the Epic of Gilgamish and other connections. This is how many Christians deal with this issue - rationally I hope!
The Hebrews knew it was not literal. It is said that the Garden of Eden was "east of Eden" (in India????). But it was also at the headwaters of the Tigris, Euphrates, the Blue Nile and the White Nile. Obviously, the locals knew where these rivers are and that they do not share a common headwaters. There are many such hints in these passages.
Yet Genesis 10 matched my linguistics class at Western Michigan University exactly - or nearly so. Linguistic evolution and racial evolution are not an exact match, either.
After those 11 chapters the narrative reads like modern literature. There are easy confirmations of the vast value of these texts as usefulhistory. My mentor was the outstanding historian Paul Maier since the age of 13. I studied under him at WMU also. I also connect with Neil Bierling - the outstanding archaeologist of the Philistines
I found, since my youth, that it was harder to NOT believe in the resurrection of Jesus - and other similar events - then to believe.
Whether or not you believe it is true, one must acknowledge that there is a strong appeal to empirical eye witness evidence in the New Testament. One theory would be that the apostles wereliars. Their eyewitness claims do not allow a "mystical" interpretation. Sothe appeal to empirical evidence provides stability to the adherents. Insecure religious people tend to OVERCOMPENSATE and become repressive because they have nothing PERSUASIVE to offer.
John makes an overt claim to see Jesus die by the piercing of Jesus side, into his heart, with a spear. The apostles all claimed to have dined with Jesus and touched his wounds. They didn't have a "warm fuzzy feeling". They are liars or eyewitnesses. The Greeks were the mortal enemy of the Jews - and a perfect gift to an empiricist. They directly challenged this eye witness testimony - as you can read in the book of Acts and in 1 Cor 13.
The Greeksattempted to destroy the religion of the Jews. Channukah is the celebration of the Jewish defeat of the greatest warriors on the planet at the time. You Indians know all about Alexander The Great and his successors !!
So when Paul spoke in Athens to the philosophers on Mars Hill we see a great picture (Acts 17:22-31). Paul says (1 Cor 15) that the resurrected body is just a different type of body - just as animals, fish, humans, celestial bodies, etc, differ. God is able (of course) to create an immortal resurrected body like the body of Jesus. That's rational (whether one agrees with him or not). He then stated that over 500 people had witnessed Jesus in his resurrected body - and that most of them were still alive and available for cross examination. Many of these people - Peter for instance - were frequent visitors in Greece (Corinth), and so WERE available for cross examination. Note that Paul very clearly seeks to put the concept of the resurrection body on a very RATIONAL basis.
It is clear that the doubters were WITHIN or very close to the actual Christian community. So they WERE in a great position to cross examine these eye witnesses Noone on earth would have been more likely to do so.
In debate, at Kalamazoo College, an atheist graciously and sincerely conceded the validity of this point:
"How were uneducated men - the apostles - able to match up a diverse, extremely extensive, paradoxical, time specific (70 weeks of years) body of prophetic predictions of the Messiah with a historical figure - Jesus. The greatest Jewish scholar of the era failed miserably in his attempt - not even coming close. He identified Simon Bar Kochba (Bar Kosiba) as the Messiah. No match at all ! The Jews were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands.
This is a simple point - and a very empirical one. Nothing is ever proven. One can always doubt one's senses and many other things. The question is one of EVIDENCE.
Hinduism is under attack by secular rationalism. They cannot continue to worship idols in the modern era. They cannot fail to feel attacked by the beef eating of their Vedic precedecesors. The Islamists are rubbing the prohibition against idolatry and image making in the Vedas in their faces. The Caste system, taught in their scriptures, is resoundingly rejected by Hindu leaders. So these leaders plainly say their own scriptures are false and immoral.
I believe Hinduism can and should adopt Jesus as a pure expression of Love. They can embrace the empiricism - giving stability to their religion. India was founded by Gandhi and the man who wrote the Indian Constitution - with Jesus' teachings as a key focal point. The history of tolerance goes through early Christianity, through the Swiss Brethren, the Anabaptists (who were fiercely persecuted) and now to the evangelicals. They are the authors of western tolerance. This tradition should be embraced and MADE INDIA'S OWN. India has made English an Indian language. Jesus belongs to India.
Christians, on the other hand, rejected apostolic mysticism during the Reformation. Hindustani Christianity will have this paradox: It will be both empirical and mystical.
May God richly bless you in your pursuit of truth!
Truth always wins!
I love your motto and hope this letter has been sufficiently modest and open minded to be helpful.