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(24-Aug-2004 at 13:17)


A Buddhists view on christianity

http://www.saigon.com/~anson/ebud/beyond/beyond01.htm
Quote:
PREFACE

The purpose of this book is threefold. Firstly it aims to critically examine Christianity and thereby highlight the logical, philosophical and ethical problems in Christian dogma. In doing this I hope to be able to provide Buddhists with facts which they can use when Christians attempt to evangelize them. This book should make such encounters more fair, and hopefully also make it more likely that Buddhists will remain Buddhists. As it is, many Buddhists know little of their own religion and nothing about Christianity - which makes it difficult for them to answer the questions Christians ask or to rebut the claims they make.

The second aim of this book is to help any Christians who might read it to understand why some people are not, and never will be, Christians. Hopefully, this understanding will help them to develop an acceptance of and thereby genuine friendship with Buddhists, rather than relating to them only as potential converts. In order to do this, I have raised as many difficult questions as possible and not a few home truths. If it appears sometimes that I have been hard on Christianity, I hope this will not be interpreted as being motivated by malice. I was a Christian for many years and I still retain a fond regard, and even admiration, for some aspects of Christianity. For me, Jesus' teachings were an important step in my becoming a Buddhist and I think I am a better Buddhist as a result. However when Christians claim, as many do with such insistence, that their religion alone is true, then they must be prepared to answer doubts which others might express about their religion.

The third aim of this book is to awaken in Buddhists a deeper appreciation for their own religion. In some Asian countries Buddhism is thought of an out-of-date superstition while Christianity is seen as a religion which has all the answers. As these countries become more Westernized, Christianity with its "modern" image begins to look increasingly attractive. I think this book will amply demonstrate that Buddhism is able to ask questions of Christianity which it has great difficulties in answering, and at the same time to offer explanations to life's puzzles which make Christian explanations look rather puerile.

Some Buddhists may object to a book like this, believing that such a gentle and tolerant religion as Buddhism should refrain from criticizing other religions. This is certainly not what the Buddha himself taught. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta he said that his disciples should be able to "Teach the Dhamma, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear, and be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen." Subjecting a point of view to careful scrutiny and criticism has an important part to play in helping to winnow truth from falsehood, so that we can be in a better position to choose between "the two and sixty contending sects." Criticism of another religion only becomes inappropriate when it is based on a deliberate misrepresentation of that religion, or when it descends into an exercise in ridicule and name-calling. I hope I have avoided doing this.

I would like to thank Moses Chan and Paul Teo, two devout Christians and good friends, for the hours of stimulating discussions we had on some of the matters covered in this book. We agree to disagree but remain friends.

A.L. De Silva

Note: The original version of this book is available in WinWord and text formats at the BuddhaNet web site, http://www.buddhanet.net .
Copy of the book is also available at the web site of the Buddhist Society of Queensland, http://www.uq.net.au/slsoc/budsoc.html

[1. Contents][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

[Back to English Index]
chapter 2

Quote:
BuddhaSasana Home Page
English Section

Beyond Belief

A.L. De Silva

II

CRITIQUE OF CHRISTIAN ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE



Christians claim that there is an all-knowing, all-loving God who created and who controls the universe. Several arguments are used to prove this idea. We will examine each of these arguments and give the Buddhist objections to them.

The Authority of the Bible

When asked to prove God's existence, the Christian will often open the Bible and say "The Bible says God exists, so he must." The problem is that if we ask a Hindu, a Muslim, a Sikh or a Jew the same question they too will point to their respective holy books as proof of the existence of their Gods. Why should we believe the Bible but not the holy books of all the other religions? Using the Bible to prove God's existence is only valid if we already accept that it alone contains God's words. However, we have no evidence that this is so. In fact, as we will demonstrate later, there is strong evidence that the Bible is a highly unreliable document.

The Existence of the Universe

In their attempts to prove God's existence, Christians will sometimes say "The universe didn't just happen, someone must have made it and therefore there must be a creator God." There is a major flaw in this argument. When it starts to rain we do not ask "Who is making it rain?" because we know that rain is caused not by someone but by something - natural phenomena like heat, evaporation, precipitation, etc. When we see smooth stones in a river, we do not ask "Who polished those stones?" because we know that the smooth surface of the stones was caused not by someone but by something - natural causes like the abrasive action of water and sand.

All of these things have a cause (or causes) but this need not be a being. It is the same with the universe - it was not brought into being by a God but by natural phenomena like nuclear fission, gravity, inertia, etc. However, even if we believe that a divine being is needed to explain how the universe came into existence, what proof is there that it was the Christian God? Perhaps it was created by the Hindu God, the God of Islam or one of the gods worshipped by tribal religions. After all most religions, not only Christianity claim that their God or gods created the universe.

The Argument from Design

In response to the above refutation, the Christian will maintain that the universe does not merely exist but its existence shows perfect design. There is, a Christian might say, an order and balance which point to its having been designed by a higher intelligence, and that this higher intelligence is God. But as before, there are some problems with this argument.

Firstly, how does the Christian know that it was his God who is behind creation? Perhaps it was the gods of non-Christian religions who designed and created the universe.

Secondly, how does the Christian know that only one God designed everything? In fact, as the universe is so intricate and complex we could expect it to need the intelligence of several, perhaps dozens, of gods to design it. So if anything the argument from design proves that there are many gods, not one as Christians claim.

Next, we would have to ask, is the universe perfectly designed? We must ask this because if a perfect God designed and created the universe, then that universe should be perfect. Let us first look at inanimate phenomena to see whether they show perfect design. Rain gives us pure water to drink but sometimes it rains too much and people lose their lives, their homes and their means of livelihood in floods. At other times it doesn't rain at all and millions die in drought and famine. Is this perfect design? The mountains give us joy as we see them reaching up into the sky. But landslides and volcanic eruptions have for centuries caused havoc and death. Is this perfect design? The gentle breezes cool us but storms and tornadoes repeatedly cause death and destruction. Is this perfect design? These and other natural calamities prove that inanimate phenomena do not exhibit perfect design and therefore that they were not created by a perfect God.

Now let us look at animate phenomena to see whether they reveal perfect design. At a superficial glance, nature seems to be beautiful and harmonious; all creatures are provided for and each has its task to perform. However, as any biologist will confirm, nature is utterly ruthless. To live, each creature has to feed on other creatures and struggle to avoid being eaten by other creatures. In nature, there is no time for pity, love or mercy. If a loving God designed everything, why did such a cruel design result? The animal kingdom is not only imperfect in the ethical sense, it is also imperfect in that it often goes wrong. Every year millions of babies are born with physical or mental disabilities, or are stillborn or die soon after birth. Why would a perfect creator God design such terrible things?

So if there is design in the universe, much of it is faulty and cruel. This would seem to indicate that the universe was not created by a perfect all-loving God.

The First Cause Argument

Christians will sometimes say that everything has a cause, that there must be a first cause, and that God is the first cause. This old argument contains its own refutation, for if everything has a first cause then the first cause must also have a cause.

There is another problem with the first cause argument. Logically there is no good reason to assume that everything had a single first cause. Perhaps six, ten or three hundred causes occurring simultaneously caused everything.

Miracles

Christians claim that miracles are sometimes performed in God's name and that the fact that this happens proves that God exists. This is an appealing argument until it is looked at a little more closely.

While Christians are quick to claim that because of their prayers the blind could see, the deaf could hear and crooked limbs were straightened, they are very slow in producing evidence to back up their claims. In fact, some Christians are so anxious to prove that miracles have occurred at their prayer meetings that the truth often gets lost in a flood of wild claims, extravagant boasts, and sometimes even conscious lies.

