Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:03 pm

kirk5a wrote:You acknowledge intentions, you acknowledge there are actions and results of those actions in this life, but somehow you have the idea there is no need for kamma and kammavipaka, which are just those very things which you just described.


If we argue about mere names, then I have no problem.

But, what about:
"There is the case where a woman or man is one who harms beings with his/her fists, with clods, with sticks, or with knives. Through having adopted & carried out such actions, on the break-up of the body, after death, he/she reappears in the plane of deprivation... If instead he/she comes to the human state, then he/she is sickly wherever reborn. This is the way leading to sickliness: to be one who harms beings with one's fists, with clods, with sticks, or with knives. MN135


If poor health can be explained by inheriting poor genes, poor external environment, virus, bacteria, etc, why do we need extra concept of un-observable akusala kamma vipāka? What evidence do we have that what happens to a person now is vipāka from kamma done in former life, or many lives ago?

What is major difference between saying that this occurs due to Kamma and saying that it occurs due to God's will? Why do we believe one and not the other?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:41 pm

Alex123 wrote:
If poor health can be explained by inheriting poor genes, poor external environment, virus, bacteria, etc, why do we need concept of un-observable akusala kamma vipāka? What evidence do we have that what happens to a person now is vipāka from kamma done in former life, or many lives ago?
That you may want to believe things this way rather than believe things that way is fine, but do you need to convince others that your way is THE way to believe what is so about the Buddha's teachings? If so, why? If not, then why are you arguing about this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:45 pm

tiltbillings wrote:do you need to convince others that your way is THE way to believe what is so about the Buddha's teachings?


No. But in any case, we don't know what the Buddha vocally has said. All we have are writings by other people centuries later, and we can only talk about doctrine from those things. So we can't know for sure what is and isn't distorted version of Buddha's oral teaching.

You can read my post here for more details.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:52 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:do you need to convince others that your way is THE way to believe what is so about the Buddha's teachings?


No. But in any case, we don't know what the Buddha vocally has said. All we have are writings by other people centuries later, and we can only talk about doctrine from those things. So we can't know for sure what is and isn't distorted version of Buddha's oral teaching.
Then why are you arguing about this?
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: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:14 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:There are numerous modern philosophical arguments against materialism. There are also well educated physicists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, etc., who don't subscribe to materialism or physicalism.


Ñāṇa,

Could you give some examples?

tiltbillings wrote:Then why are you arguing about this?


The only way to test the viability of an idea is to put it under rigorous questioning and see how it holds up. In this case, we have what seems to be a problem of parsimony -- i.e., there is an empirically demonstrable explanation, and a mysterious, non-falsifiable explanation. Why choose the latter?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Nyana » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:27 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Could you give some examples?

For starters, your man Chalmers argues against materialism in The Conscious Mind (Ch. 4). Hasker goes beyond Chalmers' natural dualism and argues against causal closure of the physical domain in his paper How Not To Be A Reductivist. Rosenberg's A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World doesn't reject causal closure of the physical, but argues that physics doesn't offer a complete picture of causation, i.e. physics doesn't provide a theory of causation. Thus, he rejects physicalism (and he rejects epiphenomenalism and interactionist dualism as well). Papers on panpsychism can be found in Mind that Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium. And a number of different arguments are put forward in Mind And Its Place in the World: Non-reductionist Approaches to the Ontology of Consciousness, some less coherent than others.

Lazy_eye wrote:The only way to test the viability of an idea is to put it under rigorous questioning and see how it holds up. In this case, we have what seems to be a problem of parsimony -- i.e., there is an empirically demonstrable explanation, and a mysterious, non-falsifiable explanation. Why choose the latter?

Is there an "empirically demonstrable explanation" for the existence of consciousness that can withstand rigorous questioning? If there were, the "hard problem" would have already been solved.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:32 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Is there an "empirically demonstrable explanation" for the existence of consciousness that can withstand rigorous questioning? If there were, the "hard problem" would have already been solved.


What about Kamma and rebirth? What empirically demonstrable proof that Buddha existed and if he did, that he was fully awakened?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:33 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Then why are you arguing about this?


