Comments on recent news article,”Atheists, others gather at Reason Rally” :
Now this is a group that views other beliefs with skepticism whines about others that view their group’s beliefs with skepticism.
Their motto is the opposite: Christians are evil, atheists are good. Just by virtue of a silly label.I really gotta wonder when they say things like,”The world would be better off without religion,” and can’t talk about anything else besides religious dogma etc. (as if you can’t get enough from the fundamentalists themselves, already).
If atheism is the absence of belief in gods, then many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists.
Buddhism is not about either believing or not believing in God or gods. Rather, the historical Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. In other words, God is unnecessary in Buddhism. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic than atheistic.
The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but “awakened.” Yet throughout Asia it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. Pilgrims flock to stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. Some schools of Buddhism are deeply devotional. Even in the nondevotional schools, such as Theravada or Zen, there are rituals that involve bowing and offering food, flowers and incense to a Buddha figure on an altar.
Personally I would call my myself an “Atheist Buddhist” If I have to throw dualistic labels around as I do not believe in a personal God. However, I can not prove or say that a form of “God” absolutely does not exist–no one knows for sure.
This dove-tails into Richard Dawkins De Facto Atheist definition (which is where he says he sits–as do I):
There is a very low probability that a personal “God” exists but short of zero. I can not know for certain but I think “God” is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.
The only way that I believe in a “God” is to say that we are all “God.” Because, again, understanding the interdependent, interconnected nature of True Reality I believe that if there is a “God” it seems that it would be a force rather then a person. This is because such a force would be so Enlightened that it would have to be beyond all form and definition.
Keith’s email reply:
I want to add some value beyond the previous joke. As someone who identifies with the “classification” of atheist, I can contribute the following thoughts on the issue:
- While identifying with the classification (as in if I was asked in a census survey and that was the only non-religion/beliver choice), I wouldn’t say I identify with a movement. Mainly this is because the movement will likely have alterior motives and agendas. Personally, it seems like they want some attention too.
- I do consider this a political, not a spiritual position though – and the rhetoric they’re using seems to be in that general direction. They want to tear down some validity from one side to prop up their own.
- On the political front of the issue, there are some arguments that need to be made:
- religious groups have political influence that sway legislation that impart the impact of thier belief on others. If this can’t be stopped all togther, then it seems normal for opposing views (religious or not) to attempt to do the same
- believers of some religions are exempt from certain policies imparted by the state due to religious objections, non-religious objections are often not accepted for the same exclusions
- religous groups can have speech that is protected (even if it’s hateful speech) that isn’t protected by the individual (believer, or not – unless the belief is used as a justification)
- there are probably more, but I’m not thinking of them at the moment – but hopefully the essense of what I’m getting at came through.
There’s no need to tear down others beliefs to empower your own, IMHO – unless there is oppression of the opposing party’s right to assemble. I suppose we’ll see if that’s necessary, but the Reason group has apparently taken offense.
Clearly, we have to admit that there are atheists who have killed other people, and who have killed people because those people were religious and he thought religious people deserved to die. This happened on a grand scale during the French Revolution. It also happened in many communist revolutions. And there is nothing to prevent the lone anti-theist with a gun to decide that he is going to kill himself and as many theists as he can because theists are responsible for all of the trouble in the world and deserve to die.
Marx’s original quote “religion is the opium of the people” is the end of a passage where he describes religion as a symptom of oppression. The masses need it because they’re suffering, he said. Therefore, taking it away would remove their false happiness and force them to find real happiness.
It’s never worked out that way in practice. People in now-Communist countries have continued to suffer under the new regimes. The authorities see the persistence of religion in spite of Marx’s words as a possible indicator to outsiders that the system is failing. Rather than fix the system, they continue to squash religion and declare to the world, “Look at our happy people who no longer need their opium!”
The other reason for suppressing religions is that each one comes with its own philosophy and ideology. None of them are exactly like the Communist ideology, so they are all effectively rivals to Communism. Atheism is merely a position, so the Communist authorities are happy to substitute it in when they evict the religions. (At least somebody gets the idea that atheism isn’t a religion.)