Is belief in God/s dangerous?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby altar » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:31 pm

Dear all,
This question is exactly what it sounds like. Is there some drawback to a belief in god/s, or worse, a real danger?
What is meant by God here is anything that acts like an omnipotent creator, overseer, divine providence, or, and especially, commander.

While attacks on the idea of God itself (as fallacious, untenable, etc.) are appreciated, my main concern is on the danger of holding such a belief, that God exists.
User avatar
altar
 
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:24 pm
Location: Monterey, MA

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:40 pm

altar wrote:Dear all,
This question is exactly what it sounds like. Is there some drawback to a belief in god/s, or worse, a real danger?
What is meant by God here is anything that acts like an omnipotent creator, overseer, divine providence, or, and especially, commander.

While attacks on the idea of God itself (as fallacious, untenable, etc.) are appreciated, my main concern is on the danger of holding such a belief, that God exists.
If one thinks one is doing god's work, flying airplanes into buildings or putting to death unbelievers is not a problem.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Reductor » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:47 pm

It seems to me that the danger comes from mitigating personal responsibility. When a person doesn't see their own responsibility then the different modes of suffering can be expected to increase.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

User avatar
Reductor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Goedert » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:28 pm

altar wrote:Dear all,
This question is exactly what it sounds like. Is there some drawback to a belief in god/s, or worse, a real danger?
What is meant by God here is anything that acts like an omnipotent creator, overseer, divine providence, or, and especially, commander.

While attacks on the idea of God itself (as fallacious, untenable, etc.) are appreciated, my main concern is on the danger of holding such a belief, that God exists.


There is a video talk of Ven. Punnaji that might be relevant to this question. See:



There is a sequence of it. This is 1/5 of them.

Edited: Putted the wrong video code, now its right.
Last edited by Goedert on Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Goedert
 
Posts: 312
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 9:24 pm
Location: SC, Brazil

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby bodom » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:42 pm

When you look back through history and the amount of bloodshed and violence in the name of god and religion, it is blantantly obvious that it is dangerous. Crusades ring a bell?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4612
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby SDC » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:22 pm

altar wrote:Dear all,
This question is exactly what it sounds like. Is there some drawback to a belief in god/s, or worse, a real danger?
What is meant by God here is anything that acts like an omnipotent creator, overseer, divine providence, or, and especially, commander.

While attacks on the idea of God itself (as fallacious, untenable, etc.) are appreciated, my main concern is on the danger of holding such a belief, that God exists.


Our minds reinforce the idea of self. In other words, our mental process keeps recreating the idea. The goal in our practice is to stop reinforcing this idea and see that there is no self. Believing in a God as a creator leads to the believe that God created "us", created this "self". Therefore it makes the idea of "no self" much more difficult to understand, far more difficult to accept, and near impossible to let go.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby OcTavO » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:41 pm

One component of monotheism that I consider "dangerous" to some extent is this: all too often, the concept of a god can become a "god of the gaps" - a convenient filler to plug up holes in knowledge. Don't know why something happens the way it does? The answer is God of course. It's an easy excuse for lazy folks to stop seeking. I sometimes wonder if we'd have a cure for cancer by now, or a unified theory of gravity, had we not had two millenia of monotheism to act as a comfy mattress for the majority of the population to rest their laurels on.
User avatar
OcTavO
 
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:27 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:48 pm

OcTavO wrote: "god of the gaps"
Attachments
god-of-the-gaps[1].jpg
god-of-the-gaps[1].jpg (34.54 KiB) Viewed 1136 times
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Tex » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:56 pm

I don't think it's a stretch to say that God's followers have killed more people than cancer.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
User avatar
Tex
 
Posts: 623
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:18 pm

Tex wrote:I don't think it's a stretch to say that God's followers have killed more people than cancer.
How would one come up with reasonable numbers for either side, cancer deaths/kill the infidels? Such numbers have to be very large, indeed.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby SDC » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:39 pm

Goedert wrote:There is a video talk of Ven. Punnaji that might be relevant to this question. See:



There is a sequence of it. This is 1/5 of them.