The only way to test the viability of an idea is to put it under rigorous questioning and see how it holds up. In this case, we have what seems to be a problem of parsimony -- i.e., there is an empirically demonstrable explanation, and a mysterious, non-falsifiable explanation. Why choose the latter?
That is assuming an open ended investigation, but that is not how it is coming across.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:49 pm

Also, while it is true that not every scientist holds "materialism" (which was challenged even in 19th century), what about post positivism and such?

It is correct that we do not have full explanation of consciousness. However we are clear about some necessary causes.
For example: if one drinks alcohol or takes drugs, or some disease or injury that alters brain's function or structure - the mind will alter.

Person can have good concentration and have wholesome mental states, but an injury to the brain can make his mind unconcentrated and angry.
http://www.headinjury.com/brainmap.htm#map

If mind is independent of the brain, how come it always follows the specific changes to the brain?

How interaction between mind and brain occurs?

Case studies aside, modern experiments have demonstrated that the relation between brain and mind is much more than simple correlation. By damaging, or manipulating, specific areas of the brain repeatedly under controlled conditions (e.g. in monkeys) and reliably obtaining the same results in measures of mental state and abilities, neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal. This conclusion is further supported by data from the effects of neuro-active chemicals (such as those affecting neurotransmitters)[80] on mental functions, but also from research on Neurostimulation (direct electrical stimulation of the brain, including Transcranial magnetic stimulation).[81] url
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:49 pm

What's interesting is that physicalism, materialism, and biological naturalism are unverifiable (as theories of consciousness) but they are falsifiable, while rebirth is theoretically verifiable but it isn't falsifiable.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:Also, while it is true that not every scientist holds "materialism" (which was challenged even in 19th century), what about post positivism and such?

It is correct that we do not have full explanation of consciousness. However we are clear about some necessary causes.
For example: if one drinks alcohol or takes drugs, or some disease or injury that alters brain's function or structure - the mind will alter.

Person can have good concentration and have wholesome mental states, but an injury to the brain can make his mind unconcentrated and angry.
http://www.headinjury.com/brainmap.htm#map

If mind is independent of the brain, how come it always follows the specific changes to the brain?

How interaction between mind and brain occurs?

Case studies aside, modern experiments have demonstrated that the relation between brain and mind is much more than simple correlation. By damaging, or manipulating, specific areas of the brain repeatedly under controlled conditions (e.g. in monkeys) and reliably obtaining the same results in measures of mental state and abilities, neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal. This conclusion is further supported by data from the effects of neuro-active chemicals (such as those affecting neurotransmitters)[80] on mental functions, but also from research on Neurostimulation (direct electrical stimulation of the brain, including Transcranial magnetic stimulation).[81] url


Alex, it isn't that hard to come up with some energy based monistic philosophy that explains consciousness as well as the physical world of atoms and other subatomic particles as being results of the structure of this underlying energy or energies which could also explain the correlation between the physical reactions of the brain and their mental states while still providing that mental activity could continue with the break up of the physical brain. Just saying, the physical world as commonly conceived need not be taken as the fundamental ground from which other structures come into being.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:01 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:Alex, it isn't that hard to come up with some energy based monistic philosophy that explains consciousness as well as the physical world of atoms and other subatomic particles as being results of the structure of this underlying energy or energies which could also explain the correlation between the physical reactions of the brain and their mental states


This sounds like physicalism.

polarbuddha101 wrote: while still providing that mental activity could continue with the break up of the physical brain.


What actual proof do we have of this, and is this theory falsifiable? What we do have is proof that damaging the brain, damages the mind.

polarbuddha101 wrote:Just saying, the physical world as commonly conceived need not be taken as the fundamental ground from which other structures come into being.


And not every person believes in Naive Realism or materialism.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:07 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:What's interesting is that physicalism, materialism, and biological naturalism are unverifiable (as theories of consciousness)


I believe that materialism is metaphysics just as much as idealism.

polarbuddha101 wrote: but they are falsifiable, while rebirth is theoretically verifiable but it isn't falsifiable.


