A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Dhammakid
Posts: 375
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:09 am
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Contact:

A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Dhammakid » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:36 pm

Hello All,
I've been reading De Silva's "Beyond Belief: A Buddhist Critique of Fundamentalist Christianity" and find it highly informative and useful in discussions with Christians who insist on arguing with my beliefs. I'm wondering if anyone else has read it and what you think of it.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/beyond-belief02.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Dhammakid

Mukunda
Posts: 295
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:54 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Mukunda » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:06 pm

Dhammakid wrote:Hello All,
I've been reading De Silva's "Beyond Belief: A Buddhist Critique of Fundamentalist Christianity" and find it highly informative and useful in discussions with Christians who insist on arguing with my beliefs.
How can there be an argument for them to insist on if you don't participate? :thinking:
:anjali:

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2964
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:23 pm

I agree with Mukunda, if they want to argue then that's their problem, you don't have to buy into it.

They are coming from the view that Buddhism is a direct competitor to Christianity just because they are both world religions. I don't agree, I think they are trying to achieve quite different things therefore arguing one against the other is meaningless.

It would be like an accountant arguing with my beliefs because they don't conform to the fundamentals of accounting, or a musician because they don't conform to rules on tone, pitch, melody etc.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4539
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:53 pm

If you really have to participate in fundamentalists' kinds of arguments, Da Silva provides useful ammunition for you. But it's better to avoid dispute altogether in the first place, and better to avoid fighting on their terms in the second place: they are likely to have had more practice than you.
You could try offering to attend a church service if they will go to your meditation group with you first ...
:juggling:

:namaste:
Kim

Kenshou
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Kenshou » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:59 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
You could try offering to attend a church service if they will go to your meditation group with you first ...
I ain't goin' tah no pagan devil-worshippin' boodist ritual ceremony, no siree!

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 5878
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by bodom » Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:07 pm

I like Hui-Nengs words on the matter:
"With those who are sympathetic Let us have discussion on Buddhism. As for those whose point of view differs from ours Let us treat them politely and thus make them happy. (But) disputes are alien to our School, For they are incompatible with its doctrine. To be bigoted and to argue with others in disregard of this rule Is to subjects one's Essence of Mind to the bitterness of mundane existence."
:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4539
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:34 am

Kenshou wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
You could try offering to attend a church service if they will go to your meditation group with you first ...
I ain't goin' tah no pagan devil-worshippin' boodist ritual ceremony, no siree!
Of course - but it shows a willingness to acknowledge their beliefs and, without being argumentative, gives them a choice of giving up or continuing the conversation from the weak position of having refused to show a matching tolerance.

It's all hypothetical to me, though. Aussies are pretty laid back about everything except, in some cases, State of Origin football.

:namaste:
Kim

Bankei
Posts: 430
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Bankei » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:03 am

A.L. De Silva is none other than the Australian monk Dhammika. Allegedly written under a pseudonym because of the potential backlash in places like Indonesia. (according to a review of the book by Prof Garry Trompf)

Bankei
-----------------------
Bankei

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Ben » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:32 am

Hi Kourtney

I just downloaded it and it looks good. Its resonant of a Burmese (I think) publication which I read years ago that was a critique of Christianity. Memory is beginning to fade...
I recommend to you the following publications:
A letter to a Christian Nation: http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian- ... 417&sr=8-1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
End of Faith: http://www.amazon.com/End-Faith-Religio ... gy_b_img_b" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
both by Sam Harris. A letter to a Christian nation is essentially End of Faith in 90 pages.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
Kokoro
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:36 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Kokoro » Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:37 am

I consider De Silva's book to be not so much for providing one with ammo in case a group of fundamentalist Christians appear and push their religion, but rather to provide comfort and assurance to Buddhists who perhaps may have been Christian and are now having some doubt, or perhaps for Christians who are now having doubt in ther religion and are looking to the Dhamma for the Truth.
Regardless, even if it were proven it was written specifically for that purpose (rebuking Christians) I would approach it in a similar manner as one who receives instruction in martial arts, you have it but wish never to use it.

:anjali:

User avatar
Dhammakid
Posts: 375
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:09 am
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Contact:

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Dhammakid » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:00 am

Hey Everyone,
Thanks so much for the responses.

I do agree that it's better to not engage in debate, and I try very hard to do that whenever possible. But De Silva's book is great in case I'm given no choice, which, luckily, isn't often.

I love Sam Harris' works. I haven't read his complete works yet, but I've read excerpts and have seen interviews and I've loved it all. I will definitely read "Letter" as soon as I get the chance.

:anjali:
Dhammakid

User avatar
pilgrim
Posts: 1401
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by pilgrim » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:26 am

We should avoid arguments, but the book makes a good point in the closing paragraph of the Preface:

"Some Buddhists may object to a book like this, believing that a gentle and tolerant religion like Buddhism should refrain from criticizing other. This is certainly not what the Buddha himself taught. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta he said that his disciples should be able to "Teach the Dhamma, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyze it, make it clear, and be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen." Subjecting a point of view to careful scrutiny and criticism has an important part to play in helping to winnow truth from falsehood so that we can be in a better position to choose between "the two and sixty contending sects." Criticism of other religions only becomes inappropriate when it is based on a deliberate misrepresentation or when it descends into an exercise in ridicule and name-calling. I hope I have avoided doing this."

