kirk5a wrote:Well she's just saying something self-contradictory. She just did consider it and come to a conclusion regarding it. That approach is one thing that seems to echo throughout "secular thought," so it seems to me. Purported agnosticism is actually just a smokescreen for positions against. Then, let's see what we can weed out of the teachings owing to historical reasoning, cultural biases, misinterpretation and so forth....
Dana, whose post we are discussing here, is -- as far as I can tell after several years of hanging out with her -- not in the least bit agnostic, so I'm not sure it's fair to tar agnostic Buddhists (like myself) with her stance.
My agnosticism isn't "purported" or a smokescreen for positions against. Dana's certainty isn't being painted (by her) as agnosticism. It needs to be recognized -- I say again -- that Secular Buddhists are not all alike, so please don't confuse her atheism with agnostic Buddhists' approaches.
My stance is that as long as we do not know about God or rebirth or whatever cosmological order there may be, it is not useful to base behavior on guesses. Even if one end of the spectrum seems more likely than another, given whatever evidence we have within our individual experience and study of the research that has been done, it is not useful to speculate and it is divisive to take a dogmatic stance. Dogmatic atheism is just as damaging to human relationships as any dogmatic belief in the other directions -- and while some may find their positions so satisfying that it engenders a desire to try to convert others by insisting our opposites-in-belief are just plain stupid or ignorant or haven't yet practiced as hard as we have or lack the goodness of faith or whatever we choose to be their failing -- none of that is helpful.
If a cosmology is true -- and has any effect on us at all -- it will prove itself to us regardless of whatever stance we choose to take based on speculation in ignorance beforehand. There is much to be done in this life, right here, right now, and that is challenge enough without wasting energy.
And it is just plain way, way easier to get along with people if we aren't forever arguing "You're wrong, I'm right. Only this is true, and nothing else," over things that are unprovable through just argument.
What does seem to me to work well is the approach the Buddha took: be gracious to those who are struggling and doing their best to be good people -- be hard on anyone whose belief system is clearly directing them to harm others and encourage them to find any one of the better paths. Keep clearly stating that there is *this* path, and it doesn't deal with anything you can't see for yourself, and keep asking the people who defend speculative views to ask themselves to check the basis for their views. This is what the Buddha did, pointing out how often we believe what others tell us, or take some event as evidence when we might just not be seeing things clearly enough.