Thursday, September 27, 2007

Debating God - East vs. West

TheologyWeb Campus (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/campus.php)

- Comparative Religions 101 (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/forumdisplay.php?f=47)

- - The “Sorrow” of Pantheism/Reincarnation/Karma (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=8246)

seang200

August 6th 2003 06:55 AM


The “Sorrow” of Pantheism/Reincarnation/Karma

  • Reincarnation

It has been said, if you want to see the fruits of a religious belief, go to the country they are from and see them for yourself. Well, being married to an ex-Sikh (3Ho) who lived in India for many years, I have some (albeit minor) insight into the “state of affairs” of the Indian people, a “state” caused, by-and-large, by their religious beliefs. What brought this particular subject to mind was a recent visit by the Dalai Lama to these United States as well as the increase in demand for his books. The Dalai Lama, as well as other Buddhists, Hindus, New Age[ers] and the like, believe in the doctrine of “reincarnation of the ‘soul’” Reincarnation is intimately tied up in the karmic wheel. The two are inseparable in fact, so when I speak of reincarnation, karmic or cosmic wheel, I refer to: the progression of the soul over time from one body to another… including through the animal kingdom. People here in the West look upon karma in a good light (as we are prone to not casting judgment on other cultures – our downfall I believe), however, in the East it is something that is disdained and the goal of the Hindu is to try and escape its grasp. Gandhi even said it, reincarnation, was a “burden too heavy for India to carry.”

As mentioned before, the Dalai Lama believes in the “karmic (Cosmic) wheel,” again, not as popularly thought of by the Western mind, but as understood by the Eastern. Let me start to explain. For example, we have all seen the pictures from India on television picturing masses of children running up in droves and begging for food, money, and the like, when a westerner comes through town; anything these children can attempt to do to curb the obvious hunger and lack of necessities, as well as their families feel every day, they will. We have all seen these shots, but do you ever wonder why these children flock to the western woman or man? If you haven’t, you should start! It is primarily because of the caste system where people are believed to reincarnate into groups that are segregated according to a system of classification known as Varian, which means color. These classes include Brahmins (priests), Ksatriyas (warriors or rulers), Vaisyas (merchants), and Sudras (laborers/servants). There are even the “untouchables” who are considered impure and forbidden to have contact with the rest of society. The law of karma, then, dictates one’s social status.

Karma [1] comes from a root meaning “to do or to act”; karma thus involves the idea that every action yields a consequence. According to this law, then, one will be born in a higher status in the next life if one builds up good karma in the present life. Alternatively, one will be born in a lower status in the next life if one builds up bad karma in the present life. Your particular status in this life is, or, has been, caused by the building up of good or bad karma from a previous cycle of death and rebirth – known as samsara (transmigration). Samsara literally means, “to wander across.” Scholar Lewis M. Hopfe tells us that, “Indian religions believe that the life force of an individual does not die with the death of the body. Instead it ‘wanders across.’ The life force moves on to another time and body where it continues to live.” [2] Every person is viewed as being on the wheel of life, and salvation essentially involves breaking away from this wheel of life via reincarnation. The goal is to the cycle of karma and samsara and be free from the burden of life. Salvation comes when one realizes that one’s individual soul (atman) is identical with the Universal Soul (Brahman).

So far I have dealt with the Hindu belief of reincarnation and salvation, however, the general idea of the karmic wheel and reincarnation are understood within Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. That being said, we can begin to understand the “flocking” of children around westerners. Why? Because in India and Tibet and other areas that hold to reincarnation as the predominate philosophy, one is in his or her predicament, for the most part, because of a previous life. For the Dalai Lama, and other “Holy Men” to help these poor unfortunates is to tamper with their karma. These before mentioned men will literally walk right past the poor, invalid, maimed, un-educated, starving, mentally ill people and completely ignore their pleas for help and assistance. All because of their caste or karmic past!

Some examples are warranted: if I was married to someone, and I beat her, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, etc., I would be storing up some pretty bad karma. When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the fauna[?], insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat. This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all. In fact, it perpetuates evil. How so? It necessitates a “beatee,” which mandates a “beater.” It creates, then, a never-ending circle of violence, or, evil. In addition, it states, emphatically I might add, that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.

I wish to illustrate with some personal dialogue between some aid workers. While speaking in Thailand, Ron Carlson was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border. Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border. This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s. One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees. Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their Buddhist brothers. There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people. The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations. One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

  • “Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” - “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for. For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them. You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.” [3]

Do you get it now? It takes a “Mother Teresa” to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful [worldviews] religious beliefs. Another example, albeit more poignant, is that of a mock conversation between a Buddhist named Zen, and a non-religious person named Atos.

  • Atos: What if in my reality, my “island,” it is wrong for people to own things, and so when you’re not looking, I elect to play “Robin Hood” by relieving you of your new two-thousand-dollar-crystal and giving it to someone else?

    Zen: Well, uh, I guess I’d have to conclude that my Higher Self wanted me to learn a lesson about material things [as Buddhism teaches and New Age thought teaches].

    Atos: Okay, if stealing is not a sin, lets take it further. Now let’s pretend I’m a “pedophile” – its part of my reality to “love” children in every way possible. So, while you’re at work I’m going to invite your children into my home to play a “game” that I’ve made up. Is that all right with you?

    Zen: It most certainly is not! It would be part of my reality to report you to the police.

    Atos: Why? After all, it’s the reality I’ve sovereignly chosen to create for myself. What gives you the right to interfere in the reality of another god? [Which are what Eastern religions teach, coming to the realization that you are one with the Brahmin.]

    Zen: Simple. Your reality is infringing on my children’s reality.

    Atos: But according to your belief system, before your child incarnated she chose you [by past actions] as her parent and she also chose whatever happens to them, including my act, and you’ve no right to interfere. [They have “chosen” this act and life by a previous life and lifestyle - karma. An adaptation from Ravi Zacharias makes the point that one doesn’t even know ultimately if it was something in your previous life or something in the parents previous life or the child’s previous life (or others involved) that dictated this karmic outcome! [4]]

    Zen: I do too… in this case.

    Atos: Can you see my point now? You are naturally and rightly outraged at the very suggestion of such an act. Something within you knows that it is wrong in and of itself! This reality is in direct contrast to what you should believe if your Buddhist philosophy holds true.

    Zen: You are right.

    Atos: But that can only be so if there are absolute rights and wrongs independent of our personal reality [which Eastern religions don’t teach]. Yet, try as you may, you will not find a ground for such moral absolutes and human value in your worldview. Your God is impersonal and amoral, “beyond good and evil,” so you can’t appeal to It [as “It” is impersonal]. In addition, since in your view [Buddhism or Hinduism] we are all equally gods, my truth about any subject is as good as your truth. So you see, Eastern beliefs fail the test of human experience – it cannot be consistently lived out. [5]

I hope, with this graphic example, one can see the problem with karma, reincarnation, and the philosophy that naturally follows. Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities [6]. These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population. Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel. This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people. The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death.

Of importance to this conversation is the belief in pantheism. Only pantheists (or some form thereof) believe in the above subject. So I wish to quickly show some of the self-defeating aspects of this particular philosophy. Mind you that this is a philosophical problem rather than a historical one. To begin, pantheists claim that “God” is unknowable because He is above and beyond human logic. We cannot intellectually comprehend “God,” they say. But this is nonsensical and self-defeating. Why? Because the very act of claiming that God is beyond logic is a logical statement about God. Also, to say that we cannot know or comprehend God, as do the agnostics, is to say that we know God. How? I will answer this with a response to agnosticism, that can be applied to the pantheist as well, by the associate professor of philosophy and government at the University of Texas at Austin, J. Budziszewski (Ph.D., Yale University):

  • “To say that we cannot know anything about God is to say something about God; it is to say that if there is a God, he is unknowable. But in that case, he is not entirely unknowable, for the agnostic certainly thinks that we can know one thing about him: That nothing else can be known about him. Unfortunately, the position that we can know exactly one thing about God – his unknowability in all respects except this – is equally unsupportable, for why should this one thing be an exception?

