No believing in God is not such a good idea.

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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:30 pm

Thanks Tilt.
:)
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:32 pm

Believing in God is good idea if it helps one be a moral and virtuous person.

Believing in God is a bad idea if it helps one be an immoral and unvirtuous person.

We're all at different stages of spiritual development. For some, believing in God is where they are at. For others, believing in the Buddha is where they are at.

To each his own.

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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:10 am

How can anyone choose to believe in God, or think that believing in God is a matter of choice??
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:13 am

binocular wrote:How can anyone choose to believe in God, or think that believing in God is a matter of choice??


We can choose to believe or disbelieve.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:23 am

Spiny Norman wrote:We can choose to believe or disbelieve.


???
How??

Who told you that? Christian proselytizers?

:tongue:
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:35 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
binocular wrote:How can anyone choose to believe in God, or think that believing in God is a matter of choice??


We can choose to believe or disbelieve.
It is not quite so simple as choosing, as in choosing between a red shirt or blue shirt, given the roots of such a beief:
    "The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:49 am

William James once worked out what I find to be a relevant approach for understanding the interrelation between choice and belief - from his "Will to believe":

/.../
Let us give the name of hypothesis to anything that may be proposed to our belief; and just as the electricians speak of live and dead wires, let us speak of any hypothesis as either live or dead A live hypothesis is one which appeals as a real possibility to him to whom it is proposed. If I ask you to believe in the Mahdi, the notion makes no electric connection with your nature,--it refuses to scintillate with any credibility at all. As an hypothesis it is completely dead. To an Arab, however (even if he be not one of the Madhi's followers), the hypothesis is among the mind's possibilities: it is alive. This shows that deadness and liveness in an hypothesis are not intrinsic properties, but relations to the individual thinker. They are measured by his willingness to act. The maximum of liveness in hypothesis means willingness to act irrevocably. Practically, that means belief; but there is some believing tendency wherever there is willingness to act at all.

Next, let us call the decision between two hypotheses an option. Options may be of several kinds. They may be:

1, living or dead;
2, forced or avoidable;
3, momentous or trivial;

and for our purpose we may call an option a genuine option when it of the forced, living, and momentous kind.

1. A living option is one in which both hypotheses are live ones. If I say to you: "Be a theosophist or be a Mohammedan," it is probably a dead option, because for you neither hypothesis is likely to be alive. But if I say: " Be an agnostic or be Christian," it is otherwise: trained as you are, each hypothesis makes some appeal, however small, to your belief.

2. Next, if I say to you: " Choose between going out with your umbrella or without it," I do not offer you a genuine option, for it is not forced. You can easily avoid it by not going out at all. Similarly, if I say, " Either love me or hate me," " Either call my theory true or call it false," your option is avoidable. You may remain indifferent to me, neither loving nor hating, and you may decline to offer any judgment as to my theory. But if I say, " Either accept this truth or go without it," I put on you a forced option, for there is no standing place outside of the alternative. Every dilemma based on a complete logical disjunction, with no possibility of not choosing, is an option of this forced kind.

3. Finally, if I were Dr. Nansen and proposed to you to join my North Pole expedition, your option would be momentous; for this would probably be your only similar opportunity, and your choice now would either exclude you from the North Pole sort of immortality altogether or put at least the chance of it into your hands. He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he tried and failed. Per contra, the option is trivial when the opportunity is not unique, when the stake is insignificant, or when the decision is reversible if it later prove unwise. Such trivial options abound in the scientific life. A chemist finds an hypothesis live enongh to spend a year in its verification: he believes in it to that extent. But if his experiments prove inconclusive either way, he is quit for his loss of time, no vital harm being done.
/.../
http://educ.jmu.edu//~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html


According to James, we can choose only in options that are genuine to us. And it seems that it is out of our control as whether a particular option is genuine to us or not. Which is why we cannot choose to believe just anything.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
binocular wrote:How can anyone choose to believe in God, or think that believing in God is a matter of choice??


We can choose to believe or disbelieve.
It is not quite so simple as choosing, as in choosing between a red shirt or blue shirt, given the roots of such a beief:
    "The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19


I think the belief in God as an eternal self or permanent being is indeed incompatible with the Buddhist take on anatta and anicca; to the extent that I suspect those who want to believe in elements of Buddhism and Theism are simply cherry picking.

