Monday, May 12, 2008

Does Buddhism get a free pass?

Hong-ryeon Am, part of Naksan Temple Complex

As an atheist, I am generally against religion but I would say I mostly condemn Christianity. I have stronger feelings about (and against) Islam but there are few Muslims around.

There are many Buddhists however.

In a recent blog post, Pharyngula's Paul Myers described listening to a Christian Radio Station discussing Atheism and one of the points brought up was Atheist's attacks on Christianity. Myers gave an appropriate response:

Aikman [on the radio] claims the atheists are bringing "pestilence", and claims that we only pick on Christians (what? What about Hitchens?) because Christians are so good and kind and generous and won't blow them up. We're already in stupid territory: the atheists criticize Christians because they are the dominant element in our culture.

Today, just naturally, I visited Naksan Temple and had a great time. We ate Bibim Rice and visited a few shrines where KwandongWife prayed (reason one for not attacking Buddhism - my wife is a small 'b' Buddhist).

I understand only the basics of Buddhism and approve of most of them. They don't exactly have a god (well, if you squint right). They believe in moderation, non-violence and the impermanence of things. So far I'm satisfied.

Buddhism has a thick outer shell of things I like, but it also has an small but integral core of, well, garbage. Reincarnation. You will be reborn and your actions in this life determine your starting point in the next life.

This might be a useful lie, encouraging good behaviour, but I wonder why I do not rail against it, as I have against the foolishness I have occasionally encountered from Christians?

Perhaps because most of the Buddhists I have met have been quiet about their religion; completely willing to discuss their faith but unwilling to volunteer. They answer questions happily but do not evangelize. Well, the ones I have met.

I wonder, am I being hypocritical by not inspecting the claims of Buddhists more closely?

Um, Happy Buddha's Birthday?

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