It is true that things which are unusual and difficult to explain do sometimes happen during religious events - but not just for Christians. Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, etc. all claim that their God or gods sometimes perform miracles. Christianity certainly does not have a monopoly on miracles. So, if miracles performed in God's name prove the existence of the Christian God, then miracles performed in the name of numerous other gods must likewise prove that they too exist.

Christians may try to overcome this fact by claiming that, when miracles occur in other religions, they are done through the power of the Devil. Perhaps the best way to counter this claim is to quote the Bible. When Jesus healed the sick, his enemies accused him of doing this through the power of the Devil. He answered that healing the sick results in good and if the Devil went around doing good he would destroy himself (Mk 3:22-26). Therefore the same could be said for the miracles performed by Hindus, Jews or Sikhs. If these miracles result in good, how can they be the work of the Devil?

The Argument for God's Necessity

Christians will often claim that only by believing in God will people have the strength to deal with life's problems, and therefore that belief in God is necessary. This claim is apparently supported by numerous books written by Christians who have endured and overcome various crises through the power of God. Some of these books make highly inspiring reading, so the claim that one can cope with problems only with God's help sounds rather convincing - until we look a little more deeply.

If this claim is true, we would expect most of the non-Christian people of the world to lead lives of emotional distress, confusion and hopelessness while most Christians through their faith in God would be able to unfailingly deal with their problems and to never need to seek help from counsellors or psychiatrists. It is clear, however, that people from non-Christian religions and even those with no religion are just as capable of dealing with life's crises as Christians are - sometimes even better. It is also sometimes the case that people who are devout Christians lose their faith in God after being confronted with serious personal problems. Consequently, the claim that belief in God is necessary to cope with and overcome problems is baseless.

The "Try and Disprove" Argument

When Christians find they cannot prove God's existence with doubtful facts or logic, they may switch tactics and say "Perhaps it can't be proved that God exists, but neither can you disprove it". This of course is quite true. You cannot prove that God doesn't exist - but neither can you prove that the gods of Taoism, Hinduism and a dozen other religions do not exist. In other words, despite all the hyperbole, the extravagant claims and the confident proclamations, there is no more evidence for the existence of the Christian God than there is for the gods worshipped in other religions.

The Testimony

After everything else has failed, the Christian may finally try to convince us that God exists by appealing to the emotions. Such a person will say, perhaps quite truthfully, "I used to be unhappy and discontented but after giving myself to God I am happy and at peace with myself." Such testimonies can be deeply moving, but what do they prove? There are millions of people whose lives became equally happy and meaningful after they embraced Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam. Likewise, there are no doubt many people whose lives have not changed for the better after they became Christians - the same weaknesses and problems sometimes remain. So this argument, like all the others, does not prove the existence of the Christian God.

[1. Contents][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

[Back to English Index]

for other chapters you can read yourself thats a fairly good intro

i think this sums up the christian arguments quite well and im eager to see how christians can further thier views

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(24-Aug-2004 at 13:31)


Quote:
All of these things have a cause (or causes) but this need not be a being. It is the same with the universe - it was not brought into being by a God but by natural phenomena like nuclear fission, gravity, inertia, etc. However, even if we believe that a divine being is needed to explain how the universe came into existence, what proof is there that it was the Christian God? Perhaps it was created by the Hindu God, the God of Islam or one of the gods worshipped by tribal religions. After all most religions, not only Christianity claim that their God or gods created the universe.
what started this process???

Quote:
Firstly, how does the Christian know that it was his God who is behind creation? Perhaps it was the gods of non-Christian religions who designed and created the universe.
most educated christians accept that God represents himself to many, and that people misinterpret the message. we are imperfect.

Quote:
Secondly, how does the Christian know that only one God designed everything? In fact, as the universe is so intricate and complex we could expect it to need the intelligence of several, perhaps dozens, of gods to design it. So if anything the argument from design proves that there are many gods, not one as Christians claim.
from an economics point of view, where profit maximisation or greed is not involved, a monopoly is the most efficient producer. There would be no need for many Gods to exist, for they would surely band together as one.

Quote:
Next, we would have to ask, is the universe perfectly designed? We must ask this because if a perfect God designed and created the universe, then that universe should be perfect. Let us first look at inanimate phenomena to see whether they show perfect design. Rain gives us pure water to drink but sometimes it rains too much and people lose their lives, their homes and their means of livelihood in floods. At other times it doesn't rain at all and millions die in drought and famine. Is this perfect design? The mountains give us joy as we see them reaching up into the sky. But landslides and volcanic eruptions have for centuries caused havoc and death. Is this perfect design? The gentle breezes cool us but storms and tornadoes repeatedly cause death and destruction. Is this perfect design? These and other natural calamities prove that inanimate phenomena do not exhibit perfect design and therefore that they were not created by a perfect God.
/sigh. This world is not a permanent habitat. It wasn't created p[erfect. it has problems, because we need trials and tribulations. i cant explain this further because i dont have all the answers, but a place of effortless content would not lead to healthy souls with maturity, but would make immautrity and selfishness commonplace.

Quote:
Christians will sometimes say that everything has a cause, that there must be a first cause, and that God is the first cause. This old argument contains its own refutation, for if everything has a first cause then the first cause must also have a cause.
the concept of time is myuch more complex than we can dare to dream

Quote:
It is true that things which are unusual and difficult to explain do sometimes happen during religious events - but not just for Christians. Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, etc. all claim that their God or gods sometimes perform miracles. Christianity certainly does not have a monopoly on miracles. So, if miracles performed in God's name prove the existence of the Christian God, then miracles performed in the name of numerous other gods must likewise prove that they too exist.
see above argument for God being represented to many people differently.

Quote:
Christians will often claim that only by believing in God will people have the strength to deal with life's problems, and therefore that belief in God is necessary. This claim is apparently supported by numerous books written by Christians who have endured and overcome various crises through the power of God. Some of these books make highly inspiring reading, so the claim that one can cope with problems only with God's help sounds rather convincing - until we look a little more deeply.
this part is unadulterated crap and i dont know any christian who is like this.

Quote:
After everything else has failed, the Christian may finally try to convince us that God exists by appealing to the emotions. Such a person will say, perhaps quite truthfully, "I used to be unhappy and discontented but after giving myself to God I am happy and at peace with myself." Such testimonies can be deeply moving, but what do they prove? There are millions of people whose lives became equally happy and meaningful after they embraced Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam. Likewise, there are no doubt many people whose lives have not changed for the better after they became Christians - the same weaknesses and problems sometimes remain. So this argument, like all the others, does not prove the existence of the Christian God.
Someones trials and tribulations in which they've undergone and came out stronger at the end is the most powerful message you can give. if your speaking from your own experience and not from what youeve read in the bible you can convey God's awesome power so much better. Yeah people still struggle aftetr they find God. Big whoop. GOd never said he would make it easy, instead he warned the Jews they would be themmost perseucted people ever.

these arguments summed up nothing Skraz, and is a very shallow outlook on God. i would have expected better.

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(24-Aug-2004 at 20:41)


Quote:
what started this process???
The author already answered this point, with his "First Cause" section.

Quote:
most educated christians accept that God represents himself to many, and that people misinterpret the message. we are imperfect.
Intresting, so why wasn't Christianity prevalant in Asia?

