Immanuel Can wrote:
But how does one get the premise, "Harming children is wrong," since there is no objective truth to such a judgment, according to you? It's certainly not the case that everyone agrees: for older conservative Muslims marry children as young as six, and rape them at 9 or 12, and consider that proper. Moreover, the Muslims are, if anything, procreating more often and earlier than we are, so "survival of the species" looks to be on their side, not ours.
What you are saying is that you feel you want to assert ethics and morality independent of God; you're not showing by doing so that you have any right or legitimacy in doing so, since you don't believe those things are grounded in any objective truth. Your whole prohibition against paedophelia, on your account, has to be merely arbitrary on your part.
I am not saying harming children is right or wrong. But education brings with it the realization that harming children is going to cause a problem towards the propagation of the species. Those who understand that, try and prevent it. And you are right. Everyone does not agree. Even in India, child marriage is prevalent among the more economically and socially backward societies. We can attribute the marriage or rape of children to ignorance or pure self interest. As you say, the muslims are procreating more often and earlier than we are so their population is increasing at a rapid pace. But other than the oil rich countries, you can see that quality of life is abysmal in most islamic countries and that is again due to rampant illitracy.
I don't want to assert any ethics and morality independent of God. All I am saying is that unless our species acts in a manner which does not benefit the species as a whole, sooner or later we will become extinct. The choice is ours to make. Reality will simply do what it does best. If I am wrong and paedophilia is not bad for the species then it will continue as will the species. Otherwise we will become extinct if pedophilia becomes all pervasive.
By "self awareness," I presume you mean "the realization that the self (atman) does not really exist at all. It is an illusion (maya), a mere projection of the great oneness (brahman) out of which all things have their appearance. This is the "happiness" Hinduism promises, no?
By self awareness I mean the realization of the self. All its limitations and all its strengths. And there are two schools of thought with respect to the atman. One believes that it does not exist at all and is one and the same as the brahman. The other believes that the two are different. But both believe that the "I" is not the atman and must be taken out of the equation if one wants true happiness.
If so, it is not likely to prove ethically informative. For if a system can rationalize anything and preclude nothing, then it sheds no light at all on what we ought and ought not to do, and tells us nothing about good or bad, right or wrong, or even preferable and non-preferable.
Well, that is debatable. I suppose you would have to imbibe the hindu culture along with the scriptures to understand that a lot of light can be shed on things without shedding any light on them at all.
But, in fact, this omni-inclusiveness is a way in which Hinduism speaks, but is not consistent with itself. For it also speaks oppositely. Even the most devout Hindu will tell you that Hinduism itself is the preferable way, and that, say Muslims or Catholics or Jews are pursuing alternate (but inferior) ways. And absent that assertion, Hinduism cannot even recommend itself...not even to a natural-born Indian. For if it is in no way "better" than alternatives, then embracing it has no value, and rejecting it has no cost for anyone. Thus the entire system could simply be dismissed.
I have not come across many Hindus who claim that Hinduism is the preferable way.( I am assuming you are talking about the Krishna sect or the Swaminarayan sect). If they do, they do not really understand Hinduism. Hinduism is not really a religion at all. It is simply a way of life. Hindus have never ever tried to convert anyone to Hinduism. In fact, strictly you could not become one even if you wanted to. You are only born a Hindu. It is a pretty exclusive club. Hinduism learns from other religions and if it likes something, it just incorporates it into Hinduism and moves on. And Hindus don't really differentiate between the Gods of one religion or the other. You will find a hindu walking into a church and pray to Jesus as devoutly as any other Christian. To him, it does not matter that Jesus is not a Hindu God. What matters is that you think he is God and that is good enough for him. He will respect your God as much as his own. So I will have to disagree with your belief that Hindus will say their religion is better and yours in inferior.
And you are right. A Hindu does not care if you embrace the values of Hinduism or not or reject it. You are welcome to any choice you make including the one to dismiss it. But you must understand that Hinduism survived centuries of muslim rule without being obliterated. It never even occurred to the muslims to convert Hindus to their fold in an aggressive manner. And that probably is because Hindus are not aggressive about their religion which again is because it is not really a religion but a way of life. Religion is a part of it of course.
Take for example, someone like me. I am an atheist. I am still a Hindu. I am welcome to not believe in God and still other Hindus will welcome me as a Hindu. It just does not matter what my beliefs are. I suppose it is something you have to experience to understand truly.