Friday, December 21, 2007

Why I am not a Buddhist

*Note: This article is currently under review and revision... These are my personal reasons as to not becoming a Buddhist. A few of the statements will be pretentious (or ostentatious) in nature, and upon revision may be re-worded for a more even-handed review. Revision may take place once comments are added to this article.

Why I am not a Buddhist

Before I begin this explanation of why I could not fit the protocol, let me first state that my reasoning for non-compliancy has to do with a few factors. These components corroborate my opposition to fully conform to asceticism, to which Gautama expressed a happy medium between the extremes.

Buddhism does not necessarily describe or attribute this non-conforming attitude as a result of a sinful nature. Perhaps this non-compliancy is because of a so-called previous lifestyle or it could be due to outside and internal influences. I am not saying I lead a life that does not have partial asceticism, but that meeting certain requirements to obtain intellectualism are not necessarily proven scientifically. For me it could seem rather pragmatic in nature, that asceticism is the only way to find truth, intellectualism, or prescribe any medical diagnosis and remedial prescription as originally intended.

I admit that following the Buddhist precepts 5, 8, or 10 are noble character building principles, but I am not readily convinced on the probability of the outcome in the next life. Buddha’s teachings or lifestyle was never considered infallible, in fact, he did not ask for his followers to have faith but to put his teachings to the test the veraciousness of his claims. That seems fair enough at face value, but will the results guarantee salvation such as statements that Christ made in the NT?

While I agree that some of the implications of Christianity also retort to self-denial; however, I could at best only apply myself to the five-precept path as the eight or ten precept paths (these are the only ones that one can obtain the true enlightenment and escapement of suffering) would prescribe me to leave my friends, family, wife and children behind to become a monk or beggar to escape the effects of karma and end the vicious cycle of suffering. It also should be noted that the five precept path is also outlined in the OT as I will show below.

Wikipedia describes the five precepts as:

1. To refrain from taking life. (non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual misconduct (abstinence from immoral sexual behavior)
4. To refrain from lying. (speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (refrain from using drugs or alcohol)

Which are simliar to the OT (Exodus chapter 20 in order of relavence to this article):
1. You shall not murder
2. You shall not steal
3. You shall not commit adultery also shall not covet
4. You shall not bear false witness
5. Drunkeness in OT (cf Prov 20:1, Prov 21:17, 1 Sam 1:14, Isa 5:11, 22; 28:1, 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Jer 23:9; 51:7; Joel 3:3. Psalm 60:3) There are also other verses in the NT that speak against drunkeness and mindfulness which come from such intoxicants.

Some of these five precepts in Buddhism, such as sensual misconduct are not clearly defined as they are in the OT and NT within the five precepts (but are in the eight and ten precepts which describe celebicy), so the interpretation could be relevant or vary in meaning. However I do believe that adultery which also the Bible covers fonrication are covered under sensual misconduct as the Buddhist would possibly agree with.

The eight-precepts encourage eating from sunrise to noon in which my low blood sugar will not allow such things, and refraining from a luxourious bed. So I would have to suffer the effects of improper glucose levels, sleepless nights, and possiblity of improper posture just to deter the sufferings of bad karma? For me I am not sure if that is an even trade-off, verses the remote possiblity my efforts would actually achieve anything truly noble but only in the eyes of a Buddhist or masochist. I have no problem refraining from jewlery (however my wife highly suggests me wearing a wedding ring) and dancing (which I have no ability to dance) and shows (to which I like going to shows to relieve boredom).

Irrelavancy in Emotiveness
While Christianity involves emotions, some Buddhists strive to no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions. As daunting a task as this would be and how much I try not to be suspectible from such negative or damping emotions, never the less achieving this status can be possible but not probable. To espouse this condition is possible one would have achieve chasity, calmness, serene which would entail removing one from the general public in essence to escape these barriers. As tempting as that sounds on some days, it doesn’t seem healthy for personal happiness for myself or my family in regards to my present worldview. What is the purpose of humanity and community if they only are contributing factors that are only there for opposition or resistance to achieve a state of Nirvana or enlightenment.