Quote:
/sigh. This world is not a permanent habitat. It wasn't created p[erfect. it has problems, because we need trials and tribulations. i cant explain this further because i dont have all the answers, but a place of effortless content would not lead to healthy souls with maturity, but would make immautrity and selfishness commonplace.
<cough><cough> I could mention a few people who over the 200 years of Christianities dominance that have died being selfish and immature. Why were they given tougher tests in life than an average middle class family who have no money worries, but don't have enough to be indulgent.

Quote:
the concept of time is myuch more complex than we can dare to dream
A very christian answer. Why should we not dare to dream about the complexities of time? Would you have suggested that Galileo not have dreamed about building a telescope and proving the earth was not the centre of the universe?

Time is a complex notion, and only raises the hypothesis; what if the cause of the universe is the collapse of the universe? If time were to be looping like a paradox, then the cause of the universe existance is the universes existance.

Quote:
see above argument for God being represented to many people differently.
So your suggesting that Christainity is not the only religion?


Quote:
this part is unadulterated crap and i dont know any christian who is like this.
They are about?


Quote:
Someones trials and tribulations in which they've undergone and came out stronger at the end is the most powerful message you can give. if your speaking from your own experience and not from what youeve read in the bible you can convey God's awesome power so much better. Yeah people still struggle aftetr they find God. Big whoop. GOd never said he would make it easy, instead he warned the Jews they would be themmost perseucted people ever.
<Shrugs> the point is it shouldent be used as an argument to convert someone to a religion. I went through a tough period and I found God, yet I resisted the urge to follow a Holy book.

Quote:
these arguments summed up nothing Skraz, and is a very shallow outlook on God. i would have expected better.
So why was it you were only able to mouth arguments that do more to prove the authors point than argue it?

People, like snowflakes, are all slightly different, but we all follow the same patterns -Stewie
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

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(24-Aug-2004 at 22:31)


gus : youve only looked at simply the chapters ive posted when i said to read the whole thing for starters

for seconders your arguments actually help the author more than yourself.

i would have expected better, im not here to flame christianity with this, this board is full of christianity, im trying to give another point of view for once

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(25-Aug-2004 at 01:39)


Quote:
(Originally posted by Skraz)

gus : youve only looked at simply the chapters ive posted when i said to read the whole thing for starters

for seconders your arguments actually help the author more than yourself.

i would have expected better, im not here to flame christianity with this, this board is full of christianity, im trying to give another point of view for once
I don't think any of the arguements (Christian or refutes) are very good. And I really have a problem with things being to complex for us to understand so we should just accept the given answer.

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Quote:
Intresting, so why wasn't Christianity prevalant in Asia?
and also the america's australia and many other places... the only reasonable answer is that God has been represented by many things. Every civilisation has had Gods. Essentially the beliefs are extrememly similar.

Quote:
<cough><cough> I could mention a few people who over the 200 years of Christianities dominance that have died being selfish and immature. Why were they given tougher tests in life than an average middle class family who have no money worries, but don't have enough to be indulgent.
without judging fellow humans, lest thou be judged, were they true christians? a christian is someone who has no attachment to earthly items and follows God's will.

Quote:
So your suggesting that Christainity is not the only religion?
not by any stretch of the imagination. really, my personal beliefs are those that God is represented in every form of faith in God/s. But i know this isn't a shared perception, so we'll leave it at that.

Quote:
So why was it you were only able to mouth arguments that do more to prove the authors point than argue it?
well, i don't know anyone who has the hard facts and statistics... although i'd love to find out the exact things that have happened with perfect knowledge, but ill just have to trust in faith because i know im imperfect and ill never know everything, although i think debating and discussing God is a great thing we can do, so we can further our knowledge.

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(01-Sep-2004 at 20:27)
Quote:
(Originally posted by Gus Mackay)

and also the america's australia and many other places... the only reasonable answer is that God has been represented by many things. Every civilisation has had Gods. Essentially the beliefs are extrememly similar.



without judging fellow humans, lest thou be judged, were they true christians? a christian is someone who has no attachment to earthly items and follows God's will.



not by any stretch of the imagination. really, my personal beliefs are those that God is represented in every form of faith in God/s. But i know this isn't a shared perception, so we'll leave it at that.



well, i don't know anyone who has the hard facts and statistics... although i'd love to find out the exact things that have happened with perfect knowledge, but ill just have to trust in faith because i know im imperfect and ill never know everything, although i think debating and discussing God is a great thing we can do, so we can further our knowledge.
perhaps u are suggesting that the millions of christians around the world are fake?

perhaps they should all give up their worldly goods to me. i welcome their earthly goods.

n seriously i hope u read everything in the link skraz posted. n realize that most of it is quite true. no offence to christians. to have the right to believe in watever u want.

n ironically most christians pick up their explaniations or excuses from the bible. n when u point out mistakes. they say its not important.

seriously the HOLY BOOK itself has already been corrupted. it is but a book of man, which claims to speak god's words.

but perhaps u can enlighten me n explain
which man on earth has the right to change god's words, if indeed it was wat it claims to be?

i mean seriously different interpretions of words is fine. it happens to every holy book in every religion.

but seriously which other religion has their holy book edited n played around with?
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(01-Sep-2004 at 20:34)
III

WHY GOD CANNOT EXIST



We have seen that the arguments used to prove God's existence are inadequate. We will now demonstrate that logically an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful God such as the one in which Christians have faith cannot exist.

The Problem of Free Will

For the religious life to be meaningful we must have free will, we must be able to choose between good and evil. If we do not have free will we cannot be held responsible for what we do.

According to Christians, God is all-knowing - he knows all the past, all the present and all the future. If this is so, then God must know everything we do long before we do it. This means that our whole life must be predetermined and that we act not according to the free exercise of our wills but according to our predetermined natures. If we are predetermined to be good we will be good and if we are predetermined to be evil we will be evil. We will act not according to our will or choice but according to the way God has already foreseen we will act. Although Christians will insist that we do have free will, God's omniscience simply makes this logically impossible. And that people will act only as God determines is verified in the Bible (e.g. 2 Thess 2:11-12; Rom 9:19-21; Rom 9:18).

If people are evil it is because God has chosen to make them evil (Rom 1:24-28) and caused them to disobey him (Rom 11:32). If they do not understand God's message it is because he has made their minds dull (Rom 11:8) and caused them to be stubborn (Rom 9:18). God prevents the Gospel from being preached in certain areas (Act 16:6-7) and he fixes long before it will happen when a person will be born and when he or she will die (Act 17:26). Those who were going to be saved were chosen by God before the beginning of time (II Tim 1:9). If a person has faith and is thereby saved, their faith comes from God, not from any effort on their part (Eph 2:9-10). One may ask "If a person can only do what God predetermines them to do, how can God hold them responsible for their actions?" The Bible has an answer for this question.

But one of you will say to me: "If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? For who can resist God's will?" But who are you, my friend, to answer God back? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it: "Why did you make me like this?" After all, the man who makes the pot has the right to use the clay as he wishes, and to make two pots from one lump of clay, one for special occasions and one for ordinary use. And the same is true of what God has done (Rom 9:19-22).

So apparently in Christianity a person's life and destiny are due purely to the whim of God and as mere humans we have no right to complain about what God has decided for us. The idea that we are all predetermined is quite consistent with the idea of an all-knowing God but it makes nonsense of the concept of making an effort to do good or avoid evil.

The Problem of Evil

Perhaps the most potent argument against the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God is the undeniable fact that there is so much pain and suffering in the world. If there is really a God of love who has unlimited power, why doesn't he put an end to all evil? Christians try to answer this question in several ways.

