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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Batshit Buddhists

Posted by on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Fundamentalist Christians aren't the only religious crazies in this country.

 

Comments (87) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
The monk who ran the retreat, Michael Roach, had previously run a diamond business worth tens of millions of dollars and was now promoting Buddhist principles as a path to financial prosperity, raising eyebrows from more traditional Buddhists.


I'll bet. This group sounds no more Buddhist than the Branch Davidians were real Christians. Equating them with fundamentalists (who are real Christians) is unsound.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Knat 2
At least their kookiness only harmed themselves.
Posted by Knat on June 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Posted by theseamster on June 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
5
Since there's no objective way to determine who the "real" Buddhists or Christians are, we can only take people at their word. That doesn't matter. The toxic meme in common is the notion that it's a virtue to to believe people's claims regardless of evidence or reason, that it's morally or "spiritually" superior to let another person do one's own thinking.
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
6
Isn't it just an amazing story? The other great story for me in this morning's NYT is the magnificent Sunday Magazine preview "Prep-School Predators: The Horace Mann School’s Secret History of Sexual Abuse", written by an alumnus. Fantastic work: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazi…
Posted by gloomy gus on June 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM · Report this
TheLando 7
@4 and in general: in Christopher Hitchens' book God is not Great there is a chapter called "There is no Eastern Solution," which gives a pretty great overview of fundamentalism in Eastern religions.

As a rule of thumb, religions are a bunch of made up crap, and there's no reason to expect that made up crap from a part of the world that you don't come from would be any better than the made up crap from the part of the world that you do come from.
Posted by TheLando on June 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 8
1, I'm sure if you asked the these Buddhists or Branch Davidians, they'd say that they are the real thing, and others are not. And no magical being is going to show up to sort it out.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 9
Buddhism, yoga, and three year long meditation retreats?

TrendyHipsters.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on June 6, 2012 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 10
If only Amurka's problems were a majority of Buddhists run amok, encouraging everyone to meditate and walk the Middle Path.

Instead of 92% of Republicans and 77% of Democrats insisting they've NEVER doubted the existence of the monotheistic Abrahamic Diety.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 6, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 11
@ 8, just because someone says they're something, it doesn't make it so. Mormons call themselves Christians, even though their theology diverges significantly from what every other Christian denomination agrees upon, kust as Christianity diverges from what every Jewish denomination agrees is Judaism.

Dan is specifically likening a fringe group that isn't accepted as truly Buddhist by Buddhists to a mainstream umbrella group of different accepted Christian denominations. That's a failure. He should liken this group to other fringe and outcast cults because that's what it is. The only people to whom it's all the same are antitheists, and antitheists are basically their own religious fringe.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
very bad homo 12
It's Arizona. That explains so much,
Posted by very bad homo on June 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 13
Yeah, I really only care when they want to take over school boards and have bullshit taught in public schools. If people want to be batshit privately, for whatever reason (extreme sports, jackass stunts, religion), it's fine. Sometimes adults get hurt doing kooky things, but if it was completely safe and conventional, they wouldn't have wanted to try it in the first place.

And being batshit should not be tax free.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on June 6, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 14


11, These Buddhists, Branch Davidians, and Mormons believe with all their heart that they follow the one true faith, (Branch Davidians and Mormons each believe they are the only true Christians) and that everyone else is wrong.

But you know they are wrong, because you have the actual one true faith, right?

Which group really get's God's approval?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
15
Why does Dan emphasize FUNDAMENTALIST Christians?

Isn't that a bit redundant?

What exactly is moderate and reasonable about believing in magic jew with superpowers, resurrection, virgin-birth, redemption through blood sacrifice, psycho sky-monster who creates infinite torture for the most irrelevant things imaginable, sin etc.etc.

How is that not batshit crazy just like scientology or any other ridiculous cult?

Dan, please use your common sense when you form sentences...
Posted by Mattyx on June 6, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
16
@11: so, the objective standard by which we determine the "real" Buddhists, Christians, and Scotsman is majority opinion?
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
17
grasping, grasping, grasping, and ego ego ego.

To be decried by the Dalai Lama's office for "unconventional behavior" is not a trivial thing to someone like Roach. He should have paid attention. Instead, grasping grasping grasping and ego ego ego.

