Monday, December 22, 2014

Tuhan itu mahatahu! Anda?



Tuhan itu mahatahu. Maka itu anda harus belajar dan mengembangkan sains terus-menerus, supaya anda makin dekat dengan kemahatahuan Tuhan.

Tuhan itu mahatahu. Karena itu, Tuhan menginginkan anda cerdas dan memiliki pengetahuan seluas-luasnya. Tuhan tidak menghendaki anda bodoh dan tidak berpengetahuan. 

Pengetahuan itu ibarat lautan luas dan dalam tanpa pantai. Anda terus saja berenang-renang ke sana ke sini hingga anda wafat. 

Pengetahuan itu bak angkasa luar tanpa awal, tanpa tepi dan tanpa ujung. Anda terus saja menjelajah ke sana dan ke sini, tidak pernah berhenti, hingga anda meninggal dunia. Lalu orang-orang lain meneruskan penjelajahan anda, sambung-menyambung, abadi.

Karena Tuhan itu mahatahu, tentu saja dia tidak takut pada hal-hal baru yang akan menimbulkan perdebatan panjang.

Jika ada agama yang membuat anda takut berpikir, takut belajar, takut menerima ilmu pengetahuan, takut berubah, takut ragu, takut menjelajah, agama itu jelas bertentangan dengan kemahatahuan Tuhan.


Jakarta, 22-12-2014 
Ioanes Rakhmat

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tak ada Tuhan yang jahat!

Dalam nama Tuhan yang Al-rahman dan Al-rahim . . .

Banyak Muslim di berbagai media sosial Internet saat-saat ini menyatakan dengan yakin bahwa pembunuhan lebih dari 100 anak sekolah di Peshawar, Pakistan, oleh Taliban,/1/ adalah takdir Tuhan. Kata mereka, "Semua manusia pasti mati. Ini takdir Tuhan. Cara mati manusia lain-lain, tetapi semuanya takdir Tuhan. Jadi, pembunuhan 100 lebih anak sekolah di Peshawar, Pakistan, oleh Taliban, juga takdir ilahi. Jangan disesali, terima saja dengan syukur, dan teruslah memuji Tuhan!"

Saya tidak tahu, Muslim yang berpandangan semacam itu aliran apa. Setahu saya, tidak semua Muslim memegang keyakinan seperti itu. Ada banyak Muslim yang sangat marah pada Taliban atas tindakan biadab mereka. Setahu saya, dalam Islam, doktrin tentang takdir ilahi sangat kuat dipegang oleh nyaris semua Muslim. Tetapi ada juga yang meragukan doktrin ini bahkan tidak bisa mempercayainya lagi dan tidak mau memegangnya lagi.

Takdir ilahi adalah kehendak Tuhan yang sudah Tuhan gariskan sebelum terjadi. Dalam kosa kata teologi Kristen, doktrin takdir ilahi kurang lebih disebut doktrin pra-destinasi. Menurut doktrin ini, Tuhan berkuasa dan berdaulat menggariskan nasib setiap orang, mulai dari janin, bayi, anak-anak, remaja, orang dewasa, akhirnya para lansia, sampai saat setiap orang menemui kematian. Takdir ilahi tidak bisa dilawan atau ditolak oleh manusia. Bahkan sebelum seseorang dilahirkan ke dalam dunia, jalan kehidupannya sudah ditakdirkan Tuhan, sudah digariskan dulu oleh Tuhan, sudah dibuat petanya, sudah dirancang kisahnya dan plotnya, dan klimaksnya, dan ending-nya, semuanya oleh Tuhan sendiri, tanpa perlu meminta persetujuan orang yang belum dilahirkan itu.

Saya tidak bisa tahu pikiran Tuhan, apalagi pikiran Tuhan tentang saya dan jalan kehidupan saya ketika saya belum dilahirkan ke dalam dunia ini lewat rahim bunda saya. Saya juga tidak tahu apakah dalam dunia ini ada orang-orang khusus (yang dipilih Tuhan) yang bisa mengetahui dan memahami isi pikiran Tuhan, bahkan, kata mereka, sebelum Tuhan berpikir pun mereka sudah bisa tahu apa yang akan dipikirkan Tuhan. Jika orang semacam ini ada, tentu orang itu adalah orang yang hebat dengan otak yang sangat tajam dan powerful. Tetapi sehebat apapun otak orang ini, dia sama sekali tidak bisa memeriksa langsung ke Tuhan apakah yang dia pikirkan sebagai isi pikiran Tuhan memang sungguh-sungguh isi pikiran Tuhan sendiri. Dia hanya mempercayai saja bahwa dirinya tahu isi pikiran Tuhan. Dia hanya percaya saja kepada kepercayaannya bahwa dia tahu isi pikiran Tuhan.

Konon Ibrahim diperintah Tuhan untuk membunuh putranya sendiri. Tapi benarkah? Malaikat mencegah Ibrahim, tokh!

Yang saya tahu dan saya kenali adalah pikiran saya sendiri, karena saya selalu memantaunya saat pikiran saya ini muncul, bergerak, berubah, berkembang dengan dinamis dari waktu ke waktu, hingga usia saya sekarang ini. Memantau dan mengenali pikiran saya sendiri selalu saya lakukan supaya saya bisa kritis atas semua isi pikiran saya sendiri, alhasil saya bisa menemukan di mana saya salah berpikir dan di mana saya benar berpikir.  

Nah, menurut pikiran saya sendiri: kematian 100 lebih anak sekolah di Peshawar itu/2/ bukan kehendak Tuhan, bukan takdir Tuhan, bukan nasib yang sudah digariskan Tuhan untuk semua anak sekolah itu sebelum mereka dilahirkan.

Menurut pikiran saya, kematian mereka adalah akibat tindakan biadab Taliban, bukan akibat kehendak dan tindakan Tuhan Yang Mahakasih dan Mahapenyayang, Tuhan yang Al-rahman dan Al-rahim. Tuhan tidak pernah jahat, Tuhan selalu baik. Tidak ada Tuhan yang jahat. Jika tidak ada Tuhan yang jahat, maka sudah seharusnya setiap orang yang bertuhan tidak akan pernah jahat. Jika mereka tetap jahat, mereka tidak atau belum bertuhan. Mereka yang jahat ini bisa saja beragama, tetapi belum atau tidak bertuhan. Agama tidak sama dengan Tuhan. Dalam setiap agama, ada doktrin-doktrin tertentu yang bisa membuat orang jadi jahat, tetapi tidak ada Tuhan yang akan membuat orang jadi jahat.

Menurut pikiran saya juga, demi kepentingan-kepentingan mereka sendiri, manusialah yang bisa membuat kisah-kisah tentang Tuhan yang jahat. Manusia jugalah yang memberi validasi atas kisah-kisah ini sebagai kisah-kisah yang ditulis Tuhan sendiri. Padahal Tuhan sendiri tidak bisa membenarkan kisah-kisah tersebut. Tuhan yang baik dibuat menjadi Tuhan yang jahat ya tidak lain oleh orang-orang jahat yang mencari pembenaran ilahi atas perbuatan-perbuatan jahat mereka. Psikologi manusia yang jahat itulah yang melahirkan teologi tentang Allah yang jahat. Pada dirinya sendiri, menurut pikiran saya, Tuhan itu, sesuai namanya, tidak jahat.

