I never said there's anything wrong with Buddha being atheist/agnostic. To be more specific, I never said anything about the Buddha's specific beliefs - I made statements about the religion of Buddhism.
Thanks for clearing that up. I agree there can be differences between what the Buddha said and the religion of Buddhism
The Buddha never called himself atheist, agnostic, non-theist, or anything else. He simply stated that gods and devas are impermanent and not all-powerful. The Buddha transcended labels. He was not attached to views, even if those views were in-line with his own teachings. That's the problem I have with Batchelor insisting Buddhism be atheist - it's completely contrived and self-imposed. While Batchelor is trying to cut away what he perceives to be cultural baggage, he is obviously caught up in his own thicket of views.
Several points. First of all he was atheist or agnostic in regards to the traditional monotheistic creator Gods, i dont think anyone can argue against that. On another point the remark you made about "devas" does really depend on interpretation. If you follow classical thervadas line of thought then you could make a case for Buddha being a kind of polytheist. However if you take an alternative view point, say that of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand or Buddhadasa then "deva" is a mind state, which of course would mean that Buddha was silent on any kind of celestial realm, gods etc and would make him an agnostic or atheist in these issues.
However saying that even if you go with Classical Theravada I would still say that you can say Buddha was Atheisst or Agnostic due to the fact that the classical portrayal of the devas are as limited beings. You could then argue that they dont fit the definition of "gods" at all
I agree that the Buddha did not take up views
You're right - them being a minority doesn't make them elitist. But I don't see where I said this... My point is that their position comes off as elitist because they are insisting that everyone interpret religion and faith the way they do - with their own definitions, concepts and truths. If it's not elitist, it is at least selfish. They want to increase the number of non-believers who interpret religion the way they do - but there isn't one single type of atheist or non-theist. There are tons of non-believers with varying viewpoints, so who's to say Dawkins and his people are right?
Well either religion is right or its false I think we can agree on that. I agree there is differences among nonbelievers about how to interpret religion. Some see it as bad others as doing some kind of good for example. I think the whole point of their enterprise though is to increase non-belief, not necessarily non-belief in their terms of seeing religion as bad. On a side note not even Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens agree on everything. Hitchens has said that if he had the choice he would not get rid of religion completely.
Are they dialoguing with prominent religious members of various cultures (as opposed to just setting up debates organized by predominently white western universities where they yell at each other for an hour)? Are they having informal discussions with common everyday people who practice religious faiths? From the numerous videos I've watched and articles I've read on these guys, the answer is no, but I could be wrong. All I've seen is one pompous debate after another, one interview with a public radio station or a BBC anchor after another - all forums organized and controlled by white Westerners.
I honestly dont know if they are or not but I suspect you dont either, they very well may be. You keep bringing up race when I dont see this as an issue in these things at all. Why do you keep implying its all down to evil white westerners, which im sorry to say is what your coming accross as saying
It's not just about relying on tradition or religion or creed - like I stated before, there are legitimate reasons why people cling to these things, and these reasons must be understood before we can have any meaningful discussion about them or their abolishment. To ask a person to give up a belief on the grounds of evidence or reason in this day and age is like asking them to give up a part of who they are (or who they believe they are). It obviously doesn't work, and oftentimes they end up holding onto the belief even stronger than before (as is the case with many reactionary militant fundamentalists in the States).
Mostly its either fear, indoctrination, tradition or faulty reasoning. None of these things are good aspects that should be encouraged or left but should be challenged.
There isn't anything wrong with you having an opinion of certain behaviors. The problem comes in when we assume everyone must think like we do, or else we're somehow uneducated or unenlightened. This is what I get from Batchelor and the like. There are plenty of highly educated philosophers who take a more culturally relativistic approach to these issues. Just because they don't think like you, does that make them wrong?
Cultural relativism would mean that human sacrifice is ok in some circumstances or that child rape is. Do you really want to sign up to that. Either you condem these actions not matter where they are or you allow for their existence in some areas of the world.
You're right - it's not an unreasonable position at all. As a matter of fact, it is the most reasonable position to take in terms of evidence and observation. That doesn't mean everyone "should" believe it. If we approach discussions with religious followers based on what we want them to believe because we think they should, we will fail most everytime. Trust me, I've tried this numerous times. It doesn't work. We can't change anyone's mind - they have to change their own mind when they're ready to do so.
Well everyone should embrace it as reason, evidence and expermient are the only ways to reach any measure of truth in the world. However I agree that not everyone will, immediately anyway, embrace this. However the floor should still be open to criticism and people should be allowed to point out that the emperor has no clothes.
Batchelor is well-versed on the scriptures, maybe even one of the most versed. He's a former Zen and Tibetan monk, has translated numerous scriptures and written numerous books on Buddhist study. I have no doubt he is formulating his opinions based on his wealth of experience. However, it's obvious that not every highly educated Buddhist agrees on various points in the scriptures. The Venerable Bhikkhu Buddhadasa has much different views on rebirth than Ajahn Chah. Jack Kornfield has different views than Gil Fronsdal. Who's right?
Well from what I have read and heard from former disciples, Ajahn Chah used to formulate rebirth in terms of birth of ego in the same way Buddhadasa did most of the time. However yes there are divergences of opinion but I am skeptical that there is only one way to understand Buddhadhamma and one way to practice it
Just because a person is highly versed on a particular topic doesn't mean they can't make mistakes and be plain wrong sometimes. In this case, Batchelor is just plain wrong when it comes to his idea that rebirth isn't a central element of the suttas. He may very well be right about the falsehood of rebirth, but the evidence suggests that rebirth was absolutely essential to the Buddha's teachings.
