Monday, November 23, 2015

Religion is confusing

My wife and I enjoyed watching the movie PK. It highlights the complexity of religion, particularly in India. It illustrates how religion can be hypocritical and divisive, particularly when mixed with money and power. I particularly liked this scene in a church.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Social and economic inequality undermines democracy

B.R. Ambedkar was largely responsible for writing the Constitution of India. He gave the following sober warning which seems even more relevant today, particularly in Western democracies.
“On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.  
How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.” 
I first encountered this quotation on a large poster placed on a building wall at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Science and the Bible talks

I recently gave two introductory talks.
Science and the Bible
The Bible and the origins of modern science

I thank the friends who suggested I should simplify these talks and make them more accessible to people without science backgrounds.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Christians should be downwardly mobile

"The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility! In a society in which upward mobility is the norm, downward mobility is not only discouraged but even considered unwise, unhealthy, or downright stupid. Who will freely choose a low-paying job when a high-paying job is being offered? Who will choose poverty when wealth is within reach? Who will choose the hidden place when there is a place in the limelight? Who will choose to be with one person in great need when many people could be helped during the same time? Who will choose to withdraw to a place of solitude and prayer when there are so many urgent demands from all sides? 
My whole life I have been surrounded by well-meaning encouragement to go 'higher up,' and the most-used argument was : 'You can do so much good there, for so many people.' But these voices calling me to upward mobility are completely absent from the Gospel. Jesus says: 'Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25). He also says: 'Unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Finally he says: "You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt; among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28). 
This is the way of downward mobility, the descending way of Jesus. It is the way toward the poor, the suffering, the marginal, the prisoners, the refugees, the lonely, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the homeless--toward all who ask for compassion. What do they have to offer? Not success, popularity, or power, but the joy and peace of the children of God."
Henri Nouwen, Here and Now, pp. 138-139