Ini pikiran saya juga: Kita saja, manusia, yang punya kecerdasan terbatas, ingin selalu bisa berbuat baik dan berhasil mengalahkan semua pikiran jahat yang muncul dalam pikiran kita. Apalagi Tuhan, yang kita percaya mahatahu dan mahacerdas: pasti dalam dirinya tidak ada kejahatan apapun! 

Di tangan kanak-kanak Pakistan, masa depan negeri ini terletak!

Karena itu, Tuhan, kapanpun juga, tidak pernah menginginkan anak-anak sekolah itu dibantai oleh Taliban. Tuhan melawan Taliban, Tuhan membela anak-anak yang sudah dibunuh itu, Tuhan membenci Taliban. Karena itu juga Tuhan sedang menuntut pertanggungjawaban Taliban sepenuh-penuhnya, lewat dunia internasional yang beradab.

Itu pikiran saya. Apakah Tuhan sendiri sepakat dengan isi pikiran saya ini, saya sama sekali tidak tahu. Tapi saya boleh berharap, mudah-mudahan Tuhan sepakat. Bangkitlah Tuhan. Gerakanlah dunia internasional untuk mengadili Taliban. Darah anak-anak itu yang tertumpah sia-sia bahkan tidak bisa diterima oleh Bunda Bumi, apalagi olehmu, Tuhan. Darah mereka itu, ya Tuhan, terus-menerus menjerit memanggilmu dan memanggil dunia internasional yang beradab. Marilah semua mendengar jeritan ini.

Jakarta, 18-12-2014


Notes

/1/ Baca beritanya dan lihat foto-fotonya di reportase James Rush, "Peshawar attack: Taliban release images of gunmen who killed 132 children as they claim massacre was justified", The Independent, 19-12-2014, pada http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/peshawar-school-attack-taliban-release-images-of-gunmen-who-killed-148-as-they-claim-massacre-was-justified-and-warn-of-further-violence-9930805.html.

/2/ Jika anda mau lihat foto-foto wajah-wajah anak-anak yang menjadi korban pembantaian dan beberapa guru yang juga ikut tewas, lihat reportase Simon Tomlinson dkk., "Faces of the innocents: Heartbreaking images show children massacred by Taliban in school horror attack", Mailonline, 17 December 2014, pada http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2877360/Innocents-massacred-studied-Utterly-heartbreaking-pictures-children-cut-Taliban-madmen-slaughtered-132-pupils-military-school.html.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Artificial Intelligence dan Moralitas

“Sejauh ini, bahaya terbesar Artificial Intelligence adalah bahwa manusia menyimpulkan terlalu dini bahwa mereka sudah memahaminya.” (Eliezer Yudkowsky)

“Pertanyaan apakah sebuah komputer dapat berpikir tidaklah lebih menarik dibandingkan pertanyaaan apakah sebuah kapal selam dapat berenang.” (Edsger W. Dijkstra)


Perkembangan dan kemajuan di masa depan dalam sains dan teknologi Artificial Intelligence (AI) atau Kecerdasan Buatan akan sangat mempesona, mengejutkan sekaligus juga menakutkan manusia. Menakutkan? Kenapa?

Jika AI dalam bentuk dan kemampuan super sudah bisa dihasilkan manusia, yang disebut Super-AI, maka Super-AI ini pada dirinya sendiri akan punya kesadaran-diri dan kemampuan untuk menyempurnakan dirinya sendiri setiap saat, berulang-ulang tanpa batas, secara eksponensial bergulung-gulung terus makin sempurna (kemampuan “recursive self-improvement” atau “recursive self-redesigning”), tanpa keterlibatan manusia lagi yang semula menciptakannya. Super-AI ini, yang memiliki kecerdasan jauh di atas kecerdasan manusia, akan menjadi Super-organism yang pada hakikatnya adalah organisme alien, dan memiliki kehendak bebas dan kemampuan tanpa batas dalam segala hal, termasuk menciptakan sendiri Super-AI lainnya tanpa batas. Era AI dan Super-AI disebut sebagai era singularitas oleh sejumlah pemikir (John von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam, Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil, dll).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Doraemon, dan blunder orang ateis!

“Sejauh ini, bahaya terbesar Artificial Intelligence adalah bahwa manusia menyimpulkan terlalu dini bahwa mereka sudah memahaminya.” (Eliezer Yudkowsky)

“Pertanyaan apakah sebuah komputer dapat berpikir tidaklah lebih menarik dibandingkan pertanyaaan apakah sebuah kapal selam dapat berenang.” (Edsger W. Dijkstra)


Adakah sosok Doraemon? Jelas ada, sebagai buah kegiatan-kegiatan seni kreatif dan fiktif yang dijalankan manusia. Pembuat gambarnya siapa, kita tahu, ya seorang manusia seperti kita. Pembuat kisah-kisahnya yang mitologis, sekaligus fictionally scientific, kita juga tahu. Siapa yang menampilkannya pada layar lebar, juga kita kenal. Doraemon ada sebagai sosok fiktif dalam dunia seni, seni menggambar, seni bercerita dan seni sinematografi. Lewat kerja kreatif tim Fujiko Fujio, sosok Doraemon kini dikenal dunia dengan sangat luas, bukan hanya milik bangsa Jepang. Dalam kehidupan banyak kanak-kanak sedunia, sosok Doraemon ada dan dialami dengan sangat real, bahkan menjadi pribadi kedua mereka. 



Kata teman ateis, ini Tuhan Doraemon!  

Tetapi sebagai organisme hidup seperti manusia, jelas Doraemon tidak ada sekarang ini. Tetapi nanti bisa ada dengan real dan hidup. Jika robot android yang berwajah dan bertubuh baja Doraemon sudah dibuat, lalu diberi kecerdasan buatan (artificial intelligence) yang serupa dan lebih tinggi dari kecerdasan manusia, maka sosok Doraemon akan ada secara empiris, hidup, berpikir, merasa, berkehendak, bertindak dan berjiwa seperti manusia, di samping memiliki sifat-sifat khas seorang Doraemon.

Apakah Doraemon sama dengan sosok Allah? Orang ateis bilang, ya Doraemon sama dengan sosok Allah, keduanya tidak ada secara empiris. Kata mereka, meminta orang ateis membuktikan ketidakberadaan Tuhan, sama dengan meminta orang membuktikan bahwa Doraemon tidak ada. Pendapat orang ateis ini, yang mereka ajukan untuk menutupi ketidakmampuan mereka untuk membuktikan Tuhan tidak ada, sesungguhnya tidak cerdas, sempit dan keliru. Kenapa? Dua alinea pertama di atas sudah menjawab; jawaban-jawaban lainnya berikut ini.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Remukkan sangkarmu!



Burung-burung ingin terbang bebas dan liar
Tapi manusia jahat menangkapi mereka
Lalu mengurung mereka dalam sangkar
Akhirnya matilah mereka karena tekanan jiwa

Angkasa luas membuat jiwa lapang
Sangkar-sangkar sempit menekan sukma
Mereka ingin keluar dari sangkar pengekang
Tapi mereka tak punya daya dan tenaga

Makanan dan air disediakan si empunya
Tapi kebebasan mereka telah direnggut
Selera makan mereka tak punya
Selera minum pun telah dibawa air hanyut

Jiwa dan tubuh makin lemah tersayat
Mata terus terkatup makin sipit dan rapat
Berdiri dan berjalan pun tak lagi kuat
Akhirnya mati teronggok sebagai mayat

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Burung dalam sangkar!