Firstly, they will say that evil is caused by man not God and that if only man would follow God's commandments there would be no pain, evil or suffering. However, while it is true that evils such as war, rape, murder and exploitation can be blamed on humans, they can hardly be blamed for the millions who die each year in earthquakes, floods, epidemics and accidents, all of which are natural events. In fact, according to the Bible, the germs that cause hideous diseases like TB, polio, cholera, leprosy etc. and all the misery, deformity and suffering to which they give rise, were created by God before he created man (Gen. 1:11-12).

Another way Christians will try to explain away evil is to say that it is God's punishment for those who do not follow his commandments. However this implies that terrible things happen only to bad people, which is certainly not true. We often hear of painful sickness or disasters befalling good people including good Christians, and likewise we often hear of really bad people who seem to have nothing but good fortune and success. So it cannot be said that suffering and evil are God's way of punishing sinners.

Next, Christians will say that God allows evil to exist in the world because he wants to give us the freedom to choose good over evil and thereby earn salvation. Evil, they will say, exists to test us. At first this seems to be a good explanation. If a man sees someone being beaten up by a bully he has a choice between turning away (doing wrong) or deciding to help the victim (doing right). If he decides to help then he has been tested and found good. However, as we have seen before, an all-knowing God must already know what choices a person will make so what is the point of testing us? Also, even if suffering and evil exist in the world to test us, couldn't an all-loving God think of a less cruel and less painful way to do this? It seems unloving and unfair to allow pain to be inflicted on one person so that another person can have the opportunity to choose between good and evil.

Some Christians will try to free God from responsibility for evil by saying that it is not created by God but by the Devil. This may be true but again if God is so loving why doesn't he simply prevent the Devil from doing this? In any case, who created the Devil in the first place? Surely it was God.

By this stage the Christian will start to get a bit desperate, shifting the argument from logic to pragmatism. He will say that even though there is suffering in the world we can use it as an opportunity to develop courage and patience. This is undoubtedly true but it still does not explain why an all-loving God allows babies to die of cancer, innocent bystanders to be killed in accidents, and leprosy victims to suffer deformity and pain. In fact the existence of so much unnecessary pain, misery and evil in the world is very strong evidence that there is no all-loving all-powerful God.

Why Create?

Christians claim that God is perfect, that he is complete in every way, but if God really did create the universe this would prove that he was not perfect. Let us examine why.

Before God created the universe there was nothing - no sun, no earth, no people, no good or evil, no pain - nothing but God who was, according to Christians, perfect. So if God was perfect and nothing but perfection existed, what motivated God to create the universe and thus bring imperfection into being? Was it because he was bored and wanted something to do? Was it because he was lonely and wanted someone to pray to him?

Christians will say that God created everything because of his love of man, but this is impossible. God could not love humans before he created them any more than a woman could love her children before she had conceived them. God's need to create indicates that he was dissatisfied in some way and therefore not perfect. Christians might then say that God created spontaneously and without need or desire. However this would mean that the whole universe came into being without purpose or forethought and therefore it would mean that God was not a loving creator.

The Problem of the Hidden God

Christians claim that God wants us to believe in him so that we can be saved - but if this is so why doesn't God simply appear and perform a miracle so that everyone will see and believe? Christians will say that God wants us to believe in him out of faith, not because we see him with our eyes. However, according to the Bible, God in the past performed the most awesome miracles and often intervened dramatically in human affairs so that people would know his presence. So if he did so in the past, why doesn't he do so now?

Christians will say that God does perform miracles today (healing, solving personal problems etc) but being stubborn and evil most people refuse to believe. However these so-called miracles are individual and minor and leave much room for doubt. If God performed a really impressive miracle which could have no other possible explanation, then most people certainly would believe.

According to the Bible when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, God fed them by making food fall regularly from the sky (Ex 16:4). During the 1980's, several million Ethiopian Christians died slowly and painfully from starvation due to a prolonged drought. God had then the opportunity to make food fall from the sky, as the Bible claims he did in the past, in order to prove his existence, his power and his love. Buddhists would say that God did not manifest his presence because he does not exist.


.. *THIS INDEED PROVIDES AN INTERESTING READ*

WISH TO SEE HOW CHRISTIANS RESPOND TO THIS ARTICLE. AS IN THE WHOLE ARTICLE.
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(01-Sep-2004 at 20:36)
IV

GOD OR THE BUDDHA -- WHO IS THE HIGHEST?



While Christians look to God as their lord and creator, Buddhists look to the Buddha as their model and ideal. Although Christians have never seen God, they claim to know him by communicating with him through prayer and through feeling his presence. They also claim that they can know God's will by reading his words which they maintain are contained in the Bible.

As Buddhists neither pray to nor acknowledge God, the only way they can get an idea of what he is like is by reading the Bible. However when Buddhists look at what the Bible says about God they are often shocked. They find that God as he is portrayed in the Bible to be profoundly different from how they hear Christians describe him.

While Buddhists reject the Christian concept of God because it seems to be illogical and unsubstantiated, they also reject it because it seems so much lower than their own ideal, the Buddha. We will now examine what the Bible says about God, compare it to what the Tipitaka (the Buddhist sacred scriptures) say about the Buddha, and thereby demonstrate the moral superiority of the latter.

Physical Appearance

What does God look like? The Bible says that God created man in his own image (Gen 1:26) so from this we can assume God looks something like a human being. The Bible tells us that God has hands (Ex 15:12), arms (Deut 11:2), fingers (Ps 8:3) and a face (Deut 13:17). He does not like people seeing his face but he doesn't mind if they see his back.

And I will take away my hands and you will see my back parts but my face you shall not see (Ex 33:23).

However, although God seems to have a human body he does at the same time look not unlike the demons and fierce guardians one often sees in Indian and Chinese temples. For example, he has flames coming out of his body.

A fire issues from his presence and burns his enemies on every side (Ps 97:3).

Our God comes and shall not keep silent, before him a fire burns and around him fierce storms rage (Ps 50:3).

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp (Num 11:1).

When God is angry, which seems to be quite often, smoke and fire come out of his body.

The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook, they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it (Ps 18:7-8).

When the prophet Ezekiel saw God and his attendant angels, he described them as looking like this.

On the fifth of the month - it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin - the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him.

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north - an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body.

Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel (Ezek 1:4-21).

Christians often look at the many-armed and fierce-faced gods in Hindu and Taoist temples and claim that they are devils rather than gods - but as the Bible makes clear the Christian God is very similar in appearance to these. Furthermore, just as Hindu and Taoist gods carry various weapons so too does the Christian God.

In that day the Lord will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword (Is 27:1).

The sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in your anger you threshed the nations (Haba 3:11-12).

The Lord thundered from heaven, the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies (Ps 18:13-14).

But God will shoot them with arrows, suddenly they will be struck down (Ps 64:7).

Then the Lord will appear over them, his arrows will flash like lightning. The sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet (Zech 9:14).

Another interesting way in which God's appearance resembles that of non-Christian idols is in how he travels. The Bible tells us that God gets from one place to another either by sitting on a cloud (Is 19:1) or riding on the back of an angel (Ps 18:10). It is obvious from these quotes that God has a savage and frightening appearance; a conclusion verified again by the Bible where people are described as being utterly terrified by God's appearance.

Serve the Lord with fear and trembling, kiss his feet or else he will get angry and you will perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled (Ps 2:11).

Therefore I am terrified at his presence. When I think of him I am in dread of him, God has made my heart faint. The Almighty has terrified me (Job 23:15).