It's not that unusual for monks to go on long retreats. But the desert? Kind of dumb.
Posted by LuisitaPhD on June 6, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 18
@11: The point is, there is no difference between any of these people, since everything they say is made up anyway. How can one group be the REAL group, when it is all just completely fabricated?

Is it just the group that is most socially accepted? The group that is the largest? Seems a weird way to decide god's will and the "one" truth.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Ophian 19
Thank you Matt from Denver @11

Buddhismis not about literalism, fundamentalism and denying evidence and rationality. These were not buddhists. They were children playing at a game of cult in the desert. [Roach] and Ms. McNally “come from strong Christian backgrounds,” they were not practitioners of buddhist philosophy.

And Rob in Baltimore @14

"But you know they are wrong, because you have the actual one true faith, right?"

Only the Abrahamics have the concept of "one true faith". Any buddhist who claims a unique hold on The Truth ain't a buddhists.
Posted by Ophian on June 6, 2012 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 20
@14, 18: Buddhist don't believe in a god. Buddha is not a god. It is an A-theistic religion.

This is an important distinction.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 6, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Posted by jedifarfy on June 6, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 22
@20: Irrelevant. They still hold that there are universal truths, and that they have the correct take on them. The fact that these beliefs do not include a deity is irrelevant.

Also, we are really just saying that claiming these people are not "real" buddhists is flawed because it is all fabricated "truth" anyway.

So asking who is in possession of the ONE TRUE LIE is a bit silly, because it is all invented within people's heads. There can be no objectivity, because it is completely subjective by nature.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 6, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 23
19, Because you can prove who is a real Buddhist and who is not? Why do you get to decide?

20, It's still an unprovable faith.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 24
@ 14, that disingenuous question is for someone who believes. I don't. I just understand that all the world's major religions have certain theologies with which every accepted denomination agrees upon, and that each have groups who use that name but actually stray too far to have a legitimate claim to those names.

@ 16, I'm not a comparative religions instructor. Take a class or read a book about it.

@ 18, go back to my post @ 11 and read that last sentence again.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 25
@ 23, atheism is also unprovable. Ever hear the saying "you can't prove a negative?"
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 26
24, If you ask the people who "stray", by your definition, "too far", they'd point out the scriptures that show that they "have a legitimate claim to those names", and that other groups do not. How can you prove that the scriptures they follow are the wrong ones?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 27
Who cares? At least they were minding their own business. If only all religious freaks behaved that way.

It's like when Dan gets bent out of shape when a child dies from religiously dictated refusal of medical care. Who gives a shit? If both the parents and the child refuse a blood transfusion or other life-saving care, that's their own personal business up until the point that they try to keep the rest of us from benefiting from modern medicine.
Posted by keshmeshi on June 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
29
Where all these things fail is in the longing for leadership in one's spiritual searching.

To some extent, we all do a bit of spiritual searching (although we may call it something else), so let's just chalk that up to the human condition. A need for clarity, a curiousity about our inner being, an introspective bent... Whether it's good or bad, it's hard to say. In moderation, it's probably healthy. In excess, or in complete absence, it's probably unhealthy, at least insofar as getting along with other people and not being a collossal asshole.

Where it all comes apart is when people seek out someone to do their work for them, to provide guidance, to give them "answers." While a good psychotherapist who helps you put things in perspective can be helpful, an egocentric religious leader who enlists you in support of an unquestionable dogma and/or dictates your lifestyle, can be extremely destructive.

So, seek if you must, but be sensible about whose "guidance" you accept. And, as with anything, if it sounds too good to be true, guess what?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on June 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 28
@ 26, it ain't MY definition, it's THE definition according to those groups. And since they're the ones with hundreds of millions, or billions who DO agree on these things, only the arrogant would continue to challenge them.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 30
25, People who claim to know with an absolute certainty that there is no god are just as arrogant as people who believe they have the one true faith. Most atheists don't do that though. I can't rule out the existence of pixies and fairies, but I also have no reason to believe in such magical beings either. I am apixieist, and afairyist
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 31
29, So having a huge number of people who believe in a particular faith equals proof that that is the correct faith? Anyone who challenges the masses are arrogant?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 11:49 AM · Report this
32
@30

That's a pretty dumb statement buddy.
We know exactly why and how humans created gods(try "Religion Explained" by a cognitive anthropologist or try "Why We Believe in Gods" by a psychiatrist).