    How could we know that any possible God would be of such a nature that nothing else could be known about him? On what basis could we rule out his knowability in all other respects but this one? The very attempt to justify the claim confutes it, for the agnostic would have to know a great many things about God in order to know he that couldn’t know anything else about him.” [7]

Although not the time nor place to explain the law of non-contradiction, for those who don’t know, I will briefly explain. The law of non-contradiction is simply this: “‘A’ cannot be both ‘non-A’ and ‘A’ at the same time.” In the words of professor J. P. Moreland (Ph.D., University of Southern California):

  • “When a statement fails to satisfy itself (i.e., to conform to its own criteria of validity or acceptability), it is self-refuting…. Consider some examples. ‘I cannot say a word in English’ is self-refuting when uttered in English. ‘I do not exist’ is self-refuting, for one must exist to utter it. The claim ‘there are no truths’ is self-refuting. If it is false, then it is false. But is it is true, then it is false as well, for in that case there would be no truths, including the statement itself.” [8]

With this in mind, lets continue to explore a few more problems with the pantheist thought process. Another major problem that faces the pantheist is that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God. Everything else is illusion, or maya. But again, this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting. If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions. There’s a real problem here. As Norman Geisler (Ph.D., Loyola University of Chicago) pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist” [9]. When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite. The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition. It is an untruth – by definition.

Here’s another way to see the same thing. It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. Don’t you see, we must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist? To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires that the claim itself is unreal – a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?

Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil. In fact He is the cause of it… remember, pantheists believe all is God. Pantheism may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is an illusion (maya), but let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world. Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a mother who just lost a child, that evil and suffering are merely illusions. Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real. In either case, evil exists. As Geisler asked, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion? Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?… How can evil [u]arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?” [10]. The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.

Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion just doesn’t make sense. Mustn’t we live as if this illusion is reality? Pantheists may pawn this inane philosophy on people, but no one can live it out consistently. And when a large population tries, like in India, one can see the fruits it produces [11]. The promulgation of suffering and the inability of the religious Hindu to stop and help a suffering child or the rampant infestation of disease spreading (crop eating) pests, etc., is all a loud explanation of trying to live an unlivable philosophical proposition.

Quote:


>
  • KARMA

    From an online debate

The law of cause and effect to which on the “spiritual” plain is called Karma. One writer says of the law:[list]“Karma simply means that there remains naught after each personality but the causes produced by it. No ‘personality’ – a mere bunch of material atoms and of indistinctual mental characteristics – can of course continue as such, in the world of pure Spirit” [12]

The fundamental idea behind karma is that of action followed by reaction. The Bhagavad-Gita, one of the best-known Hindu scriptures, defines it quite simply as “the name given to the creative force that brings beings into existence” (8:3). Thus, it may be viewed as the fundamental creative action that is perpetuated in each individual soul. Practically, karma is somewhat like Isaac Newton’s law:

  • For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

It could be pictured as a set of moral scales; all the bad deeds piled up on one side must be balanced by good deeds on the other. Yet it is more complicated than that. Perhaps the best way of picturing karma and its relationship to rebirth (reincarnation) is something like this:

  • “Each person is a sort of electronic sensor or microphone with a wire hooked up to a great computer in the heavens; the computer is ‘God’ Each thought, motive and act, as well as all the things that happen to us, are relayed back to the computer and filed away. Upon death the data bank in the computer is activated, and the ‘readout’ of our next life or lives, is cranked out and handed to us. If our negative karma (deeds, thoughts, motives, circumstances, and so on) outweighs our positive karmic pattern, we are assigned a more miserable existence in the next round, and vice versa. We have nothing to say about it. There is no mercy, forgiveness or court of appeals” [13].

Hinduism and Buddhism teach that humans can only achieve final liberation from the round of rebirths by this doctrine. Only through the pitfalls and travails of the human condition can a soul earn sufficient merit to warrant its release or liberation (Sanskrit: moksha or samadhi). Thus, a soul must evolve through various life forms to the human state, the evolutionary plateau where moral lessons are learned through multitudes of reincarnations.

If you are born into a family that is well off, and you have a good family relationship, then you are being rewarded for some good work[s] from a previous life. If you are born into a famine-ridden area, destitute, or mentally or physically incapable of caring for yourself, then you are in retribution for the “cause and effect” law of karma. This is the reason that there is no firm “right or wrong” in this life according to Eastern thought. All people who are treated unfairly or unjustly – like slaves in America, racial wars, famine and disease in undeveloped nations – are merely reaping what they sowed in a previous incarnation. And to interfere with this process – outlaw slavery, end racial strife, feed and heal the hungry and sick – is to interfere with a person’s karma, which is strictly forbidden in the Eastern philosophies!

It is laughable that some here (at this particular online debate site) defend this doctrine tooth and nail. But if they really believed it, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil! The inquisitions, for instance, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives. Therefore, when some here who are defending karmic destiny in other strains speak of the horrible atrocities committed by “religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death. The victims of the Inquisitions or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the works the people did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people like John (a believer in reincarnation) say that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind such people that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation teaches.


Ref:

  • [1] See the appendix (the quote immediately above) for a partial explanation/definition of karma taken from a previous debate I had via the Internet.

    [2] Lewis M. Hopfe, Religions of the World. (New York: Macmillan, 1991), p. 100.

    [3] Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), pp. 28-29.

    [4] Ravi Zacharias, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2001).

    [5] Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement: Describing and Evaluating a Growing Social Force. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1989), pp. 209-210.

    [6] From a show seen by the author a few years ago on The Learning Channel.

    [7] Norman Geisler & Paul Hoffman (J.D. University of California at San Francisco), editors, Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2001), p. 54.

    [8] J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1987), p. 92. I recommend Francis Beckwith (Ph.D., Fordham University) & Gregory Koukl’s (M. A. Trinity Law School) book, Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly In Mid-Air. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998).

    [9] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187.

    [10] Ibid., p. 189.

    [11] Rabi R. Maharaj, Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977).

    [12] Mark Albrecht, Reincarnation: A Christian Critique of a New Age Doctrine. (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1982), p. 20. A book I also recommend for a clear understanding and critique of pantheism and all the baggage it carries is David Clark’s and Norman Geisler’s book, Apologetics in the New Age: A Christian Critique of Pantheism. (Grand rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1990).

    [13] Ibid.

Solly

August 6th 2003 07:51 AM


That's my pick of the day

Is it not true, that it is not me as a person/ego, which is reincarnated, but the quantum of karma, in the original hindu system. That the ultimate goal of the system is nothing, nada, zilch, complete end, and that any idea of personal reincarnation is voided by the goal of nothing, ultimate dissipation and absorption; so that we are very much victims of a causal universe with no hope beyond the path of enlightenment - which results ultimately in extinction of the illusion of self.

seang200

August 6th 2003 05:59 PM


Solly, You Said Something...

...That struck a cord with me. I have done only two in-depth papers on Eastern thought (that refute it that is). the following deals with what you termed "that it is not me as a person/ego". This is very important, and often overlooked by many.

By the way, Solly, thanks for the props, I appreciate it. enjoy the following.

.

Can Hinduism & Buddhism Explain – Philosophically & Experientially Personality?

The problem with the concept of God in pantheistic thought is that It’s infinite, impersonal, monistic (“all is one”) origin portrays a God who is infinite but impersonal, and therefore it gives no basis for explaining the origin of personality or any logical reason for personhood to have meaning. Someone brought this up – in a sense – when they mentioned that God would have to create to express Himself. I believe this person was trying to express that an infinite, personal God seems ultimately dependant upon His creation in order to express the attributes of his own nature and personality. In other words, for all eternity prior to creation, this God would have been alone with Himself. With whom does he communicate? Whom does he love? (In part, this may explain why the absolute transcendence and “otherness” of the distinct Muslim deity, Allah, is stressed so heavily in Islam and why Allah is not truly a God of love.) It would appear that such a God is “forced” to create and is subsequently dependant upon His creation for expressing the attributes of his own personality – and is, therefore, not truly an independent or free divine Being. This is an important and genuine concern.

The Christian view of origins offers a solution to problem because the triune God (as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has no need to create in order to express His attributes of personality. The members of the Godhead communicate together and love one another for all eternity and are never dependant upon their creation for anything.

This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only the material creation but human existence, body and personality, are either an illusion and in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent as in Buddhism (sunyata), the they are ultimately meaningless. In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, Indian Concepts of the Body, “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual personality survive death in either state” (Somantics: The Magazine/Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences, Autumn/Winter 1983-1984, p. 33).

But is an impersonal “ immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

  • “When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.” (Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, p. 241)

In addition, monistic philosophies provide no explanation for the diversity within creation. If “God is one,” and the only reality… then diversity – all creation – is by definition part of the illusion of duality. That includes all morality, all human hopes and aspirations, and everything else that matters. In the end, despite having an infinite reference point, we are left with only a destructive nihilistic outlook on life. As Charles Manson noted, “if all is one, what is bad?”

Indeed, Eastern gurus frequently emphasize, often quite offensively, that life is unreal, meaningless, and finally worthless, which is why it must be denied and “transcended.”

