Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Buddhism is not Atheism

 photo buddhism_zps211fbce0.jpg

I've seen atheists argue that Buddhists are atheist, that in general Buddhism can be counted as part of atheism. Some even go so far as to try and make it sound as though all eastern religion is part of atheism. I thin there are many reasons why atheists take this tact. Some may feel that anything that's not Christianity is supportive of atheism. I've long held that for some atheists atheism is nothing more than anti-Christianity. I think a large portion of atheism try to inflate their numbers becuase they cant' stand being in such a tiny fringe minority and they want to feel that their view are more represented. I've known for a long time that Buddhism is not atheistic. I final saw some atheists say these things too many times so I decided to just prove it. Here are a couple of the statements that drove me to action recently on CARM.

 Celtic Spice

Most Buddhists are atheists, and forgiveness and compassion are important principles in Buddhism. To see a Buddhist, atheist or otherwise, not practicing forgiveness and compassion would be a strange thing indeed to behold.


 Indeed. And I could be mistaken here but I believe the same is true for most Jainists, and non-violence and empathy towards all living beings is the fundamental tenet of Jainism.

That's a totally Western idea that's been nursed by the atheist propaganda.

While it is true that Buddhism rejects the idea of a power individual who created the world, that concept is analogous to the "big man in the sky." Rejecting that is not on a par with being atheists, it's on a par with what Tillich did. In fact Tillich himself studied Buddhism when he first really got deeply into it he said "this is what I've been saying about God." He saw the idea of eternal Buddha as equivalent to Being itself.

God in Buddhism

"Some variations of Buddhism express a philosophical belief in an eternal Buddha: a representation of omnipresent enlightenment and a symbol of the true nature of the universe. The primordial aspect that interconnects every part of the universe is the clear light of the eternal Buddha, where everything timelessly arises and dissolves.[22][23][24]" (for FN see below)

Eternal Buddha

"The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras."

my brother was a Buddhist. I studied Buddhism when I was an atheist. Not because I thought it was atheism. I was just searching, not to become religious but to know what's going on.

Atheists try to claim every non Christian as an atheist. This makes me think atheism is really nothing more than anti-Christianism. I know that's not true of atheists who grow up atheist but I think a klot of former fundies who have gone over are just in the Christian hater club. I think they are doing it because they really think of themselves as Superior kind of fundie.

I've even seen atheists claim that Hindus are atheist. Then their Deist who tires to say that there is no Christian religion, that all Chrsitians have such different ideas that they can't count as one faith. It that is proof that atheism is a brain wash cult.They can't understand the concept of diversity.

Here's a long quote from the original article that shows that (1) Buddhims is very diverse and just as "incoherent" and "mixed up" as these atheist think Christianity is. It also shows that Buddha's original teaching as reflected in the Pali canon (and we don't know who wrote it) did not reject the idea of a God.

Reflecting a common understanding of the Buddha's earliest teachings, Nyanaponika Thera asserts:

From a study of the discourses of the Buddha preserved in the Pali canon, it will be seen that the idea of a personal deity, a creator god conceived to be eternal and omnipotent, is incompatible with the Buddha's teachings. On the other hand, conceptions of an impersonal godhead of any description, such as world-soul, etc., are excluded by the Buddha's teachings on Anatta, non-self or unsubstantiality. ... In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected, along with other causes wrongly adduced to explain the origin of the world.[69]