Jesus frequently says that we should fear God (e.g. Lk 12:4-5). The Bible also very correctly says that where there is fear there cannot be love (I Jn 4:18) and so if God creates fear in people it is difficult to know how he can genuinely be loved at the same time.

What did the Buddha look like? Being human, the Buddha had a human body like any ordinary person. However the Tipitaka (the Buddhist sacred books) frequently speak of his great personal beauty.

He is handsome, good-looking, pleasant to see, of most beautiful complexion, his form and countenance is like Brahma's, his appearance is beautiful (Digha Nikaya, Sutta No.4).

He is handsome, inspiring faith, with calm senses and mind tranquil, composed and controlled, like a perfectly tamed elephant (Anguttara Nikaya, Sutta No.36).

Whenever people saw the Buddha, his calm appearance filled them with peace and his gentle smile reassured them. As we have seen, God's voice is loud and frightening like thunder (Ps 68:33). while the Buddha's voice was gentle and soothing.

When in a monastery he is teaching the Dhamma, he does not exalt or disparage the assembly. On the contrary, he delights, uplifts, inspires and gladdens them with talk on Dhamma. The sound of the good Gotama's voice has eight characteristics; it is distinct and intelligible, sweet and audible, fluent and clear, deep and resonant (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.19).

God carries weapons because he has to kill his enemies and because he controls people with violence and threats. The Buddha, on the other hand, showed enmity to no one and was able to control people by reasoning with them. Addressing the Buddha, King Pasenadi once said:

I am a king, able to execute those deserving execution, fine those deserving to be fined, or exile those deserving exile. But when I am sitting on a court case people sometimes interrupt even me. I can't even get a chance to say: "Don't interrupt me! Wait until I have finished speaking." But when the Lord is teaching Dhamma there is not even the sound of coughing coming from the assembly. Once, as I sat listening to the Lord teach Dhamma a certain disciple coughed and one of his fellows tapped him on the knee and said, "Silence, sir, make no noise. Our Lord is teaching Dhamma", and I thought to myself, indeed it is wonderful, marvellous how well trained these disciples are without stick or sword (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.89).

We can just imagine how God would react if one were foolish enough to interrupt him while he was speaking. We can see from what has been said above that the Buddha's physical appearance reflected his deep inner calm and compassion. People were always inspired by the aura of peace that surrounded him.
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(01-Sep-2004 at 20:40)
CONTINUE FROM PREVIOUS POST.

Mental Make-up

We have seen that Buddhists do not believe in God because to them the idea is illogical and contrary to the facts. Buddhists also reject the Christian God because, if the Bible is correct, God appears to be so imperfect. All of the negative emotions which most cultured people find unacceptable are to be found in God. Let us examine how the Bible describes God's mind.

The emotion which is associated with God more than any other is jealousy. He even admits that he is jealous.

For the Lord is a devouring fire, a jealous God (Deut 4:24).

Nothing makes God more jealous than people worshipping other gods, and he tells us we must even kill our own children if they do this.

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, daughter, the wife of your bosom or the friend of your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods" which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the people that are around you whether near or far, from one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him, but you shall kill him. Your hand shall be the first against him to kill him and after that the others can strike him (Deut 13:6).

The Bible tells us that God frequently loses his temper.

See, the day of the Lord is coming - a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it (Is 13:9).

God is angry every day (Ps 7:11).

The Lord will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire (Is 30:30).

His anger will burn against you and he will destroy you from the face of the land (Deut 6:15).

God tells us to love but he is described as hating and being filled with abhorrence.

You hate all those who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors (Ps 5:5-6).

He is further described as hating many other things as well as people (see Deut 16:22, Mala 2:16, Lev 26:30). God has a particularly deep hatred for other religions which probably explains why Christianity has always been such an intolerant religion. He is often described as feeling special hatred for those who will not worship him.

Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates (Is 1:14).

The Buddha had compassion for those who were cruel, he forgave those who did wrong, and he had respect for those of other religions. We would expect God, being capable of jealousy and hate, to be vengeful, and not surprisingly the Bible often mentions God's vengefulness.

Behold, your God will come with vengeance (Is 35:4).

The Lord is avenging and wrathful, the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and holds wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2).

For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay", and again, "The Lord will judge his people". It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living god (Heb 10:30-31). (See also Rom 1:8, 2:5-6, 12:19).

What would be the use of worshipping a God who is full of the very mental defilements which we ourselves are striving to overcome?

During the forty years after his enlightenment, the Buddha urged people to give up anger, jealousy and intolerance and never once in all that time did he fail to act in perfect accordance with what he taught to others.

The Lord acts as he speaks and speaks as he acts. We find no teacher other than the Lord who is so consistent as this whether we survey the past or the present (Digha Nikaya, Sutta No.19).

In the whole of the Tipitaka, there is not a single example of the Buddha expressing anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. because, being perfect, he was freed from such negative emotions.

Attitude to War

The Bible tells us that there is a time for hate and a time for war (Ex 3:8) and it is widely recognized today that those great evils depend upon each other. As we have seen, God is quite capable of hatred and, not surprisingly is therefore often involved in war.

The Lord is a man of war (Ex 15:3).

The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory (Zeph 3:17).

The Lord goes forth like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his fury, he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against the enemy (Is 42:13).

When I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders (Deut 32:41-42).

For centuries Christians have been inspired by these Bible passages, which encourage and even glorify war, to use violence to spread their religion. Even today there is a distinctly militaristic flavour about Christianity. The Salvation Army with its motto "Blood and Fire"; the hymns that speak about "Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war"; the saying "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition", etc. The Bible contains dozens of examples of God helping his devotees to capture cities, slaughter civilian populations and defeat armies (for example Num 21:1-3, Num 31:1-12, Deut 2:32-34, Deut 3:3-7, Josh 11:6-11, etc.). Concerning captives in war God says:

And you shall destroy all the peoples that the Lord your God gives over to you, your eye shall not pity them (Deut 7:16).

When the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them you must utterly destroy them and show no mercy to them (Deut 7:2).

Even Christians are often shocked when they read passages like these. Buddhists simply feel that such passages justify their rejection of God and their faith in the Buddha.

What was the Buddha's attitude to war? There is no example of the Buddha ever praising war, encouraging war, or going to war himself. On the contrary, he urged all to live in peace and harmony and is described in this way:

He is a reconciler of those who are in conflict and an encourager of those who are already united, rejoicing in peace, loving peace, delighting in peace, he is one who speaks in praise of peace (Digha Nikaya, Sutta No.1).

He set an example by being a man of peace.

Abandoning killing, the monk Gotama lives refraining from killing, he is without stick or sword, he lives with care, compassion and sympathy for others (Digha Nikaya, Sutta No.1).

The Buddha was not content with merely speaking in favour of peace or with being peaceful himself. He actively promoted peace by trying to stop war. When his relatives were about to go to war over the waters of the Rohini River, the Buddha did not take sides, urge them on, give them advice on tactics, or tell them to show no mercy to their adversaries, as God would have done. Instead he stood between the two factions and said, "What is more valuable, blood or water?" The soldiers replied, "Blood is more valuable, sir." Then the Buddha said, "Then is it not unbecoming to spill blood for water?" Both sides dropped their weapons and peace was restored (Dhammapada Atthakata Book 15,1). The Buddha had put aside hatred and filled his mind with love and compassion, so approving of war was impossible for him.

Idea of Justice

Justice is the quality of being fair, and a person who is just acts fairly and in accordance with what is right. However ideas about what is fair and right differ from time to time and from person to person. Christians claim that God is just, so by examining his actions we will be able to know God's concept of justice.