The concept of an infinite personal triune God addresses these issues as well. Because God is personal, human personality has genuine and eternal significance. The only kind of eternity that has any meaning, or gives this life any meaning, is an eternity of personal immortality. And because Christianity involves a philosophy of religious dualism, God is the creator of a real creation. The creation is not simply the illusory emanation of an impersonal divine substance. As a result, there in no need to face the very destructive individual and public consequences of nihilism. (Materialism faces these same problems when interpreting meaning into life, as I have shown in a previous post.)

The desire of every Buddhist is to be free from the problems of life; to be free from pain and suffering. As their saying goes, “As the water of the sea tastes of salt, so all life tastes of suffering.” Their goal is to develop a detachment from life. Buddha taught that desire is the root of all evil. to exist is to suffer and the answer to suffering is Nirvana (annihilation) which is achievable by successive reincarnation. Hence, Buddhism insists, “Those who love a hundred have a hundred woes. Those who love ten have ten woes. Those who love one have one woe. Those who love none have no woes.” The goal of life is to reach the stage of desirelessness. When one ceases to desire we have overcome the burden of life. How one is suppose to be desirelessness without desiring that quality is a problem few have any time to answer.

A funny story is told of a Buddhist monk in prayer was approached and asked by a Christian what he was doing. The Buddhist monk replied, “I am praying to nobody for nothing.” G. K. Chesterton rightly notes, “We may call Buddhism a faith; though to us it seems more like a doubt.”

  • Buddha claimed merely a personal “enlightenment” designed to escape being human; Jesus claimed (in His own nature) to be the Light of the world.

    Buddha claimed it was wrong to consider him one who brings salvation to men because men, having no permanent reality, do not finally exist; Jesus taught that He came to bring salvation to all men and to dignify their existence eternally.

    The Buddha promised to give others “enlightenment” so that they might find Nirvana, a state of personal dissolution in the afterlife; Jesus promised to give men abundant life and personal immortality in heaven forever.

    Buddha had the same feelings for good and evil; Jesus exalted righteousness and hated evil.

The point of the above post and comparison between the main philosophies of these great religions, is this: What do our every day experiences tell us about the truth of the above beliefs? When we encounter evil – say, a child being abused – can we not rightly rebuke such an act, or is this act no different than placing gum under a table at a restaurant, or choosing vanilla ice-cream.

You see, I believe that when one compares all the worlds religions and cults, Christianity is the only philosophical construct that fits with what we actually experience. If one chooses Buddhism as a path, they have to spend a lifetime denying [this] reality, always “desiring a desireless goal.” The proposition just stated is self-refuting, and against our daily experiences and common intuitiveness.

I don’t post this to be politically correct – to claim one worldview is better at interpreting and answering what we find in reality is to say one-way is better than another. This, by definition, is politically incorrect. However, I believe strongly that if one sets aside their already assumed biases about why they have rejected the Christian worldview, and proceeds to look deeper into the differences between the worlds great religions, I believe said person will eventually accept Christianity as the way closest to the truth of reality. And although my goal is not to convert anyone here, that goal is implicit in coming to a logical conclusive end to one’s investigation into these (and other) matters of such import. Dr. Vernon Grounds was not off the mark when he wrote:

  • “Unless a religion squares with the facts of history and human experience; and unless it agrees with the truth of God which is the underlying reality of all things, that religion, however sincere its followers may be, is not good enough.”

I want to leave the reader with this thought by Robert Hume. In his book, The World’s Living Religions, he comments that there are three features of Christian faith that “cannot be paralleled anywhere among the religions of the world.” These include the character of God as a loving Heavenly Father, the character of the founder of Christianity as the Son of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Further, he says:

  • “All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion” (p.285-286).

Buddha could have never given the Sermon on the Mount, nor Muhammad, nor Zoroaster, or any other religious figure! Why? Because Jesus was the only consistent person in whom he claimed to be.

Posted with Love and much thought, SeanG (Much here taken from the book, Fast Facts on Defending Your Faith, by John Ankerberg & John Weldon.)

rossum

August 8th 2003 05:40 PM


seang200,

You compare Christianity with Hinduism and Buddhism and find that Christianity is better. However, what are the criteria that you are using to make the comparison? Are they indepemdent criteria or are they Christian criteria? If you are using Christian criteria then all that your result is saying is that Christianity is more like Christianity than either Buddhism or Hinduism. True, but not very useful.

If you used Buddhist criteria to do the comparison then Buddhism would come out on top. If you used Hindu criteria then Hinduism would do best. The result of the comparison is dependent on the criteria that are used to make the comparison.

Taking a comparison of Buddhism and a theistic religion like Christianity from a Buddhist perspective (see this webpage):

Quote:


1 What is it that may be rightly called the Ultimate?

Buddhist: Dharma, the highest truth, the purest form of goodness, is what may best be called the Ultimate. Yet as the literal embodiment of this purest goodness, a buddha too may be called ultimate. But regardless of whether buddhas existed in the world, or whether they did not, there would still be Dharma, purely in and of itself.

Theist: God alone may be called the Ultimate. It is the existence of God which defines goodness. Goodness is not a principle which is embodied or embraced by God. Rather it is from the nature of God that any and all goodness issues forth. Were it not for God, there could be no ultimate, no goodness, nor any thing at all.

2 What is the nature of right and wrong?

Buddhist: Right and wrong are self-defining, quite independent from any intelligent discrimination. That which empowers and uplifts sentient beings is said to be right. Whatever runs counter, limiting and draging them down, is called wrong. Both are the expression of Dharma, a natural law wholly unsullied by any conscious directive influence.

Theist: God decides what is right and wrong. It is the will of God which makes them so. Should God wish things otherwise, that then is what they would be. His power is infinite, even in this.

3 What is the nature of being?

Buddhist: Sentient beings have ever been. We are not created. Being thus uncreated, no power exists that may utterly destroy us. Our nature is of a beginningless, endless stream of consciousness whose contents may change, but which flows on without interruption. All are equals in potential, if not yet in realization. Not a one has absolute sovereignty over any other.

Theist: All living creatures are made by God. Life and experience are gifts from God. None there are who own themselves. God is the sovereign lord of all. The whole of creation and everything in it, our own selves included, are his to direct. He may do with us whatever he wishes. His is the unquestionable right to remake or destroy us, to reward us or cast us away forever.

4 What is the best that a being might hope for?

Buddhist: All sentient beings, no matter what their past actions or present condition, each and every single one, all the way down to the least and the last, may equally aspire to attain the ultimate. And in the end, all will do so, however long that it may take.

Theist: A human being may at best aspire to an eternity of close proximity to God, thereby to bask in the glory of the ultimate. But it is in no way possible for any save God to embody the ultimate within themselves.

5 What is the worst that any being has to fear?

Buddhist: To be for a time, lost and alone in all of samsara, wandering through hells and the other realms. But in the end, that one too, the very last among an infinity of peers, must finally succeed in attaining the ultimate. No one at all is in any way doomed to eternal suffering.

Theist: An eternity of agony, anguish and despair, trapped and tormented in a benighted prison, deprived forever from any and all contact with the even the smallest trace of goodness. For those who die without God’s sanction, no shred of hope whatever remains... not even oblivion.


From this it is "obvious" that Buddhism is better. In Buddhism there is an objective morality which all gods have to follow if they are to attain Nirvana, while Christian morality is set at will by a God who changes his mind about things like male circumcision. In Buddhism all living beings will get to Nirvana eventually, while Christianity only allows some angels and some humans into Heaven, all other humans and angels are comdemned to eternal Hell and other living beings have no future at all.

Of course here I am using Buddhist criteria to make the judgement so the result should not be a surprise and is not very convincing to a non-Buddhist. Similarly your piece is not very convincing to a non-Christian.

rossum

seang200

August 9th 2003 03:10 PM


Rossum, Hello,

Eastern philosophies teach that if I beat my wife continuously, that for every “evil” (I highlight evil because Buddhism or Hinduism have no epistemology to call something evil) done one will get it thirty times worse in a later life. This creates an endless cycle of evil, not an answer or end to it.

Also, Hinduism teaches that if “one” (I highlight one because there is no “person” in Buddhism or Hinduism) does in fact escape karma, they will do so for only 10,000 thousand years before dropping back into “reality” ( I highlight reality because a Buddhist or Hindu do not believe in reality).

I want to make a point from one of your points… when you said:

  • “Right and wrong are self-defining, quite independent from any intelligent discrimination. That which empowers and uplifts sentient beings is said to be right. Whatever runs counter, limiting and draging them down, is called wrong. Both are the expression of Dharma, a natural law wholly unsullied by any conscious directive influence.”

Who, then, is to say what uplifts and empowers beings? You? The Highest Truth cannot for it is an impersonal part of nature, subject to its laws and consequences.