Although its a different discussion, this isnt always the case. I myself, for example, see evidence in the Suttas pointing the other way
It is culturally insensitive to assume you have the answers to another culture's problem. It's culturally insensitive to assume another culture has a problem based on your own definitions, instead of the definitions relevant to that specific culture. The West is very good at doing this.
So if a country and culture practices child rape and marriage and in the middle east and I live in the UK but had a chance to stop it or at least campaign aggessivlely against it, should I do so or should I not incase its culturally insensitive for me to do so?
On a side note It seems you have a grudge against the west
First of all, what does "faced with this culture mean?" Does it mean if you were a member of this culture and you disagreed with the practice? If that's what you mean, you just stated what I've been saying the whole time - it is up to MEMBERS of that culture to decide what is and is not best for them, not up to us who are not a part of the culture. It's different if that culture is trying to invade your culture's space and impose their practices onto to you. In that case, fight like hell. But if you're a dissenter in your own culture, you have every right to dissent.
No we are talking about "outsiders" so you would be an outsider who is faced with this. Say you live in a country that is neighbours with this Aztec culture. Would you sit back and let the murder happen and hope that some dissidents would resolve it or would you campaign against it? Remember this is human sacrifice we are talking about.
We don't live the same everyday realities of other cultures because we aren't a part of their culture. How can we decide what is and is not good for them? What if someone from a dictatorship were to come to America and parade around espousing the death of democracy? And they were adamant that we have it wrong with this democracy nonsense? How would that make us feel?
Im sorry this is absurd. There are certain actions we know are wrong no matter what, murdering people for being homosexual is one of them. Are you seriously saying that, to take Iran for example, we shouldnt speak out with force and/or take action against them because it might upset their feelings? I really hope that isnt your view. If you think it should be stopped then I dont see what your arguing against.
Yep, you're absolutely right: the computer, the internet, central air and heating, and even the way we make buildings, are all completely unsustainable and are a direct result of human beings calling themselves scientist and engineers and insisting that nature is something to be controlled and dominated instead of it being the very lifeblood all life on the planet depends upon. A direct result of mainstream science's insistence that the planet and its ecosystems are lifeless, cold and without purpose, instead of it being a living, breathing organism to enter into a mutual relationship together.
Actually science is the pursuit of truth and its aim is the betterment of humanity. I dont know where you could have gotten the view that science says the earth is "lifeless". If that was so what on earth is biology for, in fact what on earth are we doing here. Ignoring this though I think I see what your saying, however science just presents facts. The interpretations come later. When I study evolution do you know what I find? I find the perfect case against all forms of racism since all humans come from Africa. I also find solidarity, not just with other humans but with everything that is alive since we are all genetically related. We are all one big family and I got this from materialist science, which you seem to think is so bad
This insistence that science only be materialistic goes against one of the most fundamental aspects of the scientific method
It is materialistic however since science can only study whats in nature and therefore only the world of energe/matter that we see around us. Science cant study "supernatural" things since these are by definition outside of nature. One effect of this is that they are outside space time and so there is nothing for science to measure or test.
This is taken from the website you linked
The ancestors of humans may have communicated by a sixth sense, by detecting chemical signals given off by each other. They received these signals through a specialized organ in the nose, vestiges of which still exist.
All completely materialistic. Chemicals, organs etc
This isnt exactly a scientific website or article, its a radio station
NED's are interesting but they dont exactly prove anything in of themselves. Science is investigating however and there are some biological theories to as why these occur. If it was not material in nature science would have nothing to say on it since it would involve a supernatural element which science cant measure
It is unskillful for a culture or government to kill off its own citizens and expect to last beyond an uprising or armed resistance from its own members. They make themselves susceptible to coups, overthrows and invastion from external threats. History proves this. We don't have to invoke their religious beliefs to see this is true. To invoke any type of moral measurement upon them is unnecessary. Right and wrong are relative and subject to redefinition with the rise of subsequent generations. But cause and effect are immutable.
So child rape can be ok?
We in the West aren't even able to curb our own atrocities against ourselves and others
As you can see from the links I provided above, there are obvious material connections to non-material phenomena. A person - let's say a meditator - is practicing the scientific method when testing the effectiveness of meditation and the Noble Eightfold Path. Their conclusions are based on their own experience, and can be duplicated by others. As a matter of fact, Buddhism necessitates the scientific method, or else the entire practice falls apart. This shows that science is not simply relegated to pure materialism.
There is nothing "obvious" about it and if it were obvious I would treat it as suspect and withhold judgement until an investigation has been made. It was pretty obvious that the world is flat, until it was investigated and found otherwise
Buddhists dont practice a complete form of science because they cant share data with others to examine or publish results, which is an important part of science as it helps eliminate biases. Also Buddhism doesnt = supernatural, so there is no problem with Buddhism and materialism (except perhaps the effect that view might have on Dhamma practice)
But what about theoretical sciences? Are practitioners of these fields not scientists because they don't actually see what the theories say should exist? There are widespread discussions of the Higgs boson, string theory, and the existence of consciousness. As a matter of fact, some of the world's largest scientific instruments have been to find evidence of many of these phenomena.
There is scientific, material evidence for them in regards to the effect they have even if they arent seen themselves. Also mathematics is involved. Theoretical doesnt mean a kind of guess.
This is true, but it has nothing to do with my argument. I'm arguing against the validity of members of one culture imposing their beliefs on members of another. Further along, I stressed the function of such beliefs, and how they cannot be easily divorced from cultural and ethnic traditions.
Sure they can. I am a culture christian without having faith in Jesus
To criticize faith alone is to entirely miss the reasons for such beliefs.
Well as I said the reason for the belief is either fear, indoctrination, tradition or faulty logic in which case its better then recieve criticism in order to face their fear etc and can overcome it