God tells us that anybody who disobeys him will be punished "seven times over" (Lev 26:18), that is, one sin will be punished seven times. God obviously considers this to be fair and just. He also tells us that he will punish the innocent children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of those who sin.

I the Lord am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third or fourth generation of those who hate me (Deut 5:9).

This is known as collective punishment; punishing a whole family or group for the crime committed by one of its members. Collective punishment is condemned today as unfair and unjust but God apparently considers it quite just.

God tells us that even minor offences should be punished by death. For example, those who work on Sunday should be stoned to death. Once a man was found collecting firewood on Sunday and God said to Moses and the people who caught the man:

"The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death as the Lord commanded Moses (Num 15:32-36).

God's idea of justice does not seem to embrace the idea that the punishment should fit the crime. We are told that all who do not love God will suffer eternal punishment in hell. There are many kind, honest and generous people who do not believe in God and they will all go to hell. Is this fair and just? God apparently thinks so.

Was the Buddha just? The Buddha had attained the freedom of enlightenment and he taught others how they too could attain this freedom. Unlike God, he was not primarily a lawgiver, a judge, or one who metes out punishment. He was a teacher. In all his dealings with people he was fair, mild and merciful and he urged his followers to act in like manner. If someone did wrong, he said that one should not rush to punish him.

When you are living together in harmony, a fellow monk might commit an offence, a transgression. But you should not rush to condemn him, the issue must be carefully examined first (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No. 103).

In addition, when a person is being examined one should remain uninfluenced by bias or partiality and should look at both sides of the case.

Not by passing hasty judgments does one become just, a wise man is one who investigates both sides. He who does not judge others arbitrarily, but passes judgment impartially and in accordance with the facts, that person is a guardian of the law and is rightly called just (Dhammapada 256-257).

As for punishment, the Buddha would have considered stoning someone to death or any other form of capital punishment to be cruel. He himself was always ready to forgive. Once a man called Nigrodha abused the Buddha and later realised his mistake and confessed to the Buddha. Full of compassion and forgiveness the Buddha said:

Indeed, Nigrodha, transgression overcame you when through ignorance, blindness and evil you spoke to me like that. But since you acknowledge your transgression and make amends as is right, I accept your confession (Digha Nikaya, Sutta No.25).

The Buddha forgave all whether they accepted his teachings or not, and even if Nigrodha had refused to apologise the Buddha would not have threatened to punish him. To the Buddha the proper response to faults was not the threat to punish but education and forgiveness. As he says:

By three things the wise man can be known. What three? He sees his faults as they are. When he sees them he corrects them and when another confesses a fault the wise man forgives it as he should (Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Threes, Sutta No.10).
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(01-Sep-2004 at 20:41)
Attitude to Disease

Disease, sickness and plagues have been the scourge of mankind for centuries, causing untold suffering and misery. The Bible shows us that God has always considered disease a useful way of expressing his anger and exercising his vengeance. When Pharaoh refused to release the Jews, God caused festering boils to break out on "all Egyptians" (Ex 9:8-12). God used this affliction to punish men, women, children and babies for the sin of one man. Later God made the first-born of every male child die. He says:

Every first-born son in Egypt will die, from the first-born son of Pharaoh who sits on the throne, to the first-born son of the slave girl who sits at her hand-mill. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt - worse than there has ever been or ever will be (Ex 11:5-6).

This is another good example of God's idea of justice and compassion. Countless thousands of men, boys and innocent babies were killed by God because Pharaoh would not obey. In many places in the Bible God promises that he will inflict terrible diseases on those who do not follow his commandments.

The Lord will plague with diseases until he has destroyed you...the Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation...(Deut 28:21-22).

The Lord will inflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores, and with itch, from which you cannot be cured (Deut 28:27).

The Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters and severe and lingering illness. He will bring upon you all the disasters of Egypt that you dreaded and they will cling to you. The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster (Deut 28:59-61).

Sometimes God even inflicts hideous diseases on people just to test their faith. To test Job God allowed all his children to be killed (Job 1:18-19) and Job himself to be struck with a terrible disease (Job 2:6-8). So unbearable was Job's grief and suffering that he began to wish he had never been born (Job 3:3-26).

God even created some people blind and allowed them to spend their lives begging and groping in darkness just so that Jesus could miraculously heal them and thereby demonstrate God's power (Jn 9:1-4). Obviously, God sees illness, sickness and disease as useful means of punishing people and of demonstrating the extent of his power.

Now let us have a look at the Buddha's attitude to sickness. The Buddha saw sickness and disease as a part of the general suffering from which he came to free mankind. He was called "the compassionate physician". There are no examples of the Buddha ever having caused people to become diseased in order to punish them or because he was angry at them. The Buddha rightly understood that for as long as we have a body we will be susceptible to disease. He urged all to attain Nirvana and be forever free from suffering. While he tried to cut the problem at the root, he also did practical things to comfort the sick and restore them to health. Rather than inflict diseases on people, as God did, he gave practical advice on how to help and comfort the sick.

With five qualities one is worthy to nurse the sick. What five? One can prepare the correct medicine; one knows what is good for the patient and offers it, and what is not good one does not offer; one nurses the sick out of love not out of desire for gain; one is unmoved by excrement, urine, vomit and spittle; and from time to time one can instruct, inspire, gladden and satisfy the sick with talk on Dhamma (Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Fives, Sutta No.124).

He not only taught this but acted in conformity to his own teaching. When once he found a sick monk, neglected and lying in his own excrement, he bathed him, comforted him and then calling the other monks together said to them, "If you would nurse me, nurse those who are sick" (Vinaya, Mahavagga, 8). When God was angry he would inflict diseases on people and then watch them suffer. When the Buddha saw people with diseases, out of compassion he did all he could to restore them to health.

Creating Evil

God created all that is good, but because he created everything, he also created all that is evil. God himself says:

I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and I create the darkness, I make the good and I make evil (Is 45:7-8). (See also Rom 11:32).

When we think of nature and we remember that God is supposed to have created everything we understand the meaning of these words. Leprosy germs cause untold misery and they were created by God. Tuberculosis germs kill and deform millions of humans each year and they were created by God. God created the plague bacteria, the fleas and the rats that together cause bubonic plague and which have throughout the centuries killed perhaps as many as a hundred million people. In 1665, 68,000 people died of the plague in London alone. No doubt all this is what God means when he says he created darkness and evil. But God also created other forms of evil. He says:

When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? (Amos 3:4).

This undoubtedly refers to the earthquakes, fires, social strife, wars and other forms of evil which periodically afflict mankind's towns and cities. We also read in the Bible that even evil spirits come from God. In 1 Samuel 16:14-16 we are told that an evil spirit from God tormented Saul.

Did the Buddha create evil? As he was not a creator God, he could not be held responsible for 'darkness and evil'. The only thing he 'created' was the Dhamma which he discovered and then proclaimed to the world. And his Dhamma has brought only light, good and gentleness everywhere it has spread.

Sacrifices

In Old Testament times when people broke God's commandments he would get angry and the only way the sinner could make atonement and soothe God's anger was to sacrifice an animal. God himself gave exact instructions on how the animal was to be slaughtered.

If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, he is to offer a dove or a young pigeon. The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off its head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is to remove the crop with its contents and throw it to the east side of the altar, where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not severing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is on the fire on the side of the altar (Lev 1:14-17).

