Tom wrote:What distinguishes Buddhism is not its ethics, nor its meditation system, but its view. When Batchelor extracts truth from Buddhism, be it the four noble truths, or the two truths, etc. people are going to ask what is left that is distinctly Buddhist in secular Buddhism.
I agree. I think that secular Buddhism ought to be identified as a secular system of philosophy based on some Buddhist principles. I think they're making misleading statements about 'what is in the packet'.
The issue is that it goes too far in trying to 'redefine' Buddhism. Bachelor's last book, Confessions of A Buddhist Atheist, had a cover endorsement from the late Christopher Hitchens, despite the fact that he had earlier written that Buddhists ''put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals'. Of Bachelor's book, he said that 'ethical and scientific humanism' are 'our only real hope'.
The problem is that 'scientific humanism' is actually anti-humanist. Why? Because in the scientific analysis, persons are products of the blind material processes of evolution, or they are computers, in that all they do is process information.
In fact the idea of the person, and indeed the idea of human rights generally, owes far more to the West's Christian heritage than to science, per se.
Humanism, and even secular humanism, if you study the history, was rooted in the Italian Renaissance and such figures as Erasmus, Pico Della Mirandolla, and Ficino, all of whom were deeply spiritual men, well steeped in the Classics and in the spiritual heritage of Platonism. If Hitchens, et al, have their way, all of that will be consigned to the dustbin of history as 'religious superstition'.
They don't understand what it is that they don't understand.
I am actually of the view that the mainstream Western scientific tradition has a background in a spiritual view of life. Pythagoras and Plato, and people like Kepler and Newton and even Descartes, were all very spiritual thinkers. As were Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger (who wrote essays on Vedanta.)
I think what has happened is that this tradition has been hijacked
by the materialists. Read Bikkhu Bodhi's Response to the Contemporary Dilemmas of Human Existence
- very powerful analysis, in my view. This is why we have to call this out. There are powerful forces afoot.
He that knows it, knows it not.