My writing here might suggest I care about religion in the context of science, or evolution in relation to creationism. But those interests came much later. For most of my life I cared about religion in and of itself. I’ve been fascinated by it for almost as long as I can remember. Most of the time that religion was Hinduism. As a kid I remember devouring books about Hindu mythology and philosophy. I read, read, and read some more. I argued with my parents, uncles and aunts, family friends. Some of my fondest childhood memories are celebrating Hindu holidays with the Jamaican-Indian community.
I wish I could explain why I was so infatuated with Hinduism. Why I knew–and know–so much more about the Mahabharata than almost all of my friends. I can’t give you a good explanation. For whatever reasons, we all find different things interesting. Mine happened to be Hinduism and, later on, religion in general.
I’ve touched on Hinduism before. A recent email discussion with some close friends made me realize I should discuss it more. In particular, I’d like to develop a response to this question from one of my best friends:
I would be interested in how Hindu theologians and scientists square their belief in reincarnation with the science that shows that the world came to exist at a given point in time. Future blog topic on intersection of Hinduism and space-time physics?
The short answer is that I think the question isn’t well-framed because Hindus don’t have to ‘square’ anything. I’m not even sure Hindus ‘believe’ in reincarnation. Or rather, belief is more complicated than those of us raised in a Judeo-Christian world understand it to be. But I’ll expand on all that in the coming posts.
Before we get into the details, I want to highlight my favorite Freddie DeBoer quotes. Freddie urges us to consider:
the possibility that other adults could review the same evidence he has, experience the same experiences, have the same purchase on the world, be of the same moral discrimination, and yet conclude something different than what he’s concluded. Like the internet essayist who must forbid the possibility that musical tastes are just tastes — that they reflect not the character and content of the person inside but an inscrutable collection of chancey and contingent preferences that could have played out in any other way. [Emphasis added]
Put another way: I’m interested in Hinduism and religion because that’s just how I do. And my upcoming analyses are just that–mine. I am sure other Hindus, including other Jamindican Hindus*, will disagree with me. I’m sure religious scholars would too. But my long-time readers should not be surprised. As you know, I have some unorthodox views. I hope you enjoy the coming weeks as my blog takes a different turn.
* Plagiarized from my brother. A Jamindican is a Jamaican-Indian-American.