God tells us that when the meat, fat, skin and bone of the sacrificial victims are thrown in the fire and burned, he likes the smell of it (Lev 1:9, 1:17). But not all the sacrifices God demanded were animals; sometimes he demanded even human sacrifices. God once said to Abraham:

Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about (Gen 22:2).

Abraham took his son to the place God indicated, built an altar, laid his son on it and then took up the knife. Just as he was about to slit his own son's throat, Abraham was stopped by an angel (Gen 22:12). Presumably, Abraham was a good devotee because he blindly, unquestioningly and willingly did anything God told him to do, even to the extent of preparing to butcher his own son as a sacrifice to God.

In later centuries, mankind's sins became so bad that the sacrifice of mere animals could no longer appease God's anger. God required a greater, a more valuable sacrificial victim - his own son Jesus. Once again it was the blood of a victim which most atoned for sin and which is able to reconcile the sinners with God. Thus modern Christians often say that their "sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus".

What did the Buddha think of animal or human sacrifices? At the time of the Buddha, the Hindu deities were offered animal sacrifices just as the Christian God was, and so the Buddha was quite aware of this practice. However, he considered sacrifices to be vulgar, cruel and useless.

The sacrifice of horse or man, the Peg-Thrown Rite, the Sacrificial Drink, the Victory Rite, the Withdrawn Bolt, all these rites are not worth a sixteenth part of having a heart filled with love, any more than the radiance of the moon outshines the stars (Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Eights, Sutta No.1).

Christians believe that Jesus' sacrificial blood will wash away their sins just as Hindus at the time of the Buddha believed that their sins could be washed away by bathing in holy rivers. The Buddha criticised the Hindu idea just as he would have criticised the Christian idea if he had known about it. To believe that blood, water or any other external things can purify the heart, which is an internal thing, is foolish indeed.

In the Bahuka River, at Adhikakka, at Gaya, in the Sundrika, the Sarassati, the Payaga or the Bahumati the fool can wash constantly but cannot cleanse his evil deeds. What can the Sundrika, the Payaga or the Bahumati River do? They cannot cleanse the angry, guilty man intent on evil deeds. For the pure in heart every day is lucky, for the pure in heart every day is holy (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.7).

This being the case, bathing in sacrificial blood or holy rivers is a poor substitute for purifying oneself by acting in a pure way. The only sacrifice that the Buddha asked us to make was to give up our selfishness and replace it with love, wisdom and compassion.

Love

We are told that God is love and the Bible sometimes mentions love as one of God's attributes. However, there are different types of love. A person can love his or her own children but hate the neighbour's children. Someone might have a strong love for his own country but a burning hatred for another country. Though we may love someone deeply, we may, due to changed circumstances, grow indifferent or even hateful towards them. This is the lower, less developed, type of love which ordinary people feel - but there is a higher, more universal, type of love than this. This higher type of love is well described in the Buddhist texts and also in the Bible. In Corinthians we read:

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:4-5).

Does God exhibit this higher type of love? Let us have a look. We are told that love is patient. Patience is defined as the ability to wait calmly for a long time, to control oneself when angered, especially at foolishness or slowness. We have already seen that God gets angry every day (Ps 7:11) and that he gets angry very quickly (Ps 2:11). Obviously God has very little patience.

We are told that love is kind. Is God kind? Read Deuteronomy (28:15-68) where God describes in his own words just how cruel he can be. This shocking passage proves beyond all doubt that God is capable of truly terrible cruelty. Obviously God is not always very kind.

We are told that love does not envy. Envy is, of course, very similar to jealousy and God often describes himself as fiercely jealous. He says:

For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God (Deut 4:24).

We are told that love does not boast and is not proud. Is God like this? Certainly the Bible does not give us the impression that God is modest and retiring. God spends a lot of time telling Job how great he is (Job 40:41) and ends by boasting of himself that:

He looks down on all that are haughty, he is king over all that are proud (Job 41:34).

Next we are told that love is not easily angered. We have already seen that God is very easily angered.

Serve the Lord with fear and trembling, kiss his feet or else he will get angry and you will perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled (Ps 2:11).

Finally we are told that love does not keep a record of wrongs that are done, that is, love soon forgives and forgets. Does God keep a record of wrongs that are done? God tells us that he will punish the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those who sin (Deut 5:9). In order to do this he must keep a record of the wrongs that have been committed and long remember them. Jesus tells us that God will never forgive those who insult the Holy Ghost (Lk 12:10). We are told that God casts sinners and non-believers into eternal hell. In other words, he refuses to ever forgive them. In short, he keeps a record for eternity of the wrongs which have been done. Quite clearly, God does not exhibit the highest type of love.

What about the Buddha? Did he exhibit the highest type of love? The first characteristic of this highest kind of love is patience, and there is not one incident recorded in the Tipitaka of the Buddha being impatient. Even when he was abused he remained calm. His every action displays a calm, strong patience. When Asurinda cursed and abused the Buddha, he calmly replied:

He who abuses his abuser is the worse of the two. To refrain from retaliation is to win a battle hard to win. If one knows that the other person is angry but refrains from anger oneself, one does what is best for oneself and the other person also. One is a healer of both (Samyutta Nikaya, Chapter Seven, Sutta No.3).

As he was always patient, he was also free from anger. Even when his cousin Devadatta tried to murder him, the Buddha displayed only pity and tolerance.

We are also told that love is kind. Was the Buddha kind? Again there is not a single hint of the Buddha being anything other than kind and compassionate - not only to those who accepted his teachings but also to the followers of all faiths, not only to the good but also to the evil, not only to humans but also to animals. He says:

One should do no unkind thing that wise men might condemn and one should think, "May all beings be secure and happy. Whatever beings there are, moving or still, tall, middle-sized or short, great or small, seen or unseen, whether living far or near, existing or not yet come into existence, may they all be happy." One should not harm another or despise anyone for any reason. Do not wish pain on another out of either anger or jealousy. Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life, even so, one should develop unbounded love towards all beings in the world (Sutta Nipata, Verses 145-149).

The Buddha did not only teach this but he also practised everything he taught. God tells us that he is jealous and by this he means that he is jealous of other gods and other religions. He wants everyone to worship and revere him alone. So jealous is he that he says his devotees should kill even their own children if they worship other gods (Deut 13:6) and that God hates followers of other religions.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols (Ps 31:6).

I gain understanding from your precepts, therefore I hate every wrong path (Ps 119:104).

Was the Buddha jealous of other faiths? Indeed, he was not. A man called Upali was a follower of the Jain religion. The Buddha explained the Dhamma to him after which he decided to become a Buddhist. The Buddha did not exult nor was he anxious to 'win' Upali. Rather, he advised him to think carefully before making such an important decision:

Make a careful investigation first, Upali. Careful investigation is good for well-known people like yourself (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.56).

The Buddha then advised Upali to keep offering donations to the Jain religion. He said this because he could see the good in all religions and because he was free from envy and jealousy.

Vacchagatta said to the Lord, "I have heard it said that you say that charity should only be given to you, not to other teachers, to your disciples, not to the disciples of other religions." Then the Lord said, "Those who say this are not reporting my words, they misrepresent me and tell lies. Truly, whoever discourages anyone from giving charity hinders in three ways. He hinders the giver from doing good, he hinders the receiver from being helped and he hinders himself through his meanness." (Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Threes, Sutta No.57).

Even today many Christians, especially fundamentalists and evangelicals, will refuse to have anything to do with non-Christians and would certainly refuse to help non-Christian charities.