For instance: at one point in our evolutionary history, assuming evolution to be true – which Buddhism and Hinduism do to some extent – the only way mankind could most likely propagate its species was through rape, that is, the forceful taking of woman in general or from other tribal rivalries. Thus, survival of the fittest was the moral goal, and I now know… thanks to you, that “that which empowers and uplifts sentient beings is said to be right.” Who are you to say rape has been morally wrong through all times and places in the history of mankind? Theism can assert this, Eastern philosophy cannot. Survival of our species is an act that “empowers and uplifts” us, is it not? And since rape and non-rape are both Dharmatic infusions, who are you to say which is negative or positive to the “individual?” Why… you would need,… some sort of… mmmm, let me think,… ahhh yes,… an absolute cosmic scale to claim such… and Eastern thought doesn’t supply you with one.

You are equating morality and choices stemming from such with choices in chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I may choose chocolate over vanilla, but because both are expressions of the Dharma (as you say), both have the same moral weight. Right and wrong cannot be self-defining, a rock “being” a rock is not right or wrong. It cannot define itself, and with Eastern belief, we are merely that rock. If the wind were to blow the rock down a cliff, this would not be an immoral act. but we are just as significant as this action, so-called.

The following is very important, and should be understood by all. It is taken from a previous debate, so excuse the subject variation… however, the main point can be applied here.

Quote:


Words Betray!

Our language is another key that reveals what we really believe. It’s virtually impossible for relativists to talk in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. The words we use bear testimony to our deepest intuitions about the surrounding world we live in.

If you encounter someone who thinks he’s a relativist, you can usually prove him wrong in five minutes or less when moral words like should creep into the conversation. When they do, expose the inconsistency. This tactic works for a good reason. Morality is built in. Human beings have an innate capacity to reason in moral categories and to make moral judgments. The people (non-theists) who deny moral absolutes fall into this self-refuting problem of language.

Self Refuting (Alvin Plantinga’s “Tar Baby”)

Again, relativism claims that all so-called truth is relative, that there really is no absolute truth, but that different things (whatever they may be) may be true for me but not for you. This is at times called perspectivalism.

Statement: There really is no such thing as absolute truth.

Is this philosophy of relativism making the statement that this is the ultimate, absolute truth about truth? In that case, it actually asserts what it denies, and so is self-deleting, simply logically incoherent as a philosophical position.

Johnny B, (two true stories):

Story One

I want to drive the point home with a true story of a philosophy student who wrote an ethics paper arguing that there are no moral absolutes and everything is relative. Judged by the research, documentation, and scholarship, the paper deserved an “A.” The professor, however, gave it an “F” with a note explaining, “I do not like blue covers!” When the student received his paper, he was so upset that he stormed into the professor’s office protesting, “This is not fair! This is not just! I shouldn’t be graded on the color of the cover but on the content of my paper .”

The professor looked the student in the eye and asked, “was this the paper which argued that there are no objective moral principles such as fairness and justice and everything is relative to one’s own taste?”

“Yes, Yes! That’s the one,” replied the student.

“Well then,” said the professor, “I do not like blue covers. The grade will remain an ‘F!’” Suddenly the young man understood that moral absolutes are unavoidable, that in fact he believed in moral principles such as fairness and justice, and that furthermore he was expecting them to be applied in his case.

(From the book, Christianity for Skeptics: An Understandable Examination of Christian Belief, by Steve Kumar.

Story Two

Teacher: “Welcome, students. This is the first day of class, and so I want to lay down some ground rules. First, since no one person has the truth, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students. Second… Elizabeth, do you have a question?”

Elizabeth: “Yes I do. If nobody has the truth, isn’t that a good reason for me not to listen to my fellow students? After all, if nobody has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What’s the point? Only if somebody has the truth does it make sense to be open-minded. Don’t you agree?”

Teacher: “No, I don’t. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn’t that a bit arrogant and dogmatic?”

Elizabeth: “Not at all. Rather I think it’s dogmatic, as well as arrogant, to assert that no single person on earth knows the truth. After all, have you met every single person in the world and quizzed him or her exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? Also, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will alter my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. Moreover, if I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know truth and would like to share it with you, why wouldn’t you listen to me? Why would you automatically discredit my opinion before it is even uttered? I thought we were supposed to listen to everyone’s opinion.”

Teacher: “This should prove to be an interesting semester.”

Another Student: “(blurts out) Ain’t that the truth.” (Students laugh)


So should I not commit a rape Rossum. And if I should not, why not? Is the act morally wrong at all times and in all places in this cosmos?

rossum

August 10th 2003 12:24 PM


Buddhist Moral Law

seang200,

Thankyou for your reply,

You said,

Quote:


Eastern philosophies teach that if I beat my wife continuously, that for every “evil” ... done one will get it thirty times worse in a later life. This creates an endless cycle of evil, not an answer or end to it.


I have not seen the "thirty times" figure before, can you please give a source for this. It might be from a Hindu scripture, I have certainly seen no such figure in Buddhist scripture. For example:

Scripture Verse:

If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, because of that, pain pursues him, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox. (Dhp. 1:1)

and

Scripture Verse:

If one speaks or acts with pure mind, because of that, happiness follows him, even as the shadow that never leaves. (Dhp. 1:2)

You are right that there is a cycle of good and bad actions followed by their respective consequences. This cycle is indeed very difficult to escape from; that it is possible is shown by the fact that the Buddha did so. Best to start by stopping beating your wife.

Quote:


Who, then, is to say what uplifts and empowers beings? You? The Highest Truth cannot for it is an impersonal part of nature, subject to its laws and consequences.


Your question is wrongly put. It starts "Who..."; why does the answeer have to be a "who"? The answer is in fact a "what". Christian morality is constructed on the analogy of the Law of the Land, with God as both legislator and enforcer of the law. The analogy for Buddhist morality is the Law of Gravity; moral law is part of the structure of the universe and is enforced impersonally by nature as part of its laws and consequences. Gravity does not require a God of Gravity to enforce it, nor does moral law. Gods are as subject to moral law as any other living being.

Quote:


For instance: at one point in our evolutionary history, ... the only way mankind could most likely propagate its species was through rape, that is, the forceful taking of woman in general or from other tribal rivalries.


This is a very strange view of both evolution and history. Evolution is a scientific theory, not a religion. It makes as much sense to look for moral guidance in the Theory of Evolution as it does to look for moral guidance in the Theory of Heat Flow in Solids. Evolution contradicts a literal reading of Buddhist and Hindu scriptures just as it contradicts a literal reading of the Bible. The standard scientific timescale of a 13.7 billion year old universe is far too short for the timescales given by a literal reading Buddhist scriptures.

History is a description of what happened, not what should have happened or what we would have liked to have happened. Yes, some very nasty things did happen in history, Numbers 31 and the Killing Fields of Cambodia are cases in point. Just because something happened does not make it right. Rape happens and it is wrong.

In Buddhism ignorance and delusion are given more prominence than evil. Remember that Buddhist moral law is like gravity. It is not evil to jump off a high cliff. It is ignorant or deluded to do so and not expect to fall to the bottom. Wrong actions bring their unpleasant consequences. Not to realise this is to be ignorant. To ignore this is to be deluded. Moral law is part of the universe, it is imperative that all of us are aware of it and act in accord with it if we are to avoid unpleasant consequences.

You talk about the problems a relativist has with using words. An absolutist has the same problem, since words are not absolute - words change their meaning over time so it is impossible to describe any absolute truth in changing words. As well as words changing meaning, our own knowledge of the meaning of words changes, especially when dealing with ancient words. For example see this webpage about changes in our modern understanding of the ancient Hebrew word reem. Even beyond the meaning of words is the cultural background to which they refer and is implicit in every piece of writing. Knowing that the translation of "red herring" is "pink fish" does not greatly help our understanding unless we know the underlying cultural reference.

Quote:


So should I not commit a rape Rossum. And if I should not, why not? Is the act morally wrong at all times and in all places in this cosmos?


No you should not commit rape. There are five moral rules:

  • To avoid injury to living things.
  • To avoid taking what is not given.
  • To avoid sensual misconduct.
  • To avoid false and malicious speech.
  • To avoid alcohol and other drugs as tending to cloud the mind.

Rape breaks the first and third, and if alcohol or drugs are involved breaks the fifth as well.

Moral law can be summarised as:

Scripture Verse:

Love others as you love yourselves. (Bhadramayakaravyakarana sutra 91)

Rape certainly does not conform to this.

You should not commit rape because you will suffer unpleasant consequences, up to and including one or more lifetimes in one of the Hells. You would be either ignorant or deluded to act so. I have not been to all times and all places in the cosmos so I cannot answer that part of your question. However it would seem difficult for an alien lifeform that reproduces asexually to commit rape, so interpretations of the rules are probably dependent on the nature of the species to which they are applied.

