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  1. Robert Stall MD says:

    Notes from Ahmadiyya conference 3/4/12 – Do We Need Organized Religion?

    Hindu – Dr. Vijay Chakravarthy
    Ritual helps develop God awareness

    Jewish – Rabbi Drorah Setel
    If I’m a spiritual person, why do I need formal religion?

    1. Spiritual development requires community, and your relation with
    the community (e.g. minyan, sexual relations, kashrut and consumerism)

    2. Religion is part of your culture; action more important than
    thinking; when and where is God, not who and what is God; When have
    you experienced God? not Do you believe in God? is most important
    (i.e. don’t have to believe in “sky wizard” to be religious); secular
    Judaism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Judaism

    Christian – Rev. Jonathan Lawrence

    Doctrine of Discovery recently rejected by religious bodies

    http://www.doctrineofdiscovery.org/

    http://ili.nativeweb.org/sdrm_art.html

    http://www.adl.org/education/curriculum_connections/Doctrine_of_Discovery.asp

    Vera Brittain – Testament of Youth
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Brittain

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testament_of_Youth

    “Our enemies are those who don’t believe in anything.”

    Secular humanism – Dr. Brahm Segal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/

    Secularism – discount scriptural literalism; examine specific claims
    (e.g. did hundreds of thousands of Jews march through the Sinai?);
    examine broad claims (e.g. God is energy); examines whether religion
    clouds or clarifies

    Humanism – loss of reason / loss of regard for others leads to both secular

    Religion helps celebrate community, history, and culture.

    Is being good not good enough? Rabbi Hillel said “don’t do unto
    others what is hateful to you”

    If community doesn’t produce good people, one must question the
    principles the community is based on.

    Muslim – Imam Naseem Mahdi

    Ahmadiyya Muslim national organization started 1920 – oldest in US

    Is being good good enough?

    Scientific viewpoint vs. religious viewpoint (e.g. universe began 14
    billion yrs ago vs. 6 thousand yrs ago)

    Disappointment with current religious leadership and practice (e.g.
    killings in the name of religion, ritual devoid of spirituality).

    Arabic word “Yom” can be interpreted as a nanosecond or lightyear.

    God made all religions.

    Q&A

    1. Discouraging questions “is so not Jewish” – Jews encouraged to
    question; discouragement of questions can alienate people from their
    religion.

    2. 9/11 strenghthened speaker’s atheism

    3. How to prevent religious leaders from becoming powerful and corrupt?

    4. Jews often innovate with the nature of Judaism due to minority
    status, diaspora; synagogue-based Judaism becoming less important
    (e.g. independent minyanim)

    God can evolve too

    Basic text of Quran hasn’t changed but interpretation may and has

    Hindus don’t have single scripture.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_minyan

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_minyan

    5. Why do we need a
    Purpose of life is to develop a relationship with God

    6. Can atheists go to heaven?

    Drorah – heaven and hell are states of mind, not physical places.
    Heaven can be “world to come” or the “world of possibilities” (e.g.
    this conference is a little piece of heaven).

    Jonathan – need to focus on here and now i.e. “set fire to heaven and
    put out the flames of hell” (Sufi story of man carrying bucket of
    water and torch).

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabia_Basri

    Hindu – law of karma – every action has its consequences

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma

    7. What does it mean to be good? Is it possible outside of religion?
    Is a non-believer really a believer who doesn’t know it?

    8. Is religion a form of government?

    Drorah – There is governance that varies by religion; each religion
    climbing a different mountain (e.g. Christianity –> sin-salvation –
    not the case with Judaism, Islam, Hinduism).

    9. What sparks both religion and science is MYSTERY – secular
    humanists strive to solve mystery through the scientific method,
    religion has relied on supernatural.

    10. Ahmadiyya often not considered true Muslims?

    Politics has caused this to happen.

    11. Role of religion, community, and promoting the common good?

    Drorah – religious communities help to provide the support and
    camaraderie for us to live out our values.

    12. How do you reconcile religious beliefs and the supernatural with science?

    Drorah – a false problem (e.g. the story of the Exodus as a mythology
    to convey concepts of freedom and rebirth); science can’t explain what
    constitutes freedom, justice; Maimonides – the more you know about
    science, the more you know about God.

    Imam Mahdi – the biggest mystery is understanding God himself

    Vijay – human actions and emotions are not always rational, which
    can’t always be explained by science.

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