We know exactly how the concept of god, incoherent as it is, evolved over time shrinking into oblivion as scientific method yielded more results. We also know for sure that souls don't exist(and therefore afterlife), anyone who payed even the slightest attention to neuroscience in the last 30 years would realize this.

And to then go on pretending all of that knowledge doesn't exist and saying that:

"People who claim to know with an absolute certainty that there is no god are just as arrogant as people who believe they have the one true faith. "

...is supremely idiotic, dishonest and ignorant.

Posted by Mattyx on June 6, 2012 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 33
32. I'll be waiting for you to present this incontrovertible evidence.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 34
@24: I read the sentence you asked me to again, and it is just as untrue and vapid as it was the first time. Why exactly did you think it had changed?

Any religious thought or practice has no root in reality. It is all fabricated by groups of people and cemented in place by tradition. As such, there is no objective way to say person A is a true buddhist, and person B is a fake Buddhist when it comes to the minutae of their practices. This is because what makes a true Buddhist has been invented completely, and is constantly changing because people constantly change.

When you make imaginary and subjective divisions over imaginary beliefs, it just becomes a "it is true because I say so" crapshoot.

Do you really think that all members of a religion practice it the same exact way, or that just because a million people believe something, it must be true? I would bet that if you have a religion, half the members of that faith would think you were not a "true" member. How many of them would have to believe that for it to become true?

Furthermore, how many hairs on Santa's beard would you have to remove for it to cease being Santa's beard?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 6, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
35
It has already been presented in the following books by actual working scientists:

1.God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, V.Stenger(physicist)

3.God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, Stenger

3.Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith, A. Thompson(psychiatrist)

4.Religion Explained, P.Boyer(cognitive anthropologist)

5.The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, Loftus, Barker

6.The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, prof. MacDonald

7.The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life, R.Trivers

As for why souls don't exist:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD-Fvqjid…
Posted by Mattyx on June 6, 2012 at 12:08 PM · Report this
36
Yeah, some buddhists are whack-jobs, so what.

Generally, Western buddhism has a lot of room for a complete lack of 'faith'. A philosophy of 'practicing (thinking) kindness' is enough. This can be complicated or simple, depends how much you put into it.

It takes the fun out of the extremes of religions and religious survivor arguments when you remember the
great fat, mostly silent, middle ground and their astonishing range of what they really believe and really practice, though.

And, worse, it leads down the slippery slope that humans have this whole spectrum of 'faith' built into
their brains. None of those awe and thankful and valid feelings that we experience *has* to have anything to
do with the existence of, or the justification of a god, since people experience it in all cultures, walking in the woods, playing with microbes, etc. etc.
Posted by UrbanDuck on June 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 37
35, Those are books written by fallible people expressing their opinions on the subject. Just because you read something doesn't prove it's true. There are millions of books and opinions from people who claim they can prove the existence of God, and souls. I don't believe them either.

Some book you read doesn't equal indisputable fact. Still waiting for you to present some.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 38
Oh, and to add to my comment at 37: If an atheist group posts a video on You Tube, it has to be unbiased, absolute proof that God doesn't exist!
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
39
It's possible to be a weak atheist regarding gods in general, while a strong atheist regarding particular gods.
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 40
@ 31, you're being quite dense. I'm not making the case that ANYONE's faith is "true and correct." That has ZERO to do with my point.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Dougsf 41
Whether they called themselves Buddhists is irrelevant. What appears to have brought about its demise is what hastens the end all fringe collectives—somebody was fucking the wrong somebody.
Posted by Dougsf on June 6, 2012 at 12:28 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 42
Tibetan Buddhism actually supports the acqusiiton of wealth as a sign that what is commonly known as "good kharma", although it is much more complex. Tibet, prior to the Chinese invasion of the 1950's was a feudal theocracy in which all wealth eventually flowed to the heads of large monastic institutions. I first read about Michael Roach in a book about the diamond trade published several years ago. As described in that book he credits his success to fair dealing by using Buddhist principals. There was nothing seemingly sinister in that. It does sound as if he went off the rails somewhre along the line.

