Anders wrote: kirtu wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I think underlying this post is the hereditary attitude towards 'what religion means' which dies very hard in the West. There is an implicit idea that if it has anything to do with 'religion', then it must demand allegiance to 'beliefs that cannot be rationally proven'.
But that attitude is not actually a component, or at least not a core component, of religious belief even though religions will have statements that can't be proven rationally. What you are describing with this attitude is blind belief. Blind belief is a characteristic of immature people.
It's a core component of a lot of theistic, particularly monotheistic, religion, where faith is held up as a virtue and source of knowledge in and of itself and frequently put in opposition to empirical knowledge.
Faith is a virtue in theistic religions (faith is also a virtue in Buddhism). However it does not need to be blind, unreasoning faith. Blind, unreasoning faith devolves into blind obedience and legalistic observance. I have not personally met rabbis, pastors, priests or imams who would advocate blind faith and legalistic observance although I have met pastors whose minds are closed on particular issues (evolution and homosexuality for example).
The specific form of faith you are trying to skewer is revealed faith - knowledge or belief that comes from an outside source, usually a religious source and not necessarily configured for oneself empirically.
There also are and have been people who manipulated unreasoning faith for particular goals. But they were not able to manipulate all people. Many common Christians in Nazi Germany opposed racist and murderous aspects of the government, albeit too late to matter on a national level, because of their allegiance to loving one another as Jesus is set as an example to love all mankind. At the time this was decried as anti-human and anti-nature by the Nazi's as a form of blind, irrational faith in opposition to empirical knowledge because all animals and humans were overwhelming dominated by their blood (so genetics as understood at the time) and nature clearly creates a dominance hierarchy where the strong devour the weak (the fox and rabbit example).
The way Christianity talks about having one's faith tested shows a commitment to a faith that isn't just without proof, but is meant to endure in face of strong evidence or argument to the contrary.
So you have raised an important point about empirical knowledge. Empirical knowledge can be untrustworthy but secondly does not make moral statements and has little or nothing to say about morality itself. Please remember that many societies have proposed some empirical view to their own advantage (those people are inferior so we can wipe them out or enslave them, these people don't feel pain and they aren't really people so we can just kill them, those people are almost always thieves and liars and have this or that physical characteristic).
And the more capable one is of maintaining such faith, the more pious a believer you are.
Can be, but rather than using piety as some social advantage a mature believer will only be concerned with their own piety and observance in light of their theistic authority (so a form of inward oriented faith).
Which is why a lot of people struggle with the concept of belief in Buddhism and would rather it had none. But it takes a bit of exposure before it becomes apparent that belief in Buddhism is not a virtue in and of itself but rather a pragmatic means to end - the end in this case being actual empirical knowledge.
I think you are trying to make too strong an anti-faith case here. Faith in Buddhism is confidence in the teachings. The confidence can be derived from personal experience and from intuition. So faith in realization, for example, can be derived from a person having seen glimpses of the nature of mind via personal experience. It can also be derived strictly from faith in the sense of revealed faith from an outside source. In Buddhism we have faith followers, insight followers and actually a mixture of the two. And this comes from Shakyamuni directly, so a form of revealed knowledge.
Basically, it reflect the pragmatic role of belief in Buddhism: You don't have to believe this stuff, but take care not to be too rejecting either. The reason someone said this was probably that it is meant to be useful in some sort of context and maybe it could be of use to you to some day. And if not, no biggie.
This is of course a useful view but some people would find this view to be mixed with too much scepticism of the Buddhadharma and would view it as an inhibiting factor to realization.