Shawn Cahill
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:08 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by Shawn Cahill » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:09 am

This book is honest it admitting that it's purpose is to criticize Christianity, and promote Buddhism.
I am a man of few words, but could write an entire book pointing out all the mistakes in this book.
As I began reading the book I recognized the author was using the same old arguments that atheists have been making for years, and yet they never gives them any credit in the book.
The Buddhist author is also an atheist, and as such they become the judge or what is evidence, logical, good and bad.
Just a few things I will comment on is that they say the teachings of Jesus taught them to be a better Buddhist. This may be true but only if they selectively chose what teachings of Jesus to follow, as Jesus obviously recognized there is a creator.
One one page De Silva says they cannot prove God does not exist, and just two pages later (page 8) they state it can be be proven.
De Silva claims to be a former Christian who lives outside of the United States. Either the author is lying about this, or they were an extremely ignorant Christian.
For example he claims that God is all loving, while the Bible multiple times describes how God hates wickedness.
Most of the time when representing Christianity he references what Christians have said, rather than quoting the Bible, and makes judgments upon that. Then later on in defending Buddhism they say "let us not judge a religion by those who fail to practice it". Is a similar way if Christians tell you something that goes contrary to Christianity (the teachings of Christ), you don't judge the Christian faith by those who misrepresent it.
In another area De Silva says how God is not patient, kind, etc, because he judges.If a parent punishes their children for doing wrong, does this likewise mean they cannot be good and kind? Obviously not.
I doubt that De Silva was a Christian (though they may have believed they were) because they appeared to demand answers, instead of trusting in the character of God.
In the end of the book De Silva suggests books for those who want to learn about both faiths. All the books about Buddhism are for supportive, while all the books about Christianity are critical. This shows a sad obvious bias.
There is much more I could have said, and am willing to discuss any of it with anyone who so desires. If so look me up: Shawn Cahill.
In summation the author accurately depicts Christianity only about 20% of the time, so is hardly a good source to learn about it, and is only good for learning old atheist arguments against it.

ieee23
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed May 13, 2015 12:40 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by ieee23 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:24 pm

Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for posting!
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

ieee23
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed May 13, 2015 12:40 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by ieee23 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:26 pm

Mukunda wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:06 pm
Dhammakid wrote:Hello All,
I've been reading De Silva's "Beyond Belief: A Buddhist Critique of Fundamentalist Christianity" and find it highly informative and useful in discussions with Christians who insist on arguing with my beliefs.
How can there be an argument for them to insist on if you don't participate? :thinking:
:anjali:
There were a number of bible thumpers ( and similar, but fewer people for other religions ) on my campus when I was in college. I discovered that if I told them I was an atheist they would pester me the most, but if I told them I had a religion they would almost immediately leave me alone.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

ieee23
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed May 13, 2015 12:40 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by ieee23 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:28 pm

Dhammakid wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:00 am
I do agree that it's better to not engage in debate, and I try very hard to do that whenever possible.
I think some people who are inclined to seek converts, do it in part to bolster their faith against their own doubts. Getting into a debate with or argument with them can help them solidify their faith by getting a chance to forcefully repeat the beliefs they have faith in.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 807
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by cappuccino » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:09 pm

Christians and Buddhists hold you should believe in the afterlife
and the consequences hereafter
Buddha has said, "As even a little excrement is of evil smell, I do not praise even the shortest spell of existence, be it no longer than a snap of the fingers."

befriend
Posts: 1109
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by befriend » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:40 pm

I love Christianity. They do more charity work than Buddhist organizations. Christianity is a solid religion or at least what Jesus taught. I agree the new and old testaments are pretty diabolical. But saying our father prayers or the Jesus centering prayer and having Jesus as a role model or praying Hail Marys is an effective way of reducing negative emotions. Why would we let an atheist defend Buddhism someone who lacks faith. What despicable place to put your effort. Christians are renunciation believers heaven and hell believers afterlife believers charity believers self sacrificial forgiving and ethical in thought believers metta and mindfulness and the Quakers are pretty much single handedly responsible for eradicating slavery in Britain and have given equality to women.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

befriend
Posts: 1109
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by befriend » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:44 pm

Too much intellectualism and scholar, in El Salvador it is Christianity that is the only viable form of rehabilitation for former and current gang members according to the gang members themselves. Homicide has dropped in that country because of church intervention.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

befriend
Posts: 1109
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: A. L. De Silva's "Beyond Belief"

Post by befriend » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:49 pm

"Be still and know that I am God". Sums up the heart of Christianity and Buddhism. "Correct posture is the conclusion of Buddhism". -zen mind beginners mind
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 38 guests