Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

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Kusala
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kusala » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:08 am

Thank you, mikenz66. Sorry for the repost...
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kare » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:54 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: Something went astray with the "quote" function here, Kare (I didn't say any of what you have quoted) but other than that I'm pretty much in agreement with you.
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My apologies for making a mess of the quotes. :toilet:
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Buckwheat » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:47 am

kirk5a wrote:I don't really see how science comes into play, as a practical matter. If we're following the Buddha's instructions, it's really got zilch to do with whatever science says about neurons, planets, the universe, quantum physics, electromagnetic phenomena, DNA, evolution, global warming... whatever.
What about contemplating rupa and the elements?

And from an entirely different direction, one who is heedful must contemplate the consequences of their actions, so a study of how our behavior affects change to the environment could be seen as an aspect of heedfulness.

For a third point, many studies of science could fall under generosity, goodwill, or compassion, as most science has potentially positive applications, such as reduced hunger and other forms of suffering.
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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:16 am

Reductor wrote:If science wants to reject it, I'd say science should instead be agnostic about it - that and God/gods. As it is, there are many reasons to doubt these things, but no sure way to disprove them.
Science should also be agnostic about Jehovah, Allah, brain-in-a-vat, or the flying spaghetti monster on a tea pot...

Some consider that without ability to disprove and/or verify the theory, it is not valid scientific theory - and I can see why.
Last edited by Alex123 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ben
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Ben » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:28 am

Alex123 wrote:
Reductor wrote:If science wants to reject it, I'd say science should instead be agnostic about it - that and God/gods. As it is, there are many reasons to doubt these things, but no sure way to disprove them.
Science should also be agnostic about Jehovah, Allah, brain-in-a-vat, or the flying spaghetti monster on a tea pot...
It is.
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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Kim OHara
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:41 am

Alex123 wrote:
Reductor wrote:If science wants to reject it, I'd say science should instead be agnostic about it - that and God/gods. As it is, there are many reasons to doubt these things, but no sure way to disprove them.
Some consider that without ability to disprove the theory, it is not valid scientific theory - and I can see why.
You can go further, Alex: science itself considers that a theory which cannot be falsified (disproven) is no theory at all - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific ... l_criteria
Alex123 wrote:Science should also be agnostic about Jehovah, Allah, brain-in-a-vat, or the flying spaghetti monster on a tea pot...
That's a bit more difficult. Some descriptions of God lead to physical impossibilities, i.e. breach well established scientific theories. If they are to be considered true-according-to-science, people putting them forward have an obligation to present evidence. Even more often, descriptions of God's actions in the world (i.e. miracles) are inconsistent with science and, again, evidence and a scientific explanation are urgently required.
This sort of thing leads to belief in a "God of the gaps" (google that phrase if you're curious) which reduces God to areas which do not intrude on science.

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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:51 am

Kim, you are right.

When it comes to idea of God, it doesn't explain but complicate the world even further. I understand that in ancient times "God did it" was the best that they could do then, and political benefits of teaching about God.

Personally, whenever someone says "Universe is so complex, it must had had a Creator" what immediately jumps to me is "And who/what created God?". "God of the gaps" isn't explanation either, especially considering that we can't explain "God".
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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:02 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote: Check out http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=77&t=12472 over on our sister site for a classic example of rigidly
Compare those images with Christian, for example.

Image
Image

It is faith...
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:19 pm

Ñāṇa wrote: This seems to me to be a pretty inaccurate dichotomy that you're attempting to establish here. The traditional Theravāda worldview and cosmology has much in common with the traditional Mahāyāna worldview(s), and in TIbetan traditions at least, the Sarvāstivāda cosmology is widely taught in Tibetan monastic colleges, which is every bit as "orthodox" as Theravāda cosmology. I'd also question your characterization that one tradition is more rational and the others less rational. Mahāyāna traditions have well developed systems of logic and epistemology, etc.
Hi, Ñāṇa,

Agree that the distinction I made is simplistic and quite possibly dead wrong -- I offered it mostly as a starting point for discussion. Thank you for pointing out the problems with it, particularly with regards to Tibetan scholasticism.

Nevertheless, in my study of Mahayana, I have encountered the following (which seem to me like a pronounced departure from Theravadin practice):

Sutra passages encouraging the use of dharanis and mantras.

Long sections of the Lotus Sutra devoted to the worship of deity-like Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Promises that calling on Avalokiteshvara will ward off shipwreck, fire, robbers, demons and other calamities.

Recitation of sutras to ward off evil. The cult of the book/sutra as a fetish with magical powers. Monks carrying the Heart Sutra as protection during their wanderings.

The visionary and mystical style of texts such as the Flower Garland Sutra.

Emergence of a Buddha with transcendental, even divine qualities.

A transcendentalist doctrine of the "True Self".

Emergence of Pure Land and Nichiren (where faith is paramount and chanting replaces meditation).

I agree there are antecedents in the Pali Canon, but my understanding is that the Mahasamgikas emphasized the superhuman/transcendental aspect more than did other early Buddhist schools, and this same tendency was carried over into Mahayana. But I welcome your corrections.

Note: my intention is not to disparage these practices, beliefs and teachings. I am just offering them as supporting examples for the discussion.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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daverupa
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:21 pm

Cross-cultural smoke is often an indicator of common neurological fires...
  • "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.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Nyana » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:25 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Nevertheless, in my study of Mahayana, I have encountered the following (which seem to me like a pronounced departure from Theravadin practice):
Define what you mean by "Theravadin practice."

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:33 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Nevertheless, in my study of Mahayana, I have encountered the following (which seem to me like a pronounced departure from Theravadin practice):
Define what you mean by "Theravadin practice."
What is presented here.

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:43 pm

Kare wrote:Instead of 'distortions', I would rather say 'adaptions'. The Dhamma is adapted to the society, culture and person...
Fair point, but logically this does also mean that modern expressions of the Buddha's teaching are as much a product of time and place as in the past - so they're not necessarily any more "objective" or "true" than previous cultural expressions.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by m0rl0ck » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:53 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Many people would say Theravada is quite analytical, rational and compatible with science -- to a degree. It is also more stubbornly orthodox and bound by the authority of millenia-old texts. So when problem areas arise, such as the ones Alex mentioned, it can be hard to work around them.

Mahayana, it seems to me, presents almost the opposite scenario. With its pantheon of Buddhas and bodhisattvas and its many devotional practices, it seems inherently less rational in its outlook. It is also more heterodox compared to Theravada and thus (theoretically) more flexible. Since the legitimacy of Mahayana sutras is questionable and the canon is so diverse, reinterpretation presents less of a problem. And indeed Mahayana has generated a wide variety of sects and schools. (For exactly this reason, I find it a bit odd and even amusing when folks like B. Allan Wallace start playing dharma cop -- as though their own tradition wasn't a significant departure).

So what's better, from the science-minded perspective -- the more rational but rigid Theravada, or the more adaptable but less rational Mahayana? I am oversimplifying of course, but hope you can see my point.
I think you are just flattering your own preconceptions here. My experience with mahayana buddhism is that it can just as dogmatic and inflexible as any other human religion, even theravadin buddhism. As for theravadan buddhism or buddhism at all for that matter being compatible with science :jumping:
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:57 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Good link. Imo it pretty much nails batchelor:
There would be nothing wrong if Batchelor simply rejected the authenticity of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the core of his teachings, but instead he rejects the most reliable accounts of the Buddha’s vision and replaces it with his own, while then projecting it on the Buddha that exists only in his imagination.
What he is teaching doesnt look like buddhism to me, he should call it something else.
I think he calls it "secular Buddhism". ;)
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