Atheism, Agnosticism and Buddhism

June 3, 2008

I’d like to take a brief detour into Atheism.  I just read Dawkin’s Delusion by Alestier McGrath and Joanna McGrath.  They were writing in response to Richard Dawkins recent book The God Delusion.

Dawkins has denounced God and believes it is only logical that everyone follows suite.  According to Dawkins, faith is infantile, irrational and down right delusional.  Science is all we need and science has disproved the existence of God.  Religion is the root of all evil in his eyes.  It is the cause of all violence.  He calls God: “a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak, vindictive, blood thirsty, ethnic cleanser, a misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilent megalomaniac, sadomasochistic, malevolent bully.”

Dawkins isn’t an atheist! He is a misothesist! He doesn’t simply believe God is nonexistent; he hates God and religion in general. Dawkins believes that we were once psychologically primed to believe in God.  We needed to believe.  Perhaps Dawkins has a psychological reason for needing to disbelieve. If Nietzsche’s philosophy was born out of a super strict Christian upbringing, what created Dawkins hatred?  Perhaps he should blame his parents or society instead of attacking religion. Religion appears to be just his scapegoat for whatever is really bothering him.

I have never been a huge fan of orthodox religion, specifically orthodox Christianity, yet I have never given up my belief in God.  I have never had a reason to blame religion or God for my misfortunes.  I can understand why people lose faith though.  Their prayers go unanswered.  Every day people suffer and die seemingly random deaths.  The world is a cruel place.  It is difficult to comprehend how a father-figure could create something and then abandon his children and let them suffer.  There is no proof that our suffering is ever rewarded on earth or in heaven.  There is no security when it comes to God.  Dawkins complaints are common enough and reasonable enough.

The problem is that that God Dawkins described is merely a human interpretation. Dawkins is describing humanity, not a deity.  It is human beings that start wars in the name of God.  Scientifically speaking, God has remained surprisingly silent.  His/Her silence does not prove his/her existence or absence.  It merely proves that God does not choose sides or interfere in any obvious way.

Agnosticism makes sense in many ways seeing has there is no actual proof one way or the other.  Unfortunately, Agnosticism has been lumped together with Atheism.  It is too bad.  Orthodox or traditional believers have a tendency to exclaim, “My way or the highway” and “You are either with us or against us!”  Many Agnostics choose an alternative view of God, but that doesn’t mean that they are godless.  Spirituality isn’t spoiled by a lack of Cosmic CEO.

Take Buddhism for example.  India, China and Japan all have pagan deities.  But Buddhism evolved as an all-embracing philosophy.  Some Buddhists believe in pagan deities and some in no deities at all and still others believe in just one deity.  Buddhism requires certain rituals and practices, which puts it into the religion category.  It is also flexible enough to bend to various world views.  This particular flexibility is often what makes it appear as a lesser religion.  The world is dominated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam because they all have the same roots.  Hinduism and Buddhism are not as wide spread and still foreign to most Westerners.   Christians often attack Eastern religions without any real understanding or tolerance of them.  Again, it comes down to MY GOD or NO GOD.  There is no room for nontheism, Pandeism, Pantheism, Polytheism, or Deism in the Christian World-View.  Yet, with Buddhism, there is a bit of possibility or room to play.

I am drawn to Buddhism because it is more open, tolerant and compassionate than traditional Christianity.  I know that many Buddhists do not believe in God.  I do however; believe in a creator and divine deity.  My version or vision is more of a transcendental one though.  I am not exactly Pagan, but I do believe that other beings are higher or more powerful than us.  I love the focus on nature and feminism in Wicca more than anything.

Why do I believe in a higher power or perhaps a deeper power?  What gives me faith despite a lack of proof?  Why is spirituality and mysticism so important to me?

I’ve always sensed that something lies beyond my existence.  I believe because it makes more sense than not believing.  It is an emotional connection, something I cannot grasp in the limit of my five senses.  I look at my children and see the miracle of life.  I look at the cosmos and see the vastness of possibility in reality.  I see patterns and connections.  I see meaning.  I ask why would anyone deny the possibility of meaning?

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About carilynn27

Reading and writing and writing about reading are my passion. I've been keeping a journal since I was 14. I also write fiction and poetry. I published my first collection of short stories, "Radiant Darkness" in 2000. I followed that up with my first collection of poetry in 2001 called "Journey without a Map." In 2008, I published "Persephone's Echo" another collection of poetry. Since then I've also published Emotional Espionage, The Way The Story Ended, My Perfect Drug and Out There. I have my BA in English from The Ohio State University at Mansfield and my MA in English Lit from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also have my Post BA Certificate in Women's Studies. I am the mother of two beautiful children. :-)
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One Response to Atheism, Agnosticism and Buddhism

  1. John Gilkison says:

    Sorry Cari, but after 60 years of life, and much study of human affairs I am agreeing with Dawkins. There is simply no proof God exist, and if anyone wants to believe in a diety then all it is, is an unsubstantiated belief, if they will be honest about it. We don’t need to believe to be moral, or live a fufulling life. If Dawkins hates God that is beside the point, his major points are true none the less for his emotional state. The problem I am encountering more and more is people only believing in science when it suits them and discarding it the rest of the time. Our country, and western civilization is toast if this trend continues. More doubt about a need for a belief in God, and more trust in what science and the evidence it presents to us about the actual nature of the universe will be of much more utility to us in the future.

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