I know the moral rules that operate in this time and this place in the cosmos, which is sufficient for me.

rossum

seang200

August 10th 2003 04:00 PM


More later... got to go

You said,

  • “Christian morality is constructed on the analogy of the Law of the Land, with God as both legislator and enforcer of the law. The analogy for Buddhist morality is the Law of Gravity…. It makes as much sense to look for moral guidance in the Theory of Evolution as it does to look for moral guidance in the Theory of Heat Flow in Solids.”

Although I wouldn’t agree with your synopsis that the theory of evolution is irreligious, I would agree with you on a point you made, which was my point. The Law of Gravity is not a “moral” proposition. Much like the rock (substitute a human in its place) being blown down a hill (the rock being acted upon by natural forces – e.g., the wind and gravity… or, alternatively, a man going into McDonalds and killing a family intermittently), if “morals” were derived from natural law and not Natural Law, you would not be able to say something is morally wrong and morally right… or, what one ought or not ought to do.

Evolution does impose a set of values/morals on life and death. I will make note of that quickly here:

Quote:


Sir Arthur Keith, Evolution and Ethics (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1947).

p 15

“Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution … as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed.”

p 28

“To see evolutionary measures and tribal morality being applied rigorously to the affairs of a great modern nation we must turn again to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy.”

p 72

“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of color; it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce? May we not say, then, that Christianity is anti-evolutionary in its aim? This may be a merit, but if so it is one which has not been openly acknowledged by Christian philosophers.”

p 150

“The law of evolution, as formulated by Darwin, provides an explanation of wars between nations, the only reasonable explanation known to us. The law was in existence, and wars were waged, for aeons of time before Darwin was born; he did not invent the law, he only made it known to his fellow men.”

Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, last paragraph.

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”


These few statements here show how a set of values from a particular philosophy impose a set of moral outcomes.

You are right that words change over time, but not the concepts behind the words. For instance: when the founders of America were hashing out the Constitution, the word they used synonymously with denomination was religion. So when you read, “Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise there of,” compared with the other versions of this same sentence recorded in the Congressional Records from June 7 through September 25, 1789, you will see that the Founders, when speaking of “religion,” understood it to mean all the Christian denominations. Today, the word religion is defined differently than what the Founders intended it to mean in the Constitution, however, the concept remains in other words or meaning.

Whether torturing a baby for fun hasn’t always been referred to as literally “morally wrong,” the concept behind “morally wrong” has always been the same. Your example – for example – makes another point that wholly supports the absolutist. The word reem found in the Hebrew, has always meant one thing. This meaning… however, was lost to modern translators. The study of ancient culture, however, has shown it to mean that one thing. This is why Hebrew/Greek concordances are a must for any serious student of the Bible. The word reem has only one true meaning, we are just now discovering it.

As per your sensual misconduct… so you mean to tell me that there is an absolute rule found in nature that accords with how one ought to act in sexual relations between two individuals? You mean to tell me that there is a moral natural law that tells us we should “do onto others as we would want done unto us?” Because as many point out, nature “is red in claw and tooth.”

seang200

August 11th 2003 06:27 AM


... okay, I'm back

Quote:


If there is no personal God, and if one can attain nirvana only as a result of the destruction of thirst (tanha) / desire, therefore the destruction of attachment, therefore the destruction of existence--from whence, do you suppose, did personality (or even the sense of personality) ever come? Exactly what is it, and where does it go when one ceases to exist?

First, it asserts a Monistic Pantheism, that All is One and All is God. This leads to a God who is impersonal, unknowing, and unknowable. The Indian philosopher, Shankara (8th century), described this worldview as a seamless garment where absolutely everything is Brahman (God). The material universe may appear to exist but actually is only Maya (illusion).

The problem is that nobody can live as if such were the case. The material universe has a way of making its presence known in very "concrete" ways. As one contemporary Indian philosopher put it, "Even in India we look both ways before we cross the street, because we know it is either the bus or us." Thus, on what authority could I ever accept a monistic pantheism; that all is impersonal God and nothing is real?

Having been doomed to live a life of illusion, how can I ever test the truth of such a proposition within that illusion?

Without a personal God, on what basis can there ever exist any human moral standard or ethic--and therefore, in what sense do you mean for us to understand the terms noble and truth, i.e. The Four Noble Truths, or the term right in the eight-fold path of right views, resolve, speech, conduct, occupation, efforts, awareness, and meditation?

Second, if All is One and all is God, then ethics also are illusion (Maya). As Swami Vive-kananda (1863--1902) stated, "Really, good and evil are one and the same." Theoretically, once you are "enlightened" you have transcended good and evil. All actions, even evil ones, are "enlightened" ones. Like Vivekananda, Charles Manson said, "If God is One, what is bad?" And then he ordered the pregnant Sharon Tate, and the LaBiancas, butchered.


A good article can be found at: http://www.str.org/free/commentaries...y/themusic.htm

However, I really enjoyed this article, of which I will clip a statement or two from, because Rossum, you haven’t dealt with yet my main premise, the illusory aspect of reality?

Quote:


Ref: http://www.comparativereligion.com/reincarnation2.html

For this reason, the saying "a man reaps what he sows" cannot be used as a way of expressing one’s reincarnationist ideas…. According to the reincarnation mechanism one person sows and another one reaps, since no personal characteristics can be preserved from one incarnation of the impersonal self to the next. In Buddhism, where the very idea of a self who transmigrates is rejected, the idea of sowing and reaping is even more absurd. See for instance the following text:

  • If it be that good men and good women, who receive and retain this discourse, are downtrodden, their evil destiny is the inevitable retributive result of sins committed in their past mortal lives. By virtue of their present misfortunes the reacting effects of their past will be thereby worked out, and they will be in a position to attain the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment (Diamond Sutra 16).

Who will actually work out the effects of his past? A new distribution of the five aggregates? Or who will actually attain enlightenment? A certain configuration of those impersonal five aggregates? How could this process render perfect justice? Perfect justice for whom? For an illusory personhood that disappears at physical death?

…. A further analysis of karmic justice proves that the basic principle of Hindu morality, that of non-killing (ahimsa), is absurd. According to this principle we should not participate in the killing of any living being, otherwise we will reincarnate in order to pay the consequences. (This is the basis of eastern religious vegetarianism.) For instance, the butcher who slaughters a pig will have to reincarnate as a pig in order to be slaughtered in his turn. However, the very principle of reincarnation contradicts the meaning of ahimsa and proves it to be futile. The pig had to be slaughtered, because he probably was the reincarnation of another butcher, who had to be punished that way. Neither in this case can the vicious cycle be stopped by natural means (i.e. the pig dying of a disease) because the butcher’s desire to kill the animal (for food or to earn his salary) also generates karma. Therefore the infringement of the non-violence principle becomes a necessity in order to fulfill karmic justice. The butcher was at the same time the instrument of working out one’s karmic debt and the generator of a new one for himself. In a strange and contradictory way, the fulfilling of karmic debt requires the punishment of its executioners. In other words, karma paradoxically acts through condemning the executioners of its "justice".


rossum

August 11th 2003 05:34 PM


Natural and Supernatural

seang200,

You said:

Quote:


if morals were derived from natural law and not Natural Law, you would not be able to say something is morally wrong and morally right or, what one ought or not ought to do.


I think that we are using different definitions of "natural". In this discussion I am using "natural" in a wider meaning than science, so that my usage includes a number of things that science would classify as supernatural. The derivation of moral law from the natural world is from those non-scientific elements: karma/phala, reincarnation, heavens, hells and meditation. Scientific theories are not relevant to the subject.

To me it seems that you think that I am deriving Buddhist moral law from the scientific definition of "natural". This is not correct. Buddhist moral law is derived from Buddhist scripture, just as Christian moral law is derived from Christian scripture. The original source of Buddhist scripture is the word of the Buddha, which is derived from his insights into the nature of the universe as a result of his meditation. These insights of the Buddha are not scientific, in the sense that modern materialist science defines it. Notice that Buddhist moral law includes all sorts of things that science would define as supernatural: heavens, hells, reincarnation etc. Evolution or gravity have as little to do with the derivation of Buddhist moral law as they have to do with the derivation of Christian moral law.

You quote Sir Arthur Keith. I do not think his points are relevant to Buddhist moral law, as I explained above.

Your Darwin quote refers to "the production of the higher animals" and not to moral law. How is it relevant to our discussion?

You say:

Quote:


The word reem found in the Hebrew, has always meant one thing.