Edited: Putted the wrong video code, now its right.


That talk never gets old. Thanks for posting, Goedert.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:30 pm

There's a very good section in one of Ledi Sayadaw's dipanis (I can';t remember which one right now) published under the title of 'Manuals of Dhamma' where he quotes a sutta where the Buddha outlines the dangers for one who has the view of a creator being. If I remember correctly, one who holds such a view holds a wrong view regarding kamma and consequently performs every variety of unwholesome act believing it to be wholesome and ends up, after death, in a state of perdition in one of the lower realms.

Whether or not you personally believe in the lower realms, I think its also very true as a metaphor for the quality of mind and life following gross unwholesome activity.
Sorry i can't find a quote for you right now as I'm trying to get out the door.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16127
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:31 am

Greetings,

I know someone who used to live a troubled life who has been "born again" through her new-found belief in God. I have no doubt the mindstates she has now are more often based on wisdom, generosity and lovingkindess than they would have been several years ago. It's not how I'd go about personal transformation myself... but if the end result yields a positive correlation to those things which the Buddha spoke highly of, then it doesn't seem appropriate to give a blanket response that belief in God is dangerous.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Anicca » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:57 am

altar wrote:Is there some drawback to a belief in god/s, or worse, a real danger?
What is meant by God here is anything that acts like an omnipotent creator, overseer, divine providence, or, and especially, commander.

The drawback/danger is all in the ignorance of the person. Belief in *any* sovereign has drawbacks/dangers - doesn't have to be a diety - could be a king - queen - parliment - senate - pope - priest - preacher - teacher - spouse - peer. Anytime you hand someone else the reins, the potential for drawbacks/danger exists in proportion to the ignorance.

Metta
Anicca
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:11 am
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:56 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I know someone who used to live a troubled life who has been "born again" through her new-found belief in God. I have no doubt the mindstates she has now are more often based on wisdom, generosity and lovingkindess than they would have been several years ago. It's not how I'd go about personal transformation myself... but if the end result yields a positive correlation to those things which the Buddha spoke highly of, then it doesn't seem appropriate to give a blanket response that belief in God is dangerous.
Well, potentially dangerous. Of course, things are never black and white, except when they are black and white.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:01 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Well, potentially dangerous.


Belief in Buddhism is potentially dangerous too.

:spy:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Well, potentially dangerous.


Belief in Buddhism is potentially dangerous too.

:spy:

Metta,
Retro. :)
Dare I say it again, but religion in general, no matter which one, has a great capacity of tapping into the inner stupid.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby alan » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:29 am

What about a soft belief, such as a "Bodhisattva of compassion" or other ideas like that?
Some people I know who are not Therevadins seem to have benefited from allowing these "gods" into their lives. I can't find any reason to get down on that, so long as they keep it in perspective.
alan
 
Posts: 2555
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Goedert » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:41 am

Is not the relegion. It is the person, thats all.

If someone do not have any religion and still have good behaviour thouward living beings, speaking pleasent words, pure heart, cultivating concentration and virtue. This is good.

There is some buddhist that speak harsh words, unpleasent things and of course, they what is correct to do and not correct do. But they don't have the will in the moment to choose the good.

Any thing that a person do or organization that this person took part, if it do not cultivate goodness it is dangerous, because this person will not have the right view and the snow ball will increase...
User avatar
Goedert
 
Posts: 312
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 9:24 pm
Location: SC, Brazil

Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:45 am

Goedert wrote:Is not the relegion. It is the person, thats all.
It takes two, the religion and the person. If a religion tells you that being a martyr is of great value, that is easily used as a justification for some very unholy behavior in the name of god or whatever. Having a direct line to one's god and the unquestioning certitude that goes with it has been a basis for a great deal of suffering in the name of one religion or the other.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19545
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests