Tag Archives | Buddhism

In the News: The Dangers of Superstition & Faith

BBC – Burundi albino boy ‘dismembered’

The dismembered body of a young albino boy has been found in a river on the Burundi-Tanzania border, reports say. The boy, aged nine, was taken from Makamba province in Burundi by a gang that crossed the border, the head of Burundi’s albino association said…

In Tanzania, the body parts of people living with albinism are used by witch-doctors for potions which they tell clients will help make them rich or healthy. Dozens of albinos have been killed, and the killings have spread to neighbouring Burundi.

ABC News – Teenage girl found dead after exorcism

A 13-year-old girl suffocated after she was strapped down and doused with water by her father and a monk who were trying to expel an “evil spirit”, according to Japanese police and media reports…

Reports said the girl’s parents had turned to the monk after the youngster had suffered several years of mental and physical ill health that doctors had not been able to resolve. The monk, who belongs to a religious group deriving from a Buddhist sect, said the girl was possessed by an evil spirit, the private network TBS said.

Her parents had taken her to one of the group’s facilities equipped with a water pump and made her go through the dousing practice about 100 times before.

OregonLive – Parents defend using prayer, not medical care, in faith-healing baby’s death

On Tuesday — the second anniversary of David Hickman’s death — his parents took the witness stand and told jurors that there was nothing they could have done to save their newborn boy. Even now, they said, they would do nothing differently.

The Hickmans are charged with second-degree manslaughter for failing to provide medical care for David, who was born two months prematurely and lived less than nine hours. Doctors said the baby would have lived if he had been taken to a hospital — the standard response for premature babies born at home…

The last link is so sad. I urge you to read the entire article. You gotta feel for the family, they were doing what they thought was right. Unfortunately, their faith in God blocked their ability to make a rational decision.

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Why Do You Disbelieve Other Religions?

There are many supernatural stories in the Bible that Christians not only believe, but hold close to their hearts…

  • Creation/Original Sin: God created the world around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Man was created first, woman was created from Adam’s rib, and humankind was exposed to sin when they ate some fruit off the tree of knowledge of good and evil after Satan posed as a snake and tricked them.
  • The Story of Noah: Noah’s family was considered to be the only one God deems worth saving on Earth. Noah built the ark out of nothing but wood and sap, gathered countless animals,  fit them on the boat, fed them, and cared for them for a long period of time.
  • The Tower of Babel: The story suggests that the world spoke one language ~5000 years ago, even though archaeological evidence shows that, even in the Middle East, each ethnic group always had its own distinct language. The people decided to build a tower to heaven, but God stopped them by confusing all their languages with the rationale being: “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Strangely, humankind has since flown to space without any problems and there are now up to 1.8 billion people who can speak English (and 1.2 billion can speak Mandarin).
  • The Story of Jonah: God told Jonah to prophesy against the city of Nineveh for it’s wickedness. Jonah tried to flee by boat, but there was a huge storm and the sailors decided the storm was Jonah’s fault so they threw him overboard. A big fish swallowed Jonah and he lived in the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah prayed to God and said he’d go to Nineveh – so God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out. Nineveh was saved.
  • Sodom’s Destruction: Abraham pleaded with God to lower the quota of good people needed to save Sodom from 50, to 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally 10. Sodom still didn’t have enough good people so angels went to rescue Lot’s family because it was good. Some men in the city wanted to have sex with the angels, but Lot offered his virgin daughters instead – thankfully they were protected by the angels and the group escaped. While leaving the city, God told nobody to look back as Sodom was being destroyed. Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters escaped to the mountains where they got drunk and had sex.
  • Jacob’s Genetic Magic Trick – In Genesis 30:37-39, Laban is taking all of Jacob’s striped and spotted cattle. Jacob is only going to have his plain colored cattle, which he doesn’t like as much. So he peeled some branches and planted them next to his cattle so that they would see the striped sticks when they mated and somehow the baby cattle might become striped. It worked and Jacob prospered.
  • Many more… the plagues in Egypt, Moses parts the Red Sea, Joshua asks for the sun to stand still, Balaam has a talking donkey, Hezekiah requests the sun to retrogress, Jesus does all sorts of amazing things, and so on. Click here for a full list of the Bible’s miracles.

I understand why Christians value these stories so much. They are supernatural and offer support that we can have an extraordinary connection to a higher power. But the strange thing, in my mind, is that most Christians just accept them without any level of questioning, simply chalking it up to “it was a different time back then”. Christians believe the miracles and prophecies regardless of counter-evidence found in science, history, and archaeology; a lack of supporting evidence for these stories; and the absence of similar supernatural events occurring today.

And the thinking – as far as I can tell – is that Christians aren’t supposed to question the Bible. It is the only true authority we should accept without any discussion or debate.

This mindset prevents humanity from pursuing the truth…

The problem with this reasoning is that it blocks us from the truth – as every religion treats their magical myths and legends the same way. How can Christians expect Muslims to question the Qur’an, Mormons to question the Book of Mormon, or any religion to question any of the “holy books” unless they are willing to question their own? You see, Christians display sound reason and critical thinking to discount miracle stories from other religions, but rarely offer themselves the luxury of questioning their own myths, miracles, and prophecies.

Why not believe the miracles of the Qur’an? Why not believe the myths of Greek Mythology? Why not believe Buddhism because of the miracle of Ichadon when his prophecy was fulfilled on the 15th day of the 9th month in 527 when the earth shook, the sun went dark, flowers rained from the sky, and his severed head flew to the sacred Geumgang mountains with milk instead of blood spraying 100 feet into the air from his headless body?

And what about the Sufi holy men of Islam that can become invisible and tame wild beasts? Why question anything? Why not accept all prophecies? Besides… wasn’t that Hindu milk miracle incredible?

But no, Christians will either say…

  1. These myths, miracles, and prophecies are simply untrue or
  2. The Christian God (or Satan) was the one behind the supernatural events.

If you go with answer 1, then what differentiates Christian myths from others? Many other religions have “witnesses” for their stories and either written records or oral tradition to support their claims, just like Christians. So how do you know yours are legitimate? How do you know that others are not?

And if you go with answer 2, you are suggesting that other religions may have true miracles, but that it was the Christian God (or Satan) that caused them. But again, there is no evidence to suggest this. And it could equally be said, then, by other religions, that their gods (or Satan) are responsible for Christian miracles.

There is a right answer here…

The answer isn’t to accept your own myths and to disregard others, nor is it to accept all myths and miracles without question. Once you understand why you dismiss the beliefs of other religions or write them off as being caused by your own God, you will see why Christian beliefs are fragile as well.

The answer is to be skeptical, to require a certain level of proof and evidence to support anything you believe. In order to strive for truth, we can’t just accept our own worldview and assume that we are correct. We can’t just ‘thank god’ that we were born in the right region at the right time to be lucky enough to have the only right religion. We need to open our minds to every possibility and place empirical evidence ahead of faith and hope.

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