In the current case it is important to note that Buddhism as practiced in Tibet is far different from that religion as practiced in Thailand or Sri Lanka, for example. The latter two countries do not support belief in demons or spirits of any kind in official doctrine. They are about as different from Tibetan belief as Catholicism is from Unitarianism. In fact Buddhism at root, is better characterized as a philosophy than a religion because there are no gods or deities. The Tibetans grafted Buddhist teachings nto an existing animist religion. they, like the Mongolians, believe in "living buddhas" of which the present Dalai Lama is the re-incarnation of but one. Therevada Buddhism recognizes the Gautama Buddha as a seeker after truth who attained enlightenment and release from existence. He is no longer even present to be worshipped. More properly, his memory and philosophy are to be revered.
Posted by thatsnotright on June 6, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 43
40, You said it in the your first post

This group sounds no more Buddhist than the Branch Davidians were real Christians. Equating them with fundamentalists (who are real Christians) is unsound.


So you can say who is Buddhist, and who is not, and who is a real Christian, and who is not. Please back up your opinions that fundamentalists are real Christians, and that Branch Davidians are not.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Report this
sissoucat 44
@1

"Equating them with fundamentalists (who are real Christians) is unsound."

This is irony right ? Because the one thing the fundamentalists are not is Christians. The only book they go by is the Old Testament, not the New one.
Posted by sissoucat on June 6, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Ernie1 45
@25 atheism isn't a religion, and there's nothing to prove.

Atheists don't need/care to "prove" that god(s) don't exist because we don't believe in the very concept.

It is entertaining to watch the religulous debate the various rules and doctrines that they would like to use to control other people. The one theme that is common to ALL the worlds religions, as illustrated by the cult leader in the story, is controlling the behavior of others.

Posted by Ernie1 on June 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this
46
Matt @28: "it ain't MY definition, it's THE definition according to those groups. And since they're the ones with hundreds of millions, or billions who DO agree on these things, only the arrogant would continue to challenge them. "

So ... gays don't get to call their unions 'marriages' if millions of straight people agree that only straight unions are 'marriages?' Or people get to use language to self-identify the way they please?

If I say I'm a Buddhist, and my circle of friends agree that 'Buddhist' is the correct term to describe our group, then we're Buddhists. Other people are also welcome to use the term 'Buddhist' for their club, even if our clubs have totally different goals and ideals.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 47
35 and besides, intellectual knowing is a different form from other kinds of knowing. Science is about what can be tested & proven, but it is not everything that can be known. This is a very difficult concept for anyone in the western world, religious or atheist, because we're really only interested in the things that can be proven. I find it equally absurd that a Christian will invoke the Bible as "proof" alongside the atheist who feels that everything that is true can be proven to be true.

Be that as it may, I find Dan's equating these folks in the desert to the Fundamentalist Christians (yes, Mattyx, there are other sorts of Christians. Just because you haven't experienced them doesn't mean they don't exist. Which is certainly a relevant point to my previous paragraph.) is just intellectual laziness. They did not feel that their definition of truth should be imposed upon the rest of the world. Even if you liken the cult leader to, say, Tony Perkins, there is the valid issue of scale. Influencing a small group on a personal level is nowhere near influencing hundreds of millions through the government & media.

And Dan, let's be honest here. If you had a choice between the Mormon, Evangelical & Catholic leadership in the halls of Congress, the White House, and every news channel... and having them all going out to the desert to not talk for three years, what would YOU choose?

I thought so.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on June 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM · Report this
bhowie 48
Some of you have it right; Buddhism is not a 'faith.' It is a philosophy and way of living, created not to please some kind of god but through scientific inquiry. That's right, actual Buddhism is science. And contemporary neuroscience backs up much of what the Buddha talked about.
This thing that Roach is doing...I have no idea what the fuck it is, but it ain't what the Buddha taught.
Not that people don't have a right to teach and do what they want, as long as it does no harm, but it's NOT Buddhism.
Posted by bhowie on June 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 49
Yes I can, Rob, because I've studied their theologies way back when, and know what defines the major religions. I know what Zen Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, Nichiren Buddhists, Theravada Buddhists, and others have in common, none of which has anything to do with a kind of new age gospel of prosperity that this guy is peddling. Similarly, what all accepted Christians believe (that Christ will come again, and it will be obvious and clear to EVERYONE when he does) is not what the Branch Davidians believed (that David Koresh was Christ, but for some reason it was a lot like it was in Judea 2000 years ago again).

None of this has a damn thing to do with whether any of it is true or not. The definitions are by consensus, and are not undermined by a few people who made up their own shit. If those groups flourish, then they become a new religion. That's why Buddhism is distinct from Hinduism, and Christianity and Islam are distinct from Judaism and each other.