The Buddha was not boastful or proud, he was not rude or self-seeking, he was not easily angered and he did not keep a record of wrongs that were done to him. From the day of his enlightenment, his every thought, word and action was an expression of love and compassion. As one of his contemporaries said:

I have heard this said, "To abide in love is sublime indeed", and the Lord is proof of this because we can see that he abides in love (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.55).
#11  
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(Posted as Bodhisattva)
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(01-Sep-2004 at 23:06)


Speaking as a buddhist, I know that arrogantly asserting what is wrong with a religion is wrong and contrary to buddhist belief.
That should go with any religion. No-one is superior in this universe.

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." -Gandhi
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(02-Sep-2004 at 20:25)


Quote:
(Originally posted by Gus Mackay)
from an economics point of view, where profit maximisation or greed is not involved, a monopoly is the most efficient producer. There would be no need for many Gods to exist, for they would surely band together as one.
This is just excellent! Monopoly/efficiency in production as an argument for monotheism vs. polytheism. Quite a bit of food for thought...

good judgement mostly comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgement...
#13  
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(03-Sep-2004 at 17:55)


SpeedWeed. I respect your views and you have taken consideraply time to speak and you believe your beliefs and stand for them.

I am christian. I respect buddhist for their view of world and their will of mind and dedication for peace and meditation.

It is nice to see someone elses views of "your" religion. I do not really diffent religion for next. I just point out few dangers that lurks when we styart inturpute bible and justify our believes with it.

But you like some other peoples, even I, use Verses of Bible's to proof something. But here is its danger: We are western peoples, our society, culture and languange is very different than those who it was written for, using their culture heritage.

If you remove bible verses out of its context you basicly can proove anything with appropriate verse, when you remove that from Context, Heck you can proove anything with any text with approriate amount of time, considiration etc. I bet some Neo-Nazi's have found bibles to Proof that Holocaust was will of God and it was justified. No more about that, just an example, maybe poor one.

You said God should be feared. Note: Only those who do not serve God should fear God. Because upon them he shall unleash his Wrath.

Peoples shouldn't rely on bible verses on that heavily unless they know what God means, let's take Phrase: "If someone hits you, turn the other cheek."

Ok, many consider this as: Do no harm at all cost, yet turning the other cheek really ment that time is this: "If someone hurts you, accept and forgive him, but if someone comes to kill you, you shall kill him first." That is what turning other cheek means; Defending your self right way. Not killing anyone, unless self defense.

Bible is written FOR jewish BY jewish. So nobody who doesn't know jewish culture, heritage and languange cannot inturpute Bible and tell what it really means... This is what I wanted to point out.

- Love, Faith, Peace, Respect, Tolerance...

Generalization is rhetorics of simpletons.
"Sages learn from history... idiots learn from experience" -Fairy Tail manga
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(05-Sep-2004 at 06:38)


just make a qualification here...

Quote:
You said God should be feared. Note: Only those who do not serve God should fear God. Because upon them he shall unleash his Wrath.
the traslation reads better as fear = respect. thank you...

Where has my avatar gone?

The true meaning of silence
#15  
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(05-Sep-2004 at 17:36)


yes... Hmm, your true, my friend say, word that has been translated fear from hebrew word means more of the word respect... Thought translation is indentical, meaning is totally different in context. I thank you for noticing that Gus

Generalization is rhetorics of simpletons.
"Sages learn from history... idiots learn from experience" -Fairy Tail manga
#16  
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(05-Sep-2004 at 17:37)
all hail..something to stop the tide of christianity swamping asia!!!!!

hahaha just kidding ...well...frankly speaking a devout buddhist or who ever is devout to his or hers religion there is no way others can brainwash them to follow their view...

i think Islam and Judaism(hope it is correct)...is one of the few religion where their believers never changes their religions....Islam was due to birth..judaism i dunno...but maybe something...

forget about it...it is really dumb whether people will ever read it...
#17  
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(05-Sep-2004 at 17:54)


Many muslim has been converted to Christianity, many christians have converted else... But hardest peoples to convert are jewish and so far only converted Jewish are known: Messianic Jewish. They accept Christ as messiah, they are truely blessed because THEY can see and read plan of God and word of God as ment.

There is no such religion, where you cannot find converters. I've heard stories of Muslims, that have Converted Christianity, after Jesus Appeared them middle of desert... "And Lord said, I shall make stones preach my word and law to unholy ones, unless nobody else do that..." Sorry, I got old Finnish bible here, so translating is hard, so this is not what english bible says truely...

Generalization is rhetorics of simpletons.
"Sages learn from history... idiots learn from experience" -Fairy Tail manga
#18  
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(05-Sep-2004 at 19:25)


Quote:
(Originally posted by Bodhisattva)

Speaking as a buddhist, I know that arrogantly asserting what is wrong with a religion is wrong and contrary to buddhist belief.
That should go with any religion. No-one is superior in this universe.
Bodhisattva:
Can you give any input on how buddhists view the teachings of Jesus?
Also, since you have a quote from Gandhi as your sig.
I heard that after Gandhi read the entire Bible he stated that he could not accept "the religion" but he thought Jesus was truley enlightened!

Work like you will live forever and live like you will die tommorrow!
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(05-Sep-2004 at 21:45)
Quote:
(Originally posted by Lord Menchalior)

SpeedWeed. I respect your views and you have taken consideraply time to speak and you believe your beliefs and stand for them.

I am christian. I respect buddhist for their view of world and their will of mind and dedication for peace and meditation.

It is nice to see someone elses views of "your" religion. I do not really diffent religion for next. I just point out few dangers that lurks when we styart inturpute bible and justify our believes with it.

But you like some other peoples, even I, use Verses of Bible's to proof something. But here is its danger: We are western peoples, our society, culture and languange is very different than those who it was written for, using their culture heritage.

If you remove bible verses out of its context you basicly can proove anything with appropriate verse, when you remove that from Context, Heck you can proove anything with any text with approriate amount of time, considiration etc. I bet some Neo-Nazi's have found bibles to Proof that Holocaust was will of God and it was justified. No more about that, just an example, maybe poor one.

You said God should be feared. Note: Only those who do not serve God should fear God. Because upon them he shall unleash his Wrath.

Peoples shouldn't rely on bible verses on that heavily unless they know what God means, let's take Phrase: "If someone hits you, turn the other cheek."

Ok, many consider this as: Do no harm at all cost, yet turning the other cheek really ment that time is this: "If someone hurts you, accept and forgive him, but if someone comes to kill you, you shall kill him first." That is what turning other cheek means; Defending your self right way. Not killing anyone, unless self defense.

Bible is written FOR jewish BY jewish. So nobody who doesn't know jewish culture, heritage and languange cannot inturpute Bible and tell what it really means... This is what I wanted to point out.

- Love, Faith, Peace, Respect, Tolerance...
last i recall. there are many versions of the bible. n christians do not follow the jewish bible last i heard.

wat do u mean i pick quotes out of the bible. let me clarify i did not write the article. check the link. i am not the author.

but the irony is. its more of the christians themselves who like to quote from the bible. n when ppl point out questionable quotes. they claim it is not important or insignificant. so tell me isnt it funny? they claim so much of the bible is perfect. the way of life. but they end up only follow tidbits or reading wat they want to read. perhaps u can enlighten me. who has the right to change god's word? why were portions of the bible removed? if it was the word of god himself?

i am a free thinker btw. n have nothing against any religion.

the article was interesting. n i would have jus liked to see some christians point out tat the article indeed holds some truth. which is not easy for most to accept.

n for those who claim they never meet christians as discribed. obviously they havent seen alot of christians. i see loads of such christians around.
#20  
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