How does one answer the following questions from Christian fundamentalists (even when they are very wrong on science and evolution)?
- Since souls are impermanent—i.e., there is no real self—how can Buddhism refer to nirvana as achieved or experienced?
When Buddhism teaches reincarnation, but also denies that souls exist, what then is reincarnated? With no self to be reborn, how can cycles of rebirth occur?
If all things are impermanent, does not that very conviction implode?52
Karma entails that past acts and future incidents are inseparably linked together (i.e., we truly reap in this life what we’ve sown in a previous one). But how can this be if nothing is permanent?
The Buddhist’s whole worldview is predicated on overcoming suffering, but how can this be if (some of the same) Buddhists deny that suffering is real?
Buddhism infers one has no personal significance. But then why do some Buddhists seem to live as if they do have some modicum of significance?
How can Buddhism claim that suffering comes from the pursuit of private fulfillment, and then pursue (desire) a private fulfillment like nirvana?
As part of our world of sensory illusion, how are ethical notions (like good and evil or cruelty and non-cruelty) even sustainable?53 Specifically, what objective moral basis can Buddhism provide to distinguish between them?
It is commendable that Buddhists live ethically. But by holding that ultimate reality is impersonal—with distinctions between good and evil being illusory—isn’t such an ethic wholly arbitrary with no objective underpinning?54
With no personal God, who/what decides whether an act deserves “good” or “bad” karma?
How is it even known that the search for enlightenment is worthy?
If self-effort is imperative to curry good karma, how does this mesh with the aid of a bodhisattva?
“If one cannot empirically know the minds of other people, then pursuing knowledge of other minds is inconsistent with the Buddha’s doctrine regarding the kind of knowledge necessary to end suffering. . . . Is not compassion then inconsistent with the kind of knowing that leads one to be able to end one’s suffering?” A head monk answered, “If someone truly understands the Buddha’s teaching, they will see that compassion is meaningless.” Collender comments, “If metaphysical claims are that which we cannot possibly verify, then the Buddha cannot verify . . . that there are any individuals beyond himself. This makes the Buddha’s epistemology an enemy of compassion.”—Michael Collender
http://orthochristian.com/69124.htmlThe moral contradiction is precisely this: A person should want to get saved from desire or selfishness. But wanting to save oneself is just as selfish as any other act for selfish ends. If a person wants enlightenment, he still wants. And wanting, desiring, is the very fault which [sic] prevents enlightenment.
“The way that Buddha showed to Nirvana was twofold. On the one hand, psychophysical exercises of self-immersion, concentrated meditation, holding the breath—in their techniques, almost identical to the system of yoga. But on the other hand, self-sacrifice and love towards all existence. However, this second way is, so to speak, a part of the first, especially psychophysical exercise. Love, mercy, compassion—all these for the Buddhist are not feelings, for feelings must not remain in his soul, but only results, the consequences of the complete loss of his feeling of individuality and of his personal wishes. In such a mental state, it doesn’t cost a person anything to sacrifice himself for his neighbor, for, not having his own desires, he naturally fulfils the desires of others easily. To suppress one’s will so much that one does the will of another exclusively is recommended precisely in the form of an exercise. Forgiveness of all is looked upon as a means of obliterating the feelings. Apathy or indifference reaches perfection when a person relates to his enemy in the same way as to his friend; when he is indifferent to joy or to pain, to honor or dishonor."ii
In other words, such a person becomes like a robot, which has neither a personality nor feelings, and therefore impassively fulfils whatever program is installed on it. In contrast to this, Christian sacrifice, forgiveness, and love are based not on the suppression of desires within oneself, not on the annihilation of one's personal authority, but on the purity of a heart that has acquired God's grace. The soul that has found in God freedom from sin joyfully helps its neighbor; it forgives and makes sacrifices because it loves—in this lies its secret happiness.