@ mattyx, Rob IS correct in stating that the non-existence of God is something that is NOT proven. There are very excellent reasons for believing there is no god, but it's all philosophy, not science.

@ 45, I'm not religious. I just know what makes a Christian a Christian.

@ 46, "So ... gays don't get to call their unions 'marriages' if millions of straight people agree that only straight unions are 'marriages?' Or people get to use language to self-identify the way they please? " Um, yeah dude. Marriage is LEGALLY defined, so it's even more so than these religious groups. You can call yourself Buddhist, married, or a polar bear and probably find someone who will agree with you. Go right ahead, but if it doesn't fit the accepted definitions it will remain untrue.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM · Report this
50
Matt@24: I'm sure if I took a decent comparative religions class, the instructor would be familiar with the No True Scotsman fallacy.
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 51
49, and these Buddhists would claim to have better knowledge about their own beliefs than you, and say that you are wrong. Same with the Branch Davidians. They could pull up scripture to show that they are the real Christians and others are not.

Are Unitarians real Christians? How about Catholics? I've heard people say that neither are true Christians. Are either of these groups real Christians? Why or why not? Maybe it would be easier if you'd give a list of religious groups that are the real deal, and a list of who is fake? They all seem to know that they are real. Why does your knowledge supersede theirs?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on June 6, 2012 at 1:07 PM · Report this
52
@49: "Marriage is LEGALLY defined"

The legal definition of "marriage" is one definition, certainly. But try telling my husband that we're not married just because the law says we're not. Jackass.

"if it doesn't fit the accepted definitions it will remain untrue."

Seriously, there's no need for you to keep digging yourself into a hole. Language expresses thought, often for the purpose of effective communication between two or more people, sometimes just for one person communicating with herself. As long as one person thinks a word means a thing, it is true that the word means that thing.

Furthermore, homonyms exist. A 'fluke' can be a kind of fish or a kind of worm. These people *are* 'Buddhists,' even if they're not a lot like some other groups of people who are also referred to as 'Buddhists.'
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM · Report this
53
Similarly, it is true that you can be a 'woman' and have a penis, even if millions or billions of people think otherwise.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
bhowie 54
@52: Well there has to be some kind of line. If you don't practice what the Buddha taught, how can you be a Buddhist?

The same goes for many, many Christians, am I right?
Posted by bhowie on June 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
bhowie 55
@53: I disagree. Gender is COMPLETELY different from practicing a philosophy.
Posted by bhowie on June 6, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
56
"If you don't practice what the Buddha taught, how can you be a Buddhist?"

I guess Rob's point is that THEY THINK THEY DO practice what the Buddha taught, and Matt from Denver's opinion on Buddhist scripture is no more authoritative than theirs or the Dalai Lama's, or a Zen monk's, or anyone else's.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
57
"Gender is COMPLETELY different from practicing a philosophy. "

'Similar' doesn't mean 'same.' The linguistic point ("who gets to define words?") is similar.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
58
@47: Why would I believe something that cannot be proven?

I hold beliefs that provide predictive capability. Beliefs that provide predictive capability allow me to predict the future and plan accordingly. If I believe that if I fall down the stairs, I will likely be injured, I will hold on to the bannister to prevent a fall. If I believe that cats have souls, but dogs don't, that doesn't provide any new information to guide my actions.

Any belief that asserts predictive capability can be tested. Simply wait to see if its prediction comes to pass. Any useful, meaningful belief is provable. Contrapositively, any belief that cannot be tested or proven is useless.
Posted by Ben on June 6, 2012 at 2:10 PM · Report this
bhowie 59
"Don't blindly believe what I say. Don't believe me because others convince you of my words. Don't believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don't rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don't infer or be deceived by appearances.

Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion.

Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good."

- The Buddha
Posted by bhowie on June 6, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
Fortunate 60
All this arguing about who is or isn't a true Christian, Buddhist, whatever...

As far as I can see all religions are cults, and no matter what decorations and dresses they put on it they are all equally odd and kind of crazy.

Arguing about if Branch Dividians are really Christians or this Buddhist group are real Buddhists is like arguing if Romulans are really a different race from Vulcans, or are Romulans just Vulcans with anger issues?

It's all just made up shit. People can call themselves what they want, it doesn't change that.