In addition, nowhere in the Pali Canon are Buddhas ascribed powers of creation, salvation and judgement. In fact, Buddhism is critical of all theories on the origin of the universe[70] and holds the belief in creation as a fetter binding one to samsara. However, the Aggañña Sutta does contain a detailed account of the Buddha describing the origin of human life on earth. In this text, the Buddha provides an explanation of the caste system alternate to the one contained in the Vedas, and shows why one caste is not really any better than the other.[71] According to scholar Richard Gombrich, the sutta gives strong evidence that it was conceived entirely as a satire of pre-existing beliefs,[72] and he and scholar David Kalupahana have asserted that the primary intent of this text is to satirize and debunk the brahminical claims regarding the divine nature of the caste system, showing that it is nothing but a human convention.[73][74] Strictly speaking, the sutta is not a cosmogony, as in Buddhism, an absolute beginning is inconceivable. Since the earliest times Buddhists have, however, taken it seriously as an account of the origins of society and kingship.[72] Gombrich, however, finds it to be a parody of brahminical cosmogony as presented in the Rig Vedic "Hymn of Creation" (RV X, 129) and BAU 1, 2.[75] He states: "The Buddha never intended to propound a cosmogony. If we take a close look at the Aggañña Sutta, there are considerable incoherencies if it is taken seriously as an explanatory account - though once it is perceived to be a parody these inconsistencies are of no account." In particular, Gombrich finds that to view the Aggañña Sutta as a truthful account violates the basic Buddhist theory of how the law of karma operates, as Gombrich argues that beings cannot possibly be born in a realm (Streaming Radiance) higher than the Maha Brahma realm only to fall back to such a low realm of existence on Earth, and eventually succumb to sense craving as the first beings in a re-evolved human realm.[76] However, scholars Rupert Gethin and Brahmana Metteyya strongly disagree with Gombrich's complete dismissal as satire of the Aggañña Sutta.[77][78 
 Razib Khan

Evolutionist. Geneticist. Atheist. Reactionary.
(his self identification*)

Discover, Science for the Curious

"But there’s a bigger issue with this objection: most Asians who identify as Buddhist are themselves theists. This is also the case for American Buddhists. Some people have objected that theism in a Buddhist context is not equivalent to theism in a Hindu, and especially Abrahamic sense. There is no creator god obviously. That is fine, but I think it is important to point out that no matter the theological details of their beliefs, most Buddhists do seem to accept the existence of supernatural entities which we would term “gods.” I was aware of this personally because I’ve encountered several people of Chinese origin who tell me that they’re Buddhist, they believe in god, when I tell them I’m an atheist (usually in response to the question about whether I am Muslim)."


22 =
23 =
Dr. Guang Xing, The Concept of the Buddha, RoutledgeCurzon, London, 2005, p. 89
^ Hattori, Sho-on (2001). A Raft from the Other Shore : Honen and the Way of Pure Land Buddhism. Jodo Shu Press. pp. 25–27. ISBN 4-88363-329-2.

  1. John Paraskevopoulos, The Call of the Infinite: The Way of Shin Buddhism, California, 2009, p. 43
  2. ^ John Paraskevopoulos, The Call of the Infinite: The Way of Shin Buddhism, California, 2009, p. 81
  3. ^ Kannakatthala Sutta, (MN-90)
  4. ^ Pali Tripitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Samaññaphala Sutta
  5. ^ " bBuddhism and the God-idea" by Nyanaponika Thera[3]
  6. ^ Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1)
  7. ^ M. Walshe: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, p. 407: "On Knowledge of Beginnings", Somerville, MASS, 1995.
  8. ^ a b Richard Gombrich, How Buddhism began: the Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1996, page 82.
  9. ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, page 85: [4].
  10. ^ David J. Kalupahana, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā of Nāgārjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way. Reprint by Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991, page 61: [5]
  11. ^ Richard Gombrich, How Buddhism began: the Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1996, page 81.
  12. ^ Richard Gombrich, How Buddhism began: the Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1996, pages 82-83.
  13. ^ Brahmana, Metteyya. Book Review: What the Buddha Thought, by Richard Gombrich [6]
  14. ^ Gethin, Rupert. "Cosmology and meditation: from the Agganna Sutta to the Mahayana" in Williams, Paul. Buddhism, Vol. II. Routledge 2004. ISBN 0-415-33228-1 pgs 104, 126 [7]


JBsptfn said...

Buddhism isn't Atheism: That's funny.

Oh, those Atheists. They will do anything they can to make themselves look better than they are. It's really sad.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

yea really. I've seen them try to claim that Hinduism is atheism. Hinduism has more gods than you can shake a incense burner at.

Saint Aloysius College Galle said...

Buddhism has living Arhath(Enlightened One)
Does Atheism has Any?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

I think most atheist would not even accept the caqtegory.

Denicka said...

I got stuck trying to convince a condescending "athiest" that an after life was not consistent with athiest. He refused to give me one example of a philosopher who was athiest. So frustrating. If his case was Jung, then ok maybe, but refused to give anything other condescending remarks.

Anonymous said...