Apakah sekarang ini anda hidup bak seekor burung dalam sangkar, terkerangkeng oleh berbagai hal yang menghalangi anda untuk terbang bebas di angkasa? Banyak hal yang kerap memenjara manusia, batin dan akal manusia khususnya, misalnya doktrin-doktrin agama yang sudah beku, ideologi-ideologi, pemujaan kekayaan, ketamakan, rasa haus kekuasaan, kebebasan yang tak bermoral, keakuan tanpa batas, dan masih banyak lagi. Tetapi, sangkar terkuat yang sering mengurung seseorang adalah pikirannya sendiri yang dianggapnya sudah final.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bagaimana rupa wajah Yesus yang sebenarnya?
Bule atau berkulit coklat hitam?

Menurut anda bagaimana rupa wajah Yesus yang sebenarnya? Berkulit putih, berambut panjang pirang dan berombak serta berbiji mata biru, seperti yang mungkin dipajang pada dinding kamar belajar anda? Aah, itu adalah wajah Yesus dari para pelukis Zaman Barok (Renaissance) di Eropa (abad 14 sampai abad 16), yang mula-mula merupakan salah satu dari sekian lukisan wajah Ceasare Borgia, seorang putera berkepribadian buruk dari Paus Aleksander VI (dikenal juga sebagai Rodrigo Borgia) (1431-1503). 

Ceasare Borgia yang wajahnya dijadikan model wajah Yesus Zaman Barok

Wajah Ceasare Borgia ini dilukis oleh Michelangelo Buonarroti dan Leonardo da Vinci atas permintaan ayahnya pada tahun 1492 (menurut sebuah catatan Aleksandre Dumes, Celebrated Crimes, jilid I). Loh, jika memang begitu, lantas wajah Yesus yang sebenarnya bagaimana? Ya, tentu anda penasaran, dan juga saya.  

Tidak sedikit peneliti yang menarik suatu kesimpulan bahwa wajah Yesus model Zaman Barok sebetulnya diambil dari wajah suatu dewa Mesir, yang bernama Serapis, yang dipandang mempunyai fitur-fitur gabungan dewa-dewa Mesir dan dewa-dewa Yunani. Pemodelan wajah Serapis sebagai wajah Yesus Kristus sudah terjadi jauh sebelum Zaman Barok, yakni ketika Kaisar Konstantinus Agung berkuasa (abad ke-4 M) dan menetapkan wajah Dewa Serapis sebagai wajah Yesus sang Kristus. Tentu, dalam hal ini, motif sang Kaisar adalah gabungan motif politik dan motif keagamaan lewat sinkretisme simbol-simbol religiopolitik.

 Wajah Dewa Serapis yang menjadi model wajah Yesus Kristus sejak abad ke-4 M

Sekarang kita masuk ke suatu usaha merekonstruksi wajah Yesus dengan memakai sains dan teknologi modern. Patung 3-Dimensi kepala dan wajah seorang laki-laki di bawah ini tentu tidak anda kenal, bukan? Perhatikanlah: dia berkulit gelap sawo matang dan sedikit hitam, berambut tebal, lurus, pendek, berkeriting kusut dan berwarna hitam, serta kedua biji matanya berwarna coklat. 

Anda perlu tahu, patung ini adalah sebuah patung kepala Yesus dari Nazareth yang dirancangbangun dengan suatu metode ilmiah oleh sebuah tim yang ditugaskan oleh TV BBC London dengan memakai bukti-bukti medis forensik, arkeologis, geografis dan artistik yang diperoleh dari abad pertama Masehi, masa kehidupan Yesus sendiri. Potret patung ini dipublikasi pertama kali secara khusus pada suatu acara tayangan TV BBC selama musim Paskah 2001, tayangan yang diberi judul Son of God. 

Gambar 1: Wajah Yesus menurut tim ilmuwan BBC. Ganteng!

Bentuk dan volume tengkorak patung ini dirancang dengan memakai sebuah model dari sebuah tengkorak laki-laki yang ditemukan di Israel, yang berasal dari abad pertama. Hal ini harus dilakukan sebab, seperti dijelaskan oleh tim BBC itu, “Kepala orang-orang Yahudi pada masa kini berbeda dari kepala mereka pada 2000 tahun lalu; karena itulah tim kami mencari sebuah tengkorak seorang laki-laki Yahudi dari masa kehidupan Yesus.”

Pengonstruksian patung kepala Yesus dari Nazareth ini sendiri ditangani oleh seorang seniman medis forensik Richard Neave dari Universitas Manchester. Salah seorang anggota tim BBC itu, Joe Zias, seorang arkeolog Israel, menyatakan, “Dalam merekonstruksi kepala ini, kami tidak mengklaim bahwa inilah persisnya wajah Yesus; tetapi kami mencoba untuk menyingkirkan semua citra buruk sekian banyak figur Yesus yang bukan-bukan, yang dilukiskan berambut pirang, bermata biru, yang menjadi ciri produk-produk Hollywood.” Jeremy Brown, presenter tayangan Son of God ini, berkomentar, “Yesus bukanlah seorang yang berambut pirang dan bermata biru, seperti yang sangat sering digambarkan dalam kartu-kartu Paskah. Citra yang kami telah bangun jauh lebih realistik.”

Kalau ditelusuri ke belakang, ternyata gambar-gambar wajah Yesus yang bukan gambar-gambar dari Zaman Barok cukup banyak tersedia, yang memperlihatkan Yesus bukan seorang kulit putih, berambut pirang dan bermata biru. Perhatikanlah beberapa gambar dan patung di bawah ini, yang lebih mirip dengan gambar patung Yesus dari Nazareth yang dihasilkan tim BBC di atas.

Gambar 2

Wajah Yesus berkulit gelap kehitaman dengan sepasang mata hitam di atas ini berasal dari sebuah gereja di Roma, dari kurun tahun 530 M. Gambar ini sama sekali tidak mirip dengan gambar wajah Yesus Zaman Barok manapun yang dilukis jauh lebih kemudian.

Gambar 3

Patung seorang perempuan di atas ini terkenal sebagai Black Madonna, Bunda Maria Hitam, yang sedang memangku kanak-kanak Yesus yang tentu saja juga berkulit hitam. Patung ini bukanlah patung-patung yang dibangun di zaman modern untuk mempropagandakan Teologi Hitam sebagaimana dihayati banyak orang Kristen kulit hitam di Afrika maupun di Amerika Utara oleh orang-orang Amerika kulit hitam modern. Patung-patung Madonna Hitam semacam ini, ada yang dibuat dari kayu dan ada juga yang dari batu, jumlahnya sampai lima atau enam ratusan lebih dan dibuat pra-zaman Barok, pada zaman Abad Pertengahan (abad ke-11 sampai abad ke-15), dan sekarang ini tersebar di banyak gereja, kuil, tempat suci dan museum di banyak kota di Eropa Barat, mula-mula dibuat di Italia pada abad ke-13 atau abad ke-14. Mengapa keduanya berkulit hitam? Salah satu penjelasan yang paling masuk akal, sebagaimana dipertahankan banyak peneliti, adalah bahwa Black Madonna menampilkan warna kulit yang sebenarnya dari Bunda Maria dan puteranya, Yesus.

Gambar 4

Perhatikan raut wajah Yesus dari Ethiopia abad ke-17 atau abad ke-18 pada gambar di atas ini. Kulit wajahnya berwarna sawo matang, dengan rambutnya hitam kelam tebal dan sepasang biji matanya berwarna hitam. Wajah Yesus Ethiopia abad ke-17 ini sama sekali tidak mirip dengan wajah bule Yesus Zaman Barok.