The only difference between one religious group and another is that some are more dangerous than others, and that is the only thing about their group identifications that should really matter to anyone on the outside.
Posted by Fortunate on June 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
HellboundAlleee 61
Aaaaaand the "No True Scotsman" fallacy pokes its ugly head up right in the first comment.
Posted by HellboundAlleee http://hellboundalleee.blogspot.com on June 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 62
@ 50 and 61, I don't think either of you know what the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is, if you think it's appeared here.

@ BABH, did you enter into a legal wedding agreement somewhere where it is legal, or participate in a religious wedding ceremony? If so, you are married. If you and your significant other just woke up one day and said, "Hey, we're married now because we decided we are," then you are not. (Pardon me for temporarily forgetting the religious validity of marriage.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
63
Good luck with that, bhowie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQqq3e03E…

Not to mention the fact that your quote comes from scripture compiled and passed down by the sorts of people that the quote itself warns against. "Think for yourself - as long as you think the way I do!"

[Notice that Buddhist states are just as prone to mass murder and oppression as Christian or Hindu states.]
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 64
@ 51, it cuts both ways. Just because some claim to be TRUE Christians and arbitrarily decide others are not, doesn't make it true.

To be a Christian, one has to believe at least this much: That God (of Abraham) created the world; that Jesus was his son, who died for our sins; and that he will come again to judge everyone. They believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost, which is why some think that the Unitarians don't fit. (I'm not too familiar with their theology, though, so I'm not qualified to speak to it.) Christians also believe in a Heaven and Hell, that Satan was cast out of Heaven before creation, and that he's going to try to battle God again one day and lose. Mormons, IIRC, believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers, that there isn't really a Hell, and some other strange stuff about the afterlife that no other Christian group believes. They're pretty adamant that they ARE Christians, but the theological divide, on this and other points, is more akin to the one between Christianity and Islam than between Catholicism and Baptism for example.

The Branch Davidians could claim anything they want. So can the group that prompted this whole discussion. But it doesn't make it so. You can claim that it does, but it doesn't. I'm through with this point because your assertion has been addressed and your refusal to concede it doesn't make you right and me wrong.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM · Report this
65
@62: Prescriptivist nonsense. Exactly how large do you think a group of language-users has to be before you are willing to recognize the validity of its semantics? Are 10 co-religionists enough to redefine 'marriage' (or 'Buddhism')? 10 thousand? 10 million?

The fact is that 2 people - or even just 1 - are enough.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 66
@ 65, definitions have to be agreed upon, or else they're meaningless. Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 67
@58 You misunderstand. There is more to the world than just what can be proven. For example, let's test the hypothesis that the film The Godfather is a better work of art than DuChamp's Nude Descending a Staircase. Prove this.

Well, it can't be proven, because every judgment would be subjective. Also, the idea that one is better holds no practical application. Enjoying one for its merits does not preclude enjoying the other. Nor does the non-enjoyment of one accentuate the enjoyment of the other. So your final sentence to me is useless. I'm not interested in only looking at the parts of life that can be proven, because it's incredibly boring. It's the life of a machine. Yes, intellectual reasoning is a very powerful tool. But it doesn't address everything.

Which is my main point. There are ways of knowing that intellectual reasoning has no value in addressing, and vice-versa.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on June 6, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
68
"To be a Christian, one has to believe at least this much: That God (of Abraham) created the world; that Jesus was his son, who died for our sins; and that he will come again to judge everyone."

Who died and made you Universal Pope of all Christians everywhere? Plenty of legit, everyday-use-of-the-word Christians don't believe that God created the world. The whole *point* of the modern era following the Protestant reformation is that individuals get to decide for themselves what they believe, without authorities like the Inquisition or Matt from Denver coming along to tell them whether or not they are True Christians.

Look, if you want to set some parameters for academic discourse about Christianity, that's fine. You want to be able to have a meaningful conversation about whether a certain doctrine counts as a "Christian" doctrine. Within that context, you can come up with a definition of 'Christianity' under which Mormons aren't 'Christians,' and that's fine *for the purposes of that discussion*.

