Sharing With Atheists

February 15, 2010 at 1:51 am | Posted in Life Lessons, Reflections | Leave a comment
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[PureInsight.org]

Author: Meng Xing

Some people who believe in atheism fervently think that people who believe in Gods are seeking spiritual reassurance because they are weak and fear death. They think Theists do good deeds to benefit their own lives in the future while atheists are people who have the courage to accept the existence of reality. Although they don’t welcome diseases and death in their lives, they accept them as objective phenomenon and consider themselves courageous people. Moreover, they regard what they have done in their lives as meaningful and valuable to human beings and beneficial to later generations. They take this to be the meaning and goal of the human life. They also believe the spirit manifested from this behavior is really brave, selfless and noble.

In regards to this, from my own perspective of theism I prefer not to comment whether this is right or wrong. My understanding is that a person or a group of people holding some opinions and beliefs must have their own reasons. Human beings have never been unified by a single belief system. I believe those who have a righteous and beneficial belief system should surely have sufficient respect and tolerance for others who have different beliefs. It is not necessary to verify ones beliefs by degrading others.

Here, what I would like to do is raise some questions about the views of some atheists the same way atheists do to theists. Questions asked by atheists always greatly help further my understanding and enlightening of Dafa.

1. What is the scientific spirit? Is believing in empirical science equal to having the scientific spirit?

These are my questions for atheists. However, I also have some understandings and insights into these questions and I would like to share them. If my understandings are incorrect, your corrections are sincerely welcome.

For instance, the view of empirical science is that when a person dies, it’s like a lamp being extinguished and there is not a soul. I believe this view actually came into being during the primary stage of empirical science’s course of evolution. What empirical science is able to prove are those things that are visible, audible or detectable by instruments. Thus, when a person dies and his connection with this human world ends, empirical science concludes that the person’s life has vanished and since the soul is not visible to the human eye it doesn’t exist. Without an “appropriate” experimental means to detect it, it must not exist. Is this conclusion correct? I think there is a fitting analogy to this. You cannot say that a baby is incorrect when just after it is born it believes and concludes that milk is the only food in the world!

With the lapse of time and the evolution of science, this conclusion is being challenged. There have been many reincarnation cases in the world that have been documented and verified through “appropriate” scientific guidelines. Even now there have been many scientific experiments done in laboratories that prove the existence of soul. Then shouldn’t those who believe in empirical science update their old knowledge and notions with the results of new scientific discoveries? (Since you are a believer of scientific experiments, how can it be any other way?)

But as far as I know, many people doubt the authenticity of such experiments. Reasons are normally categorized as follows:

1) How can it be possible that a soul exists after death?

2) It must be verified by doing more experiments. When it is widespread and recognized by everyone, I will naturally believe it is true. Otherwise, I will not believe it.

3) Who knows whether the experimental research results have been fabricated by someone trying to please the public or to cater to their tastes? Maybe it was purely for commercial interest?

I think the first attitude is to reject subjectivity; the second is refusing to acknowledge or judge the results; the third is suspicion of the characters of the people who did the experiments. In regards to any of the three, I am not sure which one of them manifests the scientific spirit.

I think it is natural that when a new finding is discovered, especially one that challenges people’s old notions, doubts will arise and people will wonder ‘is this new finding is really possible?’ However, if the thoughts are, “How could it be this way? How was the experiment performed? Was it performed in accordance with scientific standards?”, then I feel it is by no means related to scientific thought or the scientific spirit. I don’t know whether you agree with me or not.

In fact, the approach empirical science has adopted to recognize the world has determined that it can only evolve when people break through their old notions. Since, when some results of empirical science are accepted notions will be formed in people’s minds. Thus, when people think about things, they will certainly use that limited knowledge and notions to deal with and understand it. However, the universe is so extremely immense and mysterious. When scientific explorers move forward, explore things in further depth and discover something new it becomes critical for people to be able to constantly clear their mind of the previous scientific understanding, get rid of interference from old notions, and comprehend and judge new discoveries with a real scientific approach.

In life, old notions can easily dominate people. Although the scientific spirit is always spoken in people’s mouth and respected in people’s heart, people usually have no awareness that they are using old notions formed from scientific research results in the past to replace real scientific thought. As a matter of fact, it does not mean that a person who is doing scientific research or believing in science has scientific thought or scientific spirit. Please think about how many tribulations Einstein had, he who is considered to be the most explorative and groundbreaking scientist during his scientific career! Weren’t most of the tribulations that Einstein faced caused by scientists of his time? Then, my friends, are you an atheist who really has scientific spirit?