Gambar 5

Di atas ini adalah sebuah lukisan wajah Yesus berkulit gelap, berambut hitam tebal kusut dan bermata hitam, dari tahun 1960. Wajahnya hampir serupa dengan wajah Yesus yang dibangun oleh tim BBC di atas. 

Apa kesimpulan yang bisa ditarik? Ya, tidak lain, bahwa wajah Yesus berkulit putih, berambut pirang panjang dan bermata biru, Yesus Zaman Barok, bukanlah wajah asli Yesus dari Nazareth. Dan, tentu saja, orang Kristen yang sudah terbiasa berpaling ke Eropa untuk mencari sumber-sumber kekayaan dogmatis dan spiritual mereka akan sangat tidak menyukai sang Yesus yang berkulit gelap sawo matang, berambut hitam pekat, pendek dan agak kusut, serta berbijimata coklat, seperti yang telah berhasil direkonstruksi oleh tim BBC. 

Bagi orang-orang Kristen ortodoks Eropa, termasuk orang-orang Kristen ortodoks Indonesia, Yesus dari tim BBC ini sungguh tidak membahagiakan, sungguh suatu ajaran yang heterodoks dan karenanya patut ditolak. Yesus heterodoks dari tim BBC ini sangat membuat mereka merasa diserang dan dilukai, persis sama dengan perasaan orang-orang Farisi ketika mereka melihat Yesus dari Nazareth sedang duduk dan makan semeja dengan para pemungut cukai dan orang-orang berdosa, padahal sang rabi informal ini boleh dikata sama pekerjaannya dengan mereka sebagai guru-guru masyarakat. Tetapi, orang harus tidak boleh lupa, di dalam heterodoksi kebenaran malah sering lebih kentara ada, ketimbang di dalam ortodoksi. 

Pujangga yang juga dikenal sebagai penulis dan filsuf kebangsaan Inggris, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), berkata, “Filsuf modern mengatakan kepadaku berulang-ulang bahwa aku berada di tempat yang benar, namun aku tetap merasa sangat tertekan sekalipun diam-diam aku setuju. Tapi ketika sebelumnya aku mendengar bahwa aku berada di tempat yang salah, malah jiwaku bernyanyi gembira bak seekor burung di musim semi.” Jadi, berbahagialah dan bergembiralah mereka yang berani heterodoks dengan terpelajar!

Lalu, apa makna rekonstruksi ilmiah wajah asli Yesus itu bagi saya, dan bagi anda juga? Bagi saya, temuan ini membuat saya berbahagia sebab telah ditunjukkan kepada kita bahwa Yesus dari Nazareth ternyata adalah bagian dari umat manusia yang memiliki kulit berwarna, seperti kulit saya, bukan bagian dari mereka yang berkulit putih. Kenyataan ini bisa meningkatkan penghayatan persekutuan kita masing-masing dengan sang Tuhan gereja ini. Yesus ternyata bukan orang Barat, tapi orang berkulit sawo matang, dengan wajah non-Barat. 

Anda yang menjadi kecewa dengan wajah sebenarnya Yesus (keluh anda, Kok wajah Yesus begitu ya!) mungkin sekali akan menghibur diri; kata anda, Wajah tidak penting. Yang penting adalah ajaran-ajaran Yesus! 

OK, ajaran-ajaran Yesus tentu penting. Tapi bagi saya, mengetahui wajah Yesus dan ajaran-ajaran Yesus, sama-sama menarik dan signifikan. Ini hanya bisa dialami dalam gereja-gereja Kristen, yang sama sekali tidak melarang warga mereka untuk menggambar wajah-wajah Yesus yang beranekaragam, sejalan dengan kemajemukan watak, ciri dan sistem sosiokultural and sosioantropologis yang di dalamnya perenungan-perenungan tentang siapa dan bagaimana sosok Yesus itu dilakukan dengan serius

Wajah Yesus yang sebenarnya kini, lewat rekonstruksi ilmiah, berhasil diketahui, sampai kita nanti mendapatkan sebuah rekonstruksi lain hasil kajian tim-tim yang lain. Mengenal dan menjumpai Yesus, sesungguhnya tidak pernah selesai. Dia tidak bisa dikuasai siapapun.  

Tapi, hemat saya, sejauh yang dipakai adalah ilmu pengetahuan dan metode ilmiah, hasil-hasil rekonstruksi wajah asli Yesus oleh siapapun tidak akan berbeda jauh satu sama lain. Hanya ada satu wajah asli sosok Yesus dari Nazareth, tetapi ada banyak dan beranekaragam perenungan tentang siapa dan bagaimana sosok Yesus sang Kristus, yang dengan dinamis terus dilakukan dari zaman ke zaman, dan dari tempat ke tempat

Hanya ada satu sosok Yesus sejarah, tetapi ada banyak perenungan dan kepercayaan tentang siapa dan bagaimana Yesus itu bagi orang yang hidup di zaman-zaman lain dan di tempat-tempat yang berbeda. Perenungan dan kepercayaan ini kita namakan kristologi atau doktrin atau ajaran atau dogma tentang siapa dan bagaimana Yesus ketika sosok historis ini sudah tidak ada dalam dunia, tetapi tetap disembah dalam gereja-gereja sebagai sang Kristus dan Tuhan. Fakta ini biasa diungkap begini: There is only one historical Jesus, but there are so many Christs of faith!

Kristologi-kristologi tidak akan berakhir dicari dan diartikulasikan, lewat banyak tulisan, banyak syahadat, dan lewat gambar-gambar dan patung-patung yang terus diciptakan! Ingatlah, kristologi bukan sejarah meskipun berfondasi pada sosok faktual Yesus dari Nazareth yang pernah hidup dalam sejarah, di abad pertama Masehi di Tanah Yahudi yang sedang dijajah Imperium Romawi.  

Semua orang Kristen diberi kebebasan untuk merumuskan sendiri kristologi masing-masing. Dalam hal ini, kekristenan sudah dewasa. Supaya kristologi yang dihasilkan sehat dan bertanggungjawab, tidak serampangan dan hanya untuk melayani kepentingan dan ketamakan diri sendiri, tentu ada sejumlah kriteria yang perlu dipenuhi. Tentang kriteria kristologis ini, sudah pernah saya tulis juga. Saya mendaftarkan dua belas poin kriteria yang perlu dijadikan pemandu dalam usaha-usaha merumuskan kristologi-kristologi yang setia pada sosok Yesus dari Nazareth sekaligus relevan dengan zaman dan dunia yang terus berubah. Bacalah di sini. 

by Ioanes Rakhmat
02 Desember 2014


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fideisme, ada. Saintisme, tidak ada!

Tangga menuju sorga di langit atas, tentu hanya ada dalam iman, alias ada hanya dalam angan-angan!

Apa itu fideisme? Dari kata Latin “fides” (artinya: iman/kepercayaan) yang ditambah isme, fideisme adalah suatu sikap mental, sekaligus ide atau ideologi, yang menganggap iman keagamaan berada di atas segala-galanya, bahkan di atas semua fakta sains.

Orang yang bermental fideis, dalam setiap perbedaan pendapat, akan dengan kepala batu berkata, Pokoknya gue mau percaya begini apapun kata loe! Pokoknya gue percaya iman gue paling benar, tidak pernah bisa salah, persetan dengan fakta-fakta ilmiah! Pokoknya gue mau percaya begini, apapun kata semua orang, sampai dunia kiamat, dan gue akan pasti ketemu Tuhan yang akan bela gue nanti!  

Jangan harap anda bisa mengubah mental dan pikiran setiap orang fideis. Tentu kita harus bersyukur jika seorang fideis berubah, menjadi terbuka pada pandangan-pandangan saintifik, dan menjadi ramah dan mau berdialog. Berubah tidak lagi nyinyir dan nyolot kalau bercakap-cakap dengan orang lain yang berbeda. Tetapi, mustahil berharap mereka akan berubah drastis seperti ini. Allah sendiripun yang mahatahu dan mahabijaksana bisa jadi sudah kewalahan dengan setiap fideis.

Apa itu saintisme? Dari kata Latin scientia (Inggris: science; artinya: ilmu pengetahuan, atau sains) yang ditambah isme, saintisme (Inggris: scientism) diartikan para fideis sebagai suatu sikap mental dan ide atau ideologi yang dianut para saintis, yang membuat para saintis bermental sama dengan mental para fideis dan memiliki asumsi yang sama dengan yang dipegang para fideis tetapi berlaku dalam dunia sains. Itu kata para fideis. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Puisiku: Namamu Siapa?


Aku ini bak seorang bocah tanpa ayah dan ibu
Bagaimana aku bisa ada dalam dunia ini?
Siapakah ayah dan ibuku?
Apakah engkau orangtuaku sejati?

Jawablah aku!
Jawablah aku!
Jangan engkau terus kelu membisu
Sudah berlaksa tahun terus kumenunggu

Apapun rupa dan wujudmu
Tak bernama sekalipun engkau
Entah di manapun tempat tinggalmu
Aku selalu dirundung rindu kasih sayangmu

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sciences and Values

by Ioanes Rakhmat **

(A version of this article has been published in the journal Kanz Philosophia, Volume 4, Number 1, June 2014, pp. 116-124.) 


“The split between facts and values―and, therefore, between science and morality― is an illusion.” ― Sam Harris

“Science has no methods for deciding what is ethical.” ― Richard Dawkins

There are many roads to arrive at the City of Virtue. Choose the best one and travel it thankfully! ― The Quiet


Introduction 

Human beings first appeared on Earth 300.000 to 400.000 years ago,/1/ much older than the birth of the oldest (natural) religion so far as science can show. According to the latest archaeological findings, the oldest religion was constructed 70.000 years ago among Basarwa people in Botswana, Ngamiland, South Africa. In this religion, a great python made present via its big and long statue or image or tablet is worshiped, and the worshipers regularly await its wise sayings uttered via a human channel to direct and rule their daily simple life./2/

If ancient humans could live for such a long time (230.000 to 330.000 years) without having any religions, we can reasonably assume that they had secular morality which gave them directions in controlling their life. Without morality that rules, any societies across space and time cannot live and survive for a long time.

But, what are the sources for the secular morality that ancient humans built, developed and applied? Ancient humans used, of course, their mind, knowledge, life experiences, and intuition, to produce secular ethics sufficient to regulate their simple life.

If ancient humans were able to live morally even though they had no religions, we in the modern era are able too even more. Using our modern sciences, mind, life experiences, and intuition, we too can construct secular moral views regarding everything to direct us in our complex lives.

Sciences help to construct secular ethics, i.e. ethics constructed not from religious texts but from scientific views of the good and the bad. But, can sciences give you moral views about everything in the world? Absolutely! 


An Illusion 

The separation of moral values and sciences is an illusion resulting from the incorrect view that only religions can produce morality. It is said wrongly that sciences concern only with facts and theories, not with values; only religions are able to deal with values. Stephen Jay Gould, in his book Rock of Ages, presents this view: 
“Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values―subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve. Similarly, while scientists must operate with ethical principles, some specific to their practice, the validity of these principles can never be inferred from the factual discoveries of science.”/3/
In harmony with Gould, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in his book A Devil’s Chaplain, states (in his memo to Tony Blair) that 
“Science has no methods for deciding what is ethical…. Science cannot tell you whether abortion is wrong…. Science cannot tell you whether it is wrong to clone a whole human being…. Science cannot tell you whether stem cloning for ‘spare parts’ is wrong…. Science cannot tell you whether it is right to kill ‘Mary’ to save her conjoined twin ‘Jodie’”./4/
Dawkins could be wrong if we consider the cases he presents circumstantially or contextually. Science can tell you, depending on the specific circumstances, whether abortion is right or wrong. Science can tell you, depending on the specific contexts, whether it is wrong or right to clone a whole human being. Science can tell you too, depending on the specific situations, whether stem cloning for ‘spare parts’ is right or wrong. Science can convince you too, depending on the specific circumstances, whether it is right or wrong to kill ‘Mary’ in order to save her conjoined twin ‘Jodie’.  I am going to argue for this positive or affirmative role of science in ethical realms. 

The view of, e.g., Gould and Dawkins, is illusory. This illusion is to be removed from our modern consciousness once for all. In his recent book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values the neuroscientist Sam Harris states that “the split between facts and values―and, therefore, between science and morality― is an illusion.”/5/ In her book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality, Patricia S. Churchland writes that “from the perspective of neuroscience and brain evolution, the routine rejection of scientific approaches to moral behavior based on David Hume’s warning against deriving ought from is seems unfortunate, especially as the warning is limited to deductive inferences.”/6/ Nevertheless, in a positive acceptance of Hume’s naturalism, she affirms that “naturalism… finds the root of morality in how we are, what we care about, and what matters to us―in our nature.”/7/

Overall, Churchland employs the interdisciplinary approach to discover the root of moral values in the human life. She writes, “By drawing on converging new data from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and genetics, and given a philosophical framework consilient with those data, we can now meaningfully approach the question of where values come from.”/8/ She concludes that “morality can be, and is, grounded in our biology, in our capacity for compassion and our ability to learn and figure things out.”/9/


Goddess Saraswati, the symbol of unity of sciences and values in Hinduism


Let’s start with humans 

Does science really concern with moral values? Yes, it does. I can argue for it via real examples which I can think about so far myself.

To begin with, you should remember that moral values exist not in heaven that you are going to apply after death, but in this world, in the realities of our daily lives, and are therefore part of the natural realities explorable and analysable by sciences.  Let’s start with humans.

How about a good man and a bad man? A good and kind man is not only a moral or ethical man, but also a real man, a factual man, in short a fact that is explorable, explainable, analysable and distinguishable by science. A bad and evil man is not only an immoral man, but also a real man, a factual man, in short a fact that is explorable, explainable, analysable and distinguishable by science too. Scientists, therefore, know what you exactly mean by a good and kind man and by a bad and evil man respectively. These two types of men are distinguishable by science, both social sciences and psychological and neurobiological sciences. Consequently, science does concern with moral values embedded in any facts it explores, explains, analyses, and distinguishes.

Another example will make it clearer. Suppose you have a tumor growing steadily in your brain. As scientists, your physicians know well not only about your growing tumor as a fact in your brain that makes you feel a terrible pain every day in your head; they too know well about the consequences that will arise from the tumor to your behavior and personality. Very likely, the tumor will change your mental, making you gradually either a temperamental people or, at last, a psychopath. This final condition of your mental health is not only a psychological or biological problem, but also a value problem of your remaining life. Knowing that this condition is bad not only for your biology but also for your meaning of life, your physicians of course will try hard to cure you by removing the tumor from your brain with great care. The surgery and the meaning and value of your remaining life interact. 

Don’t forget that sciences that you have make you an intelligent, smart and thoughtful human being. Being intelligent, smart and thoughtful is a value, a priceless value, that sciences give to you. 


The problem is not God 

It is clear then that science has many things to do with moral values. Yes, of course, religions give us moral values too; but these religious values were constructed long ago and become presently more and more irrelevant to the modern questions. Insofar as ancient religious moral values are still relevant to the modern era, they can be used with great cautions to rule and direct our lives. If ancient religious moral values are clearly irrelevant to the modern questions, we should not use them any longer to direct our lives. Whether God exists or not, is not the problem.

The real problem is not about God, but about ancient religious moral values our ancestors constructed that are not relevant any longer to the modern era. This problem should be solved intelligently, not foolishly. Modern questions, therefore, should be dealt with modern ways of thinking, living and behaving. Making our lives meaningful and creatively responsive to the modern challenges is much more important than maintaining old religious moral values that are clearly irrelevant. I like what Arthur C. Clarke has said that “the greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”/10/ In order to know about the good and the bad, you, then, firstly should use your mind, not religious texts, to weigh and evaluate all the ethical options at your disposal.

Religious texts, or religions in general, of course can still be useful and beneficial in guiding us to take moral decisions in our daily lives. Despite that fact, we, however, cannot judge that non-religious believers cannot live a moral life. Let me at this moment refer to a recent empirical research of morality that employs a method known as “ecological momentary assessment”. Through this method of analysis, 1,200 participants are asked to self-report honestly and accurately their responses to daily problems in taking moral or immoral decisions in their daily real contexts. This study’s use of smartphone technology allows for a more ecologically valid picture of what kinds of moral events and situations people actually encounter outside the lab. In this study the researchers discovered a surprising fact that religious people are no more moral—or immoral—than non-religious people. Whether or not we believe that divine precepts give us guidance, our behavior is remarkably similar. People who don’t fear that justice will be meted out in an afterlife are apparently no more vicious, cruel, or licentious than a believer. In short, religion doesn’t make our everyday lives more moral./11/ 

If we cannot live our lives in accord with God or with any noble moral values, we should question not our Gods, because the problem is not God(s). Instead, in this regard, we should check seriously the way we treat our brains, because our religious lives are hard-wired to the types of the workings of the neurons in our brains. The psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., in his book Why We Believe in God(s), elaborates the neurological nature of all religious life. He states: 
“Like religious ideas and beliefs, religious rituals are by-products of mental mechanisms originally designed for other purposes. Rituals maintain, transmit, and propagate belief across time and space. We have seen how vulnerable the individual mind is to generating, accepting, and believing religious ideas. If the process stopped there, religious belief might be loosely held. But, by mobilizing powerful brain chemicals that arouse intense emotional experiences and give rise to feelings as diverse as self-esteem, pleasure, fear, motivation, pain relief, and attachment, ritual creates a whole far stronger than the sum of its parts. The group nature of ritual takes individual minds already primed for belief and throws them into a continuous loop of mutual enrichment, creating a volatile congregation of conscious and unconscious forces…. With no knowledge of neurochemistry, somehow our ancestors stumbled upon combinations of activities that could stimulate and boost serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and the endorphins, creating brain activity unique to those combinations. And that is the key to understanding the enduring place of rituals in all cultures because, literally, there is nothing else like them. …The religious rituals invented by our ancestors captured our chemistry in a singular uniquely human way that tied people together and facilitated social bonds.”/12/ 
God and the human brain are therefore interconnected: God can change our brains, and our brains can change God too. How God changes your brain, is as important as how your brain changes your God.


Humans and non-humans 

Genetically considered, we have a natural cognitive capacity to know about moral values. As science has shown, mammals and other primates nearest to our own species have natural capacities to behave morally when dealing with their internal (or in-group) and external (or out-group) fellows./13/ Humans received the neural capacity to think and behave morally partly from other primates preceding our own species in our evolutionary history./14/ In this regard, Churchland states that “that nonhuman mammals have social values is obvious; they care for juveniles, and sometimes mates, kin, and affiliates; they cooperate, they may punish, and they reconcile after conflict.” She agrees that the social behavior of baboon and bonobo is much closer to our own./15/

This human cognitive capacity for choosing moral values can be called, if you wish, conscience that should be trained and educated to grow gradually to maturity, from childhood to elderliness. Concerning conscience, Churchland opines that its neurobiological basis “takes form during brain-gene-environment interactions as the child begins to live its social life; it seems to be more like auditory imagination, aided by visual imagination of the consequences of a choice, generated by the brain as it exercises its problem-solving capacity, rather than like the pure pronouncements of brain-independent, metaphysically separate Platonic storehouse of moral knowledge.”/16/ 


Sciences and values 

If we define morality as the correct and responsible way of acting and behaving in a certain reality of life, science can show you this way clearly. All sciences are intelligent human enterprises to understand, explain, theorize, control and deal with the realities of our lives and nature as a whole.

Because sciences focus to life realities and nature, they can know about the multiplicity of situations and conditions of life and nature. Scientists, then, using their sciences, five senses, critical mind, and technological instruments, can weigh everything to arrive at morality, at values, at knowledge about the good and the bad for our real lives.

From life experiences, past and present, we can learn a lot of things about moral values as these experiences are evaluated critically. Critical histories are the good teachers for us to know about the good and the bad for human lives, the Earth, and the future of our civilizations. We have the science of history as part of our college curriculum. This science offers us extremely valuable values of living and acting prudently in the present and for the better future.

Evolutionary science, starting with Charles Darwin (as well as Herbert Spencer), is one of the natural and biological sciences that very clearly shows the biological interconnectedness and relatedness of all the organisms living on Earth due to the gradual and accumulative long biological evolution by “natural selection.” If this “biological interconnectedness” is translated into the realm of values, it is correct to say that evolutionary science tells us that we humans and all the other organisms are siblings, though we humans and other primates have clearly different physiological and anatomical structures in comparison to other non-primate and non-animal organisms. Concerning humans, evolutionary science tells us that we humans are brothers and sisters irrespective of our different racial, ethnic, tribal, social and cultural backgrounds.

This “message of relationship” among all the organisms that evolutionary science offers us is one of the noble values that sciences can give us, especially in our currently divided and broken world. This message of relationship is therefore the message of reconciliation too. We should respond to this message of peace and brotherhood among all the organisms by loving all the animals, all the plants, and all the human beings, even the Earth as well. This message as one of life values, in turn, has given birth to environmental science which studies our global and local environments for the goodness of all organisms, especially humans, living on this planet. 

I should nevertheless emphasize that the evolutionary science gives us the message of relationship―and thereby the message of reconciliation among all the organisms―only upon my personal “deep” reflection, given the fact that biological evolution by natural selection as such has no moral values altogether, even sometimes takes place in many cruel and harsh ways. Only at the “deep structure” of evolutionary languages can we find these moral messages. A deep structure is a structure that is freed from its actual and historical context, a structure that conveys deep philosophical meanings of any surface languages.

