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.
I agree with retrofuturist, it really depends on the person and what they believe about God. Historically its been true that many wars have been fought by people believing they were fighting for God, that God was on their side and wanted them to kill/punish nonbelievers. That's dangerous and unfortunately we still have these kinds of warrior God believers in our world.
But is God the problem? Look at Stalin and Mao, at what nonbelieving Communists have done. One doesn't need to believe in God to construct excuses for killing and conquering "enemies." I'd say the belief that one is right, that violence is fine and killing people is okay are the most dangerous ideas. Any belief system that gets mixed up with that stirs up terrible suffering.
As Buddhists it's often helpful to be tolerant. That doesn't mean seeing all beliefs as being the same, but being as mindful as we can, recognizing that sometimes different religions are serving a positive purpose for others, that while the Buddha's dhamma will take you further and provide greatest clarity (in most of our opinions) spiritual growth and the cultivation of wholesome mindstates (and behaviors) can be facilitated by many religions. When not, we should speak out, but when other religions are serving a positive purpose its worth taking notice. From the Buddhist point of view, to make tolerance contingent upon whitewashing discrepancies would not be to exercise genuine tolerance at all; for such an approach can "tolerate" differences only by diluting them so completely that they no longer make a difference. True tolerance in religion involves the capacity to admit differences as real and fundamental, even as profound and unbridgeable, yet at the same time to respect the rights of those who follow a religion different from one's own (or no religion at all) to continue to do so without resentment, disadvantage or hindrance.
Buddhist tolerance springs from the recognition that the dispositions and spiritual needs of human beings are too vastly diverse to be encompassed by any single teaching, and thus that these needs will naturally find expression in a wide variety of religious forms. The non-Buddhist systems will not be able to lead their adherents to the final goal of the Buddha's Dhamma, but that they never proposed to do in the first place. For Buddhism, acceptance of the idea of the beginningless round of rebirths implies that it would be utterly unrealistic to expect more than a small number of people to be drawn toward a spiritual path aimed at complete liberation. The overwhelming majority, even of those who seek deliverance from earthly woes, will aim at securing a favorable mode of existence within the round, even while misconceiving this to be the ultimate goal of the religious quest.
To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world.Bikkhu BodhiTolerance and Diversity