ca[r]rol and lou on religion

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Tue Dec 26 18:30:00 MST 2000

On 26 Dec 2000 13:26:36 -0800 gyanananda at writes:
> On Tue, 26 December 2000, Carrol Cox wrote:
> > Marxism does not have anything to say on
> >the question of death simply because everything
> > that needed to be said was said by
> > one of the originators of the current of
> > thought to which Marxism belongs,
> >the materialism of Epicurus and Lucretius.
> What is materialism after 20th century developmnt
> of science? Is energy materialism?

Well, Einstein showed that energy and matter were interconvertable.

>Say energy in
> field linked to subatomic particle? Many such
> particle and many such field may exist about which
> science do not know yet.

Undoubtedly true but that has nothing to do with the
ultimate truth of materialism.  Materialists accept the
reality of the physcial world as a realm that exists,
regardless of whether anybody is conscious of it or not.
The fact that scientific conceptions of matter have changed
over time (and will undoubtedly continue changing in
the future) by no means undermines this fundamental
thesis.  On the contrary, from a materialist perspective,
this is exactly what is to be expected.

>Like electron was not know
> to exist 200 yr ago since science technique then
> was not as refine as now. What is thought? If mental
> process conected with travelling particles in brain,
> then thought will have some energy field linked to
> it. So then thought is materialism?

In fact materialists do hold that thinking is a phemonena
that is best undertood as a physcial process.  It is
precisely on this presupposition that progress
can be made in neuroscience.

> >The dead do not know they are dead, and hence
> >death is a tragedy only for the living.
> How do you know this? Is this fact or is this
> assertion without concrete investigation?

If as the collected weight of evidence from
neuroscience, scientific psychology, and general
physiology indicates, that consciousness does
not exist, except as a function of the nervous system,
then it is reasonable to expect that when the
body dies, so does the mind.  Remember, there
is overwhelming evidence that physiological
changes can produce profound changes
in a person's psychology, and even his or
hers personality.  People who suffer injuries to the brain
from accidents or strokes or from brain tumors
can experience radical changes in their
personalities or character.

As Lucretius wrote 2000 years ago:

"We feel that the understanding is begotten along
with the body and grows together with it, and
along with it comes old age.  For as children totter
with feeble and tender body, so a weak judgement
of mind goes with it.  Then when their years are
ripe and their strength hardened, greater is
their sense and increased their force of mind.
Afterward, when now the body is shattered
by the stern strength of time, and the frame
has sunk with its force dulled, then the
reason is maimed, the tongue raves, the
mind stumbles, all things give way and
fail at once."

The mind develops with the body, ages with
the body, and dies with the body.

> > And note that the afterlife as a place where
> > one would meet one's dead friends and loved ones
> > is a creation of the 19th century.
> Not correct. Many ancient civilisation think this.
> India, Egypt, Tibet.

No doubt, but many other ancient civilisations lacked
such a view of the afterlife such as the ancient Greeks, the
ancient Babylonians and the ancient Hebrews.  Certainly,
Carrol is correct concerning the nature of the conceptions
of the afterlife that have prevailed in the Christian

> > Immortality utterly cheapens human life.
> > Engels compliments the doctrine when he refers
> > to it merely as tedious. It is vicious.
> >
> Depend of what you mean by immortality and who is
> using this word for what purpose. In hand of
> modern organised religion preacher, it is
> dangerous. But if a great yogi say that Self is
> immortal, then we have to pay attention. Since
> even if 99% are charlattan, that 1% need attention.

Even if the yogi is not a charlatan, it is unclear
what he would be meaning when he makes
such an assertion.  Unless, you can show us
how such assertions can be either confirmed
or disconfirmed in a publicaly verifiable manner,
then I submit that no particular meaning can
be attached to such assertions.  Perhaps,
they have some emotive meaning to those
who accept them but I cannot discern any
cognitive meaning.

> After listening to debate on religion, it appear
> that many Marxists here are not taking sceintific
> attitude to religion. They rightly attack organised
> religion fraud and mask of ruling class. But they
> mistake that this is real religion.

What is real religion, and by what criteria are
we to distinguish it from the "false" variety?

>Revisionism is
> not Marxism and organise religion is false
> religion, it wear only mask of true religion. True
> religion is personal - it cannot have any sect and
> dogma.

It would seem here, that you are reducing
religion to personal feelings or emotions.
Certainly, everyone is entitled to their emotions
or feelings (how could it be otherwise?) but
it does not follow that they necessarily inform
us about the structure of the universe.

> Religion is attempt to answer question of human
> existence and existence/meaning of universe. Relgion
> is attempt at liberation from laws of nature, i.e.
> become master of nature - this is aim of yoga.

Does yoga really liberate people from the reign
of natural laws or (assuming it to be efficaciouss)
make people freer through the application of knowledge
of natural laws, just like any other technology
or praxis?

> In socialist society of future, social conciousness
> will control social production in contrast to
> present anarchy. Human being will become master of
> their own society unlike now. In same manner, on
> individual level, yoga (religion) is attempt at
> gaining concious control of mind and body. Mind
> is like child, it run everywhere. So instead of
> being slave of bodily desire/need and mind, a
> yogi get complete control of them. And become
> their master. And become free. This is real
> meaning of religion.

This goal is hardly inconsistent with materialism.
On the contrary, materialists have always argued
that human liberation invovles the expansion of
conscious control by people over the circumstances
that govern their existence.

> For example, in Hatha Yoga (physical yoga exercise
> popular in west), control is sought over bodily
> organs. An expert can conciously control bodily
> organ and function like lower breathing and heart
> rate. Here, conciousness is controling matter
> (reverse of being controlling conciousness). Modern
> science has no explanation like western science cannot
> explain acupuncture of China. But acupuncture is
> practised in China quite sucessfuly.

>From what I have seen of the literature, the gate
control theory has been pretty successful at explaining
accupuncture ( as well as most other phenomena
relating to pain).  However, even if we suppose
that modern science cannot explain accupuncure,
or the phenomena associated with yoga, that is
no reason to expect that science will not be able
to explain them in the future.  To suppose otherwise
is throw up obstacles on the path of inquiry.

> Ordinary human being with limited sense organs and
> scientific intruments percive only very limited
> area or range of reality. So with this limited
> vision, cannot extrapolate to how reality functions
> in other realms or overall. Also, it is mistake
> to pass comment on what is materialism and what is
> not using this simple minded, partial, limited
> vision.

Undoubtedly true, and exactly what a materialist
would expect.

> According to Raja Yoga (whom anyone can try to
> practise and test for themself), there are
> gross vibrations which can be perceive ordinarily
> and then there are subtle vibration in this
> universe which can be perceive only in higher
> state of conciousness. Actually, there is hiearchy
> from gross to more and more subtle vibration. There
> are different planes of perception and so existence.
> Yogic practise can enable one to access this different
> planes and experience other things not in realm of
> ordinary existence.
> One analogy is human ear cannot hear very high freq
> sounds which animals hear. So Marxists have to be more
> sophisticated and take open minded science attitude
> when discusing religion.
> Gyan
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