Seen from that deep-structure point of view, I cannot agree fully with Jerry A. Coyne when he, in his book Why Evolution Is True?, writes this: 
“How can you derive meaning, purpose, or ethics from evolution? You can’t. Evolution is simply a theory about a process and patterns of life’s diversification, not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life. It can’t tell us what to do, or how we should behave…. Most of us do need meaning, purpose, and moral guidance in our lives. How do we find them if we accept that evolution is the real story of our origin? That question is outside the domain of science.” 
Coyne underlines that “evolution is neither moral nor immoral.” However he can still say this, “But evolution can still shed some light on whether our morality is constrained by our genetics. If our bodies are the product of evolution, what about our behavior? Do we carry the psychological baggage of our millions of years on the African savanna? If so, how far can we overcome it?” But most importantly, Coyne can find two values evolutionary science clearly offers us, that is, firstly, it liberates our mind so that we can realize that human beings may be only one small twig on the vast branching tree of evolution, nevertheless we are a special animal. And, secondly, it makes us proud of our nature as the only species that has figured out how we came to be, that has a brain complex enough given by natural selection to comprehend the laws that govern the universe./17/ 

In addition, if we consider the genetic region of all living beings, we find another unifying value that evolutionary science gives us. It has been known by scientists that in the chromosomal region of all living organisms, the regulatory gene called ALX1 unites all of life on Earth even though this gene is subject to natural selection. This gene encodes a peptide that switches other genes on and off by binding them to their regulatory sequences. This knowledge of the genetic foundation of evolution, including of how genes can flow from one species to another, and of how different versions of a gene within a species can contribute to the formation of entirely new species, has been reported in the
journal Nature by researchers from Princeton University and Uppsala University in Sweden./18/
This gene encodes a peptide that switches other genes on and off by binding to their regulatory sequences.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-darwin-finches-highlight-unity-life.html#jCp
This gene encodes a peptide that switches other genes on and off by binding to their regulatory sequences.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-darwin-finches-highlight-unity-life.html#jCp
This gene encodes a peptide that switches other genes on and off by binding to their regulatory sequences.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-darwin-finches-highlight-unity-life.html#jCp


Artistic and aesthetic values 

We live not only in the realm of moral values. In life, we need various forms of art too, e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, architecture, music, poetry, theater, performance, play, literature, symbolism, metaphor, dance, etc. They give us artistic and aesthetic values: beauty, charm, grandiosity, a sense of transcendence, gratitude, consolation, amusement, pleasure, happiness, excitement, serenity, peace, tranquility, creative imagination, cognitive and affective drive, etc. These values are very important for our lives; they make our lives more meaningful, our happiness fulfilled, our motivation strengthened, our purpose in life broadened, our search of meaning completed, our feeling and emotion satisfied, our soul stimulated, our feeling of loneliness disappear, our sense of transcendence realized, our feeling of unity with all deepened. Of course arts should appeal to us first through our five senses; but that doesn’t mean that an artwork, a painting for example, has to be gorgeous to be good and entertaining, but it must grab our eyes in an impressive way.  

As we all already know, our universities have the faculty of arts and humanities or the faculty of arts and culture that runs artistic and aesthetic academic education for students to enable them to disseminate artistic and aesthetic values to our societies. Talent (1 %) and academic education (99 %) will eventually make them brilliant artists. It is no exaggeration to say that everyone in our societies is interested in some artistic and aesthetic works in various manners. Art is very important to Albert Einstein. He expresses his own feeling beautifully, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…. I cannot tell if I would have done any creative work of importance in music, but I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin.”/19/ Friedrich Nietzsche says, “Without music, life would be an error, a hardship, an exile.”/20/ Pablo Picasso sees “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls./21/ 

It is clear then that artistic and aesthetic sciences developed in our universities give us values of paramount importance for our lives generally. Ally Leung correctly states that “art can be a great source of pleasure in our lives,… even a passing acquaintance with art can enrich and deepen our understanding of the world around us.”/22/ It should however be noted, as Dustin Wax has reminded us, that some artists could go out of their way to inspire strong reactions ranging from awe and lust to anger and disgust./23/ I nevertheless do hesitate to consider this as the bad side of the world of art, due to the fact that the value of any form of arts is partly dependent on our subjective perceptions. 


Intuition 

Yes, we too could know about the good and the bad for our lives intuitively, that is, via instinctive knowledge appearing suddenly in our mind. Intuitive knowledge is not a magical knowledge, because it arises from certain workings of the neurons in our brains in response to our physical activities and experiences. About intuition, Albert Einstein writes, “A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way, but intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.”/24/

Nevertheless, our intuitive knowledge should be critically evaluated by our critical mind and sciences to make it positively usable for our lives and correctly lead our lives to the good. Why? Richard Carrier says that “intuition is very handy, but also quite fallible”, and he sees reason is superior to intuition because “while intuition can learn from its mistakes, reason can avoid them before they are ever made. And while intuition cannot tell if it is correct, reason almost always can.”/25/ 

Given the fact that many ancient religious moral values are not relevant any longer to the modern era, we presently need to construct secular morality via several ways: our mind, sciences, life experiences past and present, and intuition. 


Goodness and compassion 

Some people maintain that all moral decisions must be based on goodness alone to become good moral decisions. They would say that goodness is desirable in and of itself, and that they do good because they want to be good persons, or they want to create and embody the moral values and ideals they believe to be good./26/

We however cannot use goodness as the only criterion to be applied when we should take moral decisions, because goodness is actually a cultural idea whose definition is broadly dependent on our religious and cultural assumptions. I am sure not everyone will agree with Nietzsche’s definition of the good; he writes, “What is good? Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man.”/27/ 

So, do you still think that “goodness” is a neutral moral quality? No! Goodness according to an American New Yorker is different from goodness according to an American Indian. Goodness for an Aborigine differs from goodness for a white Australian. Goodness for an atheist is not the same as goodness for a Christian or for a Muslim or for a Jewish man. You can refer to other cases in relation to morality to show that all moral options are bound to certain sociocultural and anthropological and historical contexts. No moral options are neutral or do exist in vacuum. No moral options are souls without bodies, or bodies without souls.  

Metaphorically speaking, to enable you to live morally, you require both the H2 of your historical and cultural context and the O of a value option, and then smartly combine and interconnect both of them to make fresh living water H2O. To be sure, even though moral values are particular cultural ideas, we still can construct global moral values via global consensus, global moral values that are dynamic and change in the course of time. 

Other people contend that moral decisions should be grounded solely on compassion to become responsible moral decisions. Arthur Schopenhauer, for example, maintains that “it is this Compassion alone which is the real basis of all voluntary justice and all genuine loving-kindness. Only insofar as an action springs therefrom, has it moral value; and all conduct that proceeds from any other motive whatever has none.”/28/ His Holiness the Dalai Lama agrees with this when he states that “from our common experience of being born from a mother and basking in her care and attention, we learn the value of affection for others. This gives rise to peace of mind. Similarly, we can teach people how to be happy on the basis of secular ethics, that a compassionate mind is useful and beneficial and entirely secular in nature.”/29/ 

Even though compassion is a precious human psychological capacity that generally makes our courses of action great and noble, it is nevertheless a cultural idea too whose definition is broadly determined by our cultural and religious assumptions and life contexts. Consequently, we cannot entirely rely only on compassion when we should make moral decisions. 


Conclusion 

Life values you hold essentially determine your life meaning and purpose; we should say that life values and life meaning and purpose interact. Prof. Gleb Tsipursky at Ohio State University on the one hand acknowledges that religion can be one among many channels to help someone gain a sense of life meaning; but, on the other hand, he advises us by saying, So use science to find your purpose!”/30/ 

However, we should acknowledge that the combination of great life values offered by religions and the scientific understanding of the natural world will help us a great deal in obtaining and defining the meaning and purpose of our lives. And remember too that the natural world itself contains so many priceless lessons that certainly can make us wiser and wiser in carrying out our daily life insofar as we want to learn from it.     