But when a Mormon says, in all sincerity: "I am a Christian," that's just true - whether the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees or not - by virtue of the fact that they are not lying.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 3:12 PM · Report this
69
Definitions have to be agreed upon, and I've decided this word can only mean this one thing and I'm right because lots of people agree with me. Way to double down!
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 70
@63 You're very correct in your last sentence. The one difference is that Hindu & Buddhist cultures rarely, if ever, invoke the name of their divinity, or use them as an excuse, when engaging in the mass murder & oppression, which has been an almost constant throughout Christian history.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on June 6, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 71
@ 68, you're kind of getting it - I am speaking from an academic standpoint, because that's the only one that makes sense. A person's sincere belief in something isn't enough to make it true.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 72
@ 69, if massive agreement on what a term means isn't enough to make that definition valid, what is?
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
73
"definitions have to be agreed upon, or else they're meaningless"

Sure. But they only have to be agreed upon by the people using them. Your opinion doesn't matter.

Consider: two people are talking to each other, and understand each other perfectly. A third person comes along and says "Stop! 'Buddhist' REALLY means x, but you're using it to mean y!"

The two are perfectly justified in replying: "Fuck off. We'll use the word however we want to, and we want it to mean y, so we use it to mean y."

People who speak French, for example, may be unimpressed if you tell them that they've got it all wrong, and that they should be speaking English.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 74
@ 73, if that's true, then you shouldn't be arguing with me because anything I say is valid because I just happen to think that way.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
75
"if massive agreement on what a term means isn't enough to make that definition valid, what is?"

Last attempt.
The phrase: 'Purple onions ate Tuesday on potato' is meaningful even if only 2 people in the universe understand it. I agree that it is also meaningful if 2 billion people understand it, but that's beside the point.

2 billion Catholics can say "Ours is the only true Christianity." And that's true, for them, based on their mutual "massive agreement" about the word 'Christianity.' But if 2 Protestants show up and say "we are Christians," then that's also true, for them, because they are using the word 'Christian' in a different way.

Notice that you can exchange the words "Catholics" and "Protestants" in the previous paragraph, and it's still true. Raw numbers don't give anyone the right to impose their definitions on others.

"you shouldn't be arguing with me because anything I say is valid because I just happen to think that way."

No. Assuming we are both arguing in standard English, we have a frame of reference within which I am right, and you are wrong.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
76
@64 Ahem. Our Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Meeting doesn't accept that dogma. In fact, we don't accept any dogma. See more at: http://www.nyym.org/quakerism/fnp/faith_…
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on June 6, 2012 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 77
@ 75, keep telling yourself that.

@ 76, good for you.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
78
Scientologists claim to base their beliefs in science. If I evaluate some of their specific claims and find them to be lacking in evidence (the efficacy of "e-meters," for instance) or even demonstrably false, that does not A.Give me license to dismiss as false every claim made by everyone professing to be a Scientologist in every instance (if a Scientologist claims that the sky is blue, the sky does not become orange) or B.Permit any broader generalizations about the general validity of science (reasoning that their professed adherence to science is what led them to reach incorrect conclusions, therefore science itself must be the culprit.)

Specific claims to truth must be taken on a case-by-case basis. And the existence of unpleasant or unstable individuals associated with a particular belief system does not by itself render every tenet of that belief system false (although if the belief system presents itself as a surefire cure for mental instability, the existence of unstable adherents might be taken as counter-evidence to that specific claim.)

Anybody can claim to believe in science, or "objective truth" (see Ayn Rand), just as anybody can claim to be Buddhist, or Christian, or True Scotsman, or Thetan, or whatever. If any one of these people says "it's raining," look out the window to confirm whether or not you need an umbrella.
Posted by Proteus on June 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
79
@77: I give up. Your entire argument is: "I took a class in college once on Buddhism, and I remember it differently from these folks in Arizona."

My argument is that not only do YOU not have the authority to define exclusively and forever what is and is not Buddhism, but NOBODY does. I win on at least one of those counts, probably both.
Posted by BABH on June 6, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
80
@72: It's been a long thread. You claimed there's an objective means of determining whether someone is a true Christian, Buddhist, or Scotsman. I rejected that claim. I asked whether majority opinion was the objective means; you told me to take a class. But every example you've given relies on majority opinion, which is certainly not objective. You're supporting a No True Scotsman fallacy with an ad populum fallacy, and choosing only definitions that support your position, which may be an equivocation fallacy.

Words like "Christian" and "Buddhist" have as many meanings as there are people who use them. If you want to define them within bounds of a particular discussion, you can do that, but you can't assume those definitions apply when used by others outside the immediate field of play. You seem like a nice fella and I wish you well, but you got this one wrong.
Posted by pox on June 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 81
@ 79, you win because you believe you win. Pardon me if I don't award you a blue ribbon.

