Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Against Buddhism – opposing views – secular and Christian anti-Buddhist arguments

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Buddhism is the only major religion which acknowledges a large area of ignorance about external matters. Unlike other religions, it does not even attempt to answer questions like ‘What is the purpose of life, the universe and everything?’  Buddhism regards such questions as at best unanswerable and probably intrinsically meaningless. The only purpose of life is what we personally give to our own lives. Buddha suggested that the most meaningful use of life was to seek liberation from ignorance, suffering and the cycle of samsaric rebirth, both for one’s self and others. But this ‘meaning’ does not reside ‘in the sky’ or in any way outside of the individual, and it cannot be imposed, but must be freely chosen.

Source: Against Buddhism – opposing views – secular and Christian anti-Buddhist arguments

I was googling around and entered “buddhism+christianity” (note the “+”, rather than “vs.”)  I got page after page of variations on “Buddhism vs. Christianity,” and every one of them was either an attack on Buddhism by a Christian or a defense of Buddhism from such an attack.  Not one was directed the other way: a buddhist attacking christians.

I wonder why we frighten these people so?  Or is it the intrinsic logic inherent in Buddhism, as opposed to blind faith?  It seems to me that every time it’s concentration on things like reincarnation, nirvana and such — things that not even Buddhists agree about completely — in an attempt to show that they don’t agree with Western mythology.  (As if it were the Final Word.  As if there were a final word.)  Not one of them ever looks at the core teachings of the Buddha, and how they apply to life and philosophy.

It must be very boring to have such a shallow approach to life — defend, defend, defend. Attack, attack, attack.  Don’t learn.  It might be dangerous.

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Author: Bill

Birder, cat-lover, pilot, poet. Former lounge lizard, pauper, pagan, lifeguard, chauffeur,cop and martial artist, turned pacifist addiction writer. Tries to be a good husband, father and brother, and makes a decent friend. Likes to take pictures. Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

6 thoughts on “Against Buddhism – opposing views – secular and Christian anti-Buddhist arguments

  1. Very interesting, thanks. The link to that quote doesn’t work anymore, which led me to an interesting result. I searched for that phrase, and found it in several places quoted verbatim. It appears to have originated in a discussion thread on Totse.org in April of 2004, by someone calling themselves “homosuperior.” The thread was titled “Why is your religion right?” and this passage below was a defense of Buddhism, not referencing Christianity at all. It’s fascinating to me how one random phrase like this got picked up and is now quoted as fact in several dozen websites.
    ——————————————————————————-

    “Buddhism?

    Well,

    Buddhism is the only major religion which acknowledges a large area of ignorance about external matters. Unlike other religions, it does not even attempt to answer questions like ‘What is the purpose of life, the universe and everything?’ . Buddhism regards such questions as at best unanswerable and probably intrinsically meaningless. The only purpose of life is what we personally give to our own lives. Buddha suggested that the most meaningful use of life was to seek liberation from ignorance, suffering and the cycle of samsaric rebirth, both for one’s self and others. But this ‘meaning’ does not reside ‘in the sky’ or in any way outside of the individual, and it cannot be imposed, but must be freely chosen.

    Most other religions go further than Buddhism, and if asked ‘What is the purpose of life, the universe and everything?’ will usually come up with an answer along the lines of ‘To fulfil the will of God.’

    This invites the further question of ‘What is the will of God’, which usually brings forth an answer to the effect that ‘God’s will is to create life, the universe and everything’.”

    • That brings up the question of whether or not there is a god. Being a confirmed ignostic, I do not discuss that issue. It is a matter of terminology. I will merely say that I have seen no evidence of it that could not be explained without invoking supernatural sources. That is all that I have to say on the subject.

  2. Interesting piece, but — you write that
    “Buddhism is the only major religion which acknowledges a large area of ignorance about external matters.”

    Do you not consider Daoism major, then? Daoism’s acceptance of ignorance makes Buddhism look like “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All To You.”

    • The basic tenets of the Abrahamaic, Buddhist and Hindu faiths tend to remain relatively stable across the various sects and divisions. In Buddhism, for example, Thais believe much the same, in terms of the precepts, the Four Nobles and the Eightfold path, as do Tibetans, although the outer trappings of the two might lead one to believe that they were scarcely related. If one compares Soto Zen to Tibetan and Thai, the same is true. Nonetheless, all agree on the basics.

      Actually, it is difficult to separate Daoism from Buddhism, especially Ch’an and Zen. It has been a powerful influence on the development of both, and (like the Tibetan Bo religion) its teachings and beliefs have been incorporated into others. Whether or not it is a major religion depends on the degree of — for want of a better term — dilution that can still be termed Daoism.

      If we take only those whose practice is based strictly on what we know of the original teachings, then the numbers are in the area of 20-30 million practitioners. If the traditional Chinese folk religion, which incorporates many Daoist beliefs, is included, the numbers are in the half-billion range, rather above the estimates of about 350 million Buddhists. Certainly the Dao has been a major influence on most Chinese people, along with many others, and its value to philosophy in general and Eastern thought in particular is incalculable. I do not believe, however, that you will find it listed amongst the world’s major religions in most references due to the factors mentioned above and in fact, in some of its incarnations, it is difficult to define it as a religion at all.

      In any case, the statement with which you have taken issue was not mine, but that of a writer whom I quoted. My remarks were below, in italics. To avoid similar confusion in the future, I have set the former off in block quote and italics, and left my own in plain format. I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  3. I am a Bhuddist and i HAVE read the bible. Although I find it interesting, I don’t think I will become a Christian. Learning about other religions is my hobby so don’t say that neither “side” wants to learn about the other- and I have better things to do than “defend defend defend, attack attack attack”

    • Dear Reader,

      I wish you had taken the time to read more skillfully: you would have discovered that my statement was quite opposite to the way you interpreted it. I was not writing about Buddhists, but about the fundamentalists in other religions who seem to fear us so much.

      We can learn a lot from this — for example, about the ways that jumping to conclusions can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings. Thank you for this lesson.

      Namasté,

      Bill

      p.s.: You misspelled “Buddhist.”

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