Please note, that I consider atheism as neither an ethical system nor that all atheists are people of great morality given the fact that atheism currently has given birth to so many militant and fundamentalist atheists, especially in the New Atheism movement.    

It is obviously not easy for us presently, living in the multidimensional modern world, to take responsible moral decisions and to opt for virtuous values that together will make our lives and courses of action noble, as well as beneficial, purposeful, meaningful and constructive for our fellow beings, other organisms, the Earth, and the universe as a whole. 

In the final analysis, to arrive at sound and accountable moral decisions, we consequently should apply critical interdisciplinary approaches, involving so many realms of life, abundant knowledge, social and cultural heritages, plentiful wisdom and philosophies of life, the wonders of the natural world, as well as our rich collective experiences in becoming humans past and present. 


Notes 

/**/ The author of this writing is the researcher mostly of the issues of the relationship between sciences and religions. Presently he focuses his attention on reforming and deconstructing a lot of religious doctrines to make religions still relevant and significant in the modern era shaped mostly entirely by modern sciences and technology. He has written a number of critical books concerning this field of research.

/1/ The dating is determined on the basis of the archaeological findings of the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the fossil of a 400.000 year-old femur discovered in Spain in the cave called Sima de los Huesos (meaning, “Hole of Skeletons”). See the report of this discovery by Matthias Meyer, Qiaomei Fu, et al., “A Mitochondrial genome sequence of hominin from Sima de los Huesos”, Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature 12788, published online 04 December 2013 on http://www. nature.com/nature/ journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12788.html. The review of this findings by Carl Zimmer is available online: “Baffling 400.000-Year-Old Clue to Human Origins”, The New York Times Science, 04 December 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/science/at-400000-years-oldest-human-dna-yet-found-raises-new-mysteries.html?_r=0. See also L. Vigilant, M. Stoneking, H. Harpending, K. Hawkes, AC. Wilson, “African populations and the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA”, Science Vol. 253 no. 5027 (27 September 1991), pp. 1503-1507, doi:10.1126/science.1840702. The age of the common ancestor of the human mtDNA is placed by L. Vigilant et al. between 166.000 to 249.000 years. See also Max Ingman, Henrik Kaessmann, Svante Paabo, dan Ulf Gyllensten, “Mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans”, Nature 408 (7 December 2000), pp. 708-713, doi:10.1038/35047064, pada http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6813/full/408708a0.html. 

/2/ See the report of Yngve Vogt (translated by Alan Louis Belardinelli), “World’s oldest ritual discovered. Worshipped the python 70,000 years ago”, Apollon (University of Oslo research magazine), 30 November 2006. Latest editing 1 Februari 2012, at  http://www.apollon.uio.no/english/articles/2006/python-english.html. See also the report entitled “World’s oldest religion discovered in Botswana”, Afrol News, 1 December 2006, at http://www.afrol.com/articles/23093.  

/3/ Stephen Jay Gould, Rock of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999, reprint edition 2002), pp. 4-5.

/4/ Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love (Wilmington, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books, reprint ed. 2004), p. 34.

/5/ Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (New York, etc.: Free Press, 2010), p. 179.

/6/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 8.

/7/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust, p. 6.

/8/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust, p. 3.

/9/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust, p. 200.

/10/See “Sir Arthur C. Clarke Quotes”, Arthurcclark.net, at http://www.arthurcclarke.net/?scifi=12.

/11/ See the report of It’s Official: Religion Doesn’t Make You More Moral”, The Daily Beast, 23 September 2014, pada http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/23/it-s-official-religion-doesn-t-make-you-more-moral.html. 

/12/ J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., and Clare Aukofer, Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith (Foreword by Richard Dawkins) (Charlottesville, Virginia: Pitchstone Publishing, 2011), pp. 37, 39. 

/13/ So many studies have been carried out in this field, see among others: “Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals”, November 2011, on http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals?language=en; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/5373379/Animals-can-tell-right-from-wrong.html. See also: Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2009); Jingzhi Tan and Brian Hare, “Bonobos Share with Strangers”, PloS ONE 8 (1): e51922, 2 January 2013, http://www.plosone.org/article/ info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051922;jsessionid= 675BD441F61D3DA70 8A66D117B0F6D8E. See also the report by Sophie Bushwick, “Bonobos Share with Strangers First”, Scientific American, 3 January 2013, http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id= bonobos-share-with-strangers-first-13-01-03. See further Darby Proctor, Rebecca A. Williamson, et al., “Chimpanzees play the ultimatum game”, Psychology and Cognitive Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 14 January 2013, http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/ 09/1220806110.full.pdf.

/14/ See Ioanes Rakhmat, Beragama dalam Era Sains Modern (Jakarta: Pustaka Surya Daun, 2013), chapter 7 (“Dari Manakah Moralitas Berasal?”), pp. 219-256.

/15/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust, p. 26.

/16/ Patricia S. Churchland, Braintrust, pp. 192-193.

/17/ Jerry A. Coyne, Why Evolution Is True? (New York, etc.: Penguin Books, 2009), pp. 225, 233.

/18/ See Frank Nicholas, “Darwin’s finches highlight the unity of all life”, Phys.Org., April 03, 2015, at http://phys.org/news/2015-04-darwin-finches-highlight-unity-life.html. See also “A Gene That Shaped the Evolution of Darwin’s Finches”, Phys.Org., 11 February 2015, at http://phys.org/news/2015-02-evolution-darwin-finches-beaks.html; Sangeet Lamichhaney, Jonas Berglund, Leif Andersson, et al., “Evolution of Darwin’s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing, Nature 518 (19 February 2015), pp. 371-375. Doi: 10.1038/nature14181, at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v518/n7539/full/nature14181.html. 

/19/ This saying of Albert Einstein is cited from Viereck interview 1929, available at http://izquotes.com/quote/226560.

/20/ The source of this saying is Friedrich Nietszsche, Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize With the Hammer (1st publication 1889; Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997), p. vii (“Letter to Koselitz, 1/15/88”).  

/21/ Cited from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_art.html.

/22/ Ally Leung, “What is the Purpose of Art?” at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-the-purpose-art-pablo-picasso.html.

/23/ Dustin Wax, “How to Read a Painting” at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-read-a-painting.html.

/24/ Albert Einstein, “Letter to Dr. H. L. Gordon (May 3, 1949, AEA 58-217)” as quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 2007, 2008), p. 113.

/25/ See Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2005), pp. 179-180. 

/26/ Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness Without God, p. 297. 

/27/ Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist (Introduction and E.T. by H. L. Mencken; New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1918; 2nd printing 1924), p. 25.

/28/ Arthur Schopenhauer, On The Basis of Morality (Introduction, notes, and E.T., by Arthur B. Bullock) (Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1903), Part III, Chapter V, p. 97. 

/29/ Dalai Lama, “Speaking to Young Activists as Step by Step School”, January 31, 2014, at http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/1074-speaking-to-young-activists-at-step-by-step-school.  

/30/ Gleb Tsipursky, “What Is the Meaning of Life for You?”, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, 21 April 2015, at https://richarddawkins.net/2015/04/using-science-not-religion-to-find-your-purpose/.



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