Although the theory that matter determines mind has been prevailing for a period of time and accepted by many people, I think the determining factor for the evolution and progress of science is the force of human personality. If there are no sober brains, no broad minds, and no selfless people willing to give up all vested interests for upholding the truth, then how can science make any progress? Courage and spiritual strength are needed to break through the old notions and difficulties created by people who are unwilling to change or advance their perspectives. Without these attributes, it will be impossible to take in scientific thought. If people cannot break through their old notions, how can they become selfless? Actually, it is not noble and selfless to just accept a theory that sounds noble and selfless. Real nobility and selflessness requires people to be able to give up all their personal interest for the truth. Unfortunately, in our current society, which is full of problems, only two groups are able to live restfully above politics and material pursuits; people who think they possess the truth and people who think they are too helpless to change anything in their lives.

It should be the basic foundation for empirical scientists to revere the unknown and keep a very modest and open mind at all times. Otherwise while they believe and say they are contributing to human society and science, the actual effect achieved is restricting and hindering the progress of science and humanity. Isn’t this is a very serious issue?

2. What is beneficial to humankind?

When Einstein finally realized that what his impetus and contribution to the research of nuclear physics created for humankind was a very powerful killing weapon, he felt very guilty and regretful for his contribution.

A person may not be able to remember the large number of beautiful and expensive toys his parents bought for him when he was a child. However, he will not forget the rag doll or wood toy his parents made for him by their own two hands with patience.

George Washington’s father might feel wistful for the little cherry-tree chopped by Washington, as there would be a fruitful harvest when the tree grew up. But he knew that honesty is much more valuable than what could be obtained from the fruits of that cherry-tree.

What does a person need most: honesty, respect, nurturing, tolerance and love or techniques, desires, violence, distain and reprisal for beliefs that are different from ones own? I think most people would choose the former.

What is really beneficial to humankind? If a person has only very little tolerance for things in his own life and is unaware what harm he could do to others intentionally or unintentionally during his lifetime what beneficial things can he leave to later generations? I am not placing blame on anybody. I am only hoping that everyone takes this issue into account.

Atheists believe that what they see with their own eyes is tangible while theists believe it’s illusory. Why? “Let me give you an example. In Buddhism, it is said that every phenomenon in human society is illusory and unreal. How are they illusions? Real and concrete physical objects are placed right here, so who would claim that they are false? A physical object’s form of existence appears like this, but the way it actually manifests is not. Our eyes, nonetheless, have the capability to stabilize physical objects in our physical dimension to the state that we can see now. The objects are not actually in this state, and they are not in this state even in our dimension. For instance, what does a person look like under a microscope? The whole body is made of loose, tiny molecules, just like grains of sand that are in motion. Electrons orbit nuclei, and the whole body is squirming and moving. The surface of the body is neither smooth nor regular. Any matter in the universe, such as steel, iron, and rock are the same, and inside, all of their molecular elements are in motion. You cannot see their entire form, and they are actually not stable. This table is also squirming, yet your eyes cannot see the truth. This pair of eyes can give one a false impression like that.” (Zhuan Falun, Chapter 2)

Can you judge by yourself what is true from this example?

Someone asked me what the opinion of Falun Dafa is on religions and atheism. In Zhuan Falun, our Teacher has expounded to the best of his abilities the high level principles of Dafa, which sound a bit inconceivable, by using the principles of science and certain doctrines in Buddhism. I feel that the holders of any theory and belief in this world can objectively position themselves within Dafa, and won’t need to be in an adversarial position with respect to Dafa. Our Master is compassionate to all people of any belief.

Nowadays most people have accepted modern science. Many of them are used to learning about things in the way of modern scientific thinking. Since Falun Dafa is the great law of the universe, it can also be manifested in the level of human beings and in the manner of humankind. As long as you can investigate with a real scientific spirit and approach, there is no doubt that your horizons will be broadened by the truth.

In April, a conference of future science and culture organized by Falun Dafa practitioners will be held in Boston. It will be an opportunity for scientists to share their views and learn from each other.

Translated from
http://zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2002/3/1/14110.html

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