I think one can choose to believe, however, at least in a limited sense. One might not know the roots of one's belief, or one might wilfully ignore them. One goes to sources where the belief is confirmed, and one thinks about it in a positive light, etc. If we can choose to cultivate a belief and make it stronger, then to that extent we are choosing it.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:
We can choose to believe or disbelieve.
It is not quite so simple as choosing, as in choosing between a red shirt or blue shirt, given the roots of such a beief:
    "The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19

Given that there are people who believe in God, but not in a permanent self, the above doesn't always apply.

An example of such people are some modern Christians who believe in Darwinian evolution, believe in God, call themselves Christians, but don't believe they are eternal.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:04 am

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
We can choose to believe or disbelieve.
It is not quite so simple as choosing, as in choosing between a red shirt or blue shirt, given the roots of such a beief:
    "The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19

Given that there are people who believe in God, but not in a permanent self, the above doesn't always apply.

An example of such people are some modern Christians who believe in Darwinian evolution, believe in God, call themselves Christians, but don't believe they are eternal.


Point taken, and there are indeed such Christians. But would they not be believing in an eternal self/permanent spiritual substance/essence by believing in God? He would be the eternal one, not them.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby dhammafriend » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:19 am

Belief in God, gods, spirits etc are all taught to people, hence you have churches, temples, bible study, Islamic schools etc.
The creator god concept comes from a very basic mistake in logic: The assumption that we just have to find the right god who made all this stuff.
No-one seriously questions the assumption that there is a god in the first place (because the argument would collapse). Also, how do you prove it was not 3 gods who made everything or 33 for that matter?

The concept of God/ gods serves an emotional function for human beings. i.e.: That there is ultimately a way to control your experience (because even if you are not in charge the god / goddess is) This provides immense comfort and solace when things get out of control: sudden deaths in the family, change of fortune etc. Its a coping mechanism thats thousands of years old. The problem with the concept is that its only as good as what we can image it to be. If people are aggressive and war-like, their chosen deity simply reflects that. And the reverse as well.

At the end of the day the Buddha spoke against it as wrong view as it is another manifestation of tanha and upadana based on avijja. So whether you are monistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic etc. Whatever point of attachment you have, no matter how sublime the experience or refined the argument, if you cling to it, you suffer.

Thats the whole point of Dhamma (utterly unique in this world). He didn't teach to give us more things to build up and cling to. Especially ditthi (views) The best view is right view (samma ditthi) that leads to the end of attachment to all views. Fools try to cover the earth with leather, the wise put on sandals. Sadhu X3

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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:45 pm

Sam Vara wrote:But would they not be believing in an eternal self/permanent spiritual substance/essence by believing in God?
He would be the eternal one, not them.

Some do, some don't.
There are even self-identified Christians who believe in evolution and who believe that all that about God and the Bible is somehow a metaphor.

Bottomline, there is so much variety among people who say that they believe in God that I really see no reliable pattern or conclusion to come to about belief in God as such.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:37 am

    "The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19


Sam Vara wrote:
I think one can choose to believe, however, at least in a limited sense. One might not know the roots of one's belief, or one might wilfully ignore them. One goes to sources where the belief is confirmed, and one thinks about it in a positive light, etc. If we can choose to cultivate a belief and make it stronger, then to that extent we are choosing it.
One of the things that must be understood here is that the belief referred to is not necessarily referring to conceptual beliefs volitionally assumed. The sense of self, with which we assume -- believe -- we are, is a manifestation of ignorance, and in many ways that ignorance fueled belief trumps any sort of volitionally assumed belief. It would be out of that ignorance fueled "belief" that the assumption of a god grounded.


Point taken, and there are indeed such Christians. But would they not be believing in an eternal self/permanent spiritual substance/essence by believing in God? He would be the eternal one, not them.
    Samyutta Nikaya III 144; CDB 954: "Bhikkhus [monks, the Buddha said, holding a small lump of dung on his palm], there is not even this much of individual existence [attabhava] that is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and that will remain the same just like eternity itself. If there was this much individual existence that was permanent , stable, eternal, not subject to change, this living the of the holy for the complete destruction of suffering could not be discerned."
The point is that the fundamental ignorance driven self belief assumes a reality about itself that is not true, according to the Buddha, to the way things are in fact. The assumption of a god, self writ large, is a way of protecting oneself against the reality that constantly encroaches the assumed reality of our ignorance driven self.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:21 am

tiltbillings wrote:The assumption of a god, self writ large, is a way of protecting oneself against the reality that constantly encroaches the assumed reality of our ignorance driven self.