I disagree. It is clear from the reference that I gave that at one point the Jewish translators did not know the meaning of the word and left it untranslated. The Greek translators gave a literal, but misleading translation: monoceros. Even now, our theory about the meaning of the word depends on the equivalence between the Assyrian rimu and the Hebrew reem. It is possible that this theory is wrong and that we still do not know the correct meaning of the word, if such a meaning can be said to exist after all this time. I am not interested in an absolute truth if there is no way to access that truth. Being inaccessible it effectively becomes useless.

In your second post you do not give a source for your first quote. Should I wish to take up my issues with the second post I will contact the author directly. As a general point I would not expect to get a good picture of Christianity solely by reading websites called "Why Buddhism is better than Christianity". The same is true in reverse. As I said in my first post, if Buddhism is judged using Christian criteria then the result will be a foregone conclusion and of very little interest.

Quote:


Rossum, you haven’t dealt with yet my main premise, the illusory aspect of reality?


Reality is not always what it appears to be. Mountains appear to be permanent and unchanging: they aren't. We need to be very careful when dealing with reality because things are not what they seem. We will not find happiness if we look for happiness in things that are fundamentally unhappy. If we persist then we are going to be repeatedly disappointed. Looked at correctly there is far more change, and far less permanence in reality than at first appears. Humans seem to have a tendency towards reification - projecting absolutes from non-absolute reality. It is illusory to mistake our own mental constructions for reality. We need to see things as they really are, and not as we would like them to be. This is not an easy job. We will only finish it when we become enlightened.

rossum

seang200

August 12th 2003 02:41 PM


You had compared it to the law of gravity, which is a scientific formulation separate from Natural Law as implemented, say, by the Founding Fathers.

In evolutionary thinking, the production of higher taxa is through was and death and struggle. This makes war, death, and struggle necessary for the furtherance of species… thus, wars, death, and struggle are not looked upon as morally repugnant – speaking to a deep-seated need for a better possible world without such things (which the Christian God originally made, and which we all desire again) – theses things are looked upon as necessary. I am making the point that evolution, as currently understood and taught, is not scientific (which you said it was), but a religious worldview.

.

Quote:


What is religion and can it be defined? I will attempt to do so for the purpose of “clarifying terms.” The best term I feel is applicable to religion is this:

  • Religion may be defined as a way of thinking about ultimate questions. A persons religion answers questions such as how and why (and everything else) came into existence, whether the purpose of life has been established by a Creator or is up to us to decide, and how we can have reliable knowledge (revealed by God or revealed by Nature) about the world and about ourselves.

The officially recognized answers to these questions make up a society’s established religious philosophy, its culturally dominant way of thinking about origins. But let us look at what some dictionaries say about faith and religion.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines religion as “a specific system of belief, worship, often involving a code of ethics.” Faith is defined as “unquestioning belief… complete trust or confidence… loyalty.”

Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary has this to say about religion, “The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe.” On the matter of faith it says, “Confidence in or dependence on a person, statement, or thing as trustworthy… Belief without need of certain proof.”


.

Torcaso v. Watkins made Buddhism, an atheistic belief system (along with secular humanism and other faiths), an official religion. There are tax-exempt atheistic chapels, believe it or not. At any rate the point you made earlier about evolution being merely scientific is misguided, it is a worldview that defines mans relation to the universe.

On the word reem, the Hebrew translators lost the meaning to the word, much like mankind lost the ability to produce electricity (gold electroplated metal objects found in ancient cultures like the Egyptians, and the battery found in Babylonian ruins). In fact, archaeological finds of the LXX translators notes and writings have shed lots of light upon the more ancient form of Hebrew. Also, if we still – to this day – haven’t found the exact meaning of the word reem, it is still meant to mean one thing in its original context and understanding. We just haven’t found it yet. But you seem to be missing the point, the word reem does mean one thing… that “one thing” has just been lost to us (much like many things are through time, wars, and famine).

Another point you seem to have glossed over is when you said,

  • “We will not find happiness if we look for happiness in things that are fundamentally unhappy.”

Who is looking? Who is unhappy? If you sai, “I am unhappy,” is this a real person saying this? If I say, “I exist.” Do I have to exist to say such?

.

Quote:


If there is no personal God, and if one can attain nirvana only as a result of the destruction of thirst (tanha) / desire, therefore the destruction of attachment, therefore the destruction of existence--from whence, do you suppose, did personality (or even the sense of personality) ever come? Exactly what is it, and where does it go when one ceases to exist?

First, it asserts a Monistic Pantheism, that All is One and All is God. This leads to a God who is impersonal, unknowing, and unknowable. The Indian philosopher, Shankara (8th century), described this worldview as a seamless garment where absolutely everything is Brahman (God). The material universe may appear to exist but actually is only Maya (illusion).

The problem is that nobody can live as if such were the case. The material universe has a way of making its presence known in very "concrete" ways. As one contemporary Indian philosopher put it, "Even in India we look both ways before we cross the street, because we know it is either the bus or us." Thus, on what authority could I ever accept a monistic pantheism; that all is impersonal God and nothing is real?

Having been doomed to live a life of illusion, how can I ever test the truth of such a proposition within that illusion?

Without a personal God, on what basis can there ever exist any human moral standard or ethic--and therefore, in what sense do you mean for us to understand the terms noble and truth, i.e. The Four Noble Truths, or the term right in the eight-fold path of right views, resolve, speech, conduct, occupation, efforts, awareness, and meditation?

Second, if All is One and all is God, then ethics also are illusion (Maya). As Swami Vive-kananda (1863--1902) stated, "Really, good and evil are one and the same." Theoretically, once you are "enlightened" you have transcended good and evil. All actions, even evil ones, are "enlightened" ones. Like Vivekananda, Charles Manson said, "If God is One, what is bad?" And then he ordered the pregnant Sharon Tate, and the LaBiancas, butchered.


.

Quote:


Ref: http://www.comparativereligion.com/reincarnation2.html

For this reason, the saying "a man reaps what he sows" cannot be used as a way of expressing one’s reincarnationist ideas…. According to the reincarnation mechanism one person sows and another one reaps, since no personal characteristics can be preserved from one incarnation of the impersonal self to the next. In Buddhism, where the very idea of a self who transmigrates is rejected, the idea of sowing and reaping is even more absurd. See for instance the following text:

  • If it be that good men and good women, who receive and retain this discourse, are downtrodden, their evil destiny is the inevitable retributive result of sins committed in their past mortal lives. By virtue of their present misfortunes the reacting effects of their past will be thereby worked out, and they will be in a position to attain the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment (Diamond Sutra 16).

Who will actually work out the effects of his past? A new distribution of the five aggregates? Or who will actually attain enlightenment? A certain configuration of those impersonal five aggregates? How could this process render perfect justice? Perfect justice or whom?

  • For an illusory personhood that disappears at physical death?

…. A further analysis of karmic justice proves that the basic principle of Hindu morality, that of non-killing (ahimsa), is absurd. According to this principle we should not participate in the killing of any living being, otherwise we will reincarnate in order to pay the consequences. (This is the basis of eastern religious vegetarianism.) For instance, the butcher who slaughters a pig will have to reincarnate as a pig in order to be slaughtered in his turn. However, the very principle of reincarnation contradicts the meaning of ahimsa and proves it to be futile. The pig had to be slaughtered, because he probably was the reincarnation of another butcher, who had to be punished that way. Neither in this case can the vicious cycle be stopped by natural means (i.e. the pig dying of a disease) because the butcher’s desire to kill the animal (for food or to earn his salary) also generates karma. Therefore the infringement of the non-violence principle becomes a necessity in order to fulfill karmic justice. The butcher was at the same time the instrument of working out one’s karmic debt and the generator of a new one for himself. In a strange and contradictory way, the fulfilling of karmic debt requires the punishment of its executioners. In other words, karma paradoxically acts through condemning the executioners of its "justice".


rossum

August 13th 2003 04:56 PM


seang200,

You said:

Quote:


You had compared it [moral law] to the law of gravity, which is a scientific formulation separate from Natural Law as implemented, say, by the Founding Fathers.


I used Gravity as an analogy. Please do not press the analogy too far. As I clearly said:

Quote:


In this discussion I am using "natural" in a wider meaning than science, so that my usage includes a number of things that science would classify as supernatural. The derivation of moral law from the natural world is from those non-scientific elements: karma/phala, reincarnation, heavens, hells and meditation. Scientific theories are not relevant to the subject.


I repeat, evolution is a scientific theory. It has nothing to do with the derivation of morality. My morality is derived from scripture not from science. Scripture and morality were both in place long before 1859 when Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Your comments on evolution and morality are irrelevant. Evolution is not a religion. I have told you that my morals are founded in scripture and not in either evolution or science. If you do not read what I say then it is difficult to see how we can have a fruitful dialogue as opposed to two concurrent monologues.

