Ikkyu wrote:it is in some sense immoral to believe something without evidence, as the philosopher William Alston I believe suggested. This is because if we posit the existence of bodhisattvas, rebirth, karma, etc. without sufficient evidence what we are invariably doing is halting the search for truth in the universe. We are not opening ourselves to all possibilities.
On the contrary, since science seems to have outlined all imaginable modes of existence that can be empirically evidenced, and to have reached a point of being mostly corporate-funded rather than neutral, any new 'discoveries' it makes will likely amount to no more than the fleshing out of its established paradigms. These, as I've said before, don't often seem to go far beyond the simple statement 'Physical energy, in some spooky way, is that which truly exists' in their analysis of what there is. In our time, examining matters beyond the scientifically proven (let's keep an agnostic attitude and not rush to 'posit') is to explore other ways in which things may be, given the wealth of evidence available to us beyond the concrete and empirically-established facts which (not coincidentally) religion in the west used to treat as its own province. So, to 'limit the search for truth in the universe' and to 'not open ourselves to all possibilities', as you put it (I prefer 'reality' to 'universe' since the term 'universe' may be and has been used to rule out such self-evident facts of life as consciousness), is the result of NOT positing or even examining possibilities beyond the scope of scientific paradigms.
Ikkyu wrote:if you can't be certain about something why believe it?
I don't really 'believe' I'll remember my current life in a future enlightenment, but life can be so dire -as well as beautiful in the same breath- that the possibility of such things overrules the little we have to lose from exploring them.
Ikkyu wrote:It's the same reason I'm happy to entertain a belief in flying spaghetti monsters, invisible pink unicorns, cannibalistic chocolate chip muffins from Saturn and the fact that it will rain televisions in Delaware on February 13th, 2087. I can't rule out these possibilities, so it's fair for me to believe them, right?
You can rule them out - They're absurd. A Bodhisattva, on the other hand, is just a particular kind of person - Hardly the same kind of thing. Do you rule out the existence, conversely, of beings who can't fully interpret the experience of their senses?
Ikkyu wrote:I'm not being sarcastic to be a jerk here, but to demonstrate my point. Do you understand what I'm getting at?
Yes, but you're writing as if you've 'a priori' refused to get a handle on the basic concepts involved. For example, your 'comedy beliefs' are usually used to argue against belief in a Personal God, because they fall into the category of arbitrary creatures/persons that a Personal God also falls into by definition. It would be difficult to knowingly interpret the whole of Buddhist teaching and practice as falling within that category.