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Is belief in God/s dangerous? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

Is belief in God/s dangerous?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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christopher:::
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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:24 pm

Last edited by christopher::: on Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:32 pm

Chris kindness and compassion, being conditioned, are as much samsaric as cruelty and hate. Its just that its much harder to see how the conditioned arises if under the influence of cruelty and hate. They are less skillful. Wisdom is something different.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:20 am

The posts in this thread from today are arguing about whether various atrocities are attributable to belief in god(s) vs. some other cause, which is not really on topic of whether belief in God/s is dangerous. What is the actual danger of belief in God?

In most all cases I can think of, God is believed to be eternal and unchanging, and either because of that or along with that, there is unquestioning acceptance of the idea of an eternal soul. According to Buddhism, a person can't escape suffering as long as they hold that delusion, so I would say Yes, belief in God is dangerous.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:49 am


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Dhammakid » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:18 am

I agree with Octathlon - from the Buddhist perspective, the danger in belief in an eternal, omnipotent creator god is that it is in direct contradiction to the three marks of anatta, annicca and dukkha.

But if I may speak outside of the Buddhist perspective: the danger of this type of belief can be in the fact that if one believes that this god has absolute power over the universe, and knows everything everyone does, then there isn't much room for free will, which makes any attempt to "change" as a person futile. Furthermore, if this god claims to justify the punishment of nonbelievers, then the person who believes in this god will find all manner of mental justifications to do harm to others in the name of this god.

In any case, there is a danger in believing that you are absolutely right in what you believe and everyone else is absolutely wrong. I know many "god-fearing Christians" who are quite tolerant of other beliefs and don't necessarily claim to be following the only true religion. However, I do believe that, based on experience and history, belief in the commonly worshipped Judeo-Christian god is dangerous because the texts attributed to this god is chock full of horrendous acts against humanity justified by religion. One can choose to ignore the bad parts of the texts, but then there is a sort of cognitive dissonance created, especially when pressed by others to give a good reason why they are still Christian even though they are rejecting a large portion of the "holy" text.

I think belief in a god predisposes one to fanaticism and intolerance because you're relying on an outside source as the definitive and final word on all aspects of life, instead of investigating for yourself these things to see if they are actually true or relevant to your everyday lived experience. This outside source can tell you anything and everything and you'll believe it because you've already convinced yourself that this outside source is the final word.

The last thing I'll say is that, in my experience, fundamentalist Christians believe that any wholesome action a "non-believer" does is incapable of producing the same so-called positive benefits of the Christian because it's not based in Christian behaviorism. So even if a person is the nicest, most caring, most giving, most compassionate person you can ever meet, they will still meet with a terrible afterlife simply because they don't believe in god. Monotheism predisposes one towards a monopoly on morality, which is often used as further justification for persecution of others.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby curiousgeorge » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:19 am


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Dhammakid » Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:06 pm

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:07 pm

I'm not sure how relevant this is to the OP but it does bounce off a few recent posts:

:(
Kim

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:50 pm


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:07 am

That article demonstrates the extent to which ignorance and hate can be taken. Really really pathetic on the part of that church.

That's the kind of predisposition of which I speak, something rarely found in the worldwide Buddhist community. As a matter of fact, some of the most adamant proponents of interfaith dialogue are Buddhists.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby curiousgeorge » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:01 pm

I have seen enough of this in the lay Buddhist community, for example, regarding the misplacement of Buddha images by Westerners often leads to contemptuous reactions. Other than the very common quick sneer, I've seen people get chewed out for minutes for not properly displaying a Buddha head in a display case.

Yes, theres more going on here than Buddhism - culture etc plays a pivotal role - but the same is true for the Koran burning church.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:34 pm

The greatest dangers for humans are the three poisons - desire, hatred and ignorance, also referred to as clinging/attachment, aversions and lack of wisdom. I really don't see how belief in God on its own is the problem. Belief in God in a way that supports the poisons is dangerous, just as not believing in God in a way that feeds the poisons is dangerous.

Buddhist practice can help rid one of the poisons but there is no certainty. Look at Japan prior to and during WW Two. Now, we can say that Japanese Buddhist citizens, leaders and soldiers during that time were not really practicing Buddhism, and in a sense this is true. I would say that also for any Christian who supports war or goes off to kill people. They aren't really practicing Christianity, as Jesus taught. They are not seeing their enemies as brothers, not practicing forgiveness, ignoring the JudeoChristian "precept" of "Thou shalt not kill."

These are the greatest dangers, the three poisons, in whatever form they take. But if you think that somehow not believing in God or being a Buddhist automatically rids you of the poisons and makes your actions purer, delusion has risen its head right there. Nonbelievers and atheists can be just as ignorant and hateful in their actions as believers...

An example, one of many...

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:06 pm


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:19 pm

In regards to wrong view I'm always skeptical of any translation of Buddha's teachings that uses the English word "evil"... Phrases and ideas like "the seed is evil" can propagate wrong view as well. Belief in God or gods is not evil. In fact Buddha talked highly of gods at times, and taught the 4 brahma viharas (Godlike qualities) as being helpful and wholesome for all people.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:35 pm


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:41 pm


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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:03 am

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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octathlon
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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:03 am

Even when the God belief doesn't lead to fanaticism and persecution of others, I see people go through a lot of personal suffering because of their expectations/faith in God (specifically Christian, see my location :)). When they follow all the rules and terrible things happen to them, they wonder if God is punishing them or why he's not listening to their prayers. And of course I include myself when I was young, in that group. You have to either start making up things like "God works in mysterious ways", or belief you're a failure, or else wake up and smell the coffee. It's kind of like kids in a dysfunctional family keep trying to please the abusive father. I'm serious, not being flippant or dismissive. It's a difficult way to go through life, I think.

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:17 am

You're right.

And where you live and what you have seen provides countless examples of this. I was born and raised on the East coast, grew up in a neighborhood where rather liberal minded Catholics, Protestants and Jews all interacted. My first encounter with a "fundamentalist" was Spissy Spacek's mom in the movie "Carrie"... lol... so that mindset seemed crazy immediately. I've met Catholics and Jews who have wrestled with guilt as you described, but also hedonistic nonbelievers who created a lot of suffering for themselves cause they would do whatever "feels good" without regard to consequences.

Those of us who have discovered Buddhism are quite fortunate, imo. I've also found though that my social interactions with nonBuddhists will often go quite well as long as i (and they) focus on the brahma viharas. As soon as we start discussing beliefs or criticizing each others religion, things frequently go downhill...

:tongue:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Is belief in God/s dangerous?

Postby octathlon » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:33 am

There are plenty of liberal-minded Catholics and Protestants around here but a high percentage of fundamentalists and "conservative Christians", and my jaw has dropped more than a few times at what I have heard people say with a straight face. Needless to say, I don't go around advertising my non-Christian status, and although I have some (non-Buddhist) friends who are very accepting, I'm grateful to have the internet and this forum for the opportunity to associate with fellow Buddhists. :clap: :woohoo: :toast:


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