What is considered enlightenment
My questioning is... what exactly is this enlightenment that needs to be acheieved, in other words what needs to be known. I have asked this question from several practicing Buddhist but I couldn’t find one that had any definitive statements that would be considerd as a working standard. I am not suggesting I have exhausted all means to find this answer, but have not find anything definitive to this paradox. It seems like a great deal of work for something without standard earmarks. This could be because the teachings are based strictly upon philosophy.

I am sure that some Buddhist claims can be verified through basic testing, but nothing that I would consider as qualifing such as rigorous gage R&R testing. This philosophy is only a means in working to obtain a state or perception of moral goodness, but at the same time this focus is only individualistic not necessarily to help others in need or having compassion with someone less fortunate. If we are all in it for ourselves, what is the true purpose of so many?

Obvious Questions or propositions
Why is there something rather than nothing
Why do we exist
How did human life begin
How did the population grow
Why do we die
How do we define absolute morals
Why do we speak so many different languages
What knowledge or works are needed to obtain enlightenment or to stop the cycle
No claims of someone being a Christian in the previous life (reincarnation)
When did suffering begin and why
Is denial of self (ascetism) really the answer to suffering
How can one recall a past life only in portions if they are the same soul/entity
How can one learn from past mistakes if they cannot recall all previous mistakes/sufferings
What was created first, the soul or the physical (how did reincarnation begin)
How do you explain population exceeding death rates (shortage of reincarnates)
What is the sense of being punished for actions we do not remember
Where do the new souls come from
Are some souls created, while the old ones reincarnate
Is the soul incognizant apart from the human mind
Why did this philosophy take so long in coming to pass if this concept has been around since the beginning of time

I have a host of other questions that the Buddhist worldview cannot answer with any degree of certainty. The first seven questions are typical to establishing grounds that define any worldview. Buddhism was never put in place to answer such philosophical questions but more of an answer as to why suffering exists and a reactionary response against orthodox Hinduism.
Philosophical versus Theology

It should be noted that Wikipedia claims: The Four Noble Truths were originally spoken by the Buddha not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style that was common at that time.

To be revised, concluded, and continued later...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

H&S Case Study #1


Cover these questions before you begin:

1. Do you think that man has an immaterial and material part?

2. If so, what is the immaterial part?

3. When does a person gain this immaterial part (e.g., conception, birth, "age of accountability?")

After this, you are to go through the different theories about the constitution of man covered in class. (Refer to your notes.) Be sure to explain the significance of the body.

Finally, you are to explain the different theories concerning the creation of the soul. Demonstrate the relevance of this topic to the current issue of abortion.

The Constitution of Man

Words that the Bible uses with reference to the constitution of man:
Body = swma soma= 1 Corinthians 6:19
Soul = yuch psuche = Matthew 16:26
Spirit = pneuma pneuma 1 Corinthians 2:11
Mind = nouj nous dianoia dianoia =Romans 12:2 -Mark 12:30
Heart = kardia cardia = Mark 12:30
Flesh = sarx sarx = Matt. 26:41
Gut, bowels = splagcnon splagchnon = Philippians. 1:8

Two Main Alternatives:

1. Physicalism (Naturalism or Monism)

2. Dualism (Trichotomy or Dichotomy)

Definition: Gk. monos, "one" or "alone." The teaching that the spirit, soul, and body are all essentially the same or that the spirit and soul do not exist without the body. This often goes by the name "soul sleep."

Adherents: Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Christadelphians, J.A.T. Robertson, neo-orthodoxy.

Dualism: The understanding that the constitution of man is pluralistic in nature, since there is an intermediate state of existence to which the immaterial/immortal part(s) of man goes to await the resurrection

Adherents: Most of Orthodox Christianity

Trichotomy: Gk. trikha, "three parts," and temno, "to cut" The teaching that man is made up of three essential parts: body, soul, and spirit
Body: All that is physical.
Soul: Reason, emotions, will, memories, personality, dispositions.
Spirit: The seat of our being, that which relates to God.

