Ñāṇa wrote:You've read Batchelor. While he tries to be careful with his use of language, it's clear that assumptions of atheistic materialism underlies his Confessions and other related writings.
It's usually explicitly stated corresponding to the idea that "It's okay to be an atheist and a materialist and a Buddhist at the same time." Of course, this claim is a contradiction. If one is a materialist, then insofar as they consider themselves to be a Buddhist, they are a Buddhist who maintains a wrong view.
You are not saying, then, that a claim is being made that the Buddha was a materialist.
You are saying that the claim is that one can be a Buddhist and an atheist/materialist at the same time, and this is an unskillful false dhamma. And if we can define your atheist/materialist as not simply a non-believer, but as a disbeliever "only this is true, and all else is wrong", I would then agree that it is an unskillful view, but not as unskillful as believing in rebirth without solid evidence. The disbeliever is not creating evidence to fit a speculative theory, but is simply expecting that there is a lack of evidence because nothing exists to create evidence, and being honest about it. Every atheist I have ever met has agreed that if good evidence turns up, they will no longer be an atheist, which makes them not so much a die-hard non-believer, as someone who has weighed the evidence and found it lacking, and is open-minded enough to change. This means that when the evidence presents itself along the Buddhist path, they will no longer be an atheist, nor will they be a believer, they will be a knower.
I say again, that if you know personally that your understanding of the Buddha's teaching is both what he taught and what is true, then I cannot see why you would object to dedicated practitioners trying the path even if they are (as above) atheists. The truth will reveal itself, and these "atheists", being a generally open-minded lot, will then see it.
Ñāṇa wrote:Buddhist ethics entail engaging in actions that are more specific than just being a moral person. The actions motivated by Buddhist ethics include the laity acting in a reciprocal relationship with the monastic sangha. This includes generating merit (puñña) by giving monastics material requisites, and even participating in Uposatha days, and so on. This reciprocity between laity and monastics is essential for the continuity of the dhammavinaya.
You are concerned about the ability to keep up the monastic sangha. I am too, and I am not the only one. This is a topic under much discussion in the Secular Buddhist community. My understanding is that monastics are supposed to beg alms every day but in modern society this is no longer possible -- I understand it is against the law to do this here in the U.S. (though I haven't personally checked this). The way the sangha is organized needs to change to survive changes in society, that's sure. Our ability to keep passing on the dhammavinaya is a definite concern for all Buddhists, especially here in the West, where the old models aren't an easy fit with the existing culture.