You paste an anonymous internet quote which itself quotes Webster’s New World Dictionary and Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary on the definition of religion. I note that these definitions do not fit science in general or the Theory of Evolution in particular. For instance, neither science nor evolution include "worship" as in the Webster's definition.

Your second anonymous internet quote itself quoted Shankara and Vivekananda, who were both Hindus. I suggest that you direct the quote to a Hindu if you need a response.

Your third internet quote again talks about Hinduism and assumes a Christian definition of "person". As I have said before, a loaded question gives a biased answer. I am not interested in discussions where the initial conditions are loaded.

You ask:

Quote:


Who is looking? Who is unhappy? If you sai, "I am unhappy", is this a real person saying this? If I say, "I exist." Do I have to exist to say such?


Before I answer this question, we are going to have to agree a mutually acceptable definition of "person". The standard Christian definition of "person" covers a single lifetime, an unchanging semi-immortal soul, an eternity in heaven or hell and a bodily resurrection at some point in the future. The Buddhist definition is a constantly changing ongoing stream passing through very many lifetimes, no unchanging soul, many temporary sojourns in the various heavens and hells ending in an indescribable nirvana. Without a mutually agreed definition we would be arguing at cross-purposes. Can you please propose a definition of "person" which will unite these two very different ideas?

rossum

seang200

August 13th 2003 05:55 PM


Rossum, you are right, most of what I posted was about reincarnation in general and included many Hindu quotes. Although Buddhism is a breakaway from Hinduism, I will post an Internet article that explains much of the same problems found in Buddhism that are in Hinduism. (FYI, the first wrote was from a paper I did, the second was from two articles from http://www.christiananswers.net/ )

Ref: http://www.comparativereligion.com/buddhism.html (I suggest reading the whole article)

Quote:


One of the key elements in Theravada Buddhism is the denial of a self (atman). The illusion of personal existence (puggala) is considered to be the product of five aggregates (skandha), which are in a cause-effect relationship and suffer from constant becoming (Digha Nikaya 15; Samyutta Nikaya 22,59). Therefore, human existence is nothing but impermanence (anitya), a constant process of transformation devoid of any abiding principle. The rejection of a self, or rather the Buddha’s refusal to give any conclusive response regarding its nature, is considered important mostly for practical reasons. One should not engage in philosophical debates concerning the existence of a self (as well as the character of the universe and the nature of Ultimate Reality), because it will only generate suffering and lead one astray from seeking liberation (Majjhima-nikaya 1,426).

But if there is no self, what reincarnates from one existence to another? Buddha stated that only karma passes from one life to the next, determining a new configuration of the five aggregates in the next existence. Therefore samsara works without implying a self, relying only on a causal chain of determination. Such a strange definition of reincarnation has naturally raised strong objections from the opponents of Buddhism. Not only do they contradict it, but the Buddhist scriptures even contain passages that are inconsistent with the lack of a self. Some of them seem to confirm the continuity of personal existence, or at least of an impersonal self along the reincarnation process. For instance, although the five aggregates are supposed to break apart after death and personhood is supposed to vanish, it is stated that the dead will be judged by Yama, the god of death, and afterwards sent into hell and tormented for their sins (Khuddaka-nikaya 10,1,59). There are also many verses in the Dhammapada that suggest personal post-mortem existence:

  • Some people are born again; evil-doers go to hell; righteous people go to heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires attain Nirvana. (Dhammapada 9,126. See also 10,140; 22,306-311.)

If speaking of someone going to hell or heaven does not mean an identical being, what role does this teaching play in Buddhism? If it is not an identical being going to hell, who is actually punished there and for what? Also, if terms such as hell, gods, and self are mere conventions of speech, as it is sometimes suggested, what is their actual meaning and role in the Buddha's teaching? There is no doubt that this Vedic reminiscence is totally inconsistent with the Buddhist doctrine of no-self…. The Buddhist term for liberation (nirvana) derives from the verbal root va (lit. "to blow") and the negation nir; hence its significance corresponds to the blowing out of a candle. Once man attains nirvana, the five aggregates are scattered forever at death without entering a new combination again. This corresponds to a total extinction of any ontological element that could define human existence. The scriptures state:

  • When a man is free from all sense pleasures and depends on nothingness he is free in the supreme freedom from perception. He will stay there and not return again. It is like a flame struck by a sudden gust of wind. In a flash it has gone out and nothing more can be known about it. It is the same with a wise man freed from mental existence: in a flash he has gone out and nothing more can be known about him. When a person has gone out, then there is nothing by which you can measure him. That by which he can be talked about is no longer there for him; you cannot say that he does not exist. When all ways of being, all phenomena are removed, then all ways of description have also been removed. (Sutta Nipata 1072-76)

Here is how the Buddha illustrated the destiny of the liberated being to the wanderer Vacchagotta, using the famous illustration of the extinguished fire:

  • And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?

    That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished -- from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other -- is classified simply as 'out' (unbound).

    Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. (Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 72)

Therefore, nirvana is not just the cessation of hatred, infatuation, birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, despair, etc., as modern Buddhist writers suggest. It is not just the cooling off and extinguishing of these things, and as a result, the ultimate peace one experiences when all conflicts are gone, but rather the extinction of any element that could define human existence. Unfortunately, nirvana also implies the extinction of the agent who experiences "hatred, infatuation, birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, despair, etc."

Once the adherent of Theravada Buddhism has attained nirvana, he becomes an arhat (“living enlightened one”). His karma is considered extinct and at the time of his death he will cease to exist. However, from a Buddhist point of view, this perspective isn't horrifying at all, because it represents the cessation of an illusion. When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption in an eternal Ultimate Reality, because such a thing isn't stated in the Scriptures, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self.

Unlike in Hindu pantheism, which defines liberation as the fusion of atman with Brahman, no one and nothing is attaining liberation. This means that nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it. It is a state beyond any description, knowledge and experience, with nobody and nothing left to reach it.


Another funny aspect of the end result of a self-refuting philosophy is this:

Ref: http://216.239.53.104/custom?q=cache...n&ie=UTF-8

Quote:


Critics further claim that the denial of many pantheists of the applicability of logic to reality is self-defeating. For to deny that logic applies to reality, it would seem that one must make a logical statement about reality to the effect that no logical statements can be made. For example, when Zen Buddhist D. T. Suzuki says that to comprehend life we must abandon logic (Suzuki, 58), he uses logic in his affirmation and applies it to reality. Indeed, the law of noncontradiction (A cannot both be A and not A) cannot be denied without using it in the very denial. Therefore, to deny that logic applies to reality, one must not make a logical statement about reality. But then how will the position be defended?


seang200

August 13th 2003 06:05 PM


Ref: http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/th...y/TD0801W3.htm

Another refutation of pantheism – in general.

Quote:


Self-Refuting Nature of Pantheism. Pantheism is self-refuting, at least all forms that claim individuality is an illusion caused by my mind. For according to pantheism, individual minds are themselves aspects of the illusion and can therefore provide no basis for explaining it. If the mind is part of the illusion, it cannot be the ground for explaining the illusion. Hence, if pantheism is true in asserting that my individuality is an illusion, then pantheism is false, since there is then no basis for explaining the illusion


Jin-Roh

August 14th 2003 12:59 AM


I would just like to say this is fascinanting thread.

Cheers for both of you.

:cheers:

And Rossum, Evolution has become a religious tenant. But that's another thread.

seang200

August 14th 2003 04:44 AM


Jin-Roh,

Thank you for the compliment. And you are right; Evolution (origin science) has become a religion. I am not talking, of course, about the atomic weight of a particle, or the laws of nature (i.e., gravity), or the chemical make up of a mineral. I am speaking to something beyond this, philosophical naturalism. For instance, Nature magazine said that about 40% of all American scientists pray to a personal God, this belief in a personal God, however, does not interfere with there laboratory science. When you ask them though, if the beginning of life was accidental or designed, they will give an answer that confirms their personal God (I say personal God because theism is the only branch of religion who has a personal God to pray to).

This led these scientists shortly after a PBS special to buy a full page add in a newspaper:

Quote:


A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism

Public TV programs, educational policy statements, and science textbooks have asserted that Darwin’s theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things. The public has been assured, most recently by spokespersons for PBS’s Evolution series, that “all known scientific evidence supports [Darwinian] evolution” as does “virtually every reputable scientist in the world.” The following scientists dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. There is scientific dissent to Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.
  • "I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

Henry F. Schaefer: Nobel Nominee, Director, Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry: U. of Georgia

Fred Sigworth: Prof. of Cellular & Molecular Physiology- Grad. School: Yale U.

Philip S. Skell: Emeritus Prof. Of Chemistry: NAS member

Frank Tipler: Prof. of Mathematical Physics: Tulane U.

