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Islam and Christianity share ‘idea of conquest’, says Pope Francis


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“Do we all worship same God?”—a multi-faith discussion to be held in Nevada

View of Reno, Nevada, with the University of N...

View of Reno, Nevada, with the University of Nevada, Reno campus in the foreground. (ca. 1982–1993) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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South Reno United Methodist Church (SRUMC) in Reno, Nevada, is hosting multi-faith discussion on the topic of “Do we all worship same God?” on June 12; involving Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Native American and Atheist leaders.

Interfaith advocate Rajan Zed, who is producing the event for SRUMC, points out: In view of various conflicts around the world arising because of differing approaches/ideas about God, we are planning to bring diverse religious leaders and community together to openly, honestly and friendly discuss the issue—Are we, as different religions, worshipping the same God or does each religion worship an altogether different God?

Per Oxford Dictionary of World Religions: God cannot be described in language, since God is far apart from humanly apprehended categories in time and space…anything which is said about God is approximate, provisional, corrigible, and mainly wrong…The logic of God, therefore, remains, that if God does indeed turn out to be God, it is God that God will turn out to be.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI reportedly stated on September 14, 2012: Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe in one God, the Creator of all men and women. What about the God of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Daoism, Baha’ism, Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, etc.?

Dr. Kenneth G. Lucey, Religion Professor at University of Nevada, will be the moderator. All are welcome to this free event to be held at SRUMC, which will take questions from the audience also.

SRUMC, whose tagline is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”, which is “rooted and grounded in love” and whose website states:”God is doing amazing things in and through SRUMC”; was officially chartered in 1989. It also runs a faith based preschool and Dawn M. Flower and Becky J. Stockdale are the pastors.

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Recent parapsychology tweets


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UCLA study endorses yoga to reduce Alzheimer’s risk

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University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) “study finds that yoga and meditation can help minimize cognitive impairment”, according to UCLA release issued on May 10.

To reduce risk for Alzheimer’s, skip Lumosity (games claiming to improve memory, etc.) and get onto the yoga mat, this study by UCLA-led team of neuroscientists and funded by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, adds in the release.

It further says: “If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”

Rajan Zed called the UCLA looking into the usage of multi-faceted yoga to combat Alzheimer’s “a step in the positive direction.” Zed urged all major world universities to explore various benefits yoga offers.

Yoga, referred to as “a living fossil,” is a mental and physical discipline for everybody to share and benefit from, says Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism. He says yoga can be traced back to around 2,000 BCE to the Indus Valley civilization.

Zed further added that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, is a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga is a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a recently released “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.

UCLA claims to be “known worldwide for the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletics programs.”


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Artificial Intelligence will have to learn like the rest of us

Interesting idea in the tweeted article:

It would take far too long to program every speech thread required for normal human conversation, so machines will have to ask the right questions when faced with uncertainty, and learn from the human answers.

That sounds great. But what about morality. Can a machine learn right from wrong? Or decide whether or not to save a child or a bumblebee from a natural disaster? I’m not sure. Part of the answer, I think, depends on whether or not AI would have some kind of soul or higher consciousness that transcends its circuits. Before we say that it doesn’t, it’s probably best to just say “we don’t know” and leave it there.

Myself, it seems like our car and computers have a personality of their own. Sure, I’m probably just projecting my own thoughts and feelings onto the machines… but … they are just organized energy… and so are we. So can we really be sure?

Something for future philosophers and, perhaps, social rights activists to ponder down the road.

–MC


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Interpretation stage of science eclipsed by the wonders of new tech?

Don’t get me wrong. I am the first to champion the elimination or, at least, alleviation of unnecessary suffering. The problem with “gee-whiz” stories like this, however, is that the interpretative aspect of data observation is often dealt with inadequately. If we start screening and medicating young people who statistically deviate from the norm, might we be blotting out future Einsteins or van Goghs for the sake of some kind of contented stagnation?

And who is to say that human evolution might not require some genetic variation? Pre-doping people into conformity for a given historical period seems a bit short-sighted to me, no matter how well-intentioned.

–MC


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British Museum & Google develop online Lord Ganesha exhibition

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British Museum (BM) has developed an online exhibition “Celebrating Ganesha” with Google Cultural Institute (GCI).

Its tagline includes “Explore the imagery and symbolism associated with Ganesha and gain an insight into some of the most popular stories surrounding him.”

It shows a Ganesha sculpture (1200), Ganesha painting (1600), Ganesha on a swing painting (1800, Maharashtra), Ganesha in procession painting ((1780-1820, Tanjore style), Ganesha on his rat mount painting (1800)—all from BM, and a video on “The making and worship of Ganesha statues in Maharashtra.”

It explains about the background of “Why does Ganesha ride a rat?”, Ganesha’s elephant head and Ganesha’s broken tusk.

Rajan Zed, commending BM and GCI for this joint venture in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged world museums and multinational technology companies to undertake projects to explore the rich philosophical thought and wisdom offered by Hinduism and Hindu scriptures.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, appealed to major art museums of the world; including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc.; to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

BM, headquartered in London and founded in 1753, is claimed to be the first national public museum in the world. It now comprises over 8 million objects spanning the history of the world’s cultures: from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints. Sir Richard Lambert is Trustees Chairman, while Dr. Hartwig Fischer is the Director as of spring 2016.

The GCI claims to bring “together millions of artifacts from multiple partners, with the stories that bring them to life, in a virtual museum.”

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