Do you have a reference from the Pali Canon (and not secondary or tertiary texts) that supports this?

Although I'll grant that when people _assume_ the existence of God ("assume" as opposed to "know"), they may indeed be attempting to protect themselves in some way.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby dhammafriend » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:48 am

For those intent on positing God* (why not 2 or 3 or 45 gods? ) please read through these suttas below. Buddhist epistemology will not allow for such a being/reality within its own systems, whether pantheistic, monistic, monotheistic etc. It's not something that been overlooked for 2500 years. It's been dealt with in every tradition from Sri Lanka to China, Tibet, you name it.

Sabba Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
...Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

Kalama Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Bhara Sutta The Buddha cuts to the chase here.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Brahmajala Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

Can you add salt to cement? Yes. Is it necessary? No. All religions are free to interpret their religious experiences as they wish. Nothing wrong with that. If its true for them subjectively then great! The problem arises when others do not see it the same way. And we can't have that now can we?

*I mean a creator deity who caused all existence and is involved in the day to day affairs of humans.

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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:59 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:We can choose to believe or disbelieve.


It is not quite so simple as choosing, as in choosing between a red shirt or blue shirt, given the roots of such a beief:


Sure, some of this stuff goes quite deep. But I don't accept that we have no control over our beliefs or that we are stuck with them for all time. And the same goes for disbeliefs.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:02 am

binocular wrote:An example of such people are some modern Christians who believe in Darwinian evolution, believe in God, call themselves Christians, but don't believe they are eternal.


Modern Christianity is very diverse, and there is a degree of secularisation - there are now some non-theist Christians, strange as that may seem.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:17 am

binocular wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:But would they not be believing in an eternal self/permanent spiritual substance/essence by believing in God?
He would be the eternal one, not them.

Some do, some don't.
There are even self-identified Christians who believe in evolution and who believe that all that about God and the Bible is somehow a metaphor.

Bottomline, there is so much variety among people who say that they believe in God that I really see no reliable pattern or conclusion to come to about belief in God as such.


Yes, there are a small number of self-identified Christians who are non-realist and pragmatist. The "Sea of Faith" group associated with Cambridge theologian Don Cupitt are one example. Interestingly, the Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor draws heavily upon Cupitt's ideas. It's quite easy to find agreement between faiths when the underlying assumption is that there is no objective reality over which one might disagree!

In the case of those Christians who believe in a contingent God, I am happy to say that there is no disagreement with Buddhism. "God" becomes part of a khanda, an idea in the mind.

Credit to you, binocular. If I have understood this right, you are using the complexity and contingent nature of the world to avoid needless disputes over essences.
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:40 am

tiltbillings:

One of the things that must be understood here is that the belief referred to is not necessarily referring to conceptual beliefs volitionally assumed. The sense of self, with which we assume -- believe -- we are, is a manifestation of ignorance, and in many ways that ignorance fueled belief trumps any sort of volitionally assumed belief


Very possibly, which is why I was careful to say that to a limited extent, we can choose our beliefs. For example, if subject to ignorance, we can to some degree choose what to do with our sense of self, or a belief in another "essence".

It would be out of that ignorance fueled "belief" that the assumption of a god grounded.


If you are saying that a belief in God is dependent upon our sense of self, that may well be true; but it is not self-evidently so. It doesn't appear to be inherently contradictory for a person to believe in God, while not being subject to the type of ignorance which gives rise to our own sense of self. You say that

The assumption of a god, self writ large, is a way of protecting oneself against the reality that constantly encroaches the assumed reality of our ignorance driven self.


but this looks like a statement of psychological fact. It may be true, and it may not be, for any sentient being capable of holding the beliefs in question. But why should I believe it to be true?
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Re: No believing in God is not such a good idea.

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:33 pm

Sam Vara wrote:If you are saying that a belief in God is dependent upon our sense of self, that may well be true; but it is not self-evidently so. It doesn't appear to be inherently contradictory for a person to believe in God, while not being subject to the type of ignorance which gives rise to our own sense of self.


I would argue that belief of any sort automatically implies a sense of self. For there to be a belief, there must be "one who believes" that belief. How can there be a belief if there is no believer?

But this is using objective language as though these things abstractions were concrete. The reality of belief is more like a verb: "believing" which depends on causes and conditions, one of which is ignorance.

:anjali:
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