Robert Kaita: Plasma Physics Lab: Princeton U.

Michael Behe: Prof. of Biological Science: Lehigh U.

Walter Hearn: PhD Biochemistry-U of Illinois

Tony Mega: Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry: Whitworth College

Dean Kenyon: Prof. Emeritus of Biology: San Francisco State U.

Marko Horb: Researcher, Dept. of Biology & Biochemistry: U. of Bath, UK

Daniel Kubler: Asst. Prof. of Biology: Franciscan U. of Steubenville

David Keller: Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry: U. of New Mexico

James Keesling: Prof. of Mathematics: U. of Florida

Roland F. Hirsch: PhD Analytical Chemistry-U. of Michigan

Robert Newman: PhD Astrophysics-Cornell U.

Carl Koval: Prof., Chemistry & Biochemistry: U. of Colorado, Boulder

Tony Jelsma: Prof. of Biology: Dordt College

William A.Dembski: PhD Mathematics-U. of Chicago:

George Lebo: Assoc. Prof. of Astronomy: U. of Florida

Timothy G. Standish: PhD Environmental Biology-George Mason U.

James Keener: Prof. of Mathematics & Adjunct of Bioengineering: U. of Utah

Robert J. Marks: Prof. of Signal & Image Processing: U. of Washington

Carl Poppe: Senior Fellow: Lawrence Livermore Laboratories

Siegfried Scherer: Prof. of Microbial Ecology: Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen

Gregory Shearer: Internal Medicine, Research: U. of California, Davis

Joseph Atkinson: PhD Organic Chemistry-M.I.T.: American Chemical Society, member

Lawrence H. Johnston: Emeritus Prof. of Physics: U. of Idaho

Scott Minnich: Prof., Dept of Microbiology, Molecular Biology & Biochem: U. of Idaho

David A. DeWitt: PhD Neuroscience-Case Western U.

Theodor Liss: PhD Chemistry-M.I.T.

Braxton Alfred: Emeritus Prof. of Anthropology: U. of British Columbia

Walter Bradley: Prof. Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering: Texas A & M

Paul D. Brown: Asst. Prof. of Environmental Studies: Trinity Western U. (Canada)

Marvin Fritzler: Prof. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: U. of Calgary, Medical School

Theodore Saito: Project Manager: Lawrence Livermore Laboratories

Muzaffar Iqbal: PhD Chemistry-U. of Saskatchewan: Center for Theology the Natural Sciences

William S. Pelletier: Emeritus Distinguished Prof. of Chemistry: U. of Georgia, Athens

Keith Delaplane: Prof. of Entomology: U. of Georgia

Ken Smith: Prof. of Mathematics: Central Michigan U.

Clarence Fouche: Prof. of Biology: Virginia Intermont College

Thomas Milner: Asst. Prof. of Biomedical Engineering: U. of Texas, Austin

Brian J.Miller: PhD Physics-Duke U.

Paul Nesselroade: Assoc. Prof. of Psychology: Simpson College

Donald F.Calbreath: Prof. of Chemistry: Whitworth College

William P. Purcell: PhD Physical Chemistry-Princeton U.

Wesley Allen: Prof. of Computational Quantum Chemistry: U. of Georgia

Jeanne Drisko: Asst. Prof., Kansas Medical Center: U. of Kansas, School of Medicine

Chris Grace: Assoc. Prof. of Psychology: Biola U.

Wolfgang Smith: Prof. Emeritus-Mathematics: Oregon State U.

Rosalind Picard: Assoc. Prof. Computer Science: M.I.T.

Garrick Little: Senior Scientist, Li-Cor: Li-Cor

John L. Omdahl: Prof. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: U. of New Mexico

Martin Poenie: Assoc. Prof. of Molecular Cell & Developmental Bio: U. of Texas, Austin

Russell W.Carlson: Prof. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: U. of Georgia

Hugh Nutley: Prof. Emeritus of Physics & Engineering: Seattle Pacific U.

David Berlinski: PhD Philosophy-Princeton: Mathematician, Author

Neil Broom: Assoc. Prof., Chemical & Materials Engineeering: U. of Auckland

John Bloom: Assoc. Prof., Physics: Biola U.

James Graham: Professional Geologist, Sr. Program Manager: National Environmental Consulting Firm

John Baumgardner: Technical Staff, Theoretical Division: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Fred Skiff: Prof. of Physics: U. of Iowa

Paul Kuld: Assoc. Prof., Biological Science: Biola U.

Yongsoon Park: Senior Research Scientist: St. Luke's Hospital, Kansas City

Moorad Alexanian: Prof. of Physics: U. of North Carolina, Wilmington

Donald Ewert: Director of Research Administration: Wistar Institute

Joseph W. Francis: Assoc. Prof. of Biology: Cedarville U.

Thomas Saleska: Prof. of Biology: Concordia U.

Ralph W. Seelke: Prof. & Chair of Dept. of Biology & Earth Sciences: U. of Wisconsin, Superior

James G. Harman: Assoc. Chair, Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry: Texas Tech U.

Lennart Moller: Prof. of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute: U. of Stockholm

Raymond G. Bohlin: PhD Molecular & Cell Biology-U. of Texas:

Fazale R. Rana: PhD Chemistry-Ohio U.

Michael Atchison: Prof. of Biochemistry: U. of Pennsylvania, Vet School

William S. Harris: Prof. of Basic Medical Sciences: U. of Missouri, Kansas City

Rebecca W. Keller: Research Prof., Dept. of Chemistry: U. of New Mexico

Terry Morrison: PhD Chemistry-Syracuse U.

Robert F. DeHaan: PhD Human Development-U. of Chicago

Matti Lesola: Prof., Laboratory of Bioprocess Engineering: Helsinki U. of Technology

Bruce Evans: Assoc. Prof. of Biology: Huntington College

Jim Gibson: PhD Biology-Loma Linda U.

David Ness: PhD Anthropology-Temple U.

Bijan Nemati: Senior Engineer: Jet Propulsion Lab (NASA)

Edward T. Peltzer: Senior Research Specialist: Monterey Bay Research Institute

Stan E. Lennard: Clinical Assoc. Prof. of Surgery: U. of Washington

Rafe Payne: Prof. & Chair, Biola Dept. of Biological Sciences: Biola U.

Phillip Savage: Prof. of Chemical Engineering: U. of Michigan

Pattle Pun: Prof. of Biology: Wheaton College

Jed Macosko: Postdoctoral Researcher-Molecular Biology: U. of California, Berkeley

Daniel Dix: Assoc. Prof. of Mathematics: U. of South Carolina

Ed Karlow: Chair, Dept. of Physics: LaSierra U.

James Harbrecht: Clinical Assoc. Prof.: U. of Kansas Medical Center

Robert W. Smith: Prof. of Chemistry: U. of Nebraska, Omaha

Robert DiSilvestro: PhD Biochemistry-Texas A & M U.

David Prentice: Prof., Dept. of Life Sciences: Indiana State U.

Walt Stangl: Assoc. Prof. of Mathematics: Biola U.

Jonathan Wells: PhD Molecular & Cell Biology- U. of California, Berkeley:

James Tour: Chao Prof. of Chemistry: Rice U.

Todd Watson: Asst. Prof. of Urban & Community Forestry: Texas A & M

.


Jezz

August 14th 2003 10:43 AM


A quick thought

I've only skimmed this thread, as I've got a ton of other replies to make elsewhere in these forums, but I couldn't help but add my two cents here.

seang200, I've done a little of my own research into Buddhism and Hinduism, and I came to many of the same conclusions that you did. Karma-based religions are responsible for the caste systems of countries like India.

But one thing that struck me about these religions is as follows:

-The law of karma seems to guarantee that noone will reach nirvana. Because existence is suffering, it seems to condemn all souls to an eternity of suffering.

-If somehow someone manages to escape the rebirth cycle and reach nirvana, then nirvana doesn't seem all that appealing anyway. In fact, the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of nirvana both look suspiciously similar to many Christian concepts of hell...

And people get angry at Christianity for condemning some people to hell for eternity... it would seem to me that karma-based religions condemn everyone to some form of hell for eternity... I think it's also worth noting that if we suppose that Christianity is true, then Hindus and Buddhists will reach the "nirvana" that they are striving for...

I also noted that the Buddhist moral laws didn't preclude suicide - so what I want to know is, wouldn't the most logical thing to do as a Buddhist/Hindu be to commit suicide? The longer that one lives, not only does this merely prolong their suffering, it also prevents one accumulating any more bad karma - thereby shortening the rebirth cycle. Given the fundamental tenets of these religions, isn't this the logical option? It seems to me that I must have misunderstood something about these religions to have come to this conclusion... have I?

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