RE: MD On Faith

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 16:12:08 GMT

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    > At 10:54 PM 10/31/2004 -0700, you wrote:
    > >But since I am not a theist, have no faith,
    > >take no part in religious ritual, why did you conclude that I am
    > Scott, I'm confused. The above does not sound honest. Or are you one of
    > those debaters who take a side for the challenge of it without personal
    > investment in either side of the debate.

    Suppose I said that Buddhism is bad because millions spend their
    hard-earned money on giving offers to priests, to spin prayer wheels, etc.,
    or because millions go around chanting "namu amida butsu" because they have
    been told that doing so will lead them to be reborn in the Pure Land. Or
    because many Zen monks use cribs to answer koans, and are basically serving
    time in a monastery before they graduate so they can go out and perform
    weddings and so forth (and get paid doing so). All of this is true (for the
    latter, see Janwillem van der Wetterings "An Empty Mirror" -- he is by no
    means anti-Zen, just noticed this activity when he spent time in a Japanese
    Zen monastery). Well, I would hope you would respond by saying that, yes,
    this is all true, but there is another, philosophical side to Buddhism,
    which is good.

    That is what I am trying to say about Christianity. In this culture we are
    much more aware of the bad side of it, since we are more exposed to it. We
    (most of us) grew up with the bad side ("Be good or God will punish you",
    and that sort of thing). So when we reached the age of beginning to reason
    (adolescence) many of us turned it all off. But there is a good side to it,
    and it is not hard to find it in your local library. Theologians are aware
    of all the criticisms that people such as you or Chuck or DMB have levelled
    at theism and faith, and have answers to them -- and are aware that many of
    those criticisms were not unjustified. Christianity is changing in response
    to some of them. In this respect, I much recommend Peter Berger's book that
    I quoted from: The Heretical Imperative.

    For all that, I am neither a Christian nor a Buddhist. In my view, an
    intellectual religion without faith or ritual is possible, and that is what
    I am exploring (mostly in ways tangential to the MOQ, so I haven't talked
    about them much, though I did get into it somewhat in the "A bit of
    reasoning" thread). I could be wrong on this, but who knows. Anyway, I have
    found great value in Christian thinking (as well as in other religions), so
    I am arguing that one shouldn't just close one's mind to it. Or if one does
    choose to close one's mind to it (there are, after all, only so many hours
    in a day), one should not then think one is justified in attacking it.

    - Scott

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