The Dawkins Dilemma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Dhammabodhi
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The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Dhammabodhi »

Hi all,

This post is a result of vicikicca. I recently came across Richard Dawkins whom I admire a lot for his enormous courage to speak up against superstition and religious dogma. The video is below:



I'd like to know what you think about the approach he advocates and how and why should we reject it to follow a Buddhist path? Is the peace one experiences through meditation just a 'security blanket' which is self-decieving? I know there is no straightforward answer to this but I'd appreciate your views.

Thank you for your answers,
:anjali:
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Ben
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Ben »

Hi Dhammabodi

The Buddha himself said that we should 'ehi passiko' (come see for ourselves). Investigate reality for ourselves. If it really was a security blanket, then we would discover that and abandon the path. THe fact is, the Buddhist path, when practiced, provides benefit now and in the future.
metta

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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by cooran »

Dhammabodhi wrote:Hi all,

This post is a result of vicikicca. I recently came across Richard Dawkins whom I admire a lot for his enormous courage to speak up against superstition and religious dogma. The video is below:



I'd like to know what you think about the approach he advocates and how and why should we reject it to follow a Buddhist path? Is the peace one experiences through meditation just a 'security blanket' which is self-decieving? I know there is no straightforward answer to this but I'd appreciate your views.

Thank you for your answers,
:anjali:
Dhammabodhi
Hello Dhammabodhi,

Many of us live in areas with such slow downloading that we are unable to watch this video.
Could you post a precis of the points he is making, and your thoughts on them, so we can all join in the discussion please?

metta
Chris
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Laurens »

The difference in Buddhism is that continuing beyond this life into another is not a comfort.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

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BlackBird
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by BlackBird »

Dawkins has some good ideas, but like you and me, actors, sports people, politicians, presidents, Nobel laureates and the vast majority of human beings, he's still deluded. He's still clinging to that self view, in his case, perhaps more tenaciously than some.

I think his actual knowledge of religion as a whole is woefully deficient. Like the majority of 'westerners' he tends to view religion as almost entirely concerned with one notion or other of God. I think rather than really doing his homework with an open mind, Dawkins has breezed over this part, lustful to purport his own theories. This is particularly evident with regards to Buddhism, which he quickly relegates as a ethical philosophy, not a religion, then moves on.

Sure he's got balls to stand up to some of the more negative aspects of religion, but since when did having courage alone become something to admire? Do we admire Hitler for his courage during those early years?

(i don't mean to draw the inference of comparison btw)

:anjali:
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Cittasanto »

fundamentalists don't look at the whole spectrum, and hate is hate, no matter what the justification is.
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by tiltbillings »

BlackBird wrote:. . . Do we admire Hitler for his courage during those early years?

(i don't mean to draw the inference of comparison btw)
But you just did.
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by BlackBird »

Yeah that's actually quite true Tilt :embarassed:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

Path Press - Ñāṇavīra Thera Dhamma Page - Ajahn Nyanamoli's Dhamma talks
Laurens
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Laurens »

The problem that I find with atheists is that they are increadibly hypocritical. They use extremely judgemental and often offensive terms to describe someone who claims to know that there is something beyond this life, yet they claim to know with some certainty that there is nothing beyond this life. Claiming to know for certain that there is nothing beyond this life is just as bad as claiming to know for certain that there is something beyond this life. The honest truth is; we don't know.

I really don't see much difference between atheists and religous people, they are both (for the most part) slaves to belief systems, the only difference being that an atheist's belief system is based upon science and "rationality". The other main similarity is their strong desire to preach their dogma to others and also their intolerance of people who disagree with them.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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retrofuturist
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
Chris wrote:Many of us live in areas with such slow downloading that we are unable to watch this video.
Could you post a precis of the points he is making, and your thoughts on them, so we can all join in the discussion please?
Agreed... that would be nice.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Tex
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Tex »

I read The God Delusion and liked a lot of what he had to say.

But Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett make most of same points and do a much better job, in my opinion.

Dawkins comes across as bitter and almost militant in his critiques (and he mentions that he was raised and educated in Christian schools, so maybe his bitterness is understandable), whereas Harris and Dennett come across as philosophers skillfully showing the flaws and dangers in theism, pulling no punches, but sounding less angry and more thoughtful in their critiques.
"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

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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by acinteyyo »

Chris wrote:Many of us live in areas with such slow downloading that we are unable to watch this video.
Could you post a precis of the points he is making, and your thoughts on them, so we can all join in the discussion please?
transcript of the talk
Last edited by acinteyyo on Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Dhammabodhi,
I'd like to know what you think about the approach he advocates and how and why should we reject it to follow a Buddhist path?
I don't see anything inherently incompatible between them.
Is the peace one experiences through meditation just a 'security blanket' which is self-decieving?
Not at all, quite the opposite in fact.

As a side note, I've heard that Dawkins doesn't classify Buddhism as a religion. This 'security blanket' is the belief in something unproveable just because it makes one feel more safe. This 'security blanket' does not exist in the Dhamma.

Metta,
Retro. :)

P.S. Thanks for the transcipt, acinteyyo!
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Tex
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Tex »

retrofuturist wrote:
As a side note, I've heard that Dawkins doesn't classify Buddhism as a religion.
Yes, Dawkins wrote in The God Delusion: "For my purposes, all three Abrahamic religions can be treated as indistinguishable. ... I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions at all but as ethical systems or philosophies of life." (pp 58,59)
Last edited by Tex on Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus
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Re: The Dawkins Dilemma

Post by Mawkish1983 »

Tex wrote:Dawkins specifically mentions that there is reason to view Buddhism apart from other religions.
How terribly nice of him.

Sorry. I find Dawkins to be... abrasive. Might have to do a bit of reflection on that...
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