Adherents: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Watchman Nee, Bill Gothard, C.I. Scofield

Dichotomy: Gk. dicha, "two parts" and temno, "to cut." The teaching that man is made up of two essential parts: material (body), and nonmaterial (soul/spirit)
Material: All that is physical
Non-material: Spirit, soul (used interchangeably)

Adherents: Augustine, John Calvin, Hodge, most of historic orthodox Christianity

Conditional Unity: This position affirms both the essential unity of the material and immaterial part of man and the existence of an intermediate state. A person does not have a body and a soul, but is a body and a soul, neither of which alone make up the whole person.

Adherents: Millard Erickson, Anthony Hoekema, Charles Sherlock

Positive Implications of Conditional Unity:

1. The Bible speaks of a unified self in terms of both judgment and redemption.

2. When man fell, he fell as a whole person.

3. When man is redeemed, he is redeemed as a whole person.

4. Our physical condition is intricately linked to that of our soul/spirit. When our soul/spirit is troubled, it has direct and immediate effects on our body.

5. The condition of our soul is intricately linked to our physical condition. When we are unhealthy, fail to get proper exercise, or are chemically depressed, our spirit/soul suffers.

Views Body/Brain = (are the same)

Views Body/Brain ≠ (are not the same)
Conditional Unity

Gnostic Dualism: Man's constitution is physical and spiritual. The physical body is a burdensome, temporary and material confinement out of which we long to escape.

Adherents: Many uninformed Christians who have not taken Humanity and Sin through TTP.

Negative Effects:

1. Produces in some cases an unbalanced view on what it means to be human.

2. Creates a negative view on physical pleasures that God gave man as gifts (sex, food, etc.).

3. Causes people to believe that this life does not really matter.

4. Devalues the physical by placing it secondary to the spiritual.

5. Disillusions people about the nature of their eternal existence.

When does ensoulment take place?

Pre-existence Theory : This theory teaches that people's souls/spirits are eternal and, therefore, preexist the creation of their bodies. The sin nature can be attributed to the former state of existence in which the person sinned.

Adherents: Origen, Delitzsch

Creation Theory: This theory is that God Himself creates each person's soul individually, and then places the soul in the body.
Adherents: Grudem, Hodge, Berkhof, Calvin, and Roman Catholics

Traducian Theory: Comes from the Latin tradux, meaning "inheritance, transmission." This theory teaches that the soul is created in and with the body by the parents. While God is the ultimate creator of all things, he uses people intermediately or as secondary causes.
Adherents: Tertullian, Luther, and Jonathan Edwards

Imago Dei: (Lat. "image of God"). Refers to the fact that humanity carries a unique resemblance to God

Typical Questions:

Do humans carry dignity as God's image bearers?

Do humans alone carry the image of God? What about animals? Do they have the image of God?

What affect did the fall have on the image of God? Did humanity lose this image after the Fall?

How should the fact that man is created in the image of God affect the way we treat one another?

The Image of God characteristics:

Personality: Like God, people are individual beings with self consciousness.

Eternality: Like God, people will exist into eternity.

Relationality: Like God, people have a capacity and drive for relationships.

Volitionality: Like God, people have the freedom and ability to make volitional choices according to their will.

Rationality: Like God, people have the ability to think, contemplate, and reflect on abstract ideas, future plans, and past events, advancing toward a more beneficial existence through problem solving.

Spirituality: Like God, people are spiritual beings possessing an immaterial part of their constitution.

Physicality: Unlike God, people have a material part of their constitution that is corporeal. But like God, people have senses that come as a direct result of our physicality, such as man's ability to see and to hear.

Morality: Like God, people are inherently moral creatures, understanding that there is good and evil (although this was gained as a result of the Fall).

Dominionality: Like God, people have been given authority to rule over creation, using all its resources for their benefit, enjoyment, and survival.

How did the fall affect the Imago Dei?

1. Man fully retains the imago Dei and only misrepresents it through personal sin.

2. Man fully lost the imago Dei. It is restored only in Christ.

3. The imago Dei has been retained in all men, but marred by sin. It is restored in Christ.

Notes for KJV only discussion

coming soon...