Falsifiability is essential scientific criteria:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific ... l_criteria


How can we verify rebirth? Can we objectively see person's stream of consciousness being reborn?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby daverupa » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:09 pm

Alex123 wrote:What we do have is proof that damaging the brain, damages the mind.


Or is it possible that damaging the brain simply impedes the mind, the way damaging a water pipe impedes the water, but doesn't damage the water?

There's no "actual proof" we aren't brains in jars, for that matter; these lines of speculation aren't going anywhere productive...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:21 pm

daverupa wrote:Or is it possible that damaging the brain simply impedes the mind, the way damaging a water pipe impedes the water, but doesn't damage the water?


If damage to the brain impedes the mind, then what about death? That is even stronger impediment.

Lets say that John's mental states are full of loving kindness. Then, due to brain damage he becomes aggressive. Do we have a case of :

1) separate mind filled with loving kindness that remains unchanged
plus
2) brain with aggression

Or do we have:
1) brain that produces aggressive mental states.


If the mind is separate from the brain than brain is one thing and mind is another. What happens to the brain and sensations that it receives is then separate from the mind. So which is John?

Considering that we can't seem to observe someone else's mind, how can we prove that it "teleports/jumps" from dead person into a womb to be reborn?

I'll say more: How do we know that the other person has mind? We see his/her physical actions* and based on analogue with oneself we can infer
that he has mind. * If he is angry he might frown, clench fists, alter the posture, his heart beat will increase, adrenal glands release more adrenaline, blood pressure rise, etc.

daverupa wrote:There's no "actual proof" we aren't brains in jars, for that matter;


There is no proof that the world was not created by God and all the proof against his existence is part of his divine plan to test our faith.

Ultimately it comes down to probability, occam's razor, evidence and "so what do we do?". Just because the world might be an illusion, it doesn't alter the fact that if one jump's under the truck - predictable and painful thing will occur.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:18 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:For starters, your man Chalmers argues against materialism in The Conscious Mind (Ch. 4). Hasker goes beyond Chalmers' natural dualism and argues against causal closure of the physical domain in his paper How Not To Be A Reductivist. Rosenberg's A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World doesn't reject causal closure of the physical, but argues that physics doesn't offer a complete picture of causation, i.e. physics doesn't provide a theory of causation. Thus, he rejects physicalism (and he rejects epiphenomenalism and interactionist dualism as well). Papers on panpsychism can be found in Mind that Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium. And a number of different arguments are put forward in Mind And Its Place in the World: Non-reductionist Approaches to the Ontology of Consciousness, some less coherent than others.


Great. Very interested in looking at these. Thanks for the list!

Have you read Henry Stapp's book? I haven't got to it yet, but am planning to this year.

Ñāṇa wrote:Is there an "empirically demonstrable explanation" for the existence of consciousness that can withstand rigorous questioning? If there were, the "hard problem" would have already been solved.


No, I don't think there is. But my comment was actually with regard to kamma as an explanation for human differences -- i.e. why so-and-so becomes a child prodigy, or grows to a certain height, has green eyes, etc.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Nyana » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:18 am

Alex123 wrote:I believe that materialism is metaphysics just as much as idealism.

So you're a skeptic. Skepticism and demands for empirically demonstrable proof will leave a lot of questions unresolved. Skepticism doesn't establish anything.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Nyana » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:36 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Have you read Henry Stapp's book? I haven't got to it yet, but am planning to this year.

I've read a bit about Stapp's ideas, but I haven't read his books.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby binocular » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:44 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Skepticism doesn't establish anything.


Oh, it does establish things. Such as confusion. :p
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:36 am

Alex123 wrote: But still, Pali Canon has too many religious teachings - and unfortunately some of them are key points (kamma, rebirth, cosmology) which the Buddha is said to have taught. Unfortunately the issue is not just the amount of mythological teachings, but centrality and importance of those that are taught.


But is the answer really to strip out all this "religious" content just because it makes us feel uncomfortable?
Well, oi dunno...
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