@ 80, I'll beg your pardon for coming across like that. What I'm actually relying on is academic consensus as to what those terms mean. It's not the No True Scotsman fallacy in the least. And, as I said upthread, I'll stick with that as the best and most objective way to discuss the subject.

The problem here is that we've gotten really astray from why I made my remark @ 1 - Dan is comparing an objectively fringe group who, as the article reports, aren't part of any major movement within Buddhism, to a group that IS objectively a major movement within Christianity. I said he should compare the group to another objectively fringe group - one that, like these guys, have strayed beyond a reasonable definition of what it means to be part of these major religious groups.

In that, I can see where I am being confusing. The Taiping Tianguo movement in 19th Century China is probably best described as Christian, even though its leader made the major diversion from all the rest of Christianity when he claimed to be Jesus' younger brother. The Branch Davidians are probably best described as Christians, even though they made similar claims to David Koresh's divinity. Academically, these groups don't fit because of their theological differences which are as profound as the ones that separated Christianity and Islam from Judaism and one another. The main difference is that, as unstable cults, they didn't survive their leader's demise. Christianity did survive Jesus' death, and Islam survived Mohammad's. (The same thing could have happened to Mormonism if they hadn't had another charismatic leader who was able to assume the leadership and get everyone out to safety when Joseph Smith was lynched.)
More...
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM · Report this
82
@67: That is absolutely a provable belief that can yield predictive capability, you just have to parse what's actually being said. You're mistaking a statement of opinion for a statement of fact about the object of that opinion, rather than a statement of fact about the person holding that opinion.

If I believe Jurassic Park is the best movie ever made, I can predict that watching Jurassic Park will be enjoyable. If I believe noodling around in Perl will be more intellectually stimulating than reading Foucault, I can predict that the programming will feel more fulfilling, but the reading will be more relaxing. If I do those things and find my prediction was incorrect, I can revise my belief about my opinion.

If someone else tells me they love Miles Davis, I can predict other musicians they may like. If someone recommends I see the Transformers movie and Idiocracy, and I do so and don't enjoy them, I can predict how I'm likely to feel about other things they suggest.
Posted by Ben on June 6, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Elsewise 83
Useful as No True Scotsman is in analyzing arguments, it's gotta have some limitations. I mean, if you say, "I am a true Scotsman, but I have no Scottish ancestry and I've never been to Scotland," we might be justified in questioning your claim. I'm not saying these guys are that cut and dried, but pulling out the fallacy doesn't automatically shut down any argument about legitimate inclusion in a group.

In this case I'd say these guys are Buddhists in the sense that anyone can indeed call themselves that, they're fringe wacko Buddhists with massive doctrinal conflicts with every other branch of Buddhism, and some definite creepy cultish stuff going on.
Posted by Elsewise on June 6, 2012 at 6:27 PM · Report this
84
This just confirms my suspicions about yoga.
Posted by Sally Hemings' daughter on June 6, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
86
Diamond Mountain University:Buddhism::Westboro Baptist Church:Christianity.
Posted by woof on June 7, 2012 at 7:12 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 87
@83- If Scotland were an imaginary country, then you wouldn't be able to nail down what about your True Scotsman wasn't Scottish. Since religion is about affiliation with imaginary beings, you just can't say that someone who says their affiliated with a particular imaginary being isn't affiliated with them.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on June 8, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
88
@87: Some religions have nothing whatsoever to do with "affiliation with imaginary beings." Specifically, the religion under discussion here, Buddhism, does not demand belief in any deity.
Posted by Proteus on June 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 90
@88- I'm so fucking sick of Westerners pretending they know all about Buddhism because they know some Western Buddhists.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF BUDDHISTS ARE THEISTIC. They burn incense in front of statues of Buddha to earn points for better rebirth or to get favors in this lifetime. THAT'S BUDDHISM TO MOST OF IT'S ADHERENTS. Even your learned Theravadan monks earn their cash casting out evil spirits with their super-Buddha powers. Philosophical Buddhists are the rarest type, and perhaps the historical figure who's teaching we supposedly have handed down to us actually resembles a real person.

Perhaps. Or maybe Siddhartha is as real as Lao Tzu. Either way, it's basically about about affiliation with an imaginary (or largely imagined) being.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on June